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Total books read: 20

I didn't set out to read any specific quota of books by PoC/queer/female/etc. authors so let's see how it shakes down in terms of diversity.

10 books by authors of color. That's fully half of what I read and seems like a decent ratio, though I wouldn't mind doing better next year. I also read 2 books by Jewish authors, which is sort of a grey area.

2 books by queer authors (or out authors, anyway; it's entirely possible some others may be and I just never saw it mentioned anywhere). That seems awfully small, but it is 10%. I had a lot higher percentage than that last year, though, I know, and I'd certainly like to do better next year. I have a bunch on my shelf and more coming from BookMooch, so that shouldn't be hard.

6 books by female authors. That's pretty low. Ideally I'd like to have at least half. Unfortunately, I don't really like the genres that it's easiest to find female authors in (romance, chick lit, fantasy), so left to my own devices my reading tends to be mostly male. (If you have any recs for female authors who write literary fiction or just mainstream/non-genre lit, lemme know!)

5 books in Japanese. That's a quarter of my reading and considering how much reading in Japanese I do with manga, I'm not worried about trying for more. I have a pile of Japanese books here and so of course I'd like to read them, but in terms of reading practice, I get plenty without even trying.

4 non-fiction books. That seems pretty high for me, as my preference is definitely for fiction. I don't feel a particular need to read any more non-fiction, though, so I'll read books if I have them and if not, no worries.

5 young adult books. That seems high, too. I don't normally read a lot of YA or children's lit (I've lumped them all in one category on LibraryThing because it's easier to just have one category to denote stuff that's aimed at a younger audience, plus I have no clue what makes something YA vs children's and don't care to have to poke around and find out), but a lot of the Japanese books I have are light novels, so that contributes.

No books this year were rereads.

You can see the full list here on LibraryThing. The links below go to my LibraryThing reviews for each book.

Full list with ratings and links to reviews )

Total manga read: 200

That's a lot! XD That's the most manga I've read in a year since I started keeping track of my yearly reading in 2005. I attribute that to the fact that I haven't been in much of a fanfic mood the last half of the year, combined with the discovery of manga scans, meaning I'm no longer limited by what I can find for affordable prices at Book Off.

I didn't count it up, because I don't tag for genre and thus it would mean counting by hand, but I'd guess that half or more were shounen. Not surprising considering how frequently Jump series get released and how many Jump series I follow.

You can see the full list here on LibraryThing. The links below go to my LibraryThing reviews, however, I only review and rate series I have either finished or stopped following, so on-going series (or finished series I simply haven't finished reading) have no links.

Full list with ratings and links to reviews )

I also read 314 pieces of fanfic, which is probably less than I read last year, since I hardly read any the past couple months.
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I did it! My first goal was "at least the same number (11) as I read last year, or more". Then when I passed 11, I said, okay, maybe 15. Then when I passed 15 and there was still a month or so left in the year, I thought, well, why not try for 20? And I finished the last ten pages of my twentieth book this morning.

Julia Alvarez - How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
I enjoyed this quite a lot, but I really think it should have been marketed as a book of short stories. Instead it's a book of short stories that is called a novel, yet has none of the cohesion or overarching plot required of a novel, though the stories are all about the same four women. It's also very obvious that many of these stories were originally published separately, as there's a lot of repeated background info, introducing characters as if we've never met them before when it's the fifth time they've appeared, etc. There are also a handful of stories in first person, when the majority are third person, and that kind of makes it feel patched together, too. (There was also one very bizarre story where it was first person, except all the girls were named in third person. So even though the narrator was saying I and we and us in reference to the four sisters, it sounded like there was a mysterious fifth sister doing the narration because she attributed actions and dialogue to all four in third person. I...have never seen a story written like that before and hope never to do so again. It was disconcerting and a very strange choice.)

Anyway, I really did enjoy the individual stories quite a lot, and found the book hard to put down. I just am kind of annoyed with it for saying it's a novel when it's not, as that made me keep expecting things that it never delivered.

