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Cow postcard sent to Germany NL-112622 (copyright unknown)

Okay, now it’s official: sometimes I’m just a stupid Dutch cow. *
(Cows are cute though! ;)

I thought that the Friday Book Blogger Hop only happened on… Fridays. I even laughed at Novroz for doing it on the wrong day! Silly me ;) Jennifer’s Book Blogger Hop at Crazy for Books is a party that goes on for the whole weekend.

This week I was triggered by Lori enquiring:

Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?

Book Blogger Hop logoMy answer to this question is that it really depends on the book I’m reading, the music I’m listening to, loudness & language. If I’m reading a book in English the lyrics of a dito song can be distracting if it is being played too loud. On the other hand I love to create a cosy atmosphere with some candles and soft classical music, or melancholic Turkish songs by Sezen Aksu. So there’s no definite yes or no to this question!

Album cover Hot Day In Waco (Dogbowl & Kramer)Without a doubt books and music can become an integrated experience. Right after I had finished my studies in Museology I lay in bed for three whole days and read. Noooo, I wasn’t ill! Just tired and very happy with my time off. Mr Gnoe (who was still only Gnoe’s BF at the time ;) had recently bought a cd by Dogbowl & Kramer, called A Hot Day in Waco. He played it all the time, while I was immersed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy… It is more than 10 years ago but whenever I hear a song from that album, Frodo, Gollum & Gandalf appear before my mind’s eye and I’m back in Middle-Earth!

The Lord of the Rings / In de Ban van de ring

Mr Gnoe’s taste in music has evolved and Kramer can only very rarely be heard at our place these days. But today I’ll share When te Sun Goes Down with you (4:19 mins)!

I would like to add that this was the first and only time I have read books in the Fantasy genre. I loved wandering about in that magic world, but once was quite enough. And up until today I have refused to watch the movie adaptation: I do not want a director to replace my personal images of The Lord of the Rings. I really don’t care what people think of that — I already admitted that I’m sometimes plain stupid ;)

* Mr Gnoe is Not Amused that I’m calling myself a cow in this post. Don’t you love that? :))

Other bookish things

I’m currently reading The Accidental by Ali Smith. Haven’t gotten really far yet so I can’t tell you anything about it. I finished Sarah Waters’ Affinity the previous weekend when I was staying with family in the Hautes Fagnes (Belgium). It was a fun read and I hope to share my thoughts with you in a few days.

In between my previous Sunday Salon and Waters I also read Shusaku Endo’s Silence for the Japanese Book Group and The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch for my personal 2008-2010 challenge and this year’s What’s in a name challenge, category ‘body of water’. Aw, lots of reviews to write up!

Cover The Accidental, by Ali SmithCover Silence, by Shusaku EndoCover The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch)

The Pillow Book

Reading along with the ‘Pillow Book Friday‘ on In Spring It Is The Dawn
Arrived at entry: 111/180
Entries read since last time: 26
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition: Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

Last month I went out to dinner with two of my friends and they were really strict with me, telling me to quit (!) reading The Pillow Book. Why? Because I hardly took up a book at all and reading the plotless musings of Sei Shōnagon had become a huge chore. Honest, it was a BIG relief to hear them say that! So I stopped, but never got round to pulling the cover off my blog page. Today I wanted to do so, but not without telling you about it! Maybe I shouldn’t have… While checking the page number where I had ended my Pillow Book project, I noticed I have only about 75 entries more entries to go — less than a hundred pages! What to do???

