January 30, 2013

Farewell January, Hello February!



The end of January brings my birthday, and my mother's birthday; the cake which you see pictured above is her delicious creation for our celebration.


It also brings the end of the Japanese Literature Challenge 6. I did not read as much as I'd hoped to for my very own challenge, only completing the following novels: 
But, I comfort myself with more years to come in which to host more challenges and read more novels. I did not get to The Devotion of Suspect X, or The Square Persimmon, or The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. Nor have I read enough classics such as Tony highlighted in his January in Japan challenge. Neither have I completed all of Haruki Murakami's books such as listed in Tanabata's Murakami Challenge. I will, in time.

What did you read? What was your favorite? I'm looking forward to your wrap up posts, or even reading what you mention in the comments below.


For now we turn to February. Ally and I are co-hosting the Venice in February Challenge again for 2013. I am planning on reading Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. I also want to read more of Donna Leon's mysteries set in Venice, as well as Miss Garnet's Angel which book blogger friends have highly recommended. Will you join us in reading novels set in Venice this February? We'd be delighted to have you as we celebrate Carnivale from afar...

26 comments:

  1. I wish you and your mom a wonderful and happy birthday, Bellezza! The cake looks beautiful, I love chocolate and raspberries even more!! :)
    Can't believe that a year of Japanese Literature is over already, I still need to do my wrap-up. Thanks so much for introducing "The Briefcase" by Hiromi Kawakami to me, it's already added to my reading list.

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    1. My mom's birthday is today, we've just returned from her home. We seem to have stretched our birthdays out for weeks, as we like to do!

      I can't accept any thanks for introducing The Briefcase, that is all Tony's doing for which he is to be commended by us all.

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  2. Happy Birthday to both of you. What a pretty cake. You also had a great reading month.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. As for my reading month, I think the list looks better when it's all written down. It didn't feel like a great reading month; I've felt so distracted lately!

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  3. Happy birthday! Like you, I don't think I read as much J-lit as I wanted but there's always the next JLC to look forward to. It's one of my book blogging highlights and I'm so glad you are doing it!

    I'm also a huge fan of Venice and love Donna Leon's mysteries.

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    1. Sakura, I hope that you'll join in the Venice in February challenge. It's a great opportunity to discuss those mysteries. Some of the books I enjoyed the most last year came from the Venetian setting. So glad you enjoyed the JLC6.

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  4. Happy Birthday! I hope you get to The Devotion of Suspect X someday. I read it this month and thought it was fantastic.

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    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes, Isabella. I suspect I'll read The Devotion of Suspect X sooner vs. later. How did I run out of time? Glad to know you thought it was fantastic.

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  5. Happy Birthday to you and your mother!! I love that pretty cake she made for your celebration of birthdays :) Yum! Seems to me like you read quite a bit for JLC6 - I barely read anything for it this time round. So, next time I will definitely be stepping it up :) Enjoy your Venice challenge - it sounds fun! As always, hope you are having a lovely week! Cheers!

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    1. She's had a long tradition of making me chocolate cakes, I seem to have them as they're my favorite and my birthday comes first. Does it count that I made her spinach lasagne? (One of her favorites. ;) Please join in Venice reading with us... xo

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  6. Happy birthday! That cake looks yummy! Enjoy Venice in February -- what a fabu armchair escape!

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    1. It is just that, Audra, a wonderful escapist way of reading. If one can't actually go.

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  7. Happy Birthday! You know how I wish to visit Venice in February, but until then, I am happy to be hosting this challenge with you and celebrate La Serenissima! As for Leon's books, I haven't read anything, but that will change next year :) Meanwhile, I read a lot of books by Japanese writers last year, but there will be a post about that next month!

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    1. I'm so glad we're going for year two of the Venice in February Challenge, Ally. Even if I'm not sure how many people will be participating with us. Such a great idea of yours.

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  8. I hope you had a lovely birthday, dearest friend. Your cake looks absolutely delicious. I love the combination of chocolate and raspberries. Mmmmm. Wish your mum a happy day, too.