Amagi Seimaru - Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo "Yuurei Kyakusen Satsujin Jiken"
This is the last of the Kindaichi novels I have. D: I may have to order more from Amazon Japan, as they never seem to have them at Book Off (except, of course, they did get in a copy of one of them after I'd already ordered it from Amazon). This one was good (as usual; I've yet to meet a Kindaichi story, manga or novel, I didn't love) and really had me guessing. The trick of concealing the killer was actually better than the killer's tricks, I think! The chapters in the killer's POV started with excerpt from a captain's log, then switched to first person with the killer setting down the log. This made you think the killer was writing the log, and thus had to be an older man with a daughter, when in fact, the killer was reading the log, which had belonged to her father. Tricksy! I loved it.

I have also read 200 manga, which was really not a goal (well, as I got closer and closer to 200, I did make that my goal so it would be nice and even), but I find to be quite impressive. If you figure an average of 180 pages per volume, that's about 36,000 pages of manga. D: Wow.

The most recent manga I've read has been the first two (and so far only two, though it's listed as on-going) volumes of W Juliet II, the sequel (obviously) to W Juliet. It takes place a few years in the future, when Makoto and Ito are twenty and just married. Like W Juliet, it's cute and enjoyable, though not the best thing I've ever read. (I'm loving that there's more stories about Tomoe, though.)

Unrelatedly, this is like, Facebook day or something. I had two people friend me today. Actually, it's been Facebook month, as I've had more people friend me this month than most of the rest of the year. XD
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I never read any of these young adult Discworld novels, because, well, they were YA, and they weren't "proper" Discworld novels, but recently I decided to give them a try anyway.

This is the first of the YA discworld novels (though I don't think the other ones are connected?) and I'm honestly not sure why it wasn't put out as just part of the main series. Sure, it doesn't have any of the familiar characters (except a cameo by Death and the Death of Rats), but there have been other Discworld books with entirely new characters. The reading level didn't feel any different, either, so I don't know. Was it just because Malicia and Keith were children?

Anyway! I'm glad I decided to give it a try as I really enjoyed it. I loved Maurice and the rats (especially Dangerous Beans) and Malicia. I have the rest either on my BookMooch wishlist or already on their way, so that will tide me over til the next Moist book comes out, whenever that may be.

Also, this was my eighteenth book this year! I have two other books in progress (both around halfway done) and a third that I plan to read as well, so that should actually put me over my goal of twenty books for the year. (I'm also reading two more manga to give me an even 200 vols there.)
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I really loved this book. I've never seen the musical (I wouldn't mind doing so, now, but only if they did a film version; I'm not really keen to actually go to the theatre), and while I have seen The Wizard of Oz a zillion times as a kid, I haven't read more than one or two of the original books, so overall I found myself wishing I had a little more Oz background going into this, to compare his version to Baum's. I'm going to haul out my grandpa's Oz books and see if any of them are still in readable shape, though I have a feeling I'm going to be disappointed with the lack of depth after reading Wicked!

Anyway, I really love this story. I love that it doesn't just retell The Wizard of Oz from the Witch's POV, but tells a different story that is similar. It really has that feeling of "the real story behind the legend" or whatever.

I do have a few complaints, but not enough to dent my overall love of it. For one thing, I could have done with a lot less emotional exposition. There were so many times when an event happened and then we got paragraphs and paragraphs of how people felt about it and what they were thinking. I would have liked more room to make my own conclusions about people'smotivations based on their actions, rather than being told everything.

The other thing is that I would have liked some of the space given to all that emotional exposition to go to explaining some more about the world! There's still so much I'm curious about. What is this book of the Wizard's? Who are the dwarf and Yackle? What was it about Dorothy that made everyone fall in love with her so? I am hoping that some of this gets explained in his other books set in Oz.