Cover Geketende Democratie (Japan), Hans van der LugtOther Japan-related nonfiction I’m reading is a book by Hans van der Lugt, a Dutch reporter having stayed on the Japanese islands for over 10 years: Geketende democratie, Japan achter de schermen. It hasn’t been published in English but if I’d have a go at translating the title it would be something like: Democracy in Chains; Behind the Scenes in Japan. The author’s revealing accounts are quite interesting, but the book doesn’t really call out to me to come read. And that is what I need these days! I guess I could ‘do’ a chapter every once in a while — maybe after I have finished reading The Pillow Book? ;)

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

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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? :)

Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)May has almost ended and I have read just 1 book this month (next to the The Pillow Book read-along, that is). But it was FABULOUS! I’ve been reading the long expected new novel by David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetCover Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanI already told you a little about it in a Sunday Salon earlier this month and you can find a quote in my post about new bento goodies. I’m working on a review but it’s not the only blogpost that needs to be written and I don’t seem to have enough time on my hands. It’s #3 on my todo list: first I need to focus on a buddy-review of Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman with Elsje and next is somethingIcan’ttalkaboutyet ;)

Things I’m looking forward to this week

JLC4 logo gicleeOn Tuesday a new Japanese Literature Challenge is setting of! I’ve been looking forward to it very much since I finished the 3rd edition in January :) Er.. I am a bit embarrassed to admit I still haven’t written 2 of my reviews, nor a wrap-up post :\

I hope to finish Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book during those 6 months of JLC4 (150 of 342 pages left) and I also plan to read the next 5 books:

  • 'Pinball, 1973' has arrived!Silence by Shusaku Endo (Japanese Book Group Read for June 28th) – 306 pages
  • The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (JLit Read-along from July – September) – 530 pages of small print
  • Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (a gift of velvet) – 142 pages
  • Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami – 130 pages
  • Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (acquired this week through a bookswap with tanabata from In Spring It Is The Dawn, one of my favourite weblogs) – 179 pages

This means I need to read a book a month (amounting to 1437 pages in total)… Gotta speed up!
ETA: the challenge will run from June 1st – January 30th 2011 so that gives me 2 months extra ;)

If you’d like to join the challenge as well (you actually only need to read one book by a Japanese author!) I can recommend Be With You (Takuji Ichikawa), one of my 2 favourite reads of 2009: The Old Capital (Yasunari Kawabata), The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa) and any book by Haruki Murakami or Kazuo Ishiguro.

Program guide & tickets opera WakeThe other MAJOR EVENT I’m looking forward to is a trip to Teylers Museum in Haarlem next Saturday, where I’ll be listening to David Mitchell talking about his inspiration for Dr. Marinus in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

Of course I’ll also have my copy signed, together with our program guide of the opera Wake for which Mitchell wrote the libretto. I hope I won’t be tongue-tied this time… As a non-smoker I need to ask him not to draw a joint — he did that twice before when we got our books signed LOL.

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 85/86
Entries read since last time: 25
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition: Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

I’m enjoying Sei Shōnagon’s book more than before. Although I’m really more of a plot-reader I like to learn about the culture & court life of 10th century Japan. I was surprised to find out that Shōnagon was not just writing her journal out of her own initiative but that ‘people’ were expecting her to write everything down and not leave anything out… (entry #67). Also, there are more ladies called Shōnagon among the courtesans: Gen Shōnagon and Shin Shōnagon. Does the name mean something special relating to court? Do the women get a new name (pseudonym) once they enter the Empress’s circle? I hope to find out someway! Maybe you can tell me?

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

When this post goes ‘on air’ I’ll be lounging in a velvet chair on the final day of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, enjoying 5 movies that were favourites of the festival audience. Oh goody ;)

Of course I’ll be tagging a book along for possible interludes: I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki. I’ve started reading the last part (3rd volume) for the Japanese Literature Read-along, which ends February 15th. But that’s not the only read-along I’m participating in at the moment — sort of. This week we’ve begun reading the classic The Pillowbook by Sei Shōnagon. It’s in a leisurely pace of only 10 diary items a week. I’ve received a Dutch translation of the Ivan Morris Penguin edition, Het Hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon, which seems to be a little abridged. So at times I’ll be reading even less entries… But for now I haven’t even managed my first 10 yet — oops! Well, it’s on my nighstand, together with the Kitagawa Utamaro bookmark I used with The Housekeeper and the Professor — doesn’t that count for something? ;)

Velvet of vvb32reads has started a while ago and decided on editing her post about The Pillowbook on a regular basis. Tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn will write an update post each Friday. So, how am I going to tackle it? I think I’ll be using my weekly Sunday Salon as a dumping ground for my thoughts on the book! The read-along project will take us until somewhere in autumn, so don’t say I haven’t warned ya ;)

I missed out on last week’s Sunday Salon because I had the flu :( Good thing I had my Hello Japan! music sessions scheduled! Otherwise it would have been even quieter on Graasland.

