Diana Renn

Mysteries that Matter

Author

We have a winner of the Tokyo Heist bonus contest: Kat (Kathie) C! Congratulations! You’ll be hearing from me shortly. Thank you to everyone who participated!

As I promised yesterday, I wanted to share some of the Japan-related books that people recommended in the comments on this blog over the past week. You can scroll through last week’s post and check out what people enjoy reading or are looking forward to reading, but if you don’t have time to wade through all the comments, I’ll give you some highlights here.

The books people mentioned most often in the comments were:

Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff. Steampunk + feudal Japan + dystopia + romance + action/adventure. I know, right? I’m also really looking forward to this debut by one of my fellow Apocalypsies.

Shadows on the Moon, by Zoe Marriott. This looks like a great story, blending fantasy with feudal Japan. It’s near the top of my own TBR list right now.

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arther Golden. This book’s been out for years, but remains a favorite with readers. I loved it too. I never did see the movie, though; did you? The detailed descriptions in this novel made me feel like I didn’t need to see it on the screen.

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. This is one of my all-time favorites too. It’s a compelling, romantic coming-of-age story. I often recommend this one as a gentle introduction to Murakami, for people who might be feeling daunted by the size and scope of 1Q84.

And I got many great new book recommendations, thanks to your tips! I will be sure to check out some titles I hadn’t heard of, like Little Sister (by Kara Dalkey) and this YA mystery/thriller series-in-progress by Thomas Randall: Dreams of the Dead and Spirits of the Noh, which are set in contemporary Japan.

 I’ll give you the art and manga highlights from the comments in the next couple of days, when I’ve had time to look through those — so many great suggestions there too! Thanks for sharing!

Fall makes me miss being a student and being a teacher. It also makes me hungrier than ever for books. Lots of books. The fatter the better.

My reading list this fall feels more ambitious than ever, since many writer friends are coming out with new releases this season. I’m devouring mysteries since my partners in crime on Sleuths, Spies and Alibis, my mystery blog, keep sending great recommendations my way. And I’m in a reflective mode these days, longing for long books, books with substance and heft.

Now that my own novel is in copyedits, I have an illusion that I have time to catch up on all my reading. This is only an illusion. I know this. Copyedits to look over will descend any day. I’m also slipping back into my work in progress. And, you know, there’s the whole business of living one’s life. I will never make it through my whole fall list. I may not even make it through my top five. But at odd moments in the day, and late at night, and while waiting to pick up my son from preschool, I’m sure some books will get read.

I also noticed that my fall reading list is the most eclectic it’s ever been. Because of its highly eclectic nature, I thought I’d share some highlights from the list. Here, then, are my five most anticipated reads for the season:

I’m a huge fan of Paul Griffin, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his new YA novel, Stay With Me. It just came out this month, and I bought a copy of it yesterday. An award-winning author of two other YA novels (Ten Mile River, The Orange Houses), Paul Griffin is one of the most original voices in YA fiction. I love how he writes about people whose experiences are vastly different from mine, yet he makes me know them and even relate to them. This one’s a love story, about an A-student and a high school dropout who bond over a rescue dog. Stay With Me is at the top of my towering stack of fall reads.

I’m eager to read Mary Johnson’s An Unquenchable Thirst. Just released, and receiving rave reviews for both its striking content and its literary style, this spiritual memoir tells the story of how Johnson entered a convent at eighteen and worked for twenty years with Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity. And then it tells how she left. I’m eager to read about a lifestyle I know nothing about, and I’m always looking for great writing about finding your right path in life, in whatever direction that may be.  The story of how this memoir came to be written (over ten years) sounds as fascinating as the memoir itself, and there’s a great article about Mary Johnson in the current issue of Poets and Writers magazine.

I’m joining legions of Haruki Murakami fans in anticipating his latest novel: 1Q84 (to be released in English October 25). I’m guessing everything else on my nightstand — and the nightstand itself — will simply crumble and splinter beneath the weight of this 1,000-page tome. No matter. Murakami is a fascinating writer, and I will follow his surreal journeys anywhere, for as many pages as he wants to take me.

Barry Lyga’s Mangaman (coming November 15) looks like a really fun graphic novel. I love his novels, so I’m really interested to see his work in a different genre, with the artist Colleen Doran. I love the concept of a manga character falling into the “real world” and the mix of manga with western-style comics in the artwork.

I’m sure everyone has a book or two they’re mortified to admit they’ve never read. Confession: I have never read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. (I know, I know!) It’s been on my to-read list for years. I never saw the Hayao Miyazaki movie version either, because I wanted to read the book first. But every time I almost read the book, I’d think, No, I really want to see the movie. Years have gone by this way. It’s time to get out of this ridiculous cycle and read the book already!

Eclectic, would you agree? And these are just the top five! What’s on your reading list for fall?