help me read something good

OK, embarrassing truth time. I haven’t read any novels in a long time. A very long time. So long, in fact, that I can’t remember the last one I actually made it through. It’s been at least a year, if not longer.

Reading has started to feel like a chore. I think this is mostly because I keep returning to the same books I am told “I must read” or “I must enjoy,” such as Pratchett. I’ve tried 4 of his books now, and while I appreciate the humour a lot, I just can’t read them. I only made it through about 100 pages of “The News,” and that’s the farthest I’ve made it through any of his books. And my immediate sources of friends with books tend to focus on sci-fi, fantasy, or non-fiction military history.

It’s time for a change. Can you help me? Suggest 1 good book that will get me back into the habit of reading. My criteria are simple: it can’t be anything I’ve read before, it must be in print (or easily obtained from a used book store, not ebook), it must not be pulp fiction or poorly written, and it must be in English.

Suggestions?

sadsad

I’m nearing the end of a two week trip for work to Japan and wondering why I left here eight years ago, especially after nearly breaking down after my last few hours at work this week. Everyone’s been so nice and friendly, and in the evenings, I’ve had some great nights out with old friends. Sustainably, too, if I weren’t in a hotel.

I wrote a pretty cranky post about it then. Of the 24-ish points I made, I think 5 are still valid, I was wrong about 5, and the remaining 14 no longer apply to me, Japan, or the world at large. (For example, you can’t get away from cell phones anywhere now, and smoking is way down.)

In part, I know it was an emotional decision, running away from a disintegrating relationship – something I didn’t write about then, it was too close to home. I also had a lot of problems with other problems I’ve moved past, or the world has left behind: people being fake, too little motivation to learn Japanese, etc. Basically, I was overwhelmed by life and my emotions. I couldn’t see my way clear.

More interestingly, my Japanese seems to have gotten better with disuse. I’m not fluent by any means but it seems I’m better at grammar, making myself understood in personal and business situations, and suddenly kanji is clicking. (Thanks plane! _@_y)

Would I move back? Yes, for the right opportunity. And I know that, this time, I would do it without writing a tirade about what I don’t like about Canada, the US, or anywhere else I work (Argentina, Brazil, etc.) I wouldn’t be running from, I’d be jogging to.

recipe: southern barbarian grilled eggplant

The literal translation of the Japanese noun 南蛮 (namban) is southern barbarians,, an epithet often reserved for the early European visitors to Japan, or 南蛮人 (nambanjin), who first arrived at the southern-most islands of that archipelago during the late 16th century. These early Catholic missionaries and Portuguese and Spanish traders were clearly not well liked to earn such a name!

However, the noun 南蛮 on its own also means cayenne pepper. Today’s recipe is for grilled cayenne pepper eggplant, and you’re going to love it as much as my potluck-dinner-having board-gamer friends did two weekends ago. It’s adapted from the book おつまみ (otsumami, or “snacks,” or as I learned it, “obligatory free appetizers you get when you order an alcoholic drink at many Japanese restaurants”), a fantastic cookbook of 478 small dishes.

Recipe follows after the break. Photo coming shortly.

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