Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Meg vs. Books: Recent Reads and The '13 List

As you can see in the navigation bar, I started a book list. Last year I started trying to document all of the books I have read. I hate that I can't remember them all, and even forget the plot and the things that touched me. I want to go back and reread some that I know I liked but only vaguely remember, but then there are so many books I still want to read! And I try to stick to the classics because there are so many of them, they are tried and tested, and I hate starting a book and then realizing I'm not going to get much out of it or it isn't appropriate. I love looking at the list and thinking about the books and the different things I got out of each of them. I am such a nerd.

Once I start a book I get wrapped up and have a hard time putting it down (right now my rule, with few exceptions, is that I leave the book in the baby's room and I try to limit myself to reading only while he is nursing. But he has a long, sleepy nursing session every night so I have been doing a surprising amount of reading). I am always tempted to join a book club, but then I don't want to have to read something I can't jump heart and soul into.

So just because I feel like it, I am going to start posting a bit about my reading. If you've read it (or even if you haven't) and want to chat about it, I'm all for it! If you have any book suggestions, pass them this way! If you think I have really boring taste in books, I won't be offended! (My sister, for one, and I think most of John's family, think so. I got a lot of remarks asking why on earth I would read War and Peace.)

So far this year I have finished War and Peace, which I can't even begin to describe except that it is epic and amazing and my brain and heart were so filled for days afterwards.

Next I met my goal of reading one book in Japanese by reading Breaking Into Japanese Literature translated by Giles Murray.

It is a collection of Japanese short stories, and on each page there is the Japanese text, a comprehensive vocabulary dictionary, and the English translation. If you think this is a cop-out on reading in Japanese because you have read lots of books in some romance language, I will ignore that criticism. If you are a non-native speakers and have read any literature in its original Japanese or Russian or Chinese without such an aid, you are my hero, and I will readily admit my inferiority. Having all the help right there on the page made the reading really manageable and enjoyable--other attempts have left me drowning in my dictionary and unable to get through anything beyond a sixth grade reading level (when they stop putting superscripts over new words!). The only other book I have read on my own in Japanese is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which of course is funny because that was originally written in English. If you have studied or are studying Japanese, I would definitely recommend Murray's compilation. And I just discovered that he has a second book out called Exploring Japanese Literature that has the same format, so that may just go on my book list for the future.

And just tonight I finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. My friend Emily reviewed this book over on Everything for the Love, and I had been itching to read it ever since. So you can imagine my delight when I happened upon it at the thrift store for only $1! I loved this memoir--so much food for thought on so many topics: poverty and distribution of wealth, parenting and discipline, priorities, addiction, mental health issues, love, and more than anything the resilience of the human spirit.

On that same trip I also grabbed Snow Falling on Cedars, which I knew nothing about but recognized the name. I am so excited to read it! WWII-era, historical fiction, murder mystery, Japanese-American history, and courtroom drama? This book must have been written for me. I will let you know if it lives up to my hype.


  1. I want to have a book club with you! :)
    Have to make a comment on Snow Falling.... Actually, I'll email you about it.
    Anyway, maybe I'll read some of your (non-Japanese) books with you and we can discuss. :)

  2. I loved Glass Castle and was going to recommend it to you along with Unbroken. FYI,I only read a couple chapters of Snow Falling on Cedars before deciding it wasn't for me. I would have liked all the stuff you listed, it was the other garbage that threw me...

  3. Thanks Bridged! I will have to look into Unbroken. And thanks to Ruth's comment and email, I already quit Snow Falling; I had just reached my first questionable scene and am so glad that you wonderful ladies warned me! There are so many wonderful things to read, I don't really want to waste time with things I won't want to keep in my brain =).

  4. I haven't read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet yet, but I've requested it - it might be an alternative to Snow Falling on Cedars. I'll let you know if I like it.