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Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

I’ve called my yearly overview of books “The Pile of Books I Kicked Over..” once before, but this time the title fits even better. In 2011 I devoured a total of 38 books, which is nine more than I read in 2010!

Now how is that for a first post and Sunday Salon in 2012?

Of course I pledged to tackle eleven more books this year for the Books on the Nightstand +11 in ’11 Challenge, which would have brought my total up to the nice round number of 40. Well, there you have it: my first #FAIL. ;)

Looking over my list, it is not easy to pick an instant favourite. Although I liked most of the books I read, there aren’t many outstanding works worth mentioning. Although I gave three of them the max of 5 stars in Goodreads, concerning one I have a hard time remembering about what it was exactly…

Interlude: here I corrected myself thanks to the marvellous, but strict Dr Kermode who will not allow the word order of “what it was about.” A grammar lesson learnt in 2011. ;)

So, did I accept quantity over quality? No Ma’m, I did not. I could’ve easily picked two short novellas from my shelf when the end of 2011 was nigh. Like Murakami’s Sleep, for instance, T.S. Elliot’s Cats or Joost Zwagerman’s Duel. But just as I promised when I joined the BOTNS challenge, I did not bend my reading preferences according to book size.

Now quit digressing! Here are the books I read in 2011 in reversed chronological order. Other thoughts and statistics will follow later on.

Nina cat checking out our bookshelves

Nina, the Grande Dame who came to live with us this year, checking out our bookshelves

Books read in 2011

  • Kandy: een terugtocht (‘Kandy: a retreat‘), F. Springer
  • Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
  • XY, Sandro Veronesi (Boekgrrls December read)
  • De duif en De erfenis van Maître Mussard, Patrick Süskind
  • Bandoeng-Bandung, F.Springer
  • Van het westelijk front geen nieuws (Im Westen nichts Neues / All Quiet on the Western Front), E.M. Remarque (November Boekgrrls read)
  • Season of the Rainbirds, Nadeem Aslam
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding
  • 1q84 (Boek een, twee & drie), Haruki Murakami (JLit Book Group November/December)
  • Modelvliegen, Marcel Möring
  • Thousand Cranes, Yasunari Kawabata (JLit Book Group August)
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Boekgrrls August read)
  • Underground, Haruki Murakami
  • Dagboek van een Geisha (Memoirs of a Geisha), Arthur Golden
  • Witte oleander (White Oleander), Janet Fitch (bx copy)
  • Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson
  • The Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe (JLit Book Group June)
  • Zeitoun, Dave Eggers (Boekgrrls June read; nonfiction)
  • Verraad, verleiding en verzoening: de rol van eten in speelfilms, Louise O. Fresco & Helen Westerik (nonfiction)
  • Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster
  • The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, Jonathan Coe (Boekgrrls May read)
  • Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America (a Food Memoir), Linda Furiya (nonfiction)
  • Crime School, Carol O’Connell
  • All She Was Worth, Miyuki Miyabe (Bookcrossing book ring)
  • Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone, Ann Gentry (cookbook; Netgalley e-book)
  • 2666, Roberto Bolaño (readalong)
  • La Dolce Vegan! Vegan Livin’ Made Easy, Sarah Kramer (cookbook)
  • In the Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami (JLit Book Group February)
  • Pinball, 1973, Haruki Murakami
  • Ik haal je op, ik neem je mee (Ti prendo e ti porto via / I’ll Steal You Away), Niccolò Ammaniti (Boekgrrls February read)
  • Geketende democratie: Japan achter de schermen (‘Democracy in chains: behind the scenes of Japan‘), Hans van der Lugt (nonfiction)
  • Sneeuwland (Yukiguni / Snowland), Yasunari Kawabata
  • Blacklands, Belinda Bauer (Boekgrrls Januari read)
  • Poelie de Verschrikkelijke (‘Poelie the Terrible‘), Frans Pointl
  • Hear the Wind Sing, Haruki Murakami
  • Kalme chaos (Caos Calmo), Sandro Veronesi (Boekgrrls December 2010 read)

Quite the list eh? And I also reread the beautiful short story Het geluid van een stoomfluit midden in de nacht (Yonaka no kiteki ni tsuite / ‘A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night‘) by Haruki Murakami.

Thoughts

The book(s) I enjoyed the most this year was Haruki Murakami’s 1q84 trilogy. Readers from the Japanese and English speaking hemispheres may wonder why I keep using a lower case ‘q’ (kyu) when referring to the author’s latest work, since it’s originally written as 1Q84. Well, the Dutch translators decided to use a small ‘q’, resembling the number ‘9’ much better!

Volumes 1,2 and 3 together are over 1350 pages thick but I read all three of them in just two weeks. Enough proof of how much I liked it. :) It’s a typical late Murakami of which story you should know nothing beforehand.

Cover 1q84 Book One (Haruki Murakami); Dutch version Cover 1q84 Book Two (Haruki Murakami); Dutch version Cover 1q84 Boek drie (Haruki Murakami)

Reading 1q84 I regularly had to think back to a work of non-fiction I read earlier this year: Underground, about the Tokyo gas attack. It’s amazing how delicate Murakami treats the subject, showing more about himself as a person than I ever saw, heard or read in interviews or previous books.

