What have I been reading?

Twenty-twenty-three (2023) has come and one of the resolutions I wish to work on is that I get back to reading. So far, there are a couple of books that I have started. Sadly, I have only finished one (the other one is a short story) so far as I got tied up with my messy procrastination cycle.

Here are the books that made me get back on track (somehow).

1. Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe (In Progress)

In this book, Toshikazu Kawaguchi continues to share the stories of people who have to face their past for them to move forward with their lives. With the translation from Geoffrey Trousselet, readers see the magical café, Cafe Funiculi Funicula, in Tokyo that has a special time-traveling chair that can bring a person back to a specific time in the past. However, with certain rules that must be fulfilled, people have to make sure that they do what they wish to do and come back to the present before the coffee gets cold.

I read the first book last year and got sucked into the stories. I cried a lot at some point while reading, and I cried even more at memorable events in the book. Now, I tried continuing the tale by picking up this second book in the series. There is somehow a bit of ease in reading through the lines this time around; I think mainly because of the differences in the way the expressions were shown through this translation.

The first book gave me the impression that some of the lines were awkward or off unless you are familiar with the way Japanese people express their sentiments through their language. However, for this second installment, the translation sounds more natural.

Even though I loved the first book, I have yet to finish this one as I somehow didn’t want to continue reading heartbreaking stories at the time. It was, after all, almost the end of the year and the start of 2023 when I picked up this book. Maybe in the coming days, I will be able to finish it.

2. From the Dust Returned (DONE)

The year started with me also welcoming a new decade in my life. I knew that I didn’t want to begin my year with sad stories, however, I couldn’t help myself with this one.

I gifted myself with this book when I traveled to Tokyo during the first week of January. I was delighted to finally be able to go to a physical bookstore with English novels/texts available, because, during most of the pandemic, I barely survived through purchasing books online whether it was through secondhand stores or a global online marketplace like Book Depository, Amazon, and Book Excess. Moreover, I live in a somehow rural area in Japan and the bookstores here do not carry many (or any) English titles at all. 😦

Anyhow, when I was in university, I have grown fond of Ray Bradbury because of the fascinating ideas he had as a writer. I never really liked science fiction before, however, with the way Bradbury told his stories, I was drawn much deeper than I had anticipated. So, despite learning about him only after his death, I tried to get my hand on copies of his works as much as I could. Many of them are not in print anymore.

One of the titles that caught my eye was From the Dust Returned. Reading this book made me see how an ordinary human child gets adopted into an Addams-like family. However, the tales progress quite differently compared to the earlier books written by Bradbury. Nonetheless, there are great lessons in each one of the readers who sees beyond the lines. There were moments that made me reflect on my own idea of time, the passing of time. The odd members of the family bring delight and also heartache at some points, but they sure are surprisingly delightful company throughout the book.

3. Death is a Lonely Business (In Progress)

Another book from Bradbury, this one is more of a mystery and crime novel. I initially thought of getting A Graveyard for Lunatics but learned that in this series, this book was the first. So, here I am trying to go through the story as told from the perspective of a struggling unnamed writer who has to go through a troubling series of murders and reflections on life and the people around Venice, California in the 1950s.

I am intrigued by the way this novel was written, however, I am having some difficulties in completing each chapter. There are times when I need to reread just to make sure I am on the track with what is happening. But it is a sure thing that Bradbury did try to be different in this case, well as compared to most of the works of his that I have read (The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and his other short stories). Let’s see what more I can discover and how I would truly feel about this work. One thing is evident, the protagonist in this story is Bradbury himself during the early years of his career. The similarities and ideals presented seem to be the ones that I read from his other book, Zen in the Art of Writing.

4. My Evil Mother (DONE)

It seems that I have been alternating with various books as they have different stories that help me get motivated. However, as with my bad habit of not being able to stay on track, I end up not finishing the book before picking up the next one.

This one was something easy to read and accessible to me as it is a kindle copy. I tried to get on my Prime reading to see if I can finally finish a digital text. This is because, throughout the years, I couldn’t seem to do so. I always ended up longing for the hard, physical copies of the text that I was reading then. This was a fresh start, but may not be followed anytime soon.

My Evil Mother is a newly published digital short story by Margaret Atwood. It has those subtle warm sentiments that could get you hooked right away. I did feel a bit sad in the latter part as the events hit so close to home. Now, I wish to call my mom and my dad more often.

To those who are reading this, you may be thinking how could there be four books on my list already or even the opposite of why I only have four books here. Well, truth be told, I have somehow lost my drive for reading novels as I got too focused on my work. I dragged myself into a great slump that led to an unhealthy sense of procrastination and disinterest in various things and events. However, these four books are my attempt to get back on track and move forward.

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