May wrap up: starting the Galileo series!

Starting from today, I have a new blog schedule! My reading journal post, which was initially published on the 15th, is moving to the first to wrap up the previous month.

So today, I only have two weeks of reading to talk about, since I published my last reading journal on May 15th.


Last time, I was only reading two books, and I finished and enjoyed both of them:

I am a little late in posting my book reviews (this is one of the reasons why I changed my blog schedule), but I shall publish the reviews for these two books this month.

To me, both books were easy to read, 『運転者』 being very easy, with a lot of dialogues.

I also started and finished two short novels since the 15th, and I loved them both:

『愛がなんだ』by Mitsuyo Kakuta (角田光代)

Teruko is in her late twenties, works for a company and is in love with Mamoru. She always makes herself available for him, at the risk of becoming a 都合のいい女.

I loved the story and the main character Teruko, which personality I found very interesting. It is a short book that I read very quickly and I also plan on watching the movie adaptation. The book is relatively easy to read, though not so easy that I would recommend it as a first book to read in Japanese.

If you like 『愛がなんだ』, you will certainly like『わたしをくいとめて』by Risa Wataya. Both books are very short novels centered on a female protagonist who does not fit what society or friends would expect: Wataya’s おひとりさま and Kakuta’s 都合のいい女.

I personally found 『愛がなんだ』better, with a story that was much more engaging. I also found the character of Teruko more interesting than Wataya’s protagonist, but this is a personal inclination.

『駐在日記』 by Yukiya Shoji (小路幸也)

Hana’s husband takes on his new job as policeman in the police substation (駐在所) of Kijiyama, a small and peaceful village. As they move in, meet with the locals and start their new life, Hana keeps a diary of their “cases”.

Another nice read that I enjoyed very much. The book is divided into 4 chapters, each focused on a different case. I like this kind of structure because, even if the book is still a novel told in chronological order, you can still take a break between two chapters, read something else, and come back to the book later.

I was expecting some difficult descriptive passages, but there were none and the book was much easier to read than I expected. All the chapters also follow a similar pattern, making the book easier to read.

If you like 『駐在日記』, I also recommend 『向田理髪店』 (Barber Mukouda) by Hideo Okuda. Both books describe a small community with a protagonist that occupies a central place in people’s life (a barber might not seem like a central role, but the barbershop is where people go to talk about their problems and spread the latest gossips). The two books are also divided into short stories. 『向田理髪店』 is more on the heart-warming, humorous side and 『駐在日記』 belongs to the mystery genre. I preferred 『向田理髪店』 because the author tenderly mocked his characters at times, which I appreciated, but I recommend both books.

Currently reading

『探偵ガリレオ』by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)

Detective Kusanagi is facing apparently unsolvable crimes. He seeks advice to his friend, the physicist Yukawa who readily helps him and always finds the key to the mystery.

I already mentioned it on Twitter, but I plan on reading the whole Galileo series in order. My main purpose is to re-read The Devotion of Suspect X, which I read in translation before learning Japanese. But as 『容疑者Xの献身』 is only the third book in the series, I will have to wait a little before reading it.

The first book of the series is a collection of short stories: 『探偵ガリレオ』. When it comes to crime fiction, I usually prefer to read novels, but I am fond of Higashino’s short stories. Yukawa being a physician, I was bracing myself for scientific explanations that might be difficult to read in Japanese (even though I find Higashino very easy to read overall). And sure enough, the first stories had physical explanations in it and to be honest, I found them rather difficult to understand. I ended up not being completely sure about how it all worked in the end, but I don’t plan on using these techniques to kill anyone, so I guess it’s fine.

I am also not a huge fan of Yukawa. Though Yukawa is not exactly disagreeable, pretentious nor eccentric (like so many genius detectives in the genre tend to be), he does not like to talk to children, does not bother to explain things right away to Kusanagi and serves instant coffee in dirty mugs… I don’t like this type of character and it is also why I love the Kaga series so much: Kyoichiro Kaga is very different from most of the fictional detectives I have encountered so far.

As a result, I think that I am bound to like the Galileo series less than the Kaga series.

There are five short stories in the book, and I have just finished the third one. This book is a real page turner, and it is hard to stop reading once I have started a story (though their length – 60 to 70 pages – makes them difficult to read in one session). Higashino really knows how to entertain his reader, and he also knows what the reader of crime fiction is looking for. Even though I am not a huge fan of Yukawa himself and even though I hated physics at school, I love the book so far!

『部屋がもっとキレイになりました』by Pon Watanabe (わたなべぽん)

How do you keep your house clean and tidy when you are lazy, hate doing household chores, and cannot stick to good habits? Pon Watanabe gives some good advice based on her own experience.

This autobiographical manga follows a previous manga on household chores: 『部屋がキレイになりました』. I absolutely loved the first one, so it was obvious to me that I had to read the next episode too.

Surprisingly, this one is in full colours while the first one was in black and white (the price is the same, 1000 yen for a big format).

The first volume was about cleaning and tidying your house when things got out of control. This one is more about keeping your house clean and tidy on an everyday basis. What I loved about this series is that it focuses on you (as a hoarder, as a lazy person, as someone who cannot keep their house clean) rather than the things themselves. Instead of explaining how to fold your clothes, Pon Watanabe explains why she bought and kept so many clothes in the first place.

I highly recommend both manga if you are interested in this topic! It is easy to read, funny, entertaining and also serves as a self help and motivational book.

This is it for May! My next post will be on July 1st. At that time, we will have been through half of 2020, so I will do a little update on my reading challenge to see how far I have gone and what kind of books I must prioritise for the second half of the year.

Lastly, my reading goal for June is to read 4 books, including the second book in the Galileo series, a children’s book and maybe a novelisation.