Also, I saw that it was a requested fandom for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide and I'm really, really hoping there are at least a few stories written. I know the musical actually has quite an active femslash fandom about the cast, but is there fic about the books? I haven't gone looking yet.
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Definitely not my favorite Palahniuk book, but better than I was expecting. It must be the shortest of his books (though none of them are very long) and I zipped through it very quickly. As usual, his writing style is engaging and easy to read.

I really wish he'd stick to one POV character per book, though. His narration is so quirky and distinctive that while I can believe one person per book sounds like that (though really, it's stretching things considering how vastly different the people he writes about are), but having four POV characters, totally different people, all of whom sound exactly the same? Really doesn't work that well. 3rd person POV or a single narrator would have been much better. (This is not a new problem of his by any means, but I think I noticed it most here than any previous novel, though I'm not sure why.)

For the most part, if you like Palahniuk, you'll probably like this, and if you don't, it certainly won't change your mind. It's pretty much just more of the same. The quirky writing style, the extreme gross-outs, the way things are never what they seem. Different setting, but same type of story.

Also, wasn't he going to be writing more stories like Rant? I was looking forward to more cyberpunk from him.

For more details, I really liked what this review had to say.
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Wow, this is the fourteenth book I've read this year, and seven of them have been this month alone. (Of course that means I've hardly read any fic or manga this month; it's definitely a trade-off.) With a whole month to go before the end of the year and three books for sure in the queue (one already a quarter of the way through), maybe I should revise my goal from fifteen to twenty.

I picked this book up because of The Decemberists' Song for Myla Goldberg. I'd never heard of her before that, but I was curious and wikipediad her and saw the song was in part about Bee Season, and the book sounded interesting.

It turned out to be absolutely amazing. There is not a single thing I didn't love about it. I loved the writing, the storylines, the utter dysfunctionality of the characters (always a favorite of mine). I've seen some complaints in other reviews about the ending, but I thought it was perfect. It ends at exactly the right place. (But then I myself am fond of ending without a denouement, so.)

I'm impressed with how many threads she managed to weave together. The search for something spiritual they all share, the hints of Miriam's mental imbalance in Aaron and Eliza, the way both parents are looking to their children to fulfill their dreams. And everything begins and ends with the spelling bee.

I really liked the way it was told, too. I didn't find the timeline at all confusing, despite everything being present tense; the events of each section were easy enough to place in the past or present. I haven't read many (any?) modern novels that use an omniscient POV like this, and before reading this, I would have said I'd hate it, but it really works. The POV slips easily between characters without every being confusing and I didn't feel (like I often do with fanfic that has multiple POVs) that it robbed it of any tension or mystery.

I also love that it was set in the '80s, of course. :)

[livejournal.com profile] mikotokun, you might like this. It deals with kabbalah and Jewish mysticism.
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Guy Burt - The Hole

Woohoo! Book #13 finished! After reading half of The Hole this morning on the bus, I found I just had to finish the rest of it up this evening. It was a really quick read, only 150 pages (one of the reasons I picked it; long books are being saved for next year!) and really kept my interest.

I originally heard about it from [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija's Young Adult Agony Awards (though I don't know that this is YA? It's about teenagers, but I don't know that that automatically makes it YA, and Amazon offers no insight), but lucky for me, by the time I read it, I had completely forgotten any spoilers I'd read.

Anyway, the plot is that five teens have another friend lock them in this basement room at their school while everyone else is away on a field trip. The friend is supposed to let them out after three days, but doesn't come back. I highly recommend it, but it's best read without spoilers.

Spoilers under here! )

Apparently there's a film, which I've put on the Netflix queue, but from the book reviews I read, the film was reeeeeally different. In fact, almost all the negative reviews were people criticising the book for not being like the film. One criticism was that the characters were more fleshed-out in the film and given backstories, but honestly, that didn't bother me at all. I didn't find it relevant. There was the right amount of information needed to tell the story. (In fact, I was quite impressed that the author was eighteen when he wrote this. This book certainly deserves a lot more praise than dreck like Eragon, to name another book written by a teenager.)

