My Year of Books 2014

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Nothing to Envy – Barbara Demick (Stories from people she’s interviewed who defected from North Korea.)
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell (Frustrated me, and also wowed me. Reading it was full of ups and downs as I tried to decide if I was enjoying it or not. In any case, David Mitchell is pretty amazing at writing with different voices.)
A Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (Brilliant, long but brilliant. The historical chapters are tough going and I have to admit I didn’t always read them in much detail.)

Better Than Fiction – Various Authors

Elephant Moon – John Sweeney (I loved this book!)
War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
Bangkok in the Balance – Tatsuya Hata

Monsoon County – Pira Sudham (My first book by this Thai author, who spent his higher education in Australia and has only written books in English. The story was alright; I would read another of his novels.. but I wasn’t amazed by this book. It’s loosely about a boy who hails from a poor village in Isaan in Thailand who manages to go to university in London.)
Trains and Lovers – Alexander McCall-Smith
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde (I love this play :))

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath (I really really like the way Sylvia Plath writes prose.)
The Solitaire Mystery – Jostein Gaarder
A Time to Kill – John Grisham (Gripping!)

Backstory – David Mitchell (Comedian)
Goodbye Tsugumi – Banana Yoshimoto (I love Banana Yoshimoto. Her books are not always particularly long, but lovely.)

I am a Cat (Volume 1) – Soseki Natsume (So pleased I found this in the library in the International Centre in Nagoya. I will get around to reading the other 2 volumes at some point. It’s a satirical look at Japanese customs/culture of the early 1900s from the point of view of a cat. Classic Japanese literature.)

Deathnote 1-12 (Shonen Jump) – Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Lizard – Banana Yoshimoto
The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht (I’m very interested to read more of her work.)

I’d love to know if anyone else read any of these books and what they thought! Also book recommendations are always appreciated :)

Tone Deaf in Bangkok (and other places)

I want to share a book recommendation…

Tone Deaf in Bangkok (and other places) – by Janet Brown

It’s just brilliant. While I have been feeling a little uninspired by Bangkok recently for various reasons, Janet’s writing seems to open it up and make me realise how awesome a city it is again.

Her stories are anecdotes of her periods of living in Bangkok and travelling in Thailand, as a single farang woman. I greatly appreciated this, as having scoured shelves previously for books on Bangkok, a lot of them seem to be written by men, which I find a little harder to relate to, being a single farang woman myself.

She reinforced for me, the idea that nothing ever just comes to you – just because you go and visit a country doesn’t mean it is obliged to pamper you and show you a good time. To enjoy Bangkok (or anywhere) you have to get out there and do things, and learn the language, and talk to people, and get stuck in. Sometimes it might go right, and sometimes, of course, it might go wrong.

But the most important thing is you’ll have a multitude of stories to tell at the end of it…..