Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Plan to Have in My Beach Bag

Top Ten Tuesday I’ll start by saying this: I don’t read on the beach.

I might read on my way to the beach (the nearest one is more than an hour away by train), but I won’t read on the beach. It’s too sandy and hot. If I’m going to be at the beach, then I’ll play in the water. If I want to read, then I’ll read in the comfort of my own home, with the A/C on.

But here’s what I hope to read over the summer:

  1. TJ and AmalThe Less than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal, E.K. Weaver I bought this on the Kickstarter months ago. I don’t even know if it will be out by this summer, but if not, I might just reread the webcomic. This is the perfect summer story: a road trip with groovy tunes and a sweet love story. I can’t wait to (re)read this.
  2. Nimona, Noelle Stevenson This one should be in the mail soon! I’ve already read it once this year, online, but I can’t wait to read the print-exclusive epilogue and, well, just reread it.
  3. Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson I downloaded this last year from Audiobook SYNC, but I never got a chance to listen because I don’t use headphones (long story). Hopefully this summer, I’ll get a chance to listen to this one and some of this year’s offerings. I’ll need something to keep me entertained during inventory.
  4. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen I’ve never read a single book by Jane Austen. I know, right? They just don’t seem very interesting to me. Northanger Abbey sounds like the most fun of the lot, so I’ll get a copy from the library, or maybe an ebook – the type in the library copy is so tiny. It’s no wonder nobody likes to read them.
  5. Drawing of the ThreeNew On the Job: A School Librarian’s Guide to Success, Ruth Toor OK, I ordered this one with my collection development picks and it probably won’t make it in until the beginning of next year. I’m not even that new on the job, but I want to improve my skills as a librarian, of course. I actually have almost a month of inservice before the students come back for the 2015-2016 school year, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to read it before then and incorporate some of it into my planning.
  6. Dark Tower, Stephen King I probably won’t reread the whole thing, but The Drawing of the ThreeThe Waste Lands, the not-flashback parts of Wizard & Glass, and Wolves of the Calla are just so readable. It’s like watching really good TV. Stephen King isn’t a  very beautiful writer, but he spins one hell of a yarn.
  7. The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes, Soman Chainani I am so ready to finally get my hands on this and read it! I loved The School for Good and Evil, but I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t picked up the second book in the series. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Agatha and Sophie next!
  8. Good OmensGood Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman One of my friends just bought a copy of this recently and I immediately asked if maybe I could borrow her copy? I have my own, but it’s at my mother’s house in the USA. (#expatproblems) Footnotes as such a pain on ereaders, so I’ll have to read her print copy… Or just buy it for myself, you know? I haven’t read this book in years.
  9. The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my hands on this one, at least not at a reasonable price. It’s not one of Amazon.co.jp’s big sellers, and that means you pay a premium for getting it imported. But I would love to read more about children’s literature, and summer is the perfect time for digging into something heavy. Then I’ll start the new school year feeling smarter!
  10. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice This was one of two print books I brought with me to Japan when I moved. It’s such a trashy book. I have this lovely, beaten up old mass market paperback. The pages are all soft and it’s so cozy to reread. I know almost every word, but: Lestat. Swoon. This, I might even throw in my bag, if I were going to the actual beach.
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Thoughtful Thursdays: Multimedia

Pokémon The First MovieEvery week at Reading is Fun Again, Pamela posts a discussion topic. This week, she asks:

Assuming that you are late to the party with a book series (and the entire series is completed) and you want to read every piece of text within a series’ universe that you can get your hands on, in what order to you read the books, short stories, and novellas within the universe?

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever jumped into a story that takes place across this many formats before! The only one I can think of is Pokémon, way back in the day; I collected the cards, watched the anime, then played the video game. I don’t think that “counts,” though, because the video games and the anime have different continuities entirely.

When I read Dark Tower, I started (and ended) with the books. I know there are graphic novel expansions and adaptations, but I’ve never read either; the art isn’t my style, and they’re so expensive. I think the books are the “main canon,” anyway; the other stuff is mostly extra. I would suggest someone reading it the first time skip The Wind in the Keyhole, because it wasn’t part of the original series, and save it for last.

