My Favourite Books

I’ve blogged about my favourite anime so I thought that I would do the same with books.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849; HORROR/MYSTERY)

Poe inspired drawing of mine.

The Black Cat – I read this short story when I was 16. It was my first story by Poe.

The Cask of Amontillado – I felt chills!

The Masque of the Red Death – I see a lot of parallels between the prince and wealthy nobles from the story and some people from today AKA privileged people who attended parties during a pandemic.

The Tell-Tale Heart – I love horror stories told from the villain’s point of view the most. I want to know what they were thinking before, during, and after committing the murder.

Edogawa Rampo (1894 – 1965; HORROR/ASIA)

The Human Chair – Its elements are simple but it’s an effective horror story. I could not put the book down!

The Red Chamber – The protagonist talks about he was able to commit perfect crimes. It was incredibly interesting to read.

You can read my review here.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930; MYSTERY)

The Adventure of the Speckled Band – I own all of the Sherlock Holmes novels but this is my favourite Holmes story. It is a locked room mystery. It was scary!

The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane (TBR) – This is one of the two stories narrated by Holmes. It’s sitting on my desk.

Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)

As a child, I watched the Jekyll and Hyde inspired Bugs Bunny episodes. I fell in love with the musical songs during my second year of university. I bought the book and loved it.

Richard Dawkins – The Selfish Gene (1976; PSYC)

This is a book on evolution. Human nature and selfishness are things I’m super interested in. It was also referenced in the anime, Parayste. You can read my post on it here.

Osamu Dazai – No Longer Human (1948; ASIA)

This is the second best-selling novel in Japan. Dazai committed suicide not long after the book was published. You can read my review here.

Wu Cheng’en – Monkey (Earliest known edition was published in 1592; ASIA)

This is also known as The Journey to the West. Like most Chinese people, I grew up watching the live-action adaptations of the folk tale. It is regarded as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. You can read my review of the first part here.

Marie Kondo – Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (2016; SELF-HELP/ASIA)

This self-help book works. I started tidying up midway through the book! You can read my review here. Marie Kondo also has a show on Netflix.

Ryōgo Narita – Durarara!! (2004; LIGHT NOVEL/ASIA)

The anime is based on the light novel. My favourite anime character, Izaya, is from this series. I like the light novel for Izaya’s quotes.

Haruki Murakami (1949 – present; ASIA)

As you can tell from the books I’ve listed, I like older books. Murakami is my favourite contemporary author. I’m currently reading The Elephant Vanishes.

You can read my review of Men Without Women here.

The Happy Prince and Other Tales – Oscar Wilde (1888)

I blogged about parallels between The Happy Prince and a story told in the anime, Fruits Basket.

BOOKS I WANTED TO LIKE:

B. F. Skinner – Walden Two (1948; PSYC)

Victor Hugo – Notre-Dame de Paris (1831)

It’s a long book. Barely anything happened in the first 80 pages.

Edgar Allan Poe – The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841; HORROR)

This is described as the first modern detective story. The commentary in the beginning was very long. I didn’t like the end reveal.

TO BE READ (TBR):

Homer – The Odyssey (8th Century BCE; GREEK MYTH)

William Shakespeare – The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (First performed in 1599; PLAY)

Sophocles – Oedipus the King (429 BC; GREEK MYTH)

These books have been sitting in my room for a long, long time. This is why I buy my books.

Foolish or Not? The Most Foolish Traveler in The World

There are parallels between the story told by Momiji in Fruits Basket, The Most Foolish Traveler in The World, and Oscar Wilde’s short story, The Happy Prince. 

The Most Foolish Traveler in The World: About a traveler who is tricked by a goblin and gives up his legs, his arm, more and more, and finally his eyes. The only thing left is the traveler’s head. The goblin gives the traveler a “present,” a piece of paper with the word “FOOL” on it. Because the traveler cannot see, he is so happy to receive a present for the first time. 

The Happy Prince: About a statue of the late Happy Prince who learns that there are many poor people suffering. He asks a swallow to give the townspeople the ruby from his tilt, the sapphire from his eyes, and the gold leaf from his body. The swallow, who delayed his flight in order to deliver these gems, dies from the cold weather. The townspeople then think that the statue is shabby and melt it. The swallow is dead and the Happy Prince is heartbroken, but they are taken to heaven for their good deeds in the end. 