This also seemed to have a high number of reviews by people with no reading comprehension whatsoever. One person commented on how you don't know who the narrator is til the very end, but it's clearly said on page ten that it's Liz. D:

Rokuhana Chiyo - IS~Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei~ 1-4

I ordered the first four volumes of this off Amazon Japan and really wish I had the money to order the rest! (There are currently fourteen volumes and it's still ongoing.) I read all four of these in one go because it was hard to put them down.

IS is short for intersex (or intersexual, as it's said in Japanese), and I want to start off by saying how impressed I am with the author. It's not a guarantee that any author anywhere, even a professional, is going to do research or treat a topic with respect, and manga often feels more like fanfic than other professional fiction, in that it can be very, very self-indulgent and cracktastic, and many authors who are serialised just write whatever comes into their head rather than plotting ahead.

So when I read the author's notes for this, I was really surprised. She originally read a fantasy story about a boy who turned into a girl (or vice versa) and thought it would make a neat manga, so she talked to her editor about doing something with an intersex character. Her editor told her that was a sensitive topic and she would need to research and treat it with respect, and she agreed, not thinking it would be anything. Then she got online and started reading and realised how much work she had ahead of her. And instead of writing something fantasy or sci-fi, instead of writing something made-up that could possibly be offensive, she actually did a ton of research, joined a messageboard for intersex folks, talked to many people both online and in person, and then wrote her story. Furthermore, each chapter she writes not only has to get approved by her editor, but is vetted by one or more intersex people to make sure she has her facts straight and hasn't done anything accidentally offensive.

It's sad that this is something I'm so surprised and impressed by, but that's how it is. I wish fandom would take that to heart for any number of topics...

Anyway, the manga starts off with a couple of one-offs about different intersex people, and then starting with volume two, it focuses on a third character for the remainder of the series. I enjoyed the first two, but I'm glad it settled into something more than just a bunch of one-offs, because there was a lot of repetitive information between the three, plus the first two felt a little too much like issue manga (which tbh, they were).

The main story is about Haru, and the story starts when sie's born (one nice thing about this series being in Japanese is that you never have the pronoun problem!). Haru's parents are upset when they first find out their baby is intersex, but they soon decide to raise Haru as-is, and let hir decide to get surgery or hormones or whatever when sie's old enough. However, they do put down female on Haru's birth certificate, which will become a problem later. More rambly, with vague spoilers )
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1. My mom came over to put some stuff in the garage today and I got her to give us a ride to the store. There was a good sale on Coke, but you had to buy a ton to get the sale price, so it would have been difficult on the bus. This saved me from having to take the bus to get the giant box for Julie's stuff, too. Unfortunately Staples was entirely out of boxes of any size, so I had to go to the UPS Store. Do not ever buy boxes at the UPS Store. Their prices are ridiculous. D: But I had no other choice, damn them.

2. I finished reading Shounen Keisuuki tonight. I actually started reading this book three, maybe four years ago. It's four short stories, all with the same narrator, same universe, but still, each story is self-contained, so when I put it down after the third story and got distracted, I just never got back to it.

This was my year to finish any half-read books on my shelf, though, so I was determined to get through it before the end of the year. The final story took me twenty pages or so to really get into and I kept putting it down, but then I was hooked and I remembered why I love Ishida Ira's writing so much. I spent most of this evening finishing it up. I love his writing so much, and I really love these Ikebukuro West Gate Park stories.

