Posts by Sharlene

Reader. Book blogger. Parent. Eater of foods aplenty. Tea drinker. Crocheter

Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto

Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto, translated from the Japanese by Asa Yoneda

Yoshie lives on her own in the Shimokitazawa neighbourhood. She works at a local bistro called Les Liens. She moved there a year after the death of her father. He died in a “love murder suicide in a forest in Ibaraki with a woman who’d apparently been a distant relative”.

Her mother soon moves in with her, saying that she can’t live in their family home. Yoshie is at first hesitant, wanting her independence and own space. But as she watches her mother, looking like a young girl, staring out the window at the street below, a thought comes to her mind: 

“What must it be like for your life to suddenly be a blank page, at her age? I wondered. No young children who needed her energy, no need to scramble to make ends meet. Only the dark, heavy shadow of regret that clung constantly to us both.”

The neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa is actually more important than I expected. The Japanese title of the book is “Moshi Moshi Shimokitazawa”. And the story opens with Yoshie talking about a movie called “Zawa Zawa Shimokitazawa” which moved her to tears the first time she watched it. She felt that it managed to put into words something she had been on the verge of grasping. 

“I longed to have the same kind of effect, in my own way – to cast such a wonderful spell over people.”

I was struck by how there’s a lightness in this book, despite it being one dealing with grief and death. A very unusual death at that. But Yoshimoto has this way of talking about small everyday details, like the neighbourhood and Yoshie’s work at the bistro. Life goes on even after the death of a loved one. 

“Our bodies forgot, left things behind, without our hearts meaning to.”

Library Loot (August 24 to 30)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library? Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

Tokyo Ueno Station – Yu Miri

I borrowed the book with the second cover but I really like the cover above.

Gathering Moss – Robin Wall Kimmerer (audiobook)

I’m getting a head start for Science September. I enjoyed listening to Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass and am looking forward to her lovely and calm voice.

Kids’ loot:

Library Loot (August 17 to 23)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week? Let us know in the link-up or comments below.


So for the past month, I’ve been in Singapore. And we just returned to the Bay Area last week. I’ll post again about our trip there, but here are photos from a couple of the libraries we went to. One is a library that I used to frequent when I was a kid. I’m glad they preserved the old two-storey building, but it is a rather small library. The other is a more recent library, set in a multi-storeyed sports and community hub.

Singapore has many awesome libraries! There are a total of 25 libraries located throughout this tiny island. The libraries are often very spacious, with lots of reading areas. Some are even located in shopping malls.

What I got from the library this week:

Farewell, Ghosts – Nadia Terranova

This book by Italian writer Terranova has won several awards in Italy. It’s about a woman who returns to her family home and confronts her childhood traumas. Another book for WIT month.

The Beast Warrior – Nahoko Uehashi (translated by Cathy Hirano)

I read the first book, The Beast Player, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.

All Summer Long – Hope Larson

A fun graphic novel about friendships.

Library Loot (August 10 to 16)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week?

What I got from the library this week:

Seoulmates – Jan Frederick

This is the second book in the series about a Korean-American adoptee. The first book was well, just ok, but I’m curious to see how the story goes.

My Brilliant Life – Kim Ae-ran

I started reading this and quickly finished the first chapter. And that says a lot. These few weeks, I’ve been starting a few other books but haven’t quite gotten anywhere with them.

This Wicked Fate – Kalynn Bayron

This is the second book in the series, the first being This Poison Heart, which I recently read. And immediately, I went and borrowed this one!

Cinderella Is Dead – Kalynn Bayron

And just for good measure, I also downloaded this other book by the same author.

Library Loot (August 3 to 9)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week?

What I got from the library this week:

The One True Me and You – Remi K. England

A story set in a fandom con. Sounds cute!

When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

A story set in 1950s America, where thousands of women have spontaneously turned into dragons? Yes please.

So I recently finished Tieu’s The Donut Trap, and serendipitously, this ebook hold came in. This time, the romance is set in an office. I really enjoyed Tieu’s depiction of Asian families. Can’t wait to read this one.

