Reading Challenge: Japanese Literature


Norwegian Wood, by Haruki MurakamiI have a “World Literature” category for book reviews in an attempt to broaden my literary horizons. I’ve read Jose Saramago, Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie in the past, but I’d like to get into the literature from other regions of the world. Enter some searching on the blogosphere for recommendations.

I stumbled upon Dolce Bellezza, a book blog that hosts an annual challenge to read Japanese literature. The challenge is simple: read one book between June and January. That’s it. Of course, you’re encouraged to read more than one, but I figured I’d start small. The website that was set up for the task includes an extensive list of recommendations, and after looking them over, I decided on Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

I know, I know, everyone reads Murakami. But I’d already read Kafka on the Shore and really loved it, and Norwegian Wood was already on my to-read list from another challenge I didn’t end up starting (reading 5 books published in your birth year), and it was the only book on the list named after a Beatles song:

I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…
She showed me her room, isn’t it good, norwegian wood?

She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said, “It’s time for bed”

She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath

And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn’t it good, norwegian wood.

So, sign me up for the challenge. Anyone want to join?


4 thoughts on “Reading Challenge: Japanese Literature

  1. So glad you stumbled upon me, and the Japanese Literature Challenge. Kafka on The Shore was not only the first Murakami book I ever read, it was the first piece of Japanese literature I’d ever read. That was in 2006, and since then I’ve been hooked. This is such a lovely genre, so elusive and mysterious, so evocative of a fragile world as you’ll see in Norwegian Wood. Welcome, and nice to meet you! 🙂

    • I had to read a few passages of “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” in high school, and I loved it. I can’t wait to read Norwegian Wood and to read other book reviews from the challenge.

  2. The only Murakami I’ve read is IQ84. I thought it was bizarre and fantastic! I’ve been meaning to get to Norwegian Wood as well. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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