It’s interesting how one story has the word “foolish” in the title while the other has the word “happy.” You could argue that both stories have a happy ending. The traveler is happy to receive a present for the first time, and the swallow and Happy Prince go to paradise.

So, was the traveler foolish? Was the Happy Prince foolish? Was the swallow foolish? 

My thoughts: I think that the traveler was foolish. How long will his happiness last? What will happen after the story ends? He cannot walk, cannot see, and does not have other people to help him. The goblin won’t help him, that’s for sure. It’s good to receive presents from people, but at what cost? If one action of “kindness” from the goblin costed you everything, that kindness was conditional. It’s fake. 

I think the Happy Prince statue was foolish. Even though the story has a happy ending, he begged the swallow to deliver the gems even though winter was approaching. He is responsible for the swallow’s death. The Happy Prince “died” with a broken heart. The same townspeople that he helped are the ones who melted him in the furnace. They were going to replace him with a statue of the mayor. Sure, the townspeople were unaware of the Happy Prince’s good deeds but does that really matter? If you’re only going to keep the “shabby” statue because he helped you first, I question what’s going on. 

Although… I like these stories. While I think that the traveler and the Happy Prince were foolish, they are rare to come by. I would like to meet someone like the traveler some day. 

What do you think? 

Book Review: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Men Without Women is a collection of seven short stories written by the famous writer, Haruki Murakami. Murakami’s original works are in Japanese, and his books have been translated into 50 languages. I read the English translation.

Can we take a moment to appreciate the front and back covers? The back cover starts with the word, 女 ‘woman’ and it transforms into a puzzle piece. The front cover depicts a man with a puzzle piece missing. He is a Men Without Women.

Haruki Murakami is my favourite contemporary writer. He often writes about the themes: isolation, loneliness and loss. These are stories of men who have lost important women in their lives, sometimes to other men, sometimes to death or due to complicated reasons. The impact of these women lost and gone forever cut deeply, and sometimes life will never be the same again.

I was pleasantly surprised at how different each story is. I really enjoyed reading six of the seven short stories, which is a really high number. My favourite story from this collection is “Kino.”

Murakami often writes about sex, so don’t be surprised about that if you read his works. I started reading his novels when I was in high school. Another common feature in his works is that the endings are often open to interpretation. You may be disappointed at the endings of some of these stories, or really confused. However, he gets you to think critically about the stories which draws upon your imagination and creativity. As a reader, you are an active agent.

This was a really quick read, which shows how invested I was in these stories. I love short stories because they are little gems. I recommend Murakami’s books because his writing is engaging and because he really brings his characters to life. I believe that he has a lot of knowledge on human emotions. Every time I read his books, I gain new perspectives.

Book Review: Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination

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Edogawa Rampo is known as the Father of Japanese mystery writing. If you are into mystery or horror, read this book! There are nine short stories in this book, and I’ll be talking about two stories that left lasting impressions on me.

1. The Human Chair

I was sucked in the story before I realized it. The writing is superlative! It’s about a person who stays inside a chair and his experiences of people sitting on him. It was weird but it was right up my alley. I was so fascinated, I could not stop reading.

Then I read Junji Ito’s retelling of the story! Junji Ito is a popular mangaka who specializes in horror manga. Junji retells The Human Chair with an alternate ending and I loved it. I recommend reading Rampo’s short story then reading Junji’s manga.

2. The Red Chamber

Have you ever thought about the perfect crime, and if such a thing is possible? This short story talks about the perfect crime, and it does have logic to it. Several examples are provided in this story. One line I loved from the story was, “Not any ordinary type of murder, I told myself, but murder which would baffle even Sherlock himself!”


It was interesting to see that Sherlock reference but it makes sense because Rampo was influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was also interesting to see Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on Rampo’s writing, because Poe was a significant figure to Rampo’s work.

This shouldn’t be surprising, but many of these stories are about murder and a lot of the times they are told from the murderer’s perspective. I get that it’s not for everybody!