Oops, we’re almost halfway through December and I haven’t even mentioned my Unread shelf picks of the month! I have been very, very late at selecting them, for a lot of reasons.
First, the library has reopened at the end of November when lock-down loosened up a little, and so new books are once again flowing in (the first day of the reopening, we filled up the cards and came back with over 30 titles… quite a heavy load to lug around town, especially as we walk, not drive to the library!).
Second, I have made a dent in the To-be-read pile I’d pre-selected for the 2020 challenge and so now the choices are less obvious. Fear not, I have a lot more unread books lying around (if only because I have not read any of my husband’s books), but I will only prepare a new stash during the holidays. So, the picks for December felt a bit like leftovers.
Whitney Conard’s prompt for December was to pick the shortest… that’s sweet music to my ears! Having read the first tome of Discovery of witches recently (almost 600 pages, review to come soon), I’m not looking forward to big chunksters right now. But I have no novella on my pile to choose from. And so I went with mangas, because I read them awfully fast. Probably too fast. So fast, actually, that I have already finished the first one of my picks.
“Trait pour Trait” (Stroke by stroke, かくかくしかじか) by Akiko Higashimura, is a coming of age story of a young provincial female mangaka. The French subtitle is “Draw and shut up”. Akiko is in high school in a small town, and people around her have always been so nice and encouraging that she has taken her dreams for granted. She thinks that becoming a great mangaka in Tokyo will be a piece of cake.
Until she meets a weird art teacher who uses tough love methods to prepare his pupils for the very competitive, national art exams. If Akiko is serious about her dreams, she’d better start working hard! I understand that this manga is a kind of autobiography, and I really enjoyed the original and self deprecating tone! I’m not sure how the manga would be received in the US as the pedagogical methods described here can’t be further away than American values, with borderline abuse and rote learning. Throughout the book, the adult narrator looks back at her teenaged, clueless self with nostalgia, highlighting how much she misunderstood or missed out. The second tome will be out in January and I have already pre-ordered it.
The two other books I selected for December are:
- The Edwardians, by Vita Sackville-West (it’s about 250 pages and quite thin, but I fear it might be due to the thin paper and the tiny font)
- Entre elles (オハナホロホロ), another female centric manga by Torino Shino
I didn’t choose any non-fiction from my own shelves as I borrowed a few from the library already.