Moshi Moshi – Banana Yoshimoto, trassaten by Asa Yoneda

It’s Women In Translation month, and so I picked up a few library books just for that. I haven’t read Yoshimoto’s work for quite a few years. This one’s about a family who’s father dies in a suicide pact with a woman they don’t know.

Winter Pasture – Li Juan

Translated narrative nonfiction by a woman writer. I try to read translated books when I can, but I’ve not read much in translated nonfiction. My most recent one was Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson, translated from the Swedish by Agnes Broomé. I would love recommendations for translated nonfiction!

In this book, Li Juan and her mother live in northwestern China. She joins a family of Kazakh herders as they make their way to pasture for the winter, in a very remote part of the world.

Books Set In a Place I’d Love to Visit #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Books Set In a Place I’d Love to Visit

Iceland: Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian FitzGibbon 

I was looking for Icelandic fiction that wasn’t crime-related. This one is set in the 1960s and focuses on a female writer.

Türkiye (formerly known as Turkey): 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – Elif Shafak

Türkiye’s most famous writer is probably Orhan Pamuk. I loved his portrait of Istanbul in Istanbul: Memories and the City, but haven’t been too successful with his fiction.

Byodoin Temple in Uji City

Kyoto, Japan: The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

I’ve been to Tokyo and Yokohama, but would love to one day see the rest of Japan! Apparently there’s even a Tale of Genji museum in Uji City, Kyoto.

Antarctica: The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge

I’ve read quite a few books set in Antarctica actually, as it’s a place that intrigues me. I’d recommend South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby, The Abominable by Dan Simmons, Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica by Sara Wheeler. But The Birthday Boys is on my TBR list.

Egypt: Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

Ah, Egypt. I would one day love to go see the pyramids and temples for myself!


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Library Loot (July 27 to August 2)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library today? Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

The Donut Trap – Julie Tieu

Wait, didn’t I just read a doughnut-related romance novel not too long ago? Oh well..

This Poison Heart – Kalynn Bayron

I’ve had my eye on this stunning cover for a while now!

The Noh Family – Grace K. Shim

Very K-drama vibes from this one.

While I was Away – Waka T Brown

A middle grade memoir set in the 1980s about a young girl sent to Japan to live with her grandmother for a few months to learn Japanese.

Library Loot (July 20 to July 26)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! What did you get from your library this week? Link up or comment below.

What I got from the library this week:

Kamila Knows Best – Farah Heron

I enjoyed Heron’s Accidentally Engaged, so thought this will hopefully be a fun read. I didn’t realise until now that it’s a retelling of Emma, set in Bollywood!

The Dog Who Dared to Dream – Sun Mi Huang

This is by the author of The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly.

Skinship – Yoon Choi

A book I randomly grabbed off the shelves. This is a collection of short stories about Korean Americans.

Swimming Back to Trout River – Linda Rui Feng

A ten-year-old girl brought up in China by her grandparents is sent to the US where her parents live.

A Map To The Sun – Sloane Leong

I was attracted by the beautiful cover! It’s a story about friendship, basketball, and high school.

Library Loot (July 13 to 19)

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Happy Wednesday! Claire has the link-up this week.

What I got from the library this week:

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor – Xiran Jay Zhao

The author wrote the fun YA fantasy book Iron Widow (my thoughts). This is middle grade fiction.

Private Label – Kelly Yang

Yang is known for her middle grade books including Front Desk. This is her first YA book.

The Book of Eels – Patrik Svensson

I read a few pages of this book’s sample and was fascinated. Also, I don’t think I can eat unagi again. And actually, that’s fine by me.

Book Covers That Feel Like Summer #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

Book Covers That Feel Like Summer

What makes a cover feel like summer? Bright pops of vibrant colour. Covers that are related to the sea. And sadly, wildfire season. I live in California, and summer is wildfire season. Even more so in recent years.

These are all on my TBR list. Have you read any?

Remarkably Bright Creatures – Shelby Van Pelt

Homicide and Halo-Halo – Mia P. Manansala

The Swimmers – Julie Otsuka

A Burning – Megha Majumdar

Little Gods – Meng Jin

The End of the Ocean – Maja Lunde

Olga Dies Dreaming – Xochitl Gonzalez

Honor – Thrity Umrigar

Hello Sunshine – Laura Dave


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.