I read Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami in January 2017
Breasts and Eggs is the second novella of Japanese author Mieko Kawakami and was published in 2008. In the book we meet Natsu, a single woman living in one of Tokyo’s poorer neighbourhoods. The book begins with Mieko going to the train station to pick up her sister Makiko and her daughter Midoriko who are visiting Tokyo from Osaka. Makiko is coming to Tokyo to look into getting breast implants while Midorika has stopped talking and only communicates with the rest of the world through her notebook.
Iceland, that small island all alone up north in the Atlantic ocean. A country of vikings, sagas, volcanoes and geysirs. A country that almost took over the financial world before being dragged back down by the 2008 market crash. A country where a volcano grounded almost all European air traffic for weeks. And a country where one of the great showdowns of the Cold War happened, over the chess board that is. It might be a small country but it is a country with a long and proud history.
Balkan Ghosts: a Journey Through History by Robert D. Kaplan
I read Balkan Ghosts by by Robert Kaplan in October 2016
Balkan Ghosts is part travel book and part history book. The author, through his travels, is able to tell the history of the Balkan area, mixing his own experiences in with the story of this fascinating region. Completed in 1990 and published three years later, it is a book about the Balkans before the horrible wars of the ninetees, when Nationalism and corrupt politicians set old Yugoslavia on fire. The book did not sell well at first, but saw an increase in popularity when Presiden Clinton was seen with the book. In fact, the book is said to have made up Clinton’s mind not to deploy troops to aid the Bosnian Moslems, a choice the author actually disagrees with.
Japan Through the Looking Glass by Alan MacFarlane
I read Japan Through the Looking Glass by Alan MacFarlane in June 2015 and October 2016
Japan Through the Looking Glass is a study of Japan. It’s culture, ideas, way of life, way of thinking. Alan MacFarlane, an anthropologist and historian, holding a professorate at King’s College in Cambridge, is the author of several anthropological and historical books and articles on England, Nepal, China and Japan. His interest in Japan began in 1990 when offered a visiting scholarship to Japan. Since then MacFarlane has visited Japan on multiple occations, and have developed friendships with several colleagues in Japan. The book, published in 2007, is a result of these trips and friendships.
I read Kansai Cool by Christal Whelan in July 2016
Kansai, a region home to about 19% of the Japanese, is maybe the most important and most ‘Japanese’ region in the country. Including the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe, Kansai is in many way the historical and cultural home of Japan.
While busy Tokyo, in the Kanto region, is now the busiest and most visited city in Japan, the cities of Kansai can often be more laidback, relaxed, fun and open.
Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer by Frank Brady
I read Endgame by Frank Brady in March 2016
Bobby Fischer still is of some fame today, thirty years ago he was known across the globe. And made Reykjavik and Iceland famous world wide too. A simple game of chess captivated audiences around the world, culminating in victory to the lonely American, taking the trophy from the mighty Soviet chess system. The cold war across the board, where the Russians always had been way stronger, was suddenly won by the US.
I read Coin Locker Babies by Ryu urakami in June 2016
Coin Locker Babies is a novel by Ryu Murakami, first published in 1980 in Japan, and translated into English in 1995.
Murakami is known for his dark, gritty books, and Coin Locker Babies does not disappoint. The book introduces us to Toxitown, a neighboorhood in Tokyo known both for its toxicity and its black market, where everything is for sale. Drawn to this place are the two orphans, Hashi and Kiku, coin locker babies who were left by their mothers in coin lockers at a train station. Growing up in an orphanage they then move to fosterparents in Kyushu before running away to Tokyo when they turn 16.
Tales of Iceland or Running with the Huldufólk in the Permanent Daylight by Stephen Markley
I read Tales of Iceland by Stephen Markley in May 2016
Ever since he, as a university student, heard Quentin Tarantino speak of Iceland, a country where supermodels worked at McDonald’s, Stephen Markley had wanted to go to Iceland. But as things always got in the way, it took a while to realise his dream.
The Cellist of Sarajevo is Galloway’s, a teacher of creative writing at the University of British Colombia, third novel, and deals with the siege of Sarajevo during the Balkan Civil War. Based on true events from the war, the book is still a work of fiction and makes no claim that whatever is written is a description of actual events.
I read The Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck in April 2016
The Log from the Sea of Cortez tells of John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts’ trip to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, a scientific trip with the goal of collecting samples of specimen of marine creatures in the area. Onboard the Western Flyer, a sardine boat rented for the occation, they embark on a journey over 6000 kilometers long.