More Thoughts

Sorry if I’ve disappointed you by posting yet another non-book post. I’m quite happily getting through Middlemarch, but it’ll be a while until I finish. George Eliot is wonderful; she’s exactly as JaneGS described her, and Middlemarch encompasses everything I love about 19th century writing. I’m also getting through my readings without difficulty. Once I got over the initial horror, I’ve realised I should be glad that I get to read, instead of doing calculus and physics, as some people out there are.

This is some of what I’ve been reading recently/will be reading in the near future:

  • Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Herbert P Bix
  • From Samurai to Sanyo: A History of Modern Japan, A J Koutsoukis
  • The Modern History of Japan, W G Beasley
  • Peacemakers, Margaret MacMillan
  • Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger
  • American Shogun: Macarthur, Hirohito and the American Duel with Japan, Robert Harvey
  • A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books, Alberto Manguel

The last is a re-read – it’s been almost a year since I began this blog, and I thought it would be good to re-read the book that inspired it. Hopefully, it’ll inspire me to write better posts.

Anyway, the real reason why I’m posting today is because I discovered this wonderful little feature on the Guardian books blog called Writers’ Rooms. I love that I can glimpse into the lives of my favourite writers – Virginia Woolf, Roald Dahl, Charlotte Bronte – as well as a smattering of contemporary writers who I’ve never heard of, but who have fascinating rooms anyway. Everyone should check it out :)

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19 thoughts on “More Thoughts

  1. I’ve never read Peacemakers (which is the European title, and not what it was published as in North America), but I actually knew Margaret MacMillan as she was the Provost of the college I attended for my undergrad. Of course, I had few occasions to truly interact with her as my subject area was so far removed from hers, but I hope you enjoy the book. By all accounts, it’s supposed to be very good.

    And you’re right to enjoy whatever time you get reading, especially if their topics that interest you. I need to read quite a bit for school, but it’s all science articles for me, so not exactly my passion.

    I think I should check out the Manguel. I always tend to enjoy books about books, and since it inspired you, it can’t hurt for me to give it a try! (By the way, I think your posts are perfectly fine!)

    1. Steph – wow, you know Margaret Macmillan?! :O
      Peacemakers is very good. Politics and diplomacy isn’t all that interesting to me, but her writing is very engaging.
      As for the Manguel, I’ve been thinking about maybe doing a read-a-long (jumping on the bandwagon here, hahaha). It’s called A Year of Favourite Books because he reads 12 books – one per month – and I was planning on reading the books that he reads in conjunction with his Diary. They are:

      The Invention of Morel (Adolfo Bioy Casares)
      The Island of Dr. Moreau (Wells)
      Kim (Kipling)
      Memoirs From Beyond the Grave (Chateaubriand)
      The Rule of Four (Doyle)
      Elective Affinities (Goethe)
      The Wind in the Willows
      Don Quixote (Cervantes)
      The Tartar Steppe (Dino Buzzati)
      The Pillow Book (Sei Shonagon)
      Surfacing (Margaret Atwood)
      The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis)

      I haven’t even heard of some of those books. Anyway, let me know what you think :)

  2. I second Steph’s comment: I should read the Manguel book, since it obviously inspired you so much!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts about all of these books, so let us know about them, even though they are school related. Of course, you probably don’t have time any more, but….

    I like the site about writer’s rooms. It’s interesting how a room of our own can inspire us.

    1. Rebecca – yay, I’m glad you liked the writers’ rooms. I probably will post about some of the books I’m reading, but because they’re non-fiction I’m not sure how I should approach them. Hmmm, actually I guess that applies to World Citizen challenge books too..

  3. I think of this still as a book post, so no worries. Your posts are always beautiful, regardless. A lot of Japan history there, sounds interesting (no, really, lol). And like Steph and Rebecca, I’m also wanting to read the Manguel. Happy studying and don’t feel pressured to post, but of course we’ll be happy if you do.

    1. claire – hahah, yes there are a lot of Japanese books b/c one of my essays is on Japanese expansionism. Thank you, as always, for the encouraging words :)

  4. The Modern History of Japan by W G Beasley is on my shelf somewhere. I am planning ( as I have mentioned a few times already) to tackle The Tale of Genji this fall. For my upcoming vacation, I am adding one more book to the list called The Sushi Economy. Don’t worry about not posting book review or reading reflections, I love to hear what you are/plan on reading just as well. :)

    1. Matthew – The Sushi Economy sounds interesting! I hope to get around to Genji soon, though I’m having trouble finding a copy. I half-expected Penguin to have an edition somewhere out there, but it looks like they don’t. Even the Book Depository has failed me. As for the library, don’t even get me started on what a massive failure the public library system is. Outdated translations, musty paperbacks from who-knows-when, no Metamorphoses or Aeneid. Ugh.

  5. I must read Manuel’s book (anyone who includes the Wind in the Willows is alright with me).

    You’re obviously studying Japan amongst other things. I don’t know if you saw SBS on Tuesday night, but if not there were two wonderful docos you might find interesting. (You can watch them online at SBS for at least a week).

    The first was called Japan’s About Face, covering the pacifist constitution and creation of new defensive force and then looking at that force today. The second, Wings of Defeat, was interviews with surviving Kamikaze pilots about their training and experiences both during the War and since. Both were very good and might be useful.

    I love the Writer’s Rooms series as well. Roald Dahl’s writing shed is my favourite so far.

    1. adevotedreader – Thanks, I’ll check out the SBS website. I watched the last thirty minutes or so of the Kamikaze, but I missed the first one :)
      And I really like Dahl’s shed too, although I think Woolf’s is my favourite so far (simply because Woolf wrote in it, hahah)

  6. Have you read The Mill on the Floss? While you are in George Eliot mode you may like this (it’s my favourite Eliot novel). I can see you have quite a big reading list, though!

    1. Nicola – thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t read Mill on the Floss, actually. I used to own a copy, but a friend asked if she could borrow it before I had read it and I never got it back. Hahah. I shall get around to it… someday!

  7. “Know” might be too strong a word, if it implies any type of meaningful ties to someone! I had a few chats with her, and even ate a few lunches and dinners with her, but we primarily conversed and interacted regarding the workings of the college. She’s a very thoughtful and brilliant woman, though, so much is my chagrin at not having actually read any of her stuff! ;)

    I believe my library does have a copy of the Manguel, so I’ll try to get a hold of it. Some of the books you mention on the list are ones I’ve never even heard of, and sadly, none are ones that I’ve read!

    1. Steph – Ooh, a few lunches and dinners and chats is definitely a “know”. I’m beginning to think maybe I used too strong a word for the Manguel project, b/c I realised “read-a-long” implies a time limit, which is nothing I’m prepared to commit to. But yes, I’m planning on reading all twelve of those books and I’d love to hear what other bloggers think about them too.. I haven’t read any of them either, not even Wind in the Willows! Does this mean I was deprived of a proper childhood??!!

  8. Tuesday, I read Wind in the Willows as an adult (last year) and hated it! I really don’t know why it’s considered a classic. Very dumb story. It’s interesting to have that on the list only with the others.

    1. Rebecca – hahahahha! I love how honest you are with your opinions! I know vaguely that there are animal characters called Mole and Toad, or something, and they go on some sort of boat ride or picnic? Am I completely wrong?

  9. If you didn’t read Wind in the Willows as a kid, I’d say you were deprived! Obvioulsy not every book connects with every reader as Rebcca’s response indicates, but I hope you try it for yourself. Even thinking about it now makes me want to re-read it again.

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