Up Next: June 2013 Reads

As May slips into June, I am working my way through two books, one of which I expect to finish in the first few days of the month and another I will be sampling from slowly all month long.

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress, which I talked about in my recent “Currently Reading…” post, and

TBoTThe Book of Tea (1906) by Kakuzō Okakura, which I just started last night.  This is a classic of Japanese philosophical/culinary nonfiction, which I intend to sip from as my bedtime reading throughout June.  The English translation I have is just over 120 pages long, broken neatly into sections, and it seems well-suited to short bursts of quiet reading.  This is one of the very few nonfiction titles on my Classics Club list.






TOSOnce I’m done with SAtS, I will probably crack open the next two books on my list concurrently.  The first is my Classics Club Spin book, The Opposing Shore by Julien Gracq, originally published in France in 1951 as Le Rivage des Syrtes.  The author uses metaphor extensively to explore the complexities of conflict and boundaries and relationships via the lens of a never-ending standstill war between two fictitious cultures in a fictitious Mediterranean state.  I’ve wanted to read this for many years, and I’m excited to finally dive in.  In addition to being on my Classics Club list, this will also allow me to tick another title off my continuing 1001 Books to Read Before You Die project list.




OnlyForwardThe second book with which I plan to open June is another speculative fiction title, 1994’s Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith.  This one is considered something of a modern classic of weird fiction, strange and smart and decorated with bits of both humor and mystery, with the events playing out in an unusual social dystopia.






ExWomenQiAOn June 7th-8th, I’ll be doing a mini-marathon reading of either Excellent Women or Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym, as part of the Barbara Pym Reading Week, which I discussed and provided links and details for in my previous post.






TMCI will be reading The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, as it is the book of the month in the Goodreads Novella Club.  I love science fiction, but I often struggle with sf of this era (the 1950s) due to misogynist, racist and other -ist themes.  I’ve read good reviews of this one by online friends, so I will try to read with an open mind.






LifeALifeMy holds for two recent titles have come in at the library nearly simultaneously, so although I’d rather space their reading out a bit, I shall need to get them both read in June to allow the next person on the holds list to have a turn.  The first of these – as it is due a bit sooner – is Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.  I am buzzy about this title more than I might be about another equally talked-about Next Big Thing book, because anytime a speculative title of any sort crosses the line between genre and mainstream, I find myself curious as to specifically how the author in question will pull things off.  Furthermore, I am a sucker for multiple timelines, reincarnation and the like in fiction, and I’m keen to find out how Atkinson works these sorts of topics.




ATFtTBThe other hold book is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.  Two other elements that nearly always draw me to a fictional work are exploration of Eastern cultures (either historically, contemporarily or through their diaspora) and meta-fiction.  This book has both, so I’m doubly eager to get reading.






RedMoonFinally, I’ve just received the copy of Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon I (surprisingly) won through the Goodreads Giveaway program.  This is the first book I’ve won through them in years, and I want to try to fit it in this month, largely on principle.  Plus the story sounds intriguing, and unlike my previous GG wins which provided pre-publishing paperback ARCs, the publisher sent me a handsome and hefty final-press hardback, which I thought was a lovely thing to do. I didn’t expect it to arrive so soon, either!  I’m doubtful whether I’ll get through this one in June, but if not, I’ll prioritize it for July.


That’s my June reading pile.  I doubt I’ll get through all of it this month, but I’ll certainly try.  Happy reading, everyone!


2 thoughts on “Up Next: June 2013 Reads

  1. The Ruth Ozeki one sounds intriguing and I thought I’d found an answer to my search for a Japanese author for my world lit challenge. But no luck. Ozeki is Canadian. Ah we’ll…

    • I thought she might be Japanese, too, when I first saw her name. Her father is, in fact, Japanese, but she was born in the US and now lives in Canada.

      I’m making a point of reading more Japanese authors, because I took an Asian Literature course several years ago and fell in love with the styles and themes I encountered there. One of my favorites is a collection of short stories by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki titled “Seven Japanese Tales,” which was first collected in 1933. Tanizaki really has his finger on the pulse of the hidden recesses of the human mind, but he can be a bit intense at times and does contain some sexual themes – nothing terribly graphic, considering the time it was written, but definitely tinged with darkness. He sometimes ventures toward horror, but of the suspenseful variety not goriness or the like. He is a master of complicated character psychology. (For a book of his that isn’t dark or sexual, I really liked “A Cat, A Man and Two Women,” which involves something of a love triangle – more of a love square – with a cat at one of the corners. It’s a delightful piece of comic realism.)

      Going even further back, I love Sei Shōnagon’s “The Pillow Book,” from 1002. It is one of the oldest bits of literature in existence today and is quite interesting as a diary of court life. The author was highly opinionated and possessed of a subtle and detailed aesthetic sense. Her diary entries read a bit like poetry. It’s not fiction, though, if you are specifically looking for that.

      If you like more modern works, even though Haruki Murakami is known for his surreal stuff, his “Norwegian Wood” is a realistic tale of a sweet, sad, complicated romance between two young people. I haven’t finished this one yet, as I am drawn to his weirder stuff and shy away from anything romantic, but I’ve read so very many good things about this that I will surely succumb one day.

      I hope you find a Japanese author you love for your world lit challenge!


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