January 2019 Wrap-Up

January is a month where I like to return to old habits, so I was happy to take up the latest Japanese Literature Challenge, as hosted over at the Dolce Bellezza blog.  This time around, the event runs from January to March, but with other commitments just around the corner, I decided to squeeze as much as possible into the first month of the year.

So what did I actually get up to in January?  Well, the first week of the year saw me wrapping up 2018 with a series of posts.  After handing out my annual awards, I looked at your favourite posts of the year before reflecting on the year (and the decade!) that was.  A fairly busy start to 2019, then…

Once that was out of the way, it was time to start the challenge in earnest, and I managed to revisit several books I enjoyed in previous years (links are to my original posts):

Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow
Yōko Ogawa’s The Diving Pool
Hideo Furukawa’s Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure
Banana Yoshimoto’s N.P.

In addition, I enjoyed eight new books from and about Japan – but you can check those out below.  Before I get to them, please feel free to enjoy the first set of stats for 2019 😉

Total Books Read: 15
Year-to-Date: 15

New: 10
Rereads: 5

From the Shelves: 6
Review Copies: 7
From the Library: 2
On the Kindle: 1 (1 review copy)

Novels: 8
Novellas: 0
Short Stories: 3
Non-Fiction: 3
Poetry: 1

Non-English Language: 13
(10 Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish)
In Original Language: 0

Books Reviewed in January were:
1) The End of the Moment We Had by Toshiki Okada
2) Unbinding the Pillow Book by Gergana Ivanova
3) Farewell, My Orange by Kei Iwaki
4) To the Spring Equinox and Beyond by Natsume Sōseki
5) Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories by Taeko Kōno
6) Beyond the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets by Makoto Ōoka
7) Ōe and Beyond: Fiction in Contemporary Japan
– edited by Stephen Snyder and Philip Gabriel
8) Tokyo Ueno Station by Yū Miri

Tony’s Turkey for January is: Nothing

J-Lit rarely disappoints, and this month’s batch of books was a successful one – no turkeys here…

Tony’s Recommendation for January is:
Natsume Sōseki’s To the Spring Equinox and Beyond

Out of this month’s selections, the nearest challengers were probably Kōno’s collection of excellent stories and Yū’s poignant novel of a man on the wrong side of history.  However, I’m a sucker for Natsume Sōseki’s work, and this little-known novel has shot straight up there among my favourites.  I certainly recommend it – if you can track a copy down…

February will see a little more geographical variety as I bid farewell to my Japanese reading project, but I’ll have one eye on the future, too.  You see, the Man Booker International Prize longlist announcement isn’t that far away, and I’m about to get started on shadow duties.  That’s right – I’m getting the band back together.  More details in a couple of weeks 😉


11 thoughts on “January 2019 Wrap-Up

  1. Dear Fairies, Tony is doing great things for Japanese literature, with his wide-ranging taste and reviews that give a real sense of what the book is like. He never shows off but just gives as level^headed a view of the book as he can, so we readers can make up our minds. Enjoy your wings, and please sometime tell us which of the two or three hundred Japanese colors they are.


  2. Wonderful post, Tony, which I will highlight on my weekly State of the Challenge update. Like Kaggsy, I’m so glad there were no “turkeys” for you. For me, I had to abandon Six Four which I had started twice before in my life. So, onward with The Pillow Book read along with Frances and Caroline.


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