Tried my hardest to come back from a pretty poor start to the month, but I did not manage to break into the double digits in February, tapping out at 9 books. I am halfway through Zen Cho’s Spirits Abroad, a collection of short, supernatural, hilarious stories set in Malaysia (which I am loving, and which was recommended by a good friend) and I was hoping this would be the read that tipped me into 10, but I didn’t quite manage it.
Never mind! Onwards and upwards, and what with 10 days off and dealing with packing and other leaving-a-country logistics (bills must be settled, goodbyes must be said to people and places, gifts must be procured, and I like to budget in some dreamy wandering time), I’m okay with having read two books a week instead of three in Feb. March, you’re gonna be my comeback month! I have declared it!
And to help with that, this week I shipped off three boxes of minty new books to Brunei, which I look forward to diving into when I get back!
Some fun reads in Feb:
C.L Lynch Chemistry A humorous feminist rewriting of Twilight, where the heroine is plus-sized and prickly and the hero is a pasty and respectful zombie, and the parents are reasonable people all around – I liked this better than I thought I would, because the heroine isn’t just a self-righteous send-up of Bella, but a complex, flawed and very insecure and teenager-y character. There seems to be a sequel, and I’m interested enough to look into getting it.
Imogen Hermes Gowar The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock In Georgian London, a merchant’s ship is sold by its captain for a mermaid; the merchant, one Mr Hancock, doesn’t quite know what to do with this mermaid and how to recoup the loss of his ship. Enter: prostitutes and brothels, mixed-race and black history in London, some quietly tender prose about lost children and grief and the loneliness of routine, the awakening of Mr Hancock and the grim but also gay precariousness of just being female in that era. This was such a surprising read for me, to the very end – the novel kept evolving and twisting, and the ending was entirely convincing (although the pacing was a tiny bit off).
Julian Barnes The Only Story Tonally, this had the same musing, slowly unfurling feel as The Sense of an Ending – a young man falls defiantly in love with an unsuitable woman at 19; through the years he realizes how this unsuitability has shaped him, destroyed him, made him. This was an uncomfortable read, a read that made me squirm, and cringe – for the young man, and for the people around him. I didn’t like it; but it was a good book. (The only Barnes novel I’ve loved has been Arthur and George; I’m struggling now through a re-read of England, England)
E Nesbit The Book of Dragons and The Lark – a collection of light, funny children’s stories about dragons; and the only adult novel from the author of The Railway Children, Five Children and It and The Treasure Seekers that I’ve read.
Expense Report for Feb 2018
Number of books bought: 9
Amazon UK: 6.32 GBP (~11.55BND)
Maruzen Kyoto: 16,565 yen (~204.76BND)
Tokyo Tower Records: 1800 yen (~22.25BND)
Total Expenses: 238.56BND (approx 26.5BND per book)
That’s actually tremendously expensive per book, so I’m a little horrified, but it seems to be about right for new English language fiction in Japan.