Dark TowerI think, were I to start in a series with this many diverse media, I would figure out what was intended to be the main story. Is it a book series with a graphic novel spinoff? Then I would read the book series – in chronological order, of course – and the the graphic novels, or short stories. If it was a graphic novel series with some books on the side, then I would start with the graphic novels, and so on.

I always took great delight in reading things in the proper order. So much that I read all of Redwall in publication order to date (up to Taggerung) and then again, in in-universe chronological order, just to be perfectly sure. It was very satisfying.

Honestly, though, sometimes when I see that there’s so much for me to read, it scares me off a little bit. This is why I’ll probably never read/play/watch Homestuck. It’s like the thing that never ends! Talk about  archive panic, right? Which is too bad, because hypertext fiction, meta, and multiple media are all things that really interest me, but then when it’s time to sit down and actually read all of that, I start worrying about all of the other things I could be reading.

Then Now Next Thursday (April 23, 2015)

Let's Eat RamenTHEN

I’m back to bouncing around from one thing to another and never finishing a book. It’s very frustrating, but I just can’t focus! I did manage to finish Let’s Eat Ramen, a manga dojinshi collection. Maybe I should stick to graphic novels for now?

NOW

Currently, I’m reading the only kind of book it feels like I can finish lately, a cultural history. This one is called Virgin: The Untouched History. It’s no Holy Sh*t, but I’m enjoying it well enough to keep reading. I love learning more about concepts we take for granted, like virginity, or swearing, or cupcakes.

I’m still reading The Story Thieves, but the going is slow because 1) it’s kind of boring? which is a huge letdown because I loved the premise, and 2) I’m taking extensive notes on craft while I read, because I’m trying to improve as a writer, and because I love the concept of the book, but it’s just not working for me and I’m trying to figure out why (so I don’t make the same mistake)


Story ThievesNEXT

Well, if the sun ever comes out again, it will be spring/early summer, which is, in my opinion, the (second) best time (after New Year’s) to (re)read Weetzie Bat or Witch Baby or Baby Be-bop, or maybe all three. (I have the whole Dangerous Angels collection, but I don’t care much for either Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys or Missing Angel Juan.)

I have a library meeting coming up the week after next where we’ll get together and argue about books (it’s one of my favorite days of the school year), so I’m sure my TBR will get some substantial additions for summer reading, regardless of what we decide makes the final cut.

“What Are You Reading?” Wednesdays (February 18, 2015)

The SilmarillionWhat are you currently reading?

I’m kinda/sorta (re)reading The Silmarillion, but I will be honest with you: I’ve been in the worst reading slump. I just can’t focus on anything, and it’s awful.

What did you recently finish reading?

Since I last updated, I’ve read: In Real Life, Take Me Out to the Yakyu, The Hobbit (can you tell I’m on a Middle-earth kick?) and the online edition of Nimona. (I can’t wait for the print version this May.)

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ugh, I don’t know. I just hope I’ll find something to pull me out of this slump.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love to Read with my Bookclub

Top Ten TuesdayAfter all the fun of reading everyone’s free choice Top Ten lists last week, it’s back to an assigned topic: Top Ten Books I’d Love to Read with my Bookclub.*
(*if I had a bookclub)

Last year, there was some talk of a Stonewall Japan book club. I created a group on Goodreads, but then nothing ever came of it, but here (the first half of the list) are some books I would like to read if I can ever get that going.

As usual, these are in no particular order.

