Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life in Japan: Desperation

I'm writing today's post on a Japanese computer in Japan. This means that everything on the blogger page is automatically in Japanese, which makes for interesting times. I speak tolerable Japanese but my reading is atrocious (mostly because I, um, kind of stopped studying soon as I was able to understand the t.v.).

Is there a point to this post? Actually, yes. I've always thought of myself as a broad-minded person but soon after arriving in Japan a couple of years back, I discovered something about myself - I was a card-carrying member of the book-snob-club. I knew what I liked and that was it. Surrounded by bookstores and libraries, I could indulge my needs as I pleased. It wasn't only a matter of genres but also of authors - with a huge auto-read list, squeezing in a new author wasn't something I particularly worried about (except for my writing buds who sold).

Then I came to Japan. And I moved to the middle of the countryside, far, far, far from the metropolis of Tokyo. There are bookstores in my town. Not a single English book in them. That was when I began my journey of discovery. It took me a while to figure out how to navigate the online delivery sites (cause they're all in Japanese), so for a couple of months, it looked like I'd be in a book-free zone. Nooooo!!!! In desperation, I started going through the box of books left behind by a friend who'd moved back home before I moved to Japan. She had very different tastes from me but beggars can't be choosers. So I started reading. Literary fiction. Fiction from the American South. Booker Prize stuff. Sagas.

Some of it I hated. But to my surprise, some of it I loved.

Two years on, my reading tastes have broadened considerably. I still have my favorite authors and genres, but I no longer turn up my nose at things that don't fall within my past range of experience. Will this last once I return back home or will I be sucked back into the world of the familiar? I don't know. What I do know is that the familiar has now become far wider than it once was.

So my question for you is, how willing are you to try not only new authors in a genre you love, but new genres itself? Have you made any recent discoveries about your reading tastes that you were unaware of before? (fyi I realized last week that no matter how desperate I become, espionage novels just do not do it for me.)

11 comments :

Kendra Clark said...

If the book looks interesting and the excerpt well-written, then I'm very open-minded! I just love a great story :)

tortured artist said...

I remember growing up with that experience. I started reading voraciously at the age of 8 and I read *everything* in the house. I read some pretty tough stuff for an 8 year old. Oh well I guess it helped me grow up a little faster...

I did read some good stuff too, like the Diary of Anne Frank and such. Again it was heavy for an 8 year old but I've never really been normal anyways :-)

It's good to get out of your comfort zone (tm) sometimes.

I wish I knew japanese, then I wouldn't have to watch Anime with subtitles.

Nalini Singh said...

Kendra - that's a great attitude. I must, must, must cultivate it when I return back home.

tortured artist - you sound like me. I swear I even read the cereal box every single day it was on the table *g* As for the anime - a lot of it I still need subtitles for because they talk really fast. But I have learnt one thing living here - cartoons are not just for kids. The things I've seen...

Emma Sinclair said...

I'm willing to try something new if it doesn't cost $$ (like your left behind box of books).

It may be book snobbish, but there are so many books that I'm interested in already, or are autobuy authrs, but can't afford, don't have time to read, etc that "out of the norm" books aren't a priority for me.

Pogz said...

I only read educational books. like (natural) science books. I can't even finish reading Archie (comic books).

Laura said...

I'll read just about anything ~ so long as it's well written. I mean, I love action, adventure, romance, romantica, political thrillers...same author, new author, doesn't matter!

Nalini Singh said...

Emma, I can understand that pov since that was me a couple of years back.

Pogz - only non-fiction? Wow, you must be a hard opponent in trivia games *G*

Laura - you must discover great new stuff all the time with that kind of open attitude. Any recent finds you want to share?

not12complain said...

I could've told you 10 years ago that you are a book snob! But you were in denial! hahahah!

Nalini Singh said...

Hmm, you know, I think I should block comments from people who knew me before I was was cool and sophisticated *G*

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Do you mean you weren't ALWAYS cool and sophisticated? *g*

Nalini Singh said...

Bron, you check is in the mail. ;)