I honestly can't remember much about the earlier stories in this book, as like I said, I read them several years ago. I did like that the first one featured a transguy (and was a very respectful portrayal, not problematic at all that I can remember), but I was less thrilled with Spoilers in case anyone else in the world actually reads these books or plans to, which you totally should if you can read Japanese; there's a reason why Ishida Ira is an award-winning writer! )

That's a whopping ten books read this year now. Hopefully I can get a couple more in before the end of the year. :D

3. I ended up buying an account on LibraryThing. [livejournal.com profile] helens78 said you can only add 200 books with a free account, though I can't find any documentation on the site itself about what free and paid accounts can do. But it was only $19 to buy a permanent account, so I figured what the hell.
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Bruce saw this on Amazon last week and ordered it thinking it might be interesting. I read the whole thing last night and it was an interesting (and quick) read, but to be honest, it's kind of a waste if you're already car-free or pretty well convinced that's the way you want to go.

It's definitely focused on selling people on the idea, so a lot of the book (especially the beginning chapters) is spent just repeating the same info on benefits over and over. A lot of these benefits were not applicable to me anyway, because they are based on having a quite expensive car and driving a lot. The average figure he gives all the time is 15,000 a year. We owned our car for over five and a half years and when it was totalled, it had 50,000 something miles on it. And that was with driving up to the Bay Area a few times a year and driving across the country twice.

In addition, the largest section is on commuting to work, which is not an issue for me at all. I'm self-employed and work from home, and Bruce is unemployed and going back to school - at the community college that's half a block down the street from us.

There was also a lot about "oh noes, what about my social life!?" with reassurances that you can go places with your friends and that all the nightlife is probably accessible by mass transit and by walking or biking you can talk to your neighbors and make new friends.

I'm...not interested in talking to my neighbors and making new friends, or having any sort of social life that involves things typically referred to as "nightlife". The part about going shopping, etc. with friends is a good idea, but of course most of my friends are not in LA at all. So in terms of getting a ride from someone, it's pretty much my mom or nothing, and I'm fine with that.

It also seems to assume that you really buy into the whole car culture where a car is a status symbol and part of who you are, so again, there's a lot of "oh noes, what will people think of me if I don't have a car!?" and appropriate reassurances.

I'm also well-familiar with alternative modes of transportation, having spent all but the last nine years of my life walking, riding my bike, and taking the bus. My mom did own a car when I was growing up, but we didn't use it heavily. From kindergarten to 4th grade, I walked to school. In 5th and 6th, when I moved to a new school too far to walk to, we carpooled. From 7th through college, I took the bus. I took the bus to work, too. In fact, my first job was picking up a couple boys from school and taking them home. And I didn't have a car or driver's license. I took the bus up to the street the younger boy's preschool was on, got off and walked a couple blocks to it, picked him up and walked with him six or so more blocks to the older boy's school, then we either caught the bus across the street from his school, transferred to another bus, and walked one more block, or we walked a block, took one bus, and then walked another three or four blocks to their house. I also biked (from the time I was about eight or nine, I was allowed to ride my bike anywhere I wanted, either alone or with friends), walked, or took the bus everywhere I wanted to go in my free time. To friends' houses, the library, used bookstores, the movies, the mall, etc. (And once Bruce moved out here, we started taking the bus even further, like to Little Tokyo practically every weekend.)

In other words, having a car and driving everywhere has not been my entire life, but more like a blip in a life that has otherwise been much more about other modes of transportation. So I don't need a book telling me not to be afraid of the bus or to look down on people who take it or not to be afraid people will think I'm poor (HORRORS) for not owning a car.

So yeah. I didn't hate the book by any means, but it's definitely not aimed at me.
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Weedflower is about Sumiko, a Japanese-American girl whose family is sent to a relocation camp in Poston, Arizona during WWII. This camp was actually on a reservation (constructed there against the wishes of the Mohave tribe who owned the land) and one of the themes of the book is the uneasy relations between the Japanese and the Indians there, shown through Sumiko's friendship with a Mohave boy named Frank.

It was a good read, though unsurprisingly enraging. It's definitely a children's book, though. At first I was trying to put my finger on what made it feel so different than just a story told from a child's POV, but I think it was the all-tell, no-show style. Everything was spelled out. If I were reading an adult book like that, I'd say it was badly written, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she just didn't trust kids to be able to infer anything. So that was a little annoying to me, but I'd still recommend it for the story.
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This is one of the books I got off BookMooch. Definitely a good choice.

