I always love a good book. I can’t read any old thing though, I like to feel drawn to it somehow. I have to be in the mood to read either the author’s style or something in the book has to interest me (probably like most people). I am often drawn to books with a Japanese theme to them. I imagine it has something to do with my being half-Japanese. I have a few cultural memories of being Japanese but not many. I wish I had asked my grandmother so many more things about her life as a Japanese American before she’d passed and my great-grandmother for that matter (who was from Japan). Reading these books makes me feel somewhat more connected to them and the Japanese part of myself and family history- if that makes sense.
I finally picked up “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden. I was reluctant to read the book really, because the movie was such a disappointment. I expected so much more from the film and found it left a bad taste in my mouth. The book however was excellent. I found it very educational and gripping. I was drawn in from the start and learned so much about the geisha culture I never knew. The story takes place in Japan before, during and after WWII.
Another author who I just happened upon at our local library is Gail Tsukiyama. I have read two books by her so far and they were both very good. The first I read by her was actually her first novel she’s had published, “The Samurai’s Garden” and that is now a favorite. Her characterization and plot were so well done in that. The story was about a young boy who is Chinese and convalesces from an illness in Japan for over a year during WWII but before the US got involved. Learning that history explained some things about hostilities between the Japanese and Chinese people that I never understood before. A very good read.
Her other book I read was “The Street of a Thousand Blossoms”. The name alone was enough to make me want to read it. It was the story of two brothers – one is a drawn to sumo wrestling and the other to becoming a master mask maker for the Noh theater in Japan. Again, very informative as well as a good story over all. Some of the parts in it are quite melancholy, but I still enjoyed it. By the end of the book I had an appreciation for Sumo wrestling and it’s place in Japanese culture. There is more to it than many would think.
Gail Tsukiyama’s novel, “Women of the Silk” is on my to read list. That is about the Silk trade in China. Looks like it is a very good book as well.
Any books that you would recommend or have enjoyed lately?