During April, the reading slump that started in March happily continued, and I spent way more time watching silly Japanese television than reading. Which is fine too, though I did miss that feeling of really getting stuck in a story. Maybe next month.
Either way, although I did only read two books, they were pretty good books, so let’s get this started!
1. Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto (4/5 stars)
Kitchen is, from what I know, something of a modern literary classic in Japan. And I can see why: it’s honest, it’s interesting, and it gives a new perspective on modern Japanese life in a way that most of the classics I’ve read so far don’t. It’s about death and dealing with grief, and about not pushing people away but staying open to connections both old and new, and I might not love it but I definitely really liked this little book.
2. The Untold History of Ramen: How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze, by George Solt (4/5 stars)
Look, I really love food. I love cooking. I love noodles in all kinds of varieties, including ramen. I also love Japan, and I love history. This book was basically written for me. At the same time, it was a bit difficult for me at some points, and it’s so information dense I could only read bits at a time (which is why it took me almost half a year to really read the 180 pages of actual information). But this definitely gave me all kinds of new insights into both Japanese history and global history and a new understanding of the impact and importance of food. Definitely a recommended read, but only if you can handle something academic about essentially a niche topic in a broad perspective.