I started reading it a week or so ago, got about ten pages in and then set it aside and didn't have time for any reading. Then last night I couldn't sleep because I was coughing, so I just lay on the sofa and read for several hours, and ended up getting about two thirds of the way through, then finished the last hundred pages just now.

I really enjoyed it, but wow. This has got to be the bleakest post-apocalyptic book I've ever read. (Spoilery Wikipedia page is spoilery.) And apparently it's being made into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen. Huh. I'll want to see that.

Some more thoughts with spoilers )

There was an interesting stylistic choice having no apostrophes for contractions. Dont, wont, cant, etc. I actually didn't even notice it at first, and then was like, wait, what? and had to go back and check to see if it had been that way all along. I thought it added to the feel that this was not our world anymore. The wikipedia article also mentions lack of quotation marks under stylistic quirks, but that's pretty much all literary fiction these days, it seems. It did work well with the story, but felt less to me like a choice made for the story rather than just following a current trend. I liked that the man and boy remained unnamed throughout, too. Names are no longer particularly important in this world, at least not to the two of them, travelling alone.

One thing I found odd, which I can't really figure out the point of, was that out of three hundred pages of third person narration, most of which was from the man's POV, there's one tiny paragraph in first person, and I'm not sure whose POV it was.

Anyway, definitely highly recced. And I'm pleased I finally managed to read another book. Maybe I can break ten before the end of the year. :p
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I seem to have done a lot of reading yesterday and today. Catching up on my massive backlog, yay.

Kaze no Uta wo Kike is Murakami Haruki's first novel. I'm glad I didn't read this first, because I may never have read anything else of his. It's okay, but I was just kind of bored. Apparently there are two other books (Pinball something and something with sheep in the title) that make up this trilogy (though they also stand alone? This one does, anyway), but I doubt I'll read the others. I have a couple of his later books (English translations), so I will read those, and hopefully they'll be as good as The Elephant Vanishes. Actually there were some stories in The Elephant Vanishes that were similar to this. Just really stories about nothing, and while that works okay for a short story, I don't think it works very well for a novel, even one that's only 150 pages).

Then I read vols. 10 and 11 of Evangelion. It was Evangelion. :p Apparently vol. 12 is to be the final volume. Hopefully that will be out soon. I'm curious to see if the ending is similar to the anime or movie or something else entirely.

Finally, I read vols. 18 and 19 of Chiya Toriko's Clover. There are a ton of manga called Clover, but this is not the one by Clamp. It's a ladies series about office romance. Pretty cute, but nothing spectacular. I am still enjoying it, but at the same time I'm getting to the point where I really want it to end because it feels like the author is just throwing in more obstacles to keep it going.
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I finally finished this last night, and while I did have some problems with it, overall I enjoyed it. Amazon has some good, non-spoilery summaries of the plot, so I'll just move on to my own impressions here.

It reminded me somewhat of Middlesex, in that in addition to the main character's story, it also tells the story of the parents and grandparents. Oscar Wao is only a bit over 300 pages, and yet I never felt like it was rushed, even with a story spanning three generations (and giving time to Oscar's sister Lola as well, and later in the book even the narrator becomes a character in the story, though he is still focusing on Oscar and Lola rather than himself). Diaz has a nice, tight style that I really like. Very conversational, but not padded. It felt a little slow at first, and it was easy to put down and walk away from for days at a time, but about a third of the way in, I started finding it really hard to put down.

It almost feels like it's written in three languages. English, of course, with a ton of Spanish words and phrases (which are easy enough to figure out via context if you don't know Spanish (or like me, have forgotten most of what you learned)), but there are also so many geek references thrown in that it feels like that's a third language as well. I really enjoyed the style of it.

