Rather than posting my TBR list, I am going to start doing short summaries of what I have read each month, including all the books that I don’t feel inspired to write a full review for! April was a weird reading month, I had more DNF (Did Not Finish) books this month than in the past two years combined, thankfully I also had some great reads, as well as heartbreaking but important true stories.
I am still working my way through Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, which is a good book but a heard read. It is exactly the kind of Native American history I was looking for, so I am grateful the book exists but I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must have been to write.
I finally re-read Walden, it was my first read of the Kindle edition and honestly, I appreciated having the dictionary feature! The people in my social group don’t use words like manna-wise in a sentence very often!
I DNF’d Guy McPherson’s Going Dark because 25% of the way in he had not yet reached the main topic of the book and I had already picked out some gaping logic holes. The formatting of the Kindle version was also very poor. McPherson seems like a nice man, dedicated to his work, but I feel he has become too jaded and cynical and its shows through in what is supposed to be a scientific piece.
Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche was my top read of the month, and probably one of my top reads of the year so far. We really need to hear more human stories like these.
The Roads to Sata showed me a side of Japan that I would never have seen in the news or on YouTube. I already have Booth’s second book, Looking for the Lost, which I am excited to read sometime this year.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I’m not even linking this on the off chance that someone clicks on it by accident and thinks it might be a good read. India is a beautiful but complex country. It is not some magical ‘exotic’ land of kindly, simple-minded folk just waiting for a ‘weary Westerner’ to come along to share their ‘gems’ of enlightenment with. This is a fable of a white man gaining the earthy wisdom of the noble savage. If I had the misfortune of having a physical copy of this book I would kill it with fire. DNF at 10%.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. I have a lot of unread Murakami books that I bought because it’s such a safe bet I will enjoy them. Sadly this is not one. A mixture of more than the usual dose of magical realism, and a translation that simply didn’t feel Murakami to me made me put this down after a couple chapters.
Dispatches by Michael Herr. This is the first of two books I plan to read on the Vietnam war, this representing the Western perspective, and The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh from the Vietnamese perspective. It’s a story about people at war rather than an account of the Vietnam war, so I may still pick up another Western book looking more at the politics.
Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World by Iddo Landau. This has been a truly wonderful read and one I will certainly be re-reading several times throughout my life. I am considering buying a paperback version to keep in my ‘lifestyle bible’ collection.
A Monk’s Guide To A Clean House And Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto unless you are really into cleaning or Buddhism, you probably won’t get much out of this book, but I found it a peaceful and pleasant read to take some of the edge off of Bury My Heart.
All The Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket, I was a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and after watching the Netflix adaptation I decided to look for more Snicket goodness and stumbled upon the All The Wrong Questions series. They have the same quirky bookish fun that made ASoUE stand out. **Shortly after writing this, I found out about the sexual harassment/racism claims made against Daniel Handler. From what I read he is making an effort to address his failings (better than JK Rowling), but it is still disappointing. **
Japonisme: Ikigai, Forest Bathing, Wabi-sabi and more by Erin Niimi Longhurst. I have to confess to being a lifelong Nipponophile, probably since watching Hayao Miyazaki’s Naussica as a child. Japan has so many good idea’s worth sharing, and this book brings together a few of those ideas in gorgeously laid out little volume. I’m planning to do a full review of this shortly.