    I'm going to try to read the second Leon book, since I loved the first when I read it for last year's challenge. I failed miserably with the Japanese challenge... I read Norwegian Wood, but finally had to set it aside after a few chapters. Too bleak. Sadly, I don't think he's an author for me.

    Did you get snow today?!?! It started here around 8 pm last night and lasted until around noon. Huge flakes, accumulating to 4-5 inches. I thought of you the minute it started. I hope you got some!

    Here's to a wonderful year of great books and friendship.

    xoxo

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    1. Lesley, I came home from a rather long day at school (one of the 8,000 things it involved was the Third Grade Music program) and found your package waiting for me on the counter. It was such an unexpected, and most welcome, surprise! Thank you for thinking of me, and sending me a sweet present, and the lovely card.

      Both you and dear Richard are apparently not Murakami fans. That's okay, I love you anyways. :)

      Let's talk Donna Leon in February! and bikes in June!

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    2. I'm glad you enjoyed your surprise! It was just a little something... and I have one, too. :)

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  9. Just reading the Wind Up Bird chronicles by Murakami. It took a bit to get used to the style of writing but now I am quarter of the way through. I like how one short story leads on to the next.
    I am sure the Venice challenge will give you lots of gorgeous reads. Leon's books are so good specially with the descriptions of Venice.

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    1. The Wind up Bird Chronicles just kept getting stranger and stranger to me the more I read. But that is not to say I didn't thoroughly enjoy it. I think the thing is when reading Murakami you just have to give up expecting to understand everything. I look forward to your thoughts when you're finished.

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  10. On the Eve of a Birthday - Timothy Steele

    As my Scotch, spared the water, blondly sloshes
    About its tumbler, and gay manic flame
    Is snapping in the fireplace, I grow youthful:
    I realize that calendars aren’t truthful
    And that for all of my grand unsuccesses
    External causes are to blame.

    And if at present somewhat destitute,
    I plan to alter, prove myself more able,
    And suavely stroll into the coming years
    As into rooms with thick rugs, chandeliers,
    And colorfully pyramided fruit
    On linened lengths of table.

    At times I fear the future won’t reward
    My failures with sufficient compensation,
    But dump me, aging, in a garret room
    Appointed with twilit, slant-ceilinged gloom
    And a lone bulb depending from a cord
    Suggestive of self-strangulation.

    Then, too, I have bad dreams, in one of which
    A cowled, scythe-bearing figure beckons me.
    Dark plains glow at his back: it seems I’ve died,
    And my soul, weighed and judged, has qualified
    For an extended, hyper-sultry hitch
    Down in eternity.

    Such fears and dreams, however, always pass.
    And gazing from my window at the dark,
    My drink in hand, I’m jauntily unbowed.
    The sky’s tiered, windy galleries stream with cloud,
    And higher still, the dazed stars thickly mass
    In their long Ptolemaic arc.

    What constellated powers, unkind or kind,
    Sway me, what far preposterous ghosts of air?
    Whoever they are, whatever our connection,
    I toast them (toasting also my reflection),
    Not minding that the words which come to mind
    Make the toast less toast than prayer:

    Here’s to the next year, to the best year yet;
    To mixed joys, to my harum-scarum prime;
    To auguries reliable and specious;
    To times to come, such times being precious,
    If only for the reason that they get
    Shorter all the time.

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    1. Parrish, the poems you choose and leave for me are a huge gift. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my friend.

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  11. Happy Birthday! Have a fabulous one.
    You didn't do so badly Bellezza. Look forward to the next challenge!

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    1. Thanks, JoV. Actually, I'm looking forward to the next one, too! It's so fun to read Japanese literature (and other books, too) together.

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  12. I am SO very late to the party having been tied up with work and "stuff." You are awesome, wonderful, and fantastic. I love you to pieces. Happy belated birthday, my friend.

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  13. What a gorgeous cake! Hope both you and your mother had lovely birthdays :)

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  14. Happy belated birthday, Bellezza! I'm hoping to participate in Venice in February again this year, as I love revisiting Venice via written word, even if I can't in person. I've already started the 3rd Commissario Brunetti mystery, so fingers crossed I'll have time to finish it.

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