Umami Mart

Hi there. Continuing my culinary journey in NYC, this week I talk about some fancy brunch. So check me out at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish!

In bookish news, I just bought a copy of Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley to try and spur me on to do more running. I’m a crappy runner, struggling from the first step, gasping for breath and with a face as red as a boiled octopus. I read Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running which was very inspiring and impressive since he runs a marathon a year on top of writing his books.

So what I’d like to know is, what books do you read to spur you on to do some exercise?

I have also just returned from a weekend in Paris where I finally visited the Catacombs which was surprisingly well lit, beautifully maintained and did not smell although the queue was 2 hours long. I read Antoine Laurain’s The President’s Hat on the Eurostar there and came back with a copy of Asterix and the Belgians in the original French just to see how the English translations differ. Apparently quite a lot, it turns out, but I guess they can’t really do a direct translation and keep all the jokes intact. The fact that the names of the beloved characters are different was a bit of a shock though.

This has spurred me on to try my hand at reading some books in French even though my French is pretty atrocious. I put out a call on twitter for titles that are gentle for a reader wanting to improve their French reading skills which resulted in several recommendations from Camus to Fred Vargas, Collette, Sagan, Nothomb and short stories by Gravalda to children’s books such as Le Petit Nicholas, historical fiction such as Dans un grand vent des fleurs by Janine Montupet (about Grasse and the perfume industry in the 19th century) and of course French translations of English books such as Harry Potter. So thank you everyone and lots to choose from. I went and bought a copy of Fred Vargas’ Un peu plus loin sur la droite, the sequel to The Three Evangelists which hasn’t been translated into English. Let’s see how I get on.

Do you ever get the urge to read a book in another language? And what did you begin with?

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

16 April, 2013

Umami Mart

Umami Mart‘s Editor, Kayoko, is away in Vietnam and so she’s asked us to pick a favourite post from the last 6 years and you can see my choice over at Umami Mart: Flashback Fave today. Go on, scoot over there and also check out what the other writers have chosen. I only picked one that wasn’t mine but if I had to choose a favourite Slightly Peckish post, it would probably have to be this , this and this.

In bookish news, Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists 4 was announced yesterday. I’m delighted that both Tahmima Anam and Ross Raisin were included in the Granta list and am looking forward to reading all the other writers, some of which I have on my shelves including Helen Oyeyemi, Ned Beauman and Evie Wyld of whom I have heard so much.

The much-anticipated shortlist for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) was announced this morning amidst some misgivings that it’s the usual suspects but I can’t wait to read Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies as I loved Wolf Hall and also want to try Zadie Smith’s NW. I read Smith’s debut, White Teeth, when it was published way back in 2000 but haven’t read her subsequent novels although my sister has a copy of On Beauty which I’ve been meaning to read after I read E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End (do I need to?)

And next week I’m planning to attend an event celebrating the publication of The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day where Terry Pratchett will be in discussion with his collaborators, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. You may still be able to get tickets from Waterstones Gower Street but hurry! I’ve read the first 3 books in the series and they are a wonderful mixture of the history of science interspersed with events in the Discworld which I highly recommend.

Science of Discworld IV

Umami Mart

So I went to New York a couple of weeks ago and am still suffering withdrawal symptoms. It was too short a trip and I want to go back! Check out the first of my posts on eating in New York at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish. ‘Coz we ate. A lot.

In bookish news, last week I joined some fellow book bloggers at this year’s Penguin General Bloggers’ Night at Foyle’s where we heard eight authors reading from their books. Annabel has written about it and apart from hearing some fascinating snippets of new and forthcoming titles including Jonathan Coe’s Expo 58, James Robertson’s The Professor of Truth and Rhidian Brook’s The Aftermath, it was lovely to see everyone again. There was also a contingent of book vloggers which is really exciting as I’m way too shy and will probably mumble like an idiot if I tried it. But I’ll definitely be checking them out on youtube and I hope you do too.

Penguin Bloggers Night 2013

I came home with a lovely tote filled with Mohsin Hamid’s How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Catherine O’Flynn’s Mr. Lynch’s Holiday, Alicia Foster’s Warpaint and Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist. Thank you Penguin!

Although I wasn’t able to get copies, I’m also looking forward to reading Joanna Rossiter’s debut novel, The Sea Change intertwining two stories set in India in the ’70s and Britain after WWII and Bernadine Evaristo’s Mr. Loverman about Britain’s aging Carribean community which had us all laughing in our seats.

Isn’t it interesting how hearing an author read can change your perception of a book, just like its cover? Do you find that too?

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

19 March, 2013

I delve into the London Ramen Wars again with a review of Tonkotsu in Soho. Have I converted you into a noodle slurper yet? Check me out at Umamimart: Slightly Peckish!

In bookish news, I recently acquired the following books. It’s been a while since I’ve done a drool worthy post which doesn’t mean that I haven’t been buying books. If only I had some self control. Le sigh.

These were kindly sent to me by publishers or bought by me:

Books March 1

These are from the library plus 2 Japanese manga:

Books March 2

And this one I liberated from my sister’s house to re-read:

Books March 3

I’ve also been reading a couple of books set in New York because I will be flying out to the Big Apple in a couple of days with my sister to see my friends and experience what to many is their favourite American city. I’ve finished Patrick McGrath’s Ghost Town and am now reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close both of which were recommended on Kim’s blog. No doubt I will find some books when I get there. I’m planning on visiting The Strand Bookshop and, because I’m half-Japanese, Kinokuniya (who can resist?) Any other recs?

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

26 February, 2013

If you live in London, you can’t ignore the number of ramen bars that have sprung up this past year. It’s one of my favourite Japanese noodles and I dive into the London ramen wars this week at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish. Check me out!

Sometimes we need days when we give our brains a rest, right? Or more truthfully, I need a few more days to finish a book、write my review, have a snooze. I often read a book a week but sometimes it takes longer. In fact, most weekends I don’t even open a book as I’m busy doing other things. What about you?

I’m currently pondering buying a kindle. I already have a Sony e-reader which I forget to use and I can’t be bothered with having to connect it to my laptop to download books. But being able to buy books directly onto your device is so tempting. It’s a question of space, you see. I’m overwhelmed with the number of books I own and although I’m trying to read through my TBR, it’s gonna take some time. What? Just stop buying books until you’ve read and given some away, I hear you say. It doesn’t work that way. Buying books goes a lot deeper than just wanting to read it. It feeds into this primal need of wanting to possess. Sometimes I don’t even understand myself why I need that book so much, but I just do. But kindle owners, do you get overwhelmed with your digital libraries too?

Talking about book storage, how do you store yours?

And currently there is a tv series airing in Japan called Biblia Koshodo no Jiken Techou about a secondhand bookshop owner who solves mysteries with a literary twist. Each episode focuses on one book, from Natsume Soseki to Anthony Burgess. It’s a light, gentle series but provides a great insight into popular literature in Japan.

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

12 February, 2013

Umami Mart

This week’s Slightly Peckish Tuesday is a special edition where I sit down and have lunch with an actual person from Umami Mart. Hurray! So check out our foray into traditional Bombay café culture London style at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish!

In bookish news, I am once again gripped by Malazan fever and have started Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian C. Esslemont. It’s had pretty disappointing reviews but I’m enjoying it so far