As someone who used to read a lot as a kid, and spent a large portion of high school in the library, I love books. During university, I didn’t really have the time to read for pleasure, so after five years of academic journals and textbooks, I’ve decided that it’s time to make time.
Here’s what I’ll be reading this summer…
Norwegian Wood (ノルウエイの森 Noruwei no Mori)
by Haruki Murakami
At the sound of a Beatles song, Toru Watanabe reminisces about his student days and his relationships with two women. In a period of civil unrest and university strikes, Watanabe is recovering from the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Watanabe grows closer to Kizuki’s girlfriend, Naoko, but after they sleep together she mysteriously disappears. It is later revealed that she has been committed to a sanatorium in the countryside. In Naoko’s absence, Watanabe starts meeting Midori from his drama class…
Given that this book is named after a Beatles song, it’s quite fitting that I actually bought it in Liverpool. This isn’t my first Murakami book, having read Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki, so I had some idea of what this story would be like. Norwegian Wood is considered to be one of the best books written by Haruki Murakami, and often read as an introduction to his work. Clearly, I don’t do things in the right order, but I figured it must be popular for a reason. I’m currently about two thirds of the way through and it is interesting, but the gritty realism means that it’s not always a comfortable read.
The Great Passage (舟を編む Fune wo Amu)
by Shion Miura
With retirement fast approaching, Kohei Araki has the task of finding his replacement – a bright young lexicographer to take over his position at Gembu Books. That man, Mitsuya Majime, starts his new job faced with a monumental feat; to complete a comprehensive collection of the entire Japanese language. Supported by a team of linguists and his new mentor, he begins his journey, finding love, friendship and a renewed passion for language along the way.
Recommended by Amazon, this book combines some of my favourite things, so I just had to have it. I’m learning Japanese, I’m qualified in linguistics and words have always interested me so I have a good feeling I’m going to relate to the protagonist. An anime adaptation was released on Amazon Prime in the Fall 2016 season, but I’d completely forgotten about it until I’d actually bought the book. I don’t use Amazon enough to use a Prime account, but now I can enjoy the story anyway.
The Book of Tea (茶の本 Cha no Hon)
by Kakuzo Okakura
At just over 100 pages long, this short book explores the art of tea. Originally written in 1906 to educate Westerners, it talks about the tea ceremony, philosophy, and the relationship between East and West.
I’m going to be completely honest, I only bought this because it worked out cheaper to buy another book alongside The Great Passage and get free shipping. I’d been considering something by Ryuunosuke Akutagawa but seeing as my last two books have been by Haruki Murakami, I was looking for something a little less depressing. Being British, I’m a bit of a tea addict, so it made perfect sense to pick this one up. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to watch a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and I was blown away with how much thought and detail went into each movement.
The Japanese definitely put Brits to shame when it comes to tea and I really want to learn more about its links with Japan’s history and culture.
Are there any books you’re reading this summer? Are there any you’d like to read? Let me know in the comments!