There are a lot of footnotes, which I both liked and disliked. I liked them, because I did end up learning a lot about the history of the Dominican Republic, which I sadly knew nothing about before (the most I can say is that the name Trujillo rang a bell, though I would not have been able to tell you what country he had ruled). But I do dislike getting interrupted in the middle of reading to have to go read a footnote.

As for what was actually problematic... (no spoilers) )

ETA: This review addresses some of the problems I had, and I like this reading of it (though even with that reading, the ending still leaves a bad taste in my mouth).
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Okay, wow. This book is seriously awesome. I'm almost afraid to watch the drama now, knowing how different it is.

I zoomed through this book, finishing it in only two days, which is really quick for me, but even though I would do my usual "read a bit and put it down to do something else", it was really hard to stay away for long. I so, so, so wish I could recommend this to everyone, but er...it's not in English. But I do highly recommend it if you can read Japanese!

If you're familiar with the drama, the plot is...really not at all the same. There's a high school boy named Kiritani Shuji, and he takes it upon himself to "produce" a kid who's being bullied and make them popular, but that is really the only connection. Characters in the drama are made up for the drama, including Akira, the other main character in the drama, and characters in the book don't show up at all, except for Shuji, of course. The kid being bullied in the drama is a girl, but in the book it's a boy. I haven't watched the drama yet, but from what I know of it, it's pretty much a totally different story.

So this story. Shuji's life is all an act. He keeps himself at a distance from everyone and, frankly, is kind of sociopathic. During the middle of his second year of high school, they get a new student in their class, a fat, nerdy boy called Kotani Shinta. He writes his name on the chalkboard, 信太, and Shuji at first reads it as Nobuta. Nobuta (野ブタ) can also mean wild pig, so Shuji takes to calling him that (first in his head, then getting everyone to call him that). From the first moment, everyone hates Nobuta. After a while, Nobuta, seeing how popular Shuji is, asks him if he can be his apprentice. Shuji turns him down, but then gets an idea, what if he could be Nobuta's producer, and turn him into someone popular?

More + spoilers )

So yeah, I loved it. It was awesome. Maybe before sending it on to [livejournal.com profile] kakeochi_umai, I'll translate a sample passage and try to see if I can get anyone to pick it up for publication in the US.
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Today at Book Off, I was walking past the English books and this happened to catch my eye. It's subtitled "A Memoir by the Author of The Best Bad Thing". I had heard of neither the author nor the book, but this sounded interesting and was a dollar so I grabbed it.

Yoshiko Uchida was born and raised in the Bay Area during the Depression. About half the book deals with her childhood, with short sections about her parents as well, and the other half is about life during the war (she was just weeks away from finishing college when Pearl Harbor was bombed). She later went on to write dozens of books about Japanese and Japanese-Americans, mostly children's books, but her later life isn't really covered in the book at all.

It's only about 130 pages and is aimed at children, but it's well-written and doesn't flinch from describing the racism she encountered growing up or the harsh realities of the concentration camps in WWII. Despite that, it's overall pretty upbeat and positive, and not a horribly depressing read (other than the general subject matter).

I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it. If anyone's interested, I'm happy to pass on my copy as I don't reread and it appears to be out of print. E-mail me at megchan@gmail.com with your address (US only, please, as shipping elsewhere would be too pricey for me right now) and I'll send it to you. ETA: Taken!
torachan: (Default)
I just finished reading one of the books I got for Christmas, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost by Rachel Manija Brown. I first heard about it while reading her awesome posts about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which she used examples from her own life, and linked to her book. I was interested just from the stuff she mentioned, but it was the comparisons to Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors that was the clincher.

I started reading it a week or so ago, and found it really hard to put down. If I hadn't forced myself to do so in order to do other stuff, I probably would have read it all in one sitting. Basically it's a humorous account of her (pretty horrible) childhood. I highly recommend it (and Running with Scissors, if you've never read that, either).

