Despite a slipped disc, snowfall twice in Abiko and ever-mounting work commitments, the show will go on… here are a few links to my latest projects and other stuff worth a click or two.
- I’m very pleased to announce the publication of 100 English Phrases for a Trip to the UK. It’s for beginner or intermediate English language students (and their teachers). If you’d like a free paperback review copy, just reply by email and I’ll pop one in the post for you. “Cor Blimey Guv, it’s tipping it down,” isn’t one of the expressions, neither is “I’m awfully sorry old bean.”
- In a no-holds-barred interview with me, Baye McNeil answers my questions about writing for the Japan Times, publishing memoirs, oh and his recent campaign against blackface in Japan.
- This was the best book I read last month.
- And here I am reviewing by video all the books I read last month. Will get the studio ship-shape and properly lit in time for the newsletter next month.
- More amusing Japanese haiku about the mysteries of modern life.
- Here’s a good article on Van Gogh’s Japan fixation, if you need a primer before seeing his exhibition in Kyoto which runs until March.
- This take-off of a Japanese design brief for an advertising campaign could well be fake, but it amused me anyway.
- My 100 Phrases for Dental Assistants got a welcome shot in the gums with two new reviews, one in English and one in Japanese.
- Hey, what happened to the third Hana Walker mystery novel, you might be wondering? I actually worked on it every day for two straight weeks in January, but I have other deadlines pressing for English language textbooks… try one of these Japan mysteries slated for release in 2018 instead or read along with me one of these books I’ll be diving into this month.
- The QOTM is: Which do you enjoy reading more, physical or e-books? I’m curious as for me, the answer keeps changing. The convenience of Kindle is great, but the experience of producing a print-only phrasebook has left me thinking print is not dead by a long way. Your thoughts would be most welcome. You can answer the question just by replying to this email, and I’ll share the responses with subscribers next month.
Last month, I asked What are your New Year’s reading resolutions?
Craig Scanlan: I have a pattern of upping a Goodreads yearly quota, failing to make it that year, and then making it the next year. I made it halfway to 50 this past year, shooting for it again this year. I’m totally moving away from social media to escape all the nonsense, political trash, and BS, so it’s getting easier to just dive into good books, but I also have an addiction to great long-form journalism (across nearly any sphere) that has a propensity to cut into my Goodreads “whole actual book” totals. As such, I should probably just give up on quotas and enjoy just reading, but hitting that mark is somewhat addictive and I want to get to that that 50-book mark while still reading tons of long-form articles on random things like Silicon Valley sex parties, the Olive Garden’s enduring appeal, and what it’s like being a teenage girl (and yes, a few long-form articles on all the political BS, which at least FEEL less like political trash because they’re 15,000 words and only smart, insightful people write 15,000 words, right?
Maria Godebska: I don’t make resolutions, but the bookcase near my bed has two full, double shelves of books-in-waiting, going back several years in many cases. Probably about fifty. Every so often I dust off their yellowing tops and sides, sort through them, and retire to the back room (filled with bookcases of read books) those which are a lost cause. The only one that preys and weighs on my mind as still unread is called “Gifts of the Crow :How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans” (when I went to check the complete title, Amazon told me “You purchased this item on September 14, 2014.”) I bought this after I had started forming a relationship with my neighbourhood crows, and I find them to be wonderful birds. This books sounds fascinating, and I would learn a lot from it. But… buying a Kindle has been a blessing in many ways, not least for my lower back. I am unable to be without something to read, so always had to carry a book with me, which added weight to my bags. No more. Kindle has opened up avenues of genres I would never have tried out except that the e-books were cheap or free, and immediately available. But my physical books have been sorely neglected. This year I have to start carrying a paperback with me again, and I shall start with the crows. I shall learn more about them, so that when they take over the world, I shall be spared in The Final Apocawlypse.
Anthony Fensom: Hope to read more books in 2018 too – your list looks like a good start.
Michael Pronko: I want to read with a stronger sense of structure. I read for work, for the seminars and classes I teach, a constant flow of short stories, poetry and novels, as well as watching films. I re-read and outline all the works in detail every time. That takes a lot of time to bore down into those works and pull out a workable outline and notes of the works to prepare for classes. I think outlining is super-helpful to reading deeper, reading better. Structure outlining to me means looking for the flow and patterning of emotions, themes, symbols, images. I want to strengthen that reading/structuring ability. And just the opposite, I like to read broadly about all kinds of topics, happiness, stoicism, politics, visual art, Zen, jazz, work, love, creativity. That keeps the abstract part of my brain stretched out and flexible, I feel. It’s broadening, but also like cherry picking interesting ideas. For me, this kind of reading is very catch as catch can. I pile the books up and when one’s done, I pick the next one that strikes me as interesting. I think it’s not enough just to read to know how to write, that would be like reading about how to play basketball. You must read-then-write right away. This is more of a re-resolution.
Martin J. Frid: Read more.
Guy Yates: To finish reading all the le Carre’s. I have three left after I finish my current read The Russia House. Want to read more second in the series books. I have gone through many enjoyable first novels and have a long list of authors to revisit. So rather than actively search out new talent this year I will re-read enjoyable known talent. And start writing reviews. The author spent time creating something I might enjoy. I should at least spend a fraction of that time letting them know how well they did at that.
Thanks for reading, have a good month. And if you have enjoyed reading any of my stuff, be a sport and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. You can find past issues of this newsletter at Letter from Abiko. If you appreciate this newsletter feel free to forward to a friend, post on social media, or buy one of my books. Abiko salutes your sacrifice!
Next month, I hope to have Thersa Matsuura’s answers collated and ready for public perusal.