Books to enjoy during the holidays

For many of us, Christmas is not about dancing around a tree, receiving gifts (although if anyone feels like giving me a present..I would gladly accept a pair of Guidi boots) eating till our stomache aches or seeing all our relatives. On a second thought, maybe thats exactly what Christmas is all about. But Christmas to me is also a great chance of just relaxing…doing nothing really. Just sit down and maybe…just maybe read a book. As a law student I dont like reading more books than I already have to during the semesters. So whenever a holiday comes around I always try to pick up a REAL book to read.

For those of you who cant wait till the holiday arrives when you sit down in that comfortable armchair, here are two tips on books to read!

Grotesque by Japanese author Natsuo Kirino.

Kirino has made a reputation of being very adequate when she writes about contemporary japanese women. And the books Ive read so far i all about the women. Kirino is the first Japanese author to be nominated for the Allan Edgar Poe award in 2004. Her writing has often been describes as a little unconventional, and there has been some hesitation too translate her novels to english. In fact, only 3 of her 16 novels have been translated so far. After the huge success with the first novel to be translated (Out) came Grotesque.

The story is about  “Two women in their late 30s have been killed in similar fashion within a year of each other: Yuriko, a prostitute, and Kazue, a successful professional who was turning tricks on the side. They are linked by a nameless woman, older sister of the former and classmate of the latter, who lays out their histories and her own in a chillingly dispassionate, curiously defensive narrative.

Yuriko and her sister are daughters of a Japanese mother and a Swiss father. In Yuriko’s case this has resulted in an “almost godlike” beauty. At the exclusive girls’ school they attend, Yuriko rises effortlessly on looks alone, while awkward Kazue sweats for high marks and remains pathetically unaware of her permanent unpopularity. The narrator, neither beautiful nor brilliant, watches her sister and her friend and hones her “uncompromising ability to feel spite.”

Born into a world of rigid hierarchies and enrolled in a school that makes these unspoken boundaries painfully plain, the girls come of age in an environment that Darwin would have recognized immediately. Images of evolution, adaptation and mutation are everywhere. The narrator classifies the various student species with scientific precision and dreams of a “very simple world” where “everything engages in a survival of the fittest and all living creatures exist just to procreate.”

But emotion does not obey Darwinian rules. It mutates, and monsters are born, people “with something twisted inside, something that grows and grows until it looms all out of proportion.” In a society that values conformity, Yuriko’s beauty is too perfect, Kazue’s cravings for success too obvious. As these young women mature, their excesses exile them from Japanese society — and they find themselves suddenly free. This is the terrible paradox at the center of Kirino’s work: In Japan, to be a monster, a grotesque, can be a kind of liberation. watches the trial of their accused murderer unfold, the narrator’s malice turns into a kind of envy of the dead women, who in their sexual freedom flouted the society that rejected them. Grotesque is a powerful indictment of that society, its narrator’s spirit “painted with hatred, dyed with bitterness.” Kirino’s women speak from beneath the lacquered surfaces of traditional Japan, in voices that need to be heard.”

The second book I want to recommend is not one you actually read, its more picking up-have a look-put down kind of book. Some people call them coffee table books. Im not sure I ever seen a coffee table (I’ve seen tea though), no less would I like to read a book when Im drinking coffee or tea…but anyway this is one of those fancy “coffee table books”. And speaking of Christmas…this one is a pretty good gift for someone interested in fashion…or perhaps a even better gift for someone who’s not.

It comes in two versions, the fancy expensive one and the budget version. Either way its good inspiration. You can get both these books at your local bookstore…or amazon.


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