Currently reading: one easy and one difficult book

Starting now, I have decided to use DALL-E to illustrate my blog. I used to draw my own illustrations, but it took me too much time, and I started updating my blog less and less because of that.

Now that I don’t have to worry about the drawing part, I will try to post more often. I have decided to replace my monthly wrap-ups with smaller but more regular updates like this one 🙂

Post illustration created by DALL-E.

#22tlreadingchallenge (check out the prompts here)

I am halfway through 홍학의 자리 by 정해연 (Jeong Haeyeon), and it feels really good to finally have a Korean mystery that is both very entertaining and very easy to read. I rarely have to look up words, the reading is smooth, and I can read a bit faster than I usually do with Korean.

The story is quite simple, but it contains everything to make me happy: a good murder, a protagonist who finds himself in an awkward position, police detectives who are actually good, an engrossing investigation and all along, the question “but who killed Dahyeon?”

Let’s hope that the second half will be as good as the first one!

그런데 다현은, 누가 죽였을까?

It was with this kind of book in Japanese that I managed to improve my reading level. Looking at Japanese publications, it was easy to find engrossing mystery novels that were easy to read.

I find it much harder to find Korean mysteries that are similar. They are either engrossing but much too difficult (and they leave me with the impression that my Korean level is too low to read novels), or easy enough but with a story that is not for me.

홍학의 자리 is really the perfect book to me, I wish that I had found more books like this one when I started reading in Korean. I’ll check this author’s other books as well!

Interesting vocabulary
I learned a new word in this novel: 효도폰 (孝道phone), a phone mainly used by elderly people with functions limited to the important tasks like calling someone in case of emergency, communicating with family members, etc. They are meant to be easy to use, with a simpler display. They are generally given by the children to their elderly parents (hence the name “filial piety phone”), but as they are cheaper and not always of good quality, the term 불효폰 (不孝phone) has also appeared to describe them.

Mystery Writers of Japan Award winners – reading project.

On the contrary, the book I am reading in Japanese at the moment is quite difficult to read. Even though my Japanese is better than my Korean, I struggle more with 腐食の構造 by Seiichi Morimura (森村誠一) than with 홍학의 자리. The book is very long (over 600 pages), and the author goes in a lot of detail to explain the tensions between the scientific, political and business world about nuclear power. It is interesting but difficult, and I find that the way information is delivered to the reader is a bit dry.

Instead of being blended with the story, explanations are given in lengthy passages that are difficult to read in Japanese, but also feel like you are reading a non fiction book on nuclear energy and the development of big trading companies in Japan. There is a passage where the author quotes a specialised book (総合商社 by 内田勝敏), which feels really weird in a novel.

Things more directly related to the story are also described in a lot of detail. I just finished a chapter that gives a lot of geographical information. I try to understand as much as I can, but I am also not too worried if I miss details.

I found that the book started strong and seemed interesting, but now I find it a bit slow and not providing enough enjoyment to make up for all the efforts I need to provide in order to read it.

I don’t think that I will finish this book this month, and I will start other Japanese books in parallel as well. My goal now is to focus on finishing 홍학의 자리 and 妄想銀行 by Shinichi Hoshi (星新一), another MWJ award winner that I started at the beginning of October.