Cover Underground (Haruki Murakami)

A further special mention goes to another Japanese novel: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. A strange story calling up an eerie atmosphere; bordering on a grim fairy tale. The images easily reappear before my mind’s eye so I have no problems recalling what this classic is about. Oops, preposition at the end of my sentence again, apologies to Dr Kermode! ;)

Cover Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe

So it’s all Japanese favourites this year. Figures. ;) One of my intentions for 2012 is to read a little more OUT of my comfort zone. Another post will out-lay the rest of my reading plans for this year. *whispers* I haven’t really figured them out yet myself!

Luckily I also very much liked some non-JLit books like Sandro Veronesi’s XY (thought-provoking), Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (compelling), Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands (thrilling) and Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun (shocking).

The biggest bone to tackle this year was 2666 BY FAR. It’s supposed to be a contemporary classic and comes highly recommended by one of my favourite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, but it could not charm me. I struggled all the way through to the end and I’m proud to say that I was at least able to finish it! 898 pages of small characters, in English. Gah.

Cover 2666 (Roberto Bolaño)

2011 Book charts

As always I’d love to share some pie charts. About the gender of authors read, the ratio of fiction to non-fiction (to faction, which is null ;), where I got my copies from, peer-pressure (!) and the language area from which authors originate.

Gender of authors read

Hm, I’m not completely satisfied with the ratio of female authors to male among the books I read this year.. Needless to say it should be more of a fifty-fifty situation!

Pie chart author gender 2011

Fiction to non-fiction

The fiction / non-fiction chart doesn’t show much difference from previous years: I obviously prefer to read fiction — especially now that I’m having ‘concentration issues’. O_o

Pie chart fiction to nonfiction 2011

The Pile

I haven’t looked at the origin of my books before, but as I seem to have read a lot of books being passed on by other Boekgrrls, I thought I’d analyse that data this year. ;)

Pie chart copies 2011

Peer-pressure

Oh how I love my peer-pressure. Buddyreads, group reads, readalongs & readathons, challenges, book rings… You name it — been there, seen it, done that. ;) Of course I should also have put in this graph the books I read without any relation to others… Next time, I promise.

Pie chart peer pressure 2011

Language areas

Now I did not read all of these books in their original language, it’s just a vague chart dividing my books into language areas. Most books that are written in English I read in their original language. The same goes for Dutch books. :) The rest I’ve read in translation to either Dutch or English. Maybe next year I’ll try my hand at some German..?
Note: of course Chilean and Pakistani are nationalities, not languages, but you get the idea.

Pie chart of author language areaSo, did you surpass and/or surprise yourself with the books you’ve read?
Any favourites you’d like to share?
Did you read any of mine?

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Chinese Literature Challenge buttonToday I’m on a hike in National Park De Hoge Veluwe with my fellow Wandelgrrls. Chinoiseries is among them and she put the screws to me with her Literary Blog Hop Giveaway rules… I’ve thought about joining the Chinese Literature Challenge she’s hosting ever since it started early February and now she finally got me to! So here’s a quick post about my –ahem– ‘list’.

Level of participation: Merchant (read 1-3 books from Chinese authors or about China).

  1. Dromen van China (The China Lover), Ian Buruma

I may add a second and third title in the future but I’m wary of creating ‘reading stress’ ;) Because I also joined the 5th Japanese Literature Challenge that started this month!

Japanese Literature Challenge #5 logoThat’s not really much of a challenge because I’ll be reading several books by Japanese authors anyway. Currently on my night-stand: The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. I haven’t read anything by him before and I’m impressed so far: a Story with a capital S. It’s the June read for the Japanese Book Group on In Spring it is the Dawn and I also plan on reading along Thousand Cranes, Kokoro and 1q84 (I-III). Then there’s my readalong of The Elephant Vanishes with Elsjelas coming up. Counting my recent review of All She Was Worth (Miyuki Miyabe) that makes… 6 books. And there are plenty more on my shelf that I’m dying to read! Of course the difficult part in my case is never the reading, but reviewing.

1st Literary Giveaway Blog Hop ButtonIn case you haven’t noticed yet: there’s another Literary Giveaway Blog Hop going on at Leeswammes’, from June 25th-29th. There are over 70 participants! Although I joined the first hop around my birthday in February, I decided to let this one pass since it’s a busy weekend. Would have been fun to do another giveaway though, ‘cause this time it’s Mr Gnoe’s B-day! ;)

Other bookish news

Cover Zeitoun (Dave Eggers) 9789048806577I started and finished reading Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun this week, nonfiction about a family living in New Orleans during Katrina — the June read for the Boekgrrls book group. I’m probably not going to review it on Graasland. You can always check out my notes on Goodreads! The one thing that I must add is that it was translated to Dutch by one of the Wandel-/Boekgrrls and she did a GREAT job! Kudos MaaikeB!

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

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