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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? logoWHOOOAAH! Another post today? Yes! Joining in again with Sheila from Book Journey’s It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme.

I’m currently reading two books.

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtGeketende democratie: Japan achter de schermen (‘Democracy in Chains: Behind the Scenes of Japan‘) ~ Dutch nonfiction about Japan by Hans van der Lugt, who’s been a foreign correspondent in Tokyo for 10 years. It’s a very interesting book and I’m glad I recently picked it up again after having ignored it for a few months.

This week I’ve been reading about corrupt police officers (and uragana, secret money funds), about the dowa issue (still existent discrimination of the lowest classes) , Van der Lugt ‘meeting’ the emperor and empress in a press meeting where he was the only foreign journalist allowed to ask questions, and the holiday to The Netherlands crown prince Naruhito took in 2006 with his depressed wife Masako. It reminded me that I desperately want to read the biography of the royal princess, written by Micha Fritz & Y. Kobayashi.

Cover Sneeuwland, Yasunari Kawabata (isbn 9029047321)For fiction I’m reading the Dutch translation of Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country: Sneeuwland. I only just started so there’s nothing to tell yet.

In the past week I’ve read the following books & stories.

  • Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
    I had my heart set on reading Murakami’s first novel(la) first thing in 2011. And I did, right after I finished the last book I had started in 2010 (Caos Calmo). It was like meeting a good friend!
  • Near the end of the Hear the Wind Sing I came across this quote:
    “I bought a ticket for the overnight bus, sat down on the waiting room bench, and just looked at the lights of the town. As the night wore on, the lights began to go out until only the street lamps and neon signs were left. From far off steam whistle sounded, ushering in a slight sea breeze.”
    Not only is that shear poetry, it also made me re-read the title story of ‘A Steam Whistle in the Middle of the Night‘, a miniature love story that is absolutely beautiful.
  • Poelie de Verschrikkelijke (‘Poelie the Terrible‘) by Frans Pointl
    This autobiographic collection of cat stories, Kodaks and poetry by Frans Pointl should be read by every cat lover. Just be prepared to shed a tear or two.
  • Last but not least I devoured Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
    It’s the Boekgrrls’ January group read and I’m so glad this book got chosen because chances are it would never have popped up on my radar otherwise. It is so much more than a crime novel! I really felt for 12-year old Steven Lamb, looking for his family’s affection by searching his uncle Billy’s body.
    “How had it happened? Where had he gone? Somewhere, somehow, the little boy who used to be him had disappeared and been replaced by the new him.”

I’m awfully happy with how 2011 started! Planning to keep it up ;)

Of course it’s also Music Monday on this — not so depressing — Blue Monday, so I’ll close off with the wonderful eighties hit by New Order. Enjoy!

Logo Monday: What are you reading?Yesterday I was so busy getting my buddy review of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman online with Elsje that I missed out on the Sunday Salon. Same thing happened last week, so today I decided to join in Sheila’s weekly meme on Book Journey: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? to bring you up-to-date.

Cover Silence, by Shusaku EndoI finshed reading Shusaku Endo’s book Silence for the Japanese Literature Book Group and Japanese Literature Challenge #4 on June 10th. I hope I’ll manage to review the book before the discussion starts on June 28th! Because it is set in Japan just after the country has been closed to foreigners (except Dutch), it was quite appropriate to read after The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (which I hope to review soon too) and it also brought to mind The Bridge of San Luis Rey and one of my all-time favourite movies The Mission.

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtAfter Silence I picked up some Dutch nonfiction about Japan: Geketende democratie, Japan achter de schermen by Hans van der Lugt. It hasn’t been translated into English (yet) but literally the title means ‘Democracy in Chains: Behind the Scenes in Japan’. Hans van der Lugt has been a correspondent in Japan for one our national newspapers (NRC Handelsblad) from 1995-2006. It’s an interesting book but I feel like reading a novel as well so I’ll be starting The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch in the next few days. We’re going on a short trip to one of the Wadden Islands in the North Sea so a book with such a title seems appropriate. It is also part of my personal challenge and the What’s in a Name challenge — I’ll be happy to finally cross it off my wishlist!

I’m still keeping up with the Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book read-along. I’ve read all my entries for this week (#110 in the Morris edition) but I just don’t have anymore time to tell you all about it. That’ll have to wait to another Sunday Salon — or It’s Monday! What Are You reading? :)

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