These are the bookish things I didn’t tell you about yet:

  • I posted a review for The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, including a small giveaway that was won by Amanda from The Zen Leaf.
  • I finished reading The Rapture by Liz Jensen. W O W what a great read! I was wondering if it could be called a Dystopian novel, but NO. And now I’m not sure if I should disclose what genre it does belong to. I hope to write a post about it soon but to be honest: it is not on top of my list because I had promissed myself to limit myself to challenge book reviews…
  • Also finished reading the last ‘Lynley mystery’ (so far): Careless in Red, by Elizabeth George. I had it on my shelf for exactly a situation like this — being ill. I’ve read all the books in the series in succession. Remember I was disappointed last year when I thought I had another one in my hands but it wasn’t? And now there really is no comfort read standby anymore! :(
  • Of course there are enough other books at hand; and Mr Mailman even brought us some more: Waltz with Bashir graphic novel (the ‘animentary’ was one my two best movies of 2009), Silence by Shusaku Endo (May’s read for the Japanese Literature Book Group), and The Makioka Sisters by Junichirō Tanizaki (JapLit Read-along from July to September). In February-March the bookgroup is reading Dance Dance Dance by Murakami, preceded by A Wild Sheep Chase — which I both recently read so I’ll be buddyreading Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman with Elsjelas instead. His The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is the current read-along and since that was the book that triggered my interest in this author (and Japanese literature?), I can take a break from all the herding ;)
  • A comic book I read is In The Shadow of No Towers by ‘Mr Maus‘, Art Spiegelman. And I wrote a blogpost about my experience with a Dutch classic as a graphic novel: De Avonden. Oh, that was my Sunday Salon of two weeks back ;)

The Pillowbook

Now, about The Pillowbook. It’s a book of observations, musings, poetry etc. recorded by Sei Shōnagon, a Heian court lady to Empress Teishi, during the years 990 – early 1000’s. It is called a pillow book because precious personal possessions like this were stowed away in a cavity of the woodblock (?) that was traditionally used as a pillow. I have tried to find a picture of such a headrest but failed. I’ll keep looking! Or if anyone could oblige??

My experience with the I Am a Cat read-along has taught me to leave the introduction till last, so I don’t know much (more) about the book yet in advance. And I’m a bit reluctant to start because somehow (somewhere) I’ve gotten the idea that it might be dull. Something to find out eh? ;) I’m curious to know whether it will remind me of Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) by Murasaki Shikibu, which is from approx. the same time — or if it’s completely different. I actually only read part of ‘Genji’ and have thought back to it when I read other Japanese books, like Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

Sorry, lots of text today for you, little images. For me it’ll be the other way ‘round!

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)

As you know I have joined next year’s What’s in a Name challenge, hosted by Beth F. Even though it is not compulsory I decided to try and compile a list of books fitting the categories — just to keep myself on track. Of course I might change titles along the way.

  1. Category food: Living Among Meat Eaters by Carol J. Adams (non-fiction), or The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (‘Zoet’ in this title being a Dutch surname meaning ‘sweet’).
    * read in April – May *
  2. Category body of water: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving,
    or The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.
    * read in July *
  3. Category title: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa.
    * read in January *
  4. Category plant: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
    * read in August *
    And The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
    * read in August – September *
  5. Category place name: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi ( an ancient capital, Unesco World Heritage Site in what is now Iran)
    * read in September *
    Or The China Lover by Ian Buruma.
  6. Category music term: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
    * read in April *
    And Silence by Shusaku Endo.
    * read in June *

Can I start now? Please? ;)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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