Matthieu's Picks

The Travelling Cat Chronicles Cover Image
By Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780451491336
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - October 23rd, 2018

Arikawa puts together a story of maturity and innocence in The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Satoru, a thirty-something year old man and his cat, Nana, head out on a journey across Japan to visit Satoru's old friends in the hopes one will be able to take Nana into their home.  Death, the joy of pets, nostalgic meetings with old friends, and the exciting proposition of making new ones all crop up in this short, stirring read. Arikawa's themes are deep enough to benefit from the musings of adults, while her language and whimsy are sure to be a hit with middle grade readers also. In short, there's something here for everyone!

The Nakano Thrift Shop: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453992
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - June 6th, 2017

Some books manage to do alot with a little. The Nakano Thrift Shop is the story of a Japanese woman who works in a...thrift shop. She reminisces over pieces that come in, muses about the lives of the regulars, and goes out with a coworker. The book has a simple setup, each chapter is named after an item that appears within it and has some central meaning. Really it's like reading loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. Quaint, breezy, relaxing.

The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143127543
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - May 26th, 2015

A literary history, an American history, a constitutional history. I read Kevin Birmingham's book to learn about the publishing history of one of the most infamous novels of the 20th century. Things I learned: Suppression and flat censorship of literature in America extended well into the 1900s, that our nation once had vice societies designed to control consumption of "unsavory" entertainment, and Ernest Hemingway was a smuggler of contraband. An exempelary book on the importance of free speech and challenging the status quo.

My Struggle: Book 1 Cover Image
By Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374534141
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 28th, 2013

My Struggle is cringe-inducing, family drama, and oversharing to the next level. And I love every word of it. Karl Ove Knausgaard crucifies himself on a page while making his words universal. The book that has mattered to me the most for the past two years.

Milky Way Railroad (Stone Bridge Fiction) Cover Image
By Kenji Miyazawa, Joseph Sigrist (Translator), D. M. Stroud (Translator)
ISBN: 9781933330402
Availability: Backordered
Published: Stone Bridge Press - December 1st, 2008

This is the single most beautiful children's book I've ever read. A poignant rumination on death and the afterlife told through the voyage of a train across the galaxy.

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312427719
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - October 14th, 2008

Some people say that classical music  is boring and it's clear those people have never read The Rest Is Noise. This book is full to the brim with scandal, murder, and art. No prior musical experience needed.

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories (FSG Classics) Cover Image
By Yasunari Kawabata, Lane Dunlop (Translated by), J. Martin Holman (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374530495
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 14th, 2006

The longest story in this collection is a mere nine pages. This is a delicate, airy, atmospheric group of concise, open-ended vignettes. They'll never take more than 10 minutes to finish but they'll always leave an impression.

Out: A Thriller (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078370
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 4th, 2005

Rare is the thriller as socially critical as it is suspense filled. Out can satisfy someone seeking to understand the patriarchal culture of Japan or the reader looking for a heartracing tale of murder through the killer's eyes.

Norwegian Wood (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375704024
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage - September 12th, 2000

I first read Norwegian Wood during my sophomore year of high school and have read it every year since, normally around winter. It was my first real taste of Japanese fiction (as Murakami often is) and I've been hooked ever since. Like the 60s? Read this book. Like love triangles? Read this book. Like a book to just unapologetically wreck you? Read this book.

Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's Papers Cover Image
By Knut Hamsun, Sverre Lyngstad (Translated by), Sverre Lyngstad (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780141180670
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - September 1st, 1998

Knut Hamsun's Pan was my introduction to Norwegian literature. Lieutenant Glahn is a young hunter living in the forest beyond Oslo, then Christiania, eking out a meager living with his dog, Aesop. We see the neuroses of a young man seeking love and happiness. Hamsun is a top-notch prose writer and his characters are always fleshed out and laid bare for his readers to soak in.

The Shooting Gallery (New Directions Classic) Cover Image
By Yuko Tsushima, Geraldine Harcourt (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811213561
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions - May 17th, 1997

Japan is renowned for the short story and Tsushima upholds the legacy for sure. "A Sensitive Season" featured in this collection is probably my favorite short story of all time.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

A densely layered mystery involving a man and his missing wife. At once a novel about the collective unconscious, the self, and the polar opposites we find for ourselves. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Ulysses (Gabler Edition) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394743127
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - May 12th, 1986

Ulysses is one of *those* books. The kind that sit on your shelf, the kind you'd love to brag about having read, the kind that you figure could change your life if only you had the time or opportunity to really dig into it. Well, I'm happy to say Ulysses really might be the greatest novel of all time. I had to read it for a class in spring of 2018 and loved every bit of it (well maybe not every bit). Sure, there's lots to miss but that also means there's plenty to get! A few episodes will make you want to bang your head on the wall because of how esoteric they are (looking at you "Oxens of the Sun"), while others will leave you absolutely speechless with Joyce's language. You'll definitely laugh, you might cry, and you might chuck the brick across the room! Ulysses is the only book I think everyone should read because it is that universal, that entertaining, and that essential.