Books I read in Q1 of 2023

person reading book and holding coffee

Hi πŸ‘‹ I am Sam and I am an avid reader of odd books. These aren’t your regular books and some of these aren’t even popular. I do pick up one of two bestsellers though.

So here are books I read in Q1 of 2023 πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

1. The great passage by Shion Miura

The Great Passage by Shion Miura is a book that will enchant any lover of words and language. It tells the story of a group of lexicographers, led by the determined and passionate Mitsuya Majime, as they work to create a comprehensive dictionary of the Japanese language.

Miura’s writing is both elegant and accessible, making even the technical aspects of the work feel engaging and exciting. She skillfully weaves together the personal stories of the characters with the historical and linguistic context of the project, creating a rich and immersive world that is both familiar and foreign.

The characters are all fully realized, each with their own quirks and motivations, and it is a joy to watch them work together and grow over the course of the novel. There is a palpable sense of camaraderie and respect among the team, and the reader can’t help but root for them as they face various challenges, both personal and professional.

The Great Passage is a book that celebrates the power and beauty of language, and it is impossible not to be swept up in its enthusiasm. Whether you are a linguistics nerd or simply someone who appreciates a good story, this book is a must-read. It will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the words that make up our world.

Did I cry? Yes!

2. Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens is a captivating and emotionally charged novel that takes the reader on a journey through the life of Kya Clark, a young girl who grows up in the marshlands of North Carolina. The book is a blend of coming-of-age, murder mystery, and love story, making it an incredibly engaging read.

The novel follows Kya from the age of six, when she is abandoned by her family, through to her adulthood. Kya has to learn how to survive in the marshlands on her own, and this is where the book’s beauty lies. Owens’ descriptions of the marsh are breathtaking, and the reader can almost feel the humidity, smell the mud, and hear the sounds of the wildlife.

As Kya grows older, she becomes a recluse, and her life becomes entwined with a murder investigation that takes place in the town nearby. The book alternates between Kya’s story and the investigation, which adds an element of suspense and intrigue to the plot. The ending is surprising and satisfying, tying up loose ends while also leaving the reader with a sense of longing for more.

The characters in “Where the Crawdads Sing” are complex and well-developed, with Kya being the standout. She is a character that the reader can’t help but root for, and her journey from a scared little girl to a strong, independent woman is inspiring.

Overall, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a beautifully written novel that explores themes of love, loss, and survival. The book is for anyone who enjoys a good story with a strong sense of place and unforgettable characters.

Did I cry? Yes!

3. My grandmother sends her regards and apologies by Fredrik Backman

“My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies” by Fredrik Backman is a heartwarming and touching novel that explores the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. The book is a blend of humor, adventure, and poignancy, making it a delightful and thought-provoking read.

The novel follows seven-year-old Elsa, who is wise beyond her years, and her eccentric grandmother, who teaches her important life lessons through a series of imaginative fairy tales. When Elsa’s grandmother dies, she is left with a series of letters, each addressed to a person in their apartment building. These letters lead Elsa on a journey of discovery, as she uncovers secrets about her grandmother’s past and learns more about the people in her life.

Backman’s writing is witty and charming, and he creates a cast of characters that are both memorable and relatable. Elsa is a character that the reader can’t help but root for, and her journey of self-discovery is inspiring. Her grandmother is a force of nature, and her letters are filled with humor, love, and wisdom that will resonate with readers of all ages.

The novel explores themes of family, forgiveness, and the power of storytelling. Backman weaves together the fairy tales that Elsa’s grandmother tells her with the real-life events that are happening around her, creating a seamless and enchanting narrative. The book is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, with moments of joy and sadness that will leave the reader with a renewed appreciation for the importance of family and love.

Overall, “My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies” is a delightful and moving novel that is sure to touch the hearts of readers. Backman’s writing is magical, and his characters are unforgettable. The book is for anyone who enjoys a good story that will make them laugh, cry, and feel deeply.

Did I cry? I couldn’t stop crying when I read the line Britt-marie was here.

4. Nowhere to be found by Bae Suah

“Nowhere to Be Found” by Bae Suah is a thought-provoking and haunting novel that explores themes of identity, memory, and the search for meaning. The book is a meditation on the human condition, and it offers a glimpse into the life of a young woman who is struggling to find her place in the world.

The novel follows a young woman named Kyeong-ha, who is a part-time audio scriptwriter and translator living in Seoul. Kyeong-ha is adrift and disconnected from the world around her, and she struggles to find meaning in her work and her relationships. As the novel unfolds, Kyeong-ha embarks on a journey of self-discovery, traveling to Berlin and Paris, where she confronts her past and comes to terms with her identity.

