Thursday, July 23, 2015

20 Books of Summer Update #3


Since my last reading update, a few notable thinks have happened in my life.  First: I got a new teaching gig.  Secondly: My new teaching gig means that my "summer" is going to be over in six days. Lastly: I no longer need to read/ re-read two books on by summer list because I am not going to be teaching them in the fall.  As a result, I have made three executive TBR decisions:
  1. I am extending this project out to September 22, the last day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere to account for my vacation ending prematurely and the adjustment to my new position.
  2. I have swapped Their Eyes Were Watching God with Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde, one of the Penguin Little Black Classics (#59, I believe).
  3. I have swapped In Cold Blood with Underground by Haruki Murakami.  I am enjoying reading Murakami too much at the moment to not give him another spot on my list.  
So, if you are keeping score, here is where my project stands now that we're almost half-way through the project:

  1. N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto [Completed in June]
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami  [Completed in July]
  3. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon 
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  5. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 
  6. Brave Genius by Sean B. Carroll 
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote   Underground by Haruki Murakami [swapped]
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston  Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde [swapped]
  9. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  11. Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks
  12. The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey
  13. If On a Winter's Night a Travler by Italo Calvino 
  14. The Babysitters Club: Mary Ann Saves the Day  by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  15. Drama by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [Completed in July]
  17. The Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  18. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  19. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  20. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami 

The last book that I completed was To Kill a Mockingbird last week.  Currently, I am reading Sputnik Sweetheart. So . . . 6/20-- not too bad-ish, right?
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

20 Books of Summer Update #2



Since we're in the middle of July, I thought I would let everyone know how far along I am in my 20 Books of Summer 2015 challenge.  So far, I have completed five of my twenty books and I am in the process of reading another, To Kill a Mockingbird, in preparation for purchasing and reading another, Go Set a Watchman.  I'm not as far along as I would like to be (as ever) but I am making progress and will continue to push forward during my lulls between feverishly executed tasks. 

  1. N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto [Completed in June]
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami  [Completed in July]
  3. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon 
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  5. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 
  6. Brave Genius by Sean B. Carroll 
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston 
  9. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  11. Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks
  12. The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey
  13. If On a Winter's Night a Travler by Italo Calvino 
  14. The Babysitters Club: Mary Ann Saves the Day  by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  15. Drama by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  17. The Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  18. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier [Completed in July]
  19. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  20. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami 
Saturday, July 11, 2015

[Belated] July TBR


Now that Japanese June is officially over, I have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to July my literary choices.  While I didn't meet my reading goal last month I got very close to it.  In that spirit, I have set out a somewhat ambitious July TBR.  Here is what is on my list this month:


Complete Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 
At the end of last month, I only had 150 pages or so left.  This month I am determined to complete this book . . . especially since I have been reading it off and on since April!


Read The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera for the International Reads Book Club on GoodReads.


Re-read To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for . . .


. . . reading Go Set a Watchman. [Obviously!]


Completing the Rainer Telgemeier books on my 20 Books of Summer TBR: Sisters, Drama, and Maryann Saves the Day (#3 in the Babysitters Club graphic novel series)

And my bonus books for July . . . 


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews [I just picked up the paperback]  as well as . . . 

LAPD '53 by James Ellroy which my wonderful mother grabbed for me when it came into the library . . . you've got to love a mama who remembers your love of vintage crime scene photos!

What books are on your TBR this month?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @thelexicondev. 
Saturday, July 4, 2015

20 Books of Summer: Update #1



If you are a frequent browser of TLD, or if you know my reading habits IRL (Hi, Mom!), then you will have noticed that I have made some substitutions to my original "20 Books of Summer" TBR.  For those of you who haven't kept an eagle eye on my blog . . . my revised (as of 4 July 2015) list is as follows:
  1. N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto [Completed in June]
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami 
  3. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon 
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  5. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 
  6. Brave Genius by Sean B. Carroll 
  7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston 
  9. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  10. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  11. Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks
  12. The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey
  13. If On a Winter's Night a Travler by Italo Calvino 
  14. The Babysitters Club: Mary Ann Saves the Day  by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier
  15. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  17. The Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  18. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
  19. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  20. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami 
You'll notice that I am well behind the curve on my reading due in part to working, writing, personal stuff, and the challenge of reading through the The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Here's to hoping that I will be able to get caught up with my list while waiting out the fireworks tonight!

Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers and a happy weekend to everyone else!
Friday, July 3, 2015

Japanese June Wrap-Up



Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, in the United States.  For most of my countrymen, this means looking for a small stockpile of incendiary devices that semi-legal in short order.  For me, this means it's time for my June reading wrap-up.  

On the whole, June wasn't a particularly strong reading month for me.  I have been busy with work, a writing project, and some health challenges in the past several weeks that have prevented me from doing as much reading as I would like.  It's funny: reading is one of my greatest joys in life, yet the activity gives me a lot of anxiety: I never think that I am reading enough, that I am reading too slowly, or that what I am reading isn't as good as it should be.  Undoubtedly these feelings are about something other than reading, but I digress . . . 

For the international reads book club on Good Reads last month was the Japanese June Read-a-thon.  Here is what I read during the month:


The first book I completed in June was Adrian Tomine's Summer Blonde which I loathed with a passion I normally reserve for Hugh Jackman.  I have read two collections of Optic Nerve comics from Tomine and both of them left me disgusted by the emotional immaturity of his characters.  Tomine and I grew up in the same geographic area, so the cultural references he makes are ones that I readily pick up on . . . and they are also aspect of NorCal that make my stomach turn.  If you're into characters who are "Bay Area" in the most pejorative of senses, by all means read Summer Blonde.  However, if you're more apt to hate read the book, I suggest you check out my review from a few weeks ago instead.

I next read N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto.  You might remember that I re-read Yoshimoto's Kitchen back in April.  I had read Kitchen when I was in high school and loved the book dearly and, I am happy to say, loved the book again on re-read.  Sadly, I did not like N.P. nearly as much as Kitchen.  On the five star Good Reads scale, I went back and forth on if I should give the book two or three stars and, after more than one edit, decided to give N.P. two.

The novel is about a young woman who works as an English translator at a Tokyo University. A few years before the novel's events, the young woman's boyfriend committed suicide while translating the final story in a collection of a Japanese author (writing in English) who had also committed suicide.  In addition to her boyfriend, a few other people who had tried to translate the story had also committed suicide.  By chance, the young woman befriends the dead authors children (a son and a daughter) and becomes wrapped-up in their emotionally fraught world.   



What bothered me most about this book wasn't its often disturbing plot, but the thematic elements that are introduced and then disappear almost as quickly as they are introduced.  The novel had a lot of potential . . . it just never delivered on any of it, sadly. 

Lastly, I ended June by completing about 80% of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, which I plan to complete in the next few days (God willing)!  



All-in-all I did rather well in Japanese June-- accomplishing two of the goals and getting close on the final one-- and I am happy with my performance.  What did you read in June.  Let me know in the comments or one my social media.