*

Speaking of recommendations, Lurid Digs is one of my favorite blogs. Now, you may have noticed, but I love mockery blogs, such as Go Fug Yourself, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and the late, lamented Threadbared. It doesn't matter if they're mocking things I don't care about (in fact, those three are about celebrity fashion, romance novels, and patterns, none of which I'm interested in); I just love them.

Lurid Digs mocks photos posted on gay dating/hookup sites, which means it's more than a little not-safe-for-work (or family, or public places, or...). It doesn't mock the men in particular, though sometimes it does. What it's really all about is the settings of the photos. And you would not believe some of them. A lot look like they took the picture in their grandma's bedroom while she was out shopping. All of them put lie to the stereotype that being gay means having good taste in decorating (or indeed, any inclination towards not living in a pigsty). All in all, it's absolutely brilliant.

But today's post. Today's post may be the highlight. I don't know if they will ever find anything better than this. I really, really hope the text of this guy's ad said something along the lines of "looking for a man to be the Roadrunner to my Wile E. Coyote" (or vice versa). Since I have no way of ever knowing for sure, I have decided that yes, it did. And since yesterday was apparently More Joy Day (whatever that is), and this gives me much joy, I am sharing it with you.

*

So once again we're back to the idea that fanfiction is not "fiction based on someone else's universe or characters", but rather some nebulous aesthetic, and thus if it doesn't "feel" like fanfic to someone, it's not. [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink (from whom I got the link to the first post) sums up my thoughts pretty well here.

I'm also dubious of the claim that "if it's a m/m slash pairing, there is almost always fetishization of the sexually submissive half of the pair". If you're talking old-school slash, then probably yeah. But I don't think the same could be said now. Yes, it's still a common type of fic. But. I read a lot of slash, and even the stuff I dislike is rarely like that. Of course the reason for this is that for the most part I avoid reading stuff that looks like that in the first place, but the fact that there is plenty of other fic to choose from is a sign that it's not as ubiquitous as it once was. I mean, the very idea that one half of a pairing must be "sexually submissive" conjures up yaoi-esque uke/seme tropes, and thankfully that sort of stuff is not all there is.

Maybe it's just me being too literal, but "almost always" suggests that anything other than that should be extremely hard to find.

*

And since everyone and their mother is posting about OTW, here are my thoughts.

1. I'm sick to death of hearing about it.
I realise that I am contributing by talking about it myself, but I don't care. :p

2. I don't really see the point in Yet Another Archive.
Maybe I'll change my mind, who knows. As a writer, I don't look forward to uploading several hundred works of fiction to yet another archive, especially when (at least at first) the audience is going to be primarily LJ users, thus feedback will probably be very low since it would be reaching the same audience as on LJ, not LJ plus another audience. As a reader...well, if you wanted to torture me, making me troll through an archive looking for fic would be a good way of doing it (although frankly, the same applies to LJ comms). It is just not enjoyable to me at all, and no matter how many new bells and whistles they add, that won't change because I don't read like that. Search and sort functions are useless because I don't read by pairing or kink or anything except whether or not the summary is interesting, which is just not something you can figure out aside from scrolling through and reading them all. I lose patience going through archives and comms after about one page.

So I don't see benefits to me either way. This doesn't mean that I don't think it should be made, just that I can't get excited about it and the excitement, in general, utterly baffles me.

3. Despite my ambivalence about OTW, the people who are flogging the Fan History Wiki annoy me even more than anyone associated with OTW.
[livejournal.com profile] partly_bouncy's whining about people not using her fugly-ass wiki is far and away the most annoying thing in all of this. Yes, it exists already. But it's ugly (yes, I am shallow and actually like the websites I use to look decent), and its policy is "misinformation is better than no information". Also it's run by someone who is a batshit grudgewanker. At least the OTW wiki won't be run by one person. (Mind, I personally have no use for a fandom wiki, either, as I can't see myself either reading or contributing, but the ugliness of Fan History Wiki and the annoyingness of [livejournal.com profile] partly_bouncy is more than enough to put me off hers.)

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