Bae Suah’s writing is lyrical and atmospheric, and she creates a sense of disorientation and detachment that mirrors Kyeong-ha’s state of mind. The novel is divided into short, fragmented chapters, which adds to the sense of dislocation and uncertainty. The prose is spare and understated, yet it is filled with vivid imagery and evocative descriptions that transport the reader to the streets of Seoul, Berlin, and Paris.

The novel is not a conventional narrative, and it requires a certain level of engagement and attention from the reader. However, the payoff is significant, as the novel offers a profound and affecting portrait of a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. The book is a testament to the power of literature to explore the complexities of the human condition, and it will resonate with readers who appreciate thoughtful and introspective writing.

Overall, “Nowhere to Be Found” is a beautifully written novel that offers a unique and compelling perspective on the search for identity and meaning. Bae Suah’s writing is poetic and insightful, and her characters are complex and relatable. The book is for anyone who enjoys literary fiction that challenges and provokes.

Did I cry? No.

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a captivating and poignant novel that explores the life of a Hollywood icon. The book is a blend of glamour, scandal, and romance, making it an enthralling and emotionally charged read.

The novel follows the life of Evelyn Hugo, a legendary actress who rose to fame in the 1950s and 60s. Evelyn is a complex and fascinating character, and the book delves into her relationships, both on and off the screen. As Evelyn recounts her life story to a young journalist, Monique Grant, she reveals the secrets and scandals that have shaped her career and personal life.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is engrossing and immersive, and she captures the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with vivid descriptions and rich detail. The novel is structured around the seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo, each of whom played a significant role in her life. The relationships are complex and nuanced, and they explore themes of love, loss, and the price of fame.

The novel also touches on important social issues, such as race, sexuality, and the struggles faced by women in Hollywood. Evelyn’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and her strength and resilience in the face of adversity are truly remarkable.

Overall, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is a masterful work of fiction that offers a unique and compelling perspective on the world of Hollywood. Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is captivating and insightful, and her characters are unforgettable. The book is for anyone who enjoys a good story with complex characters and rich themes.

Did I cry? No.

I did finish this book in record time because I was dying to know what happens next.

6. The Women in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

It’s a haunting and atmospheric novel that explores the lives of women in modern-day Japan. The book is a powerful and thought-provoking meditation on loneliness, connection, and the search for meaning.

The novel follows the lives of several women who cross paths on a train ride in Tokyo. The women are all struggling with loneliness and disconnection in their lives, and they are drawn to each other in unexpected ways. As the novel unfolds, their stories intersect and intertwine, revealing the hidden depths of their inner lives and the struggles they face in a society that values conformity over individuality.

Natsuko Imamura’s writing is spare and understated, yet it is filled with emotion and insight. The novel is structured around a series of vignettes, each of which focuses on a different woman and her experiences. The prose is lyrical and atmospheric, and it captures the sights, sounds, and sensations of modern-day Tokyo with vivid detail.

The novel is a reflection on the complexities of modern life, and it explores themes of identity, isolation, and the search for connection. The characters are complex and fully realized, and their struggles will resonate with readers who have experienced similar feelings of loneliness and disconnection.

Overall, “The Women in the Purple Skirt” is a stunning work of fiction that offers a unique and poignant perspective on the lives of women in modern-day Japan. Natsuko Imamura’s writing is evocative and moving, and her characters are unforgettable. The book is for anyone who appreciates literary fiction that explores the complexities of the human condition.

Did I cry? No.

7. Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

“Lonely Castle in the Mirror” by Mizuki Tsujimura is a remarkable and enchanting novel that captures the imagination and touches the heart. The book is a blend of fantasy and reality, making it a unique and memorable read.

The novel follows the life of Kokoro, a teenage girl who feels disconnected from the world around her. Kokoro is struggling with feelings of loneliness and despair, and she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. However, one day, she discovers a magical mirror that transports her to a mysterious castle, where she meets other teenagers who are also struggling with their own issues.

Mizuki Tsujimura’s writing is lyrical and captivating, and she creates a vivid and immersive world that is both magical and real. The novel is structured around the different characters’ stories, and each of them is dealing with their own struggles and demons. The characters are complex and fully realized, and their journeys are compelling and emotionally resonant.

The novel explores important themes of identity, belonging, and the search for meaning. It also touches on issues of mental health and the struggles faced by young people in today’s world. The book is a testament to the power of literature to provide comfort and solace in times of uncertainty and hardship.

Overall, “Lonely Castle in the Mirror” is an extraordinary work of fiction that offers a unique and magical perspective on the human condition. Mizuki Tsujimura’s writing is beautiful and moving, and her characters are unforgettable. The book is a must-read for anyone who appreciates literary fiction that transports and inspires.

Did I cry? No. But I had to take a nap after finishing this book to process it.

