reading > tokyo on foot

I’m planning a trip to Japan this year and have found so many cool travel guides.

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This one is not quite a travel guide since the author had actually moved to Tokyo when his partner got a job there. I think this one won me over with the hand drawn maps. I could stare at them for aaaaaaaages trying to take in each detail.

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There are also people posts.

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And landscapes. And food. And room cutaways (another favorite of mine).

So fun to read and gives you another view of the place that you won’t get from glossy travel books.

Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Flourent Chavouet (Amazon)

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reading > the boy is back

theboyisback

I was in the mood for some easy reading over Thanksgiving so picked up The Boy is Back from the library. The entire story is told via chats, emails, journal entries, and newspaper articles. It’s one of those.

It was… just ok. I read the entire thing over a day and a half of on and off reading. It goes by so fast that you don’t really get to know or really start caring about the characters before everything is all resolved and it’s over. Hmph.

TL;DR: Boy meets girl in high school, boy and girl have whirlwind romance, cue conflict!, cue decade of wondering, and finally the boy’s return to his hometown (and his first love). You know, the usual. This one also includes hoarders and feral cats.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot (Amazon)

reading > unbroken

I’ve had regular-book ADD for awhile (read: starting books and not finishing them) but my audiobook commitment remains strong (read: because otherwise I would lose my mind during the commute).

unbroken

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner drafted into the US Air Force during World War II. In May 1943 his bomber crashes into the Pacific and he’s lost at sea with 2 other crewmates. After surviving over 40+ days at sea he is finally picked up by the Japanese. He spends the next 2 years in various POW camps in the South Pacific and later in Japan.

This story was so riveting in parts that I would roll up to my garage and want to sit there awhile longer to hear what happens next (even after taking 45 minutes to go 13 miles!). I say ‘in parts’ because there are also some parts where hearing the endless brutality was so heartbreaking and so infuriating that turning the car off was a relief.

There is so much terror in this book. Imagining a day to day existence where you are regularly beaten and starved, are struggling with dysentery, being used for medical experiments, and just generally treated as less than human. It makes you wonder how far we can go from our basic sense of humanity.

Cliche as it is to say there is also so much triumph. The idea that you can bear so much and survive, that in the worst of situations there are still people who show bravery, generosity, and compassion. That you can find your way back to yourself through faith, family, friends, and outright resilience.

There is hope always.

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand (Amazon)

reading > when breath becomes air

Bear with me, we’re gonna get all personal.

I sometimes read cancer blogs.

I found strength, comfort, and perspective in reading how ordinary people weathered the storm. How a single piece of news can change everything. How your life changes and the ways you try to keep it the same. How families show unconditional love.

While my own prognosis has always been (thankfully) exceedingly positive, there have been a few darker days. These blogs made me feel a little less alone. They inspired me to face the harder days with a brave face.

I don’t reach for cancer books as often. I find that my reads into cancer are usually from too much overzealous late night Googling and books require much more planning. This one was highly recommended by Jane and I’m so glad I got my hands on it.

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Paul Kalanithi was finishing up his residency in neurosurgery when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He also had dreams of becoming a writer so the intersection of both his medical background and his skills as a writer make for something beautiful. I was constantly fighting the urge to highlight all over the book (I opted instead for some post it flags).

Recreational crying. Lots and lots of it.

Amazon: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

reading > s

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How confused are you right now that the title of this post does not match the picture of the book?

You can blame JJ Abrams for that.

Yah, that’s right. That JJ Abrams.

This is the most involved, most confusing, but also most unique book I’ve read in awhile. I’ve owned this book for over a year but didn’t read it until it was picked for the book club at work (guess who suggested it).

Here’s the deal. The book is called S but consists of another book called Ship of Theseus written by the very mysterious VM Straka. Inside you’ll find the SOT story itself + handwritten notes from 2 present day characters who are reading SOT + a great many inserts (maps, napkins, postcards, letters).

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Yah, that’s right. It’s a story with a story. Storyception, if you will.

There are multiple ways to read this book. The tactic that worked for me: read SOT all the way through, go back and read set #1 of the notes, go back and read set #2 of the notes, go back and read set #3 of the notes. I read the footnotes and inserts whenever they were needed.

Yah, that’s right. You have to go cover to cover 4 times.

I think I enjoyed SOT itself the most. By the 3rd read through I was getting really close to losing momentum. It doesn’t help that some of them notes are from different time periods but are in the same color ink. O_O

If you can get your hands on it, give it a whirl. It’s really an interesting reading experience.

Amazon: S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

reading > china rich girlfriend

China Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. Think: Dynasty but with Asian people and much, much richer.

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This installment lived up to my expectations for the series but there are so many characters and so much backstory that I wish I had re-read CRA before diving into this one.

The people and scenes in this book are over the top (IMO, in a good way) – souped up 747s, dogs with diamond collars, stereotypically I-will-cut-you-if-you-dont-do-what-I-say mean grandmas. I love it all. I can’t wait until it gets movie-fied.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Amazon)

reading > feed

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feed with a side of nasi goreng and spicy wings

I’m in a new book club at work and was excited for the first pick to be a zombie book. Alas, I slogged through it realllly slowly and only finished it after taking it along with me on my recent work trip to Europe. It started off slow and finally picks up about 40% into the book (too long into the book in my opinion – if not for the book club I would probably have given up).

I’m into the zombie genre in general and the world Feed creates is as believable as any post-zombiedom world could be. I liked the storyline, the interesting details, the throwbacks to the pre-Rising (aka pre-zombie aka our world) times, and the plot twists.

I couldn’t get into the characters though. The unconventional brother-sister relationship is explained but doesn’t change the slight creep factor. I don’t think I reached a point where I cared about the main characters. The ‘good politicians’ are one dimensionally good as are the bad ones.

Sadly, I probably won’t be picking up the rest of the series.

Feed by Mira Grant on Amazon

reading > the little princes

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Boy wants to impress his friends.

Boy signs up to volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal.

Boy forgets about impressing friends.

Boy finds out these kids are the victims of child trafficking.

Boy finds out that these kids’ parents are still alive in a remote part of Nepal.

Boy tries to reunite families.

I pulled this book out of my Kindle archives and reread it during my last travels. Warning for possible recreational crying.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal on Amazon

reading > what i was doing while you were breeding

This is a great book for fellow lady travelers on girl trips.

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Kristin Newman is a comedy writer (How I Met Your Mother is one of her past shows) who shares the trials and tribulations of her vacationships (ok, fine, mostly travel hook ups). If you like to live vicariously through someone else’s adventures with Latin lovers, interesting Russians, and the like well then I’ve found the book for you! If you’re judgmental about women doing their thang and enjoying themselves, this is not for you!

Amazon: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

reading > snow flower and the secret fan

A story of a pair of laotong or old sames – a relationship between two women that begins when they are young girls and binds them deeper than sisterhood or marriage.

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I learned so much in this book about old Chinese customs, footbinding, and the depths of filial piety. There was no recreational crying involved but it did tug at my heartstrings and kept me riveted enough to fight the beginnings of motion sickness to keep reading on the plane.

I was surprised to read that Lisa See, the author, is 1/8th Chinese (truthfully, I had expected a full Chinese author). She sounds like she’s very proud of her heritage and did a lot of research to write in a voice that’s authentic. There’s some extra material at the end of the book that talks about this. Give it a read too – it’s pretty interesting.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan via Amazon