"challenge" because one of my goals for 2015 was to read more diversely. Actively seeking books written by Japanese authors was challenging, but not impossible. I was able to locate a variety of literature from classics to contemporary, and I've discovered some authors that I'd love to read more from.
Here's the breakdown of what I read, the format I read it in, and a brief review of each item. I did not include summaries, but I've included links to the goodreads page for each book.
Never Let Me Go (Format Read: Paperback)
I really wanted to like this one. I really did. It didn't live up to the hype that I've seen surrounding it. It felt like the story wanted to go somewhere, but it didn't. It painted some beautiful pictures, but something was just missing the entire time I read this oI'd ne.
Botchan (Format Read: eBook)
I never realized how sarcastic and funny Japanese literature could be. This novel was written in the early 1900s. It was a quick read, and absolutely hilarious. I enjoyed this reading, immensely. I'd have rated it higher, but there were several translation issues in this edition near the end that bothered me.
Rashomon (Format Read: eBook)
I read one of the stories contained in this collection during a Film and Lit class back in college. The famous Kurosawa film Rashomon was actually based on the story In a Grove, told by unreliable narrators. This was by far my favorite of all the stories included in this book. Akutagawa is a favorite in Japanese literature, and there is even an award named for him. I can understand why. I'd definitely read more of his work.
The Elephant Vanishes (Format Read: Paperback)
A few of these stories were hard to get through, but overall, I really enjoyed the experience. I even bookmarked a quote, which I don't do very often.
"What a wonderful thing it is to be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle." - from On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning
From "slice of life" stories to magical realism, there are a variety of experiences in this collection of short fiction. The best part of this type of writing is that you're not stuck reading through hundreds of pages if you're just not that into a story.
The Diving Pool (Format Read: Paperback)
These stories had a hidden darkness in them. In this collection, Ogawa seems to be exploring the darkness just below the surface of each individual. I enjoyed these stories, but they take you into the darkest corners of your mind. This was not a light happy read, but one that I'm glad that I took the time for.
Android Angels (Format Read: eBook)
Cute, weird, nothing special.
Anomal (Format Read: eBook)
The first story was the best. The rest were just ordinary.
Overall Experience: I really enjoyed opening up my reading world. I hope to continue to do this throughout the year. I really feel that 2015 has been a wonderful reading year, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Japanese authors in the future.