8. People from my neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

“People From My Neighbourhood” by Hiromi Kawakami is a beautifully crafted collection of short stories that offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in modern-day Japan. The book is a masterful exploration of human relationships and emotions, revealing the complexity of human connections in a society that often values conformity over individuality.

Each story in the collection centers around a different character, from a young woman struggling with her identity to an elderly couple reflecting on the ups and downs of their long marriage. Hiromi Kawakami’s writing is lyrical and poetic, and she imbues each character with a sense of humanity and depth that makes them feel like real people.

The stories are poignant and thought-provoking, exploring themes of love, loss, and the search for meaning. They also offer a unique perspective on modern-day Japan, highlighting the challenges faced by ordinary people in a rapidly changing society.

Overall, “People From My Neighbourhood” is a beautifully written and insightful collection of stories that will resonate with readers who appreciate literary fiction that explores the complexities of the human condition.

Did I cry? No.

9. The easy life in Kamusari by Shion Miura

“The Easy Life in Kamusari” by Shion Miura, translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter, is a charming and introspective novel that follows the life of Yuki Hirano, a young man who has recently moved to a rural Japanese town to work in the forestry department.

Yuki is initially uncertain about his decision to leave the city and start a new life in Kamusari, but as he becomes more involved in the daily life of the town, he starts to appreciate the simple pleasures and rhythms of rural life. Through his work in the forestry department, Yuki discovers a deeper connection to nature and gains a new appreciation for the importance of preserving the natural environment.

Shion Miura’s writing is gentle and lyrical, and she expertly captures the beauty of the Japanese countryside. The novel is a poignant exploration of themes such as identity, community, and the importance of finding meaning and purpose in life.

The characters in the novel are richly drawn and complex, and readers will find themselves becoming invested in their lives and relationships. The novel is a beautiful celebration of the small joys of life and a reminder that true happiness can be found in the most unexpected places.

Overall, “The Easy Life in Kamusari” is a beautiful and contemplative novel that will appeal to readers who appreciate stories that explore the power of nature, community, and self-discovery.

There were a lot of things that I loved about this book. What I especially loved was the depth in which forestry work was explained and the warmth of community that I felt through the pages.

Did I cry? No. Did it make me happy and warm my heart? Yes.

10. Kamusari tales told at night by Shion Miura

I was so glad to find this book after finishing The Easy Life in Kamusari because I wanted to read more about Kamusari. Boy o boy that place is fictional but feels so real when you read about it!

“Kamusari Tales Told at Night” is a collection of short stories by Japanese author Shion Miura. The stories are set in the rural town of Kamusari and are centered around the lives of the town’s inhabitants.

The stories in this collection are heartwarming, whimsical, and poignant, and they offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the people of Kamusari. Shion Miura’s writing is vivid and evocative, and she expertly captures the spirit of rural Japan.

Each story in the collection is beautifully crafted and offers a unique perspective on life in Kamusari. The characters are relatable and well-drawn, and readers will find themselves becoming invested in their lives and struggles.

The stories explore a wide range of themes, including family, community, love, loss, and the beauty of the natural world. Each tale is told with sensitivity and warmth, and the collection as a whole is a testament to the power of storytelling.

Overall, “Kamusari Tales Told at Night” is a delightful and heartwarming collection of stories that will appeal to readers who appreciate stories that celebrate the beauty of everyday life. Shion Miura’s writing is masterful, and the translation by Juliet Winters Carpenter captures the nuances of the original Japanese text.

Did I cry? No. Did I crave for more stories? Yes.

11. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman explores the themes of mental illness, oppression, and the dangers of patriarchal control. The story follows an unnamed woman who is confined to her bedroom by her husband, a physician, and is forbidden from engaging in any intellectual or creative activities.

As the story progresses, the woman becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room, and the pattern becomes a symbol of her own mental deterioration. The story is a poignant commentary on the ways in which women were confined and silenced in the 19th century, and how the lack of agency and autonomy could lead to madness.

Gilman’s writing expertly creates a sense of claustrophobia and psychological tension throughout the story. The character of the woman is both sympathetic and tragic, and readers will find themselves drawn into her world and her struggles.

Despite its historical significance and literary merit, “The Yellow Wallpaper” may not be for everyone. Some readers may find the story to be slow-paced and uneventful, and the themes and symbolism may be too heavy-handed for some. Additionally, the story’s focus on mental illness may be triggering for some readers.

Overall, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a thought-provoking and chilling exploration of the ways in which societal expectations and patriarchal control can lead to the oppression and subjugation of women. While not for everyone, it remains an important and enduring work of feminist literature.

Did I cry? No.

If you want to stay updated on what am I reading, let’s connect on goodreads.

Though I wasn’t able to read enough in Q1 I believe I will stay consistent with my reading this year. Let’s see how it goes.

So, what did you read in Q1 or what are you currently reading?

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