Approval Junkie by Faith Salie

I am a huge fan of NPR podcasts, though I have way too many podcasts to listen to so have to be selective with what I subscribe to. I’ve never listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me but I had heard of comedian Faith Salie before.

Faith is a comedian, improv player, actress and panelist on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. She is honest and raw – and ridiculously funny. [Read more…]

In Defence of Reading Chick-Lit: Techbitch

techbitch

I feel quite ashamed to say that the place where I most often buy books these days is the supermarket. Especially those big Tescos, they have such a great selection and their deals are usually very good. I’ve bought Murakami’s Colorless TsukuruΒ and The Bone Clocks. Both excellent books, almost undeserving of sitting on a shelf in Tescos, opposite the iceberg lettuce and tomatoes.

Most of the deals will involve me buying a number of books, like 3 for Β£10 or something, so I have a couple of “filler” books that were my extras when buying the real juicy ones. Techbitch was one of them.

Techbitch is also known as The Knockoff (I think they changed the name to the latter to avoid using bad words…) and is, in every way, a chick-lit novel. Imogen, editor in chief of Glossy, a high fashion magazine, comes back to work after 6 months fighting breast cancer to find Eve, her former assistant, ruling the roost. Queue Devil Wears Prada shenanigans.

I started reading the book as a kind of palate cleanser. I wanting something fun and easy to read. Also, reading the blurb and seeing that there are two authors, I assumed that we’d see the story from both ladies’ points of view; Imogen, the older, wiser veteran of fashion with a high salary and Eve, the millennial kid who really wants to make it in the world of tech. I expected to side with Eve, as I felt I would relate to her, but the writing was mainly from Imogen, with a few bits from other characters.

I found I felt deeply sorry for Imogen (though I guess when I step back and think about it, it’s people like her with the massive salaries while people like Eve – and me – are left being paid close to minimum wage) and that Eve was a horrid little brat, bully and bitch. I found that I loved hating her and couldn’t stop reading to find out what other outrageous things she’d done – from naming a little dinosaur toy after Imogen to inviting everyone except Imogen to parties.

When I was a teen, I stayed reading YA novels way longer than my friends. I always felt ashamed of it, that I was somehow stupid. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing “easy” books. I actually think it takes a lot more to write YA than adult books as you have to think about what you’re teaching and introducing to the young readers. As for chicklit, sure, there’s absolutely nothing profound about this book, but it’s a bit of fun, a world similar to my own but with ridiculous OTT characters. It’s like a little bit of escapism every day.

Are there any other fans of chicklit out there? I’d love to hear from you! (and also get more recommendations!)

 

Book Review: The Good Shufu

The Good Shufu has been sat on my book shelf for a while. I won it in a competition on a blog a while back, along with some other books. But The Good Shufu was always going to be the awkward one.

Before I saw the competition, I read an article on Tracy Slater in some English language Japanese online site. It told of the tale of an American woman living in Japan, married to a Japanese man who didn’t speak Japanese very well and couldn’t write her daughter’s name in Japanese.

In my time in Japan, I knew a fair few people who had lived there a long time and just didn’t bother to learn the language. Although at least one of them is a very dear friend of mine, I find this kind of thing very rude, especially if it’s coming from westerners. Learning a language, especially if you’re living there and dating within that culture, isn’t such a hard thing to do. No, really. So the article really rubbed me up the wrong way. [Read more…]

All The Things I’ve Read (Running Through My Head…)

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How’s that earworm? πŸ˜‰

I’ve found time to fit reading into my schedule recently – right after my morning gym session and before I climb the stairs to my desk. My favourite kinds of podcasts are those which talk about books and tv, but it was horrible not having any time to be able to read and watch the things they recommended.

Anyway, here are three amazing books I’ve read recently!

Us by David Nicholls

Us is about a man named Douglas who is geeky; a scientist. Pushed by his sister, he ends up dating and then marrying the free-spirited, gorgeous Connie. The book opens with Connie feeling that, after many years of marriage and raising a son together, she wants a divorce. Hurt and shocked, Douglas takes his family on one last trip around Europe where he tries to fix his relationship with Connie as well as with his son.

This book verges on being emotionally abusive. I had to stop reading it around Boyfriend as it would put me in such a funk I couldn’t interact with him properly without being grumpy or moody. The three characters are so vivid – poor Douglas who is just trying to do his best, Connie who made life choices and wants to be free and Albie, the son who feels his dad hasn’t done him right his whole life.

There were times when I laughed out loud, and many more times when I just wept for the tragedy of the whole situation. I described it on my podcast as a modern horror story – no one wants to wake up one morning when they’re in their 50’s and have the love of their life want to leave them.

This is also the kind of book that, when I finished it, I tried to look around for more people who have read it so I could discuss it with them. I couldn’t find many (not even on Reddit!) so if anyone else out there has read this book then please contact me!!!

γ„γ€γ‹γƒ†γ‚£γƒ•γ‚‘γƒ‹γƒΌγ§ζœι£Ÿγ‚’ Some Day It’ll Be Breakfast At Tiffany’s

I’ve loved manga from the second I became able to read Japanese, but I would always gravitate towards the same girly storylines: underdog girl falls for handsome, rich guy. For whatever reason, they find themselves in the same space (living together/same class etc). She tries over and over to win his affections but he is nothing short of a twat. Eventually, 25 books later, he comes round and they get married.

When I went to Japan recently I wanted out of this outdated storyline and wanted something fresh to read. Some Day It’ll Be Breakfast at Tiffany’s is about a group of girls around the age of 30 who just want to get on in life. The main character is Mariko, who broke up with her deadbeat boyfriend to live by herself and found a new love of going out for breakfast before work. We follow her in her struggles at work, coupled with her love of really good breakfast.

The storyline really hits close to home for me as it covers a lot of the same themes that my own life has – I’m nearly 30 and am not married; is it too late? How can I get ahead in my job when I stuggle along? And – food.

I love how gorgeous the pictures are in the manga but my favourite thing about it has to be that all of the places they visit are actual places that you can go to yourself. The book I just read had them go to Nagoya, where I studied at uni, and I loved seeing the places I know so well right there in manga form in front of me.

I know there are a few Japanese speakers out there so if you have the chance, check out this manga. There aren’t any scanlation projects for it yet as far as I can see. If any scanlation groups out there want to cover it, I may be interested in translating for you, depending on my schedule. Send me an email and I’ll see what I can do.

Here Comes the Sun by Leza Lowitz

I actually won this book in a giveaway! I never win anything so I was so shocked! I won two other books too, but this one arrived first and also Leza gave me loads of love on Twitter so I felt compelled to start on her book ASAP.

This memoir follows Leza as she finds love in Tokyo and struggles through the pain and sorrow of not being able to become pregnant. All through this, there are lessons from yoga, snippets of life in Japan and California and even some bits of India too!

Leza is, for me, what I’d describe as a very American person. When she finds difficulties, she turns to spiritual things and looks for deeper meanings in everything – even going to a fortune teller at times as well. For me and other British people, our minds do not go that deep and so it was at some points difficult to understand what she was doing. However, I have certainly never even tried to have a baby let alone try and find difficulties and so I went along with Leza with whatever she needed.

She’s such a warm and open person, it was difficult not to be completely invested in her story from the word go, and I found myself properly crying (snot-flying and all) at some points.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who has faced similar troubles, or even for people who have lived in Japan – there were so many things that hit home for me even though that is the only thing she and I have in common.

 

What have you read recently? What should I add to my bookshelf next?

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