I celebrated the change of the new year twice–lucky me! Once in Tokyo, and then once somewhere over the Pacific. Japan is 17 hours ahead, so we left at 5pm on New Year’s day Tokyo, but arrived at 9am on New Year’s day in the US. It feels a luxuriously long–and sleepy–start to 2016.
I had great plans to do an end-of-year post, but Internet service was absolutely rotten in Tokyo. I am not sure if it is the new ISP my mother-in-law subscribed to or simply heavy demand, but we could not connect with any reliability, so I stopped trying. The upside to forced Internet abstinence was that I did a lot of reading — three (almost four…) books in a week. Also, we used a lot of public transportation, so I read constantly while on planes and trains. It’s been years (decades, actually) since I was a Tokyo commuter, but I clicked back into my public/private reading world with gusto. The upshot of trip is a resolve to spend less wasted time on the Internet in 2016 and more reading, reading, reading. And hopefully blogging.
Briefly, the three books I read were:
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A sweet story about the cranky owner of failing bookstore who adopts a child abandoned in his store and his life begins to transform, mostly for the better. This is an easy book to read (perfect for the plane) and a natural for book lovers. I also found the story very visual and kept imagining it as an animated story for adults.
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014
The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
I picked this one up not long after reading Beautiful Ruins, which I loved, so I’m not sure why I let it sit so long on my TBR. The story revolves around a guy who is losing it all — his job, wife, house, opportunities — during the financial melt-down of the last decade. He makes the dubious although amusing choice to deal weed in an attempt to save the day. Jess Walters had an energetic and witty style of writing and the pages fly. I got a tad tired about two-thirds through of the repetition of sleeplessness and bad choices the lead character kept making, but I admired his unfailingly good parenting even when making a hash of the rest of his life.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Hurricane Katrina bears down on a poor family trying to eke along in rural Louisiana. This book contains a lot of brutal topics and scenes — poverty, teen sexuality and pregnancy, the struggles of young black men make a living, dog fighting…whoa. Although some of the foreshadowing was a bit too obvious, it was very well written and I even found myself rooting for a pit bull in a dog fight — and that’s saying something. I believe Ward has written a nonfiction piece about the lives and struggles of the young black men she grew up with. If the male characters in this book are modeled on those men, then it will be fascinating–and probably heartbreaking. This book took me to a world a knew nothing about. I highly recommend it.
Bloomsbury USA, 2011
With my new resolve, I’ve decided to take the TBR Triple Dog Dare and read only from my existing TBR pile for the next three months. I picked up all these books for a reason (they sounded great!), so time to dig in and find out if I was right.