I love to read, but of course, I don’t have much time. For Lent I gave up an hour of reading in bed each night (I’m not Catholic, I just like to give up things for Lent). Let’s face it, I needed the sleep more than I needed the escapism of reading. And I don’t think, now that Easter has passed, that I’ll take that hour back for reading. After all, both of the kids woke up several times last night, so anywhere I can find an hour or more of sleep, I need to do so.
Anyhow, reading. I read when I nurse Jamie. And that’s about it. The Kindle has been a Godsend for this, as it is not heavy or floppy and I never lose my place.
I would love to find a simple way to keep track of the books I want to read and the books I have read, but so far, only the Amazon Wishlist seems to work for me. Are you a member of Goodreads? I don’t get it. I’m on there, and I made an account, but there’s just too much, you know? Every book, every version of every book. It takes forever to load, and I do not have a slow connection. Also, I can’t figure out how to get it to tell me what I want – Amazon does a much better job of suggesting books based on search history than Goodreads does, AND I can change my browsing history if I didn’t like a book.
Anyhow, here is what I’m currently reading:
Have you read it? It’s interesting, for a variety of reasons I wasn’t expecting.
First, my mom recommended it, and I have to believe that she read it long ago. Now, my parents are pretty “with it” people, and I don’t for a minute think they’re innocents or anything ridiculous (they had to conceive me, after all), but it is a little strange to read a book and know that your mom also read all the smutty stuff you’re seeing on the pages. So that was the first thing that surprised me: this book is RAUNCHY. In a very matter-of-fact way.
Allow me to back up. It’s set in 1500s Japan at a time when Japan was a myth to most Europeans and only opened up to trade by the Jesuits for a few decades. An English sea pilot guides his ill-fated ship there and is embroiled in what amounts to a clan war in the power-vacuum left after a big wig Samurai leader has died.
This sounds like the stuff of literary magic, right? The premise is ripe for winding prose and turns of phrases. You can imagine that an author would wax poetic about the untouched beauty of Japan, etc, etc, no? But that’s not at all what this book is.
It’s action-packed. That surprised me, too, because the action basically never stops. Can you see that I was expecting a tough, literary novel that would make me think? The point of view jumps from person to person, and that’s tedious (because you have to figure out who’s thinking) and sometimes confusing. The Japanese are more appalled at the bathing and sexual habits of the Western Barbarians than anything else, and the Japanese disregard for life based on Buddhist reincarnation and Samurai loyalties (and the murder and ritual suicide that frequently goes with it) baffles the Westerners. It’s the customs of the two sides that get the most discussion, not beauty or faith or anything like that.
But I like it because the characters are real, not some boring ideal protagonist in a prize-winning novel: brooding, introspective, discovering things about him- or herself. Who does that? Not many people, that’s for sure. If we were in Japan in the 1500s and any of the characters in this book, we would act exactly the same. Sometimes crazy, mostly shocked and scrambling in a time of almost-war. The prose is not complicated, either.
I think it is a classic because it does a great job of contrasting the Japanese culture and the Western culture of the time. And though I am only about a third of the way through, I am enjoying it immensely. So you should read it, too.
Want to know the rest of my reading list? The following are the books I have on request from the library:
I just wish I had more time to read – Jamie is a power nurser, so it seems as though I get through a book in five- or ten-minute chunks.