January Book and Magazine Haul

Come, all ye weary and in need of good cheer! Look upon this post of mine, filled to the brim with shiny new things! No food for the brain, no insights for the soul. Nonesuch. Just shameless (yet essential) frivolity.

This book haul ties in serendipitously with Opat’s Japanese Literature Reading Challenge. Why? Look! Just look!

Because I like to drivel about mememe, let us look upon my January consumerist choices!

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier


Let’s get the lone wolf out of the way! I have wanted My Cousin Rachel for more than a year now. The plot synopsis screamed “I’m perfect for you!” (Although to be honest, 80% of du Maurier’s works promises to be my soulmate). Then bookssnob’s review was the final carrot that had the horse charging. I started to actively search for it.

For a long time, I insisted upon having My Cousin Rachel in the Virago Designer Collection above because I can be shallow and I want my books to be pretty. But I’m out of luck it seems. I don’t think the edition I want is still available, so I bit the bullet and got this not-nearly-as-pretty version.

Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa


Cinema philistine that I am, I have never watched Akira Kurosawa’s iconic Rashomon. But now ladies and gentlemen, now I have an excuse. I want to read the original source first, she says as she hipster-flips her hair.

(But wait, was Kurosawa’s Rashomon adapted from Akutagawa’s “Rashomon” or “In a Grove”? Someone enlighten me please, demands the inept hipster)

Japanese Fairy Tales compiled by Yei Theodora Ozaki


I just love folktales and fairy tales. No other excuse needed.

After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima

Although The Sound of Waves, reviewed here, wasn’t memorable, I can’t seem to stop buying more Mishima. The plot blurbs of his novels really appeal to me. After the Banquet is heavily inspired by real-life events, to the point Mishima was sued with violation of privacy. Thematically, After the Banquet is all about gender warfare, a topic I am weak for (Dorothy Parker is one of my favorites!).

The Book of Tokyo edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks & Masashi Matsuie

The Book of Tokyo

I first learned about this anthology via this post. I thought its premise fascinating: curated contemporary short stories that, together, paints diverse impressions of modern Tokyo.

Bonus! I bought another book after taking the group photo above.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro


Ishiguro was the king of my heart in 2015! The Remains of the Day and An Artist of the Floating World were #1 and #2 on my best books of the year, respectively. I’m aware that The Buried Giant wasn’t as warmly-received as The Remains of the Day or Never Let Me Go, but I decided to take a chance because (a) I’m still not over my honeymoon phase with Ishiguro (b) I have a lot of childhood nostalgia for Arthurian legends and (c) a friend whose taste I trust entirely told me The Buried Giant offers a luminous depiction of mature married love, something fiction sorely lacks, I believe.

Oh wait, there’s even more!

I have the February editions of Biteki and Maquia, two of the Big Three Japanese beauty magazines. Maquia was much harder to locate. I had thought this was odd because to my knowledge, Biteki was numero uno.

But then you crack open the Feb edition of Biteki and you figure out why it didn’t sell as well as Maquia. February’s Biteki was mostly countdowns of all the best products (read: adverts). Japanese beauty mags are great because of the detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions for different makeup looks, so it was disappointing to find it missing from Biteki. My favorite looks are these two from Maquia:

It’s rather telling that my favorite look is the one most similar to how I do my eye makeup most days. This look is basically a subtle cat eye, with more of an Egyptian horizontal line than a diagonal flick. Actually, forget similar. This is exactly how I do my eye makeup most days.

I love the model’s eyes here! I do suspect the look owes its success to the model’s own beautiful almond eyes rather than makeup enhancement, but I want to try and replicate this look. It requires no more than a basic eyeshadow quad and a brown pencil liner.

I know this is a book blog, not a beauty blog (HAHAHA, I almost wrote ‘this is a beauty blog, not a book blog.’ Freudian slip?), but hey, I did say this was going to be a light-hearted post.

Now, how do you end a post that lacks intellectual nutrition? Provide cake, of course! Here is a matcha castella baked by yours truly!



22 thoughts on “January Book and Magazine Haul

  1. I love that you ended your post with cake! That Virago cover for My Cousin Rachel is so pretty, I think I will have to start hunting that down too – I’m slowly building up my Du Maurier collection this year 🙂 I also really want to read The Buried Giant – the only Ishiguro book I’ve read is Never Let Me Go, but I loved it, and definitely plan to read more this year. Which was your favourite of his books?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m by no means the most knowledgeable person about the Virago Designer Collections, but I know they only publish a limited number of each title. I just checked Book Depository for you, and other du Maurier works are still available in the Designer Collections, some discounted. Just my luck! It looks like ONLY My Cousin Rachel has run out. Even the famous Rebecca is still available in the Designer Collection.

      Believe it or not, I only started reading Ishiguro last year. I’ve only read two of his books but I am now determined to read everything by him, so moved and awed I am by the two books I did read. Very recently, I posted a review on An Artist of a Floating World that was basically a comparison between that novel and his subsequent, far more loved The Remains of the Day. My review is far more detailed but the gist is: I don’t think one book is less accomplished than the other. In terms of technique and style, they are almost identical. The Remains of the Day tugs at the heartstrings more, because it is the story of a man full of regrets, realizing he wasted a big chunk of his life. An Artist of the Floating World makes you think more, it gets into the humanity of someone who is easily perceived as “evil.”

      I hope this helps and oh, there is nothing cake cannot ameliorate! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow, thanks for the tip – I didn’t realise that they only published a small amount of them. I will definitely check out the other titles though 🙂 I’ll check out your review of An Artist of the Floating World too. I really enjoyed his writing style when I read Never Let Me Go, and I have read snippets of The Remains of the Day when I took a creative writing class. That one is definitely on my TBR list. An Artist of the Floating World sounds really interesting though, morally ambiguous characters are fascinating to me!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Whoa – a Japanese Literature challenge! Thank you for telling me about it – this looks like so much fun! Kurasawa’s film is actually based on both short stories, which will make a lot of sense once you’ve seen the film/read the book! I really enjoyed reading Rashomon last year, and I’m excited to hear your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for answering my question. I totally didn’t expect anyone to answer — I thought I was going to have to google/wiki the answer and inadvertently spoil myself some details (as I am wont to do).

      Thanks again! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to say, I really enjoy posts like this. I know we blog about books, but I like to get to know the blogger behind the book posts a little bit.

    I am horrible at doing makeup. You would think that at my age, with all the practice I have had, I would be better at it. Maybe I need detailed instructions, like in those magazines.

    Your cake looks delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As in everything in life, it all comes down to a question of balance, right? All books, all literary analysis, all the time make the blog too heavy and cheerless. But too many tags and lighter posts dilute the substance of your blog. It’s going to be a couple of book reviews and some bookish discussions before I indulge in a fluffy post like this again.

      Hahaha, I understand. Makeup is not as easy as it looks. It took me a year to line my eyes in a satisfactory manner and several more months to figure out the cat eye shape that flatters my eyes. But part of the fun is in the experimenting, I think.

      Thank you. It’s almost gone now, which makes me happy. Nothing makes the baker happier than to see people eat their goodies.


    1. I think you can read some Akutagawa stories online if you don’t want to spend money. I used to see Rashomon at Periplus but not often anymore. Kinokuniya still has the Penguin Deluxe Edition of Rashomon, but it is expensiveeee!


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