  1. TakarazukaTakarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan, Jennifer Ellen Robertson We’re in Japan, so we should read about Japan, right? The Takarazuka Revue is a wonderful thing that must be seen to be believed. It’s a homosocial world of all women actresses with adoring female, usually married, fans. There’s a lot to chew on here, and maybe we could go to a show after?
  2. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault I admit, I have mostly selfish reasons for wanting to read this one with a book club. First, I know some people in Stonewall Japan are totally smart enough to understand it. Second, I’m not that smart. I would love to sit at Chu’s over ginger ale and talk with some other expat queers about this book.
  3. Wandering SonHōrō Musuko (Wandering Son), Takako Shimura This manga is a story about two friends, a trans girl and a trans boy, as they’re growing up. It was adapted into a twelve episode anime in 2011, too, so we could do one of those “read it and then watch the movie” things.
  4. Boys Love Manga and Beyond: History, Culture, and Community in Japan, Mark McLelland I know that at least one Stonewall Japan member is researching BL manga for a doctorate thesis, so I would love to read this and then pick her brain about it. BL was the first queer content I could access as a rural queer teenager and, really, how weird is that? a white American teenage lesbian reading about gay Japanese boys in comics written largely by and for straight Japanese women. This would be a great discussion book.
  5. Shiroi Heya no Futari (Our White Room), Ryoko Yamagishi I admit, I had never heard of this one before I started looking for books to add to my list, but Our White Room is the trope codifier for a certain subgenre of girls love manga, originally published in 1971.
  6. KitchenBad Girls of Japan, Laura Miller This one isn’t strictly a “queer” book, but it could be some interesting discussion fodder for Dyke Weekend. So much of a nation’s fears and hopes are projected onto the bodies of young women, and how young women act to acquiesce, subvert, or challenge patriarchal societies is always interesting.
  7. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Chiho Saito Utena is a classic girls’ manga. I think everyone’s heard of it, at least; I know I’ve never had a chance to read it, but a book club would be the perfect chance and I know from overheard discussions that there is a lot in this to talk about.
  8. Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto This is a famous contemporary work of Japanese literature (which I have never read) and one of the major characters is a trans woman.
  9. Our White RoomQueer Voices from Japan: First Person Narratives from Japan’s Sexual Minorities, Mark McLelland There’s been plenty written about Japan by 外人 (gaijin, foreigners) in English, but what I think makes this book a good one for discussion is that it’s translated essays from queer Japanese people, dating back to the 1940s and 1950s.
  10. What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Fumi Yoshinaga This is a sweet manga about the blossoming romance between two middle aged men in Tokyo, a salaryman and a hairdresser. The salaryman loves to cook, and their romance is told through their meals together and it’s really sweet.

There are so many good books about sexuality in Japan, but I didn’t want to just list them all here. I know a lot of these are dense academic texts, but this is the kind of conversation that I know I enjoy, and judging by the Facebook group comments, I’m not the only academic queer expat who enjoys this kind of conversation.

“What Are You Reading?” Wednesday (December 24, 2014 – Christmas Eve)

A Christmas CarolWhat are you currently reading?

‘Tis the season and all, so I’m reading A Christmas Carol. I grew up with the 1983 Disney special Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and I designed a book jacket to fit the local library copy for a project during high school, but I’ve never actually read it; my one encounter with Dickens (Bleak House) scared me off of that for a very long time. Now that I have the time and motivation to read it for my own edification and of my own free will, I’m finding that it’s not actually so bad.

I do have a problem with hearing some parts in Gonzo’s voice, because they’re directly quoted in Muppet’s Christmas Carol. 

I’m happy to finally be reading this book. It’s helping me to keep in the Christmas spirit and not be such a Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol

The colors matched up when printed. This is the problem when designing in RGB for print in CYMK.

What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve been on vacation, so I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of reading this week.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish LieutenantI read Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant in two sittings: once right before bed and then immediately as soon as I woke up (and wrote my morning pages). I grew up on black and white manga, so I struggle with the information overload of full color comic books, but it was beautiful – the art and the story, both. I guess it’s the first in a series, and I hope I get the chance to read the rest of it.

I finished Pantomime and it was excellent. (Review.)

Keeping with the season, I read My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, which I enjoyed, but I also docked a star because there was one token queer couple, two cis gay boys, and exactly zero queer women or trans people, which is just such a bummer.  You’ll have to do better than that if you want an ally cookie. (Review.)

Then I read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, which I liked a lot at the beginning and wanted to like at the end, but it didn’t quite work for me. (I can’t really say what bugged me about it without getting into spoiler territory, but it really just didn’t seem to “fit” for me. Suffice to say, I think the ending would have been better left ambiguous.)

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not really sure why I haven’t immediately jumped into Shadowplay, considering the first thing I did when I finished Pantomime was run out and get it? (Metaphorically.) So… probably that!

