Current Reads: Filipino Ghost Stories & Existentialist Robots

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend, whether you were working, studying, spending time with friends and family, or just taking care of you. 😊 Luckily my weekend was not too terrible at all! Sir Betrothed and I celebrated with a couple of friends on them getting a new flat by going out to a Japanese Ramen house and then we played board games well into the night. Then on Sunday, I went to my local Jōdo-Shinshū Buddhist Temple for Dharma service, chatted with a friend, and the came home for a much-needed nap! My Monday ended up being a bedrest day due to some severe coughing (thanks pneumonia, you bastard) and horrible tendinitis in both of my wrists. The joys of being a computer user (addict) for over 25 years. Woot, I’m old as fuck!

Now that I’m well-rested and well-medicated, I’m happy to get some blogging done. It’s a creative outlet that really helps me manage my anxiety and depression, and I could use some self-care after yesterday’s wrist-torture-fest.

For this morning’s post, I thought it would be fun to share the giant pile of books that I’m currently reading. My main goal for 2018 was to read a maximum of two books at a time. Yeah, I’ve royally failed at that this weekend. But I’ve no regrets as all these books are quite phenomenal so far. Check ‘em out, Yo.

I Am A Cat by Natsume Sōseki62772

Many of you may recognise this #OwnVoices Japanese title from an earlier Current/Weekend Reads post. Since it’s a group read, I’ve been trying my damndest not to get too ahead with it, but I must admit that it’s been a challenge because this book gives me so much life. I’m in love with our cat protagonist and I’m utterly enthralled by his astute observations of the complex nature of humans.

If any of you are interested in picking it up, there are a few things to keep in mind. If it’ll be your first Sōseki book, then I do not recommend I Am a Cat as it is quite a bit denser than his usual works. The writing is tediously descriptive and can feel monotonous if you are unfamiliar with his prose. The book is also an extremely paced read. There are tons of implications to Japanese society of the era, specifically in relation to Buddhist thought and beliefs. Being able to catch these references helps make the book more enlightening and easier to understand the ideals being examined. Lastly, it uses a shit ton of “smart” words that make it feel immensely pretentious, but due to Sōseki’s nature, this is done on purpose, mostly for deeper meaning and satirical value.

In a Grove by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

iag raThis is an #OwnVoices Japanese novella that I received in the mail a few days ago! Akutagawa is another author that I greatly admire, and I finally own something written by him. The excitement is hardcore real. In a Grove was the basis behind Akira Kurosawa’s film adaptation of the author’s most-popular story, Rashōmon. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. Kurosawa is quite possibly one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time.

In a Grove is an early modernist story involving seven separate accounts by varying individuals on the murder of a samurai. The corpse of Kanazawa no Takehiro was discovered in a bamboo forest near Kyoto. Each perspective concurrently clarifies and obscures what the reader already knows about the murder, eventually creating a very complex and contradictory vision of events. This is the basis for the notion that humanity’s ability or willingness to perceive objective truth is constantly in question.

Filipino Ghost Stories by Alex G. Paman41WBhUUJGSL

In Filipino culture, ghost stories are commonplace, and each family has their own specific collection of supernatural tales that is passed down, usually in the oral tradition, from one generation to another. They may take place at a relative’s funeral, or hacienda located in some deep, remote location. The nature of the ghost stories is to create a bridge between the past and present, brining back to life things that may have been long forgotten or lost.

This #OwnVoices collection is an account of stories that have been shared by the author’s family, and he has collected them in a small edition to share with the world. He has included an Appendix that explains many of the unique words/phrases (usually in Tagalog) that can be helpful for people unfamiliar with the language.

So far, I’ve been finding the collection to be insightful! It reminds me a lot of the ghost stories my family would share with me as a child; most of them about their personal encounters with otherworldly beings. I wonder if this is distinctly an Asian culture quality, as many of my diverse Asian friends also have a similar practice in their culture.

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries Book 1) by Martha Wells

41yifKOFRyLThe book is about an android with murderous intentions that simply wants to discover who it is outside of being an android and gets the opportunity to do so when a mission on a distant planet ends up going terribly awry.

Ah, hard science-fiction involving a robot that is having an existentialist crisis—my favourite type of science-fiction. The novella was part of my February book haul and I picked it up yesterday because I was craving something from the genre. I’m only a few pages into it, so I cannot fairly comment on the quality of the book so far, but I will say that it’s very interesting to read from this robot’s perspective. They’ve got some personality to say the least.

The Night Stalker (Detective Erika Foster #2) by Robert Bryndzathenightstalker

I recently read and reviewed the first book in this series, which you can read here. It is a British Crime Thriller series. While it was not the greatest thriller in the world, there were a lot of things that I enjoyed about it (Queer characters for one), and overall it was a good read, so when I saw that the second book was on sale (for Kindle) for a dollar, I figured it would be a good time to move on to it.

In The Night Stalker, during a sweltering summer evening, a doctor is found suffocated in bed with bound wrists and a plastic bag over his head. Detective Erika Foster is called to the case with her team. A few days later, a second victim is discovered with the same MO. As the detective and her team begin to dig deeper, another victim tells of a serial killer. All the victims are single men with very private lives. Why are they draped in secrecy, and what is their connection to the killer?

Those are the five books that have been occupying my attention as of late, and as it stands I would recommend all of them. I’m hoping to have three of these finished by next week, so I can share full reviews of them. If you have read any of these books, or if any of them sounds interesting to you, please let me know in the comments. 😊

Thank you for stopping by today! Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing, my friends. 💙