(photo from here)
Here’s the final entry of “Books (an ongoing series)” for 2012. In total I read 59 books this year. Books 28-59 were read from September 12 onward, on the road. I had a lot of time to kill sitting at train stations and bus stops or eat alone (#eatingalone) in ramen shops.
My favourite books this year were Helter Skelter, Geisha of Gion, Tokyo Vice, The Diana Chronicles, Love is a Mixtape, Gone Girl and Bring Up the Bodies.
Please also enjoy some of my favourite Japan photos I’ve come across lately.
When in Japan
Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein
Underground by Haruki Murakami
It’s so fun to read books that take place in or are related to where you’re traveling at the moment. For Japan, I dove into some Murakami, a huge favourite for many of my friends. I really enjoyed Underground, his non-fiction account of the Tokyo subway gas attacks and was chilled to realize I had been riding the same lines while there. After the Quake had some great little stories but Hard Boiled Wonderland sometimes bordered on a bit too surreal for me.
Geisha of Gion is the autobiography of the geisha on whom Memoirs of a Geisha was partially based. I actually found Iwasaki’s charming recap of her career even more interesting then Golden’s sometimes ham fisted story telling.
Tokyo Vice was so fun to read while in Tokyo, I wish it had been 1000 pages longer! I messaged the author with kudos and he kindly suggested if I went through Tokyo again that we could get coffee, but I never made it back. It would have been fun to pick his brain.
(photo by Andrew Theodore Johnson)
Thank Dog I Have an eReader
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
LA Candy by Lauren Conrad
Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad
Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad
Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison
Witch Fury by Anya Bast
Witch Blood by Anya Bast
Witch Heart by Anya Bast
One of the most beautiful things about an eReader is the ability to read the worst books ever and no one is none the wiser. The most tragic thing is that you will read many of these books and enjoy it way too much and wish you had nothing else on your eReader but books written by LC from Laguna Beach.
Speaking of which, I was weirdly fascinated with Conrad’s series, L.A. Candy, about a young blonde girl from southern California who becomes the star of a hit reality TV series about living in L.A. (write what you know, eh?). Mostly because I kept trying to figure out which character represented which person from The Hills. I also loved how she described what the characters were wearing all the time, “Jane pulled on a baggy heather grey Free People t-shirt and a pair of skinny light wash Cheap Monday jeans”.
All those Witch-whatever books were the types of sexy supernatural fiction where all the male characters have hair down to their ass and wear mesh tank tops (or “singlets” as my Kiwi friends say). I don’t even remember what Shadowfall was??
Don’t deny it, if you went to the beach and something subtitled as My Life in a Harem was on your eReader, wouldn’t it be the first thing you read too?
(I can’t find the original link but I think it’s a photo of Mineko Iwasaki)
Histories and Memoirs
The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the
Modern Woman by Sam Wasson
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen
Unashamed to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Diana Chronicles. Homicide was fantastic, lots of great lingo to learn. Fear and Loathing was chaotic and fun. Confession to the author of Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: I always thought Holly Golightly was stupid. Devil in the White City produced that weird True Crime feeling where you start wishing more murders would happen to make things exciting and remember that real people actually got murdered.
Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield
Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang by Chelsea Handler
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
I Drink For A Reason by David Cross
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Between a Heart and a Rock Place by Pat Benetar
Love is a Mixtape was really good! It made me cry. Confession: The only thing I knew about Chelsea Handler before reading her books is that she dated 50 Cent but I liked (and laughed at) her books more than both Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling’s books combined. David Cross’ book was one of the worst I read all year. Medium Raw was really enjoyable to read by flashlight on an overnight train in Vietnam, especially Bourdain’s lovely chapter on Hanoi’s food. Benetar did some cool stuff but her story is pretty dull in the pantheon of Crystal Visions. How amazing is the title? She should have fully gone for it and called it Bene-tween a Heart and a Rock Place.
(photo from here)
And the Fiction:
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
I really was not into Mistborn, the protagonist was insufferable. Breakfast of Champions was sassy. Gone Girl was definitely a page turner, so frustrating! The Fault in Our Stars was whatever, but man, tumblr loves that book. Extremely Loud was good I think? Sometimes I hate “clever kids” books. Fault in Our Stars also falls into that category. I guess I only like my kids inordinately clever if they’re spouting zippy pop culture references.
They talked about pubes SO much in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I mean, they even decorated their pubes. That was unexpected. Parts of Cloud Atlas take place in Korea and I was IN KOREA while I read it. So novel! Bourne Identity was a total snooze. I had to check if Neil Gaiman was English (he is), as the writing in Good Omens has that cheeky British style that rings a bit forced. Guess I just don’t care for that style as a whole.
I actually finished Bring Up the Bodies on January 1st, but I loved Mantel’s beautiful, immersive sequel to Wolf Hall so much, I am including it here.