I’ve read 98 of my 100 books for the Goodreads challenge. This isn’t to say that hitting 100 will stop me, but expect some MATHS soon. For someone who had to take my math gen ed pass/fail, I really like crunching numbers.

“What Are You Reading?” Wednesdays are hosted by Should be Reading.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year

Top Ten Tuesday

It’s a liiiiitle late for Christmas shopping – my friends/Japan family and I are having our Christmas dinner tonight, since half of us have work on Christmas Eve and Christmas – but just in case: here are my Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year.

I’m breaking the list into two: five books I want for myself, and five books I want for my library.

For My Personal Collection:

  1. Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone 2014Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone “But Leslie, don’t you already have this? Isn’t it, like, your favorite book?”
    Yes, yes, I do. I have numerous copies, even, but I always want more, like the adorable new Bloomsbury paperback or this French paperback. I collect different editions of this book, but really, I wouldn’t mind if Santa would just bring my existing collection to Tokyo on his sleigh.
  2. Sacred High City, Sacred Low City: A Tale of Religious Sites in Two Tokyo Neighborhoods Living in Tokyo, I’ve developed a hobby bordering on a religious obsession with Shinto shrines, but most of my knowledge is informal, gleaned from what little I remember of undergrad and my limited ability to read the informational pamphlets the priests sometimes give me with my goshuinchō stamps. In 2015, I’d like to do a little more serious research, including this book.
  3. Critical Perspectives on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials While Harry Potter was my obsession, His Dark Materials changed me in quieter, deeper ways that I didn’t fully realize until I reread the trilogy after moving to Tokyo. I love books about books – at home, I have heaps of books with titles like The Psychology of Harry Potter and The World of The Golden Compassbut this is a more in-depth, scholarly (and thus, expensive) book that I haven’t had the chance to read yet and I would love to get deeper into this story.
  4. NimonaThe Magician’s Book I already have this one in ebook format, but I loved it so much that it would be an honor to have the print edition on my shelf beside my own Magician’s Book(s), The Golden Compass and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (mentioned above). 2014 was the Year of the Magician’s Book, and I’d love to hold the actual, you know, book.
  5. Nimona I read most of this comic free online, but I liked it so much that I want to hold it in my hands and hug it and keep it on my bookshelf and admire it forever. This one might also double-up and go in the secondary library collection, too, because it is just soo great. I haven’t cried over a webcomic since seventh grade.

For My Library Collection:

  1. Olivia Kidney and the…  There are a couple of these (Secret Beneath the City and Exit Academy), and I want them both for the library after a student came up with a copy of the first book, begging me for the rest of the series. I didn’t even know it was a series, but how do you say “no” to one of your best patrons – a girl who comes in every single day to borrow new books and help sticker and shelve for fun in her free time – when they’re just dying for the next book in their new favorite series?
  2. Blossoming Universe of Violet DiamondThe Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond I tried to order this with the last PTA batch, only to realize – d’oh! – it won’t be released until next year. Oops! But I do really, really want it. I’m trying to build a diverse collection. Many of my students are biracial/bicultural, and I think this is a story that would resonate with them, even if the specifics are different than their own situation – it’s a mirror and a window.
  3. The School for Good and Evil Soman Chainani was one of my Top Ten New-To-Me Authors of 2014, and I really want this book in the library collection. I know what my patrons like, and a certain faction of my patrons likes princesses – loves princesses, even. I think this book would support their interest while maybe subtly dismantling the “princess” archetype, where “princess” means “pretty and helpless.”
  4. Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (Series) Some of my “reluctant” readers have finally branched out from Captain Underpants and started reading Jack Stalwart and Zac Power and asking for more. We don’t have more, is the thing. For some reason, my library collection is weirdly lacking in adventure stories. Here is a solution to that problem.
  5. My Mixed-up Berry Blue Summer I want this book for a bunch of reasons. For one thing, queer characters are underrepresented in my library collection, but And Tango Makes Three is one of the most popular titles. For another, it takes place in Vermont, which is where I grew up, and that’s cool. The students – all international – like asking about where the teachers are from. I tried to buy it last year, but it was “not a priority,” while none of my other fiction picks had any complaints. Hmm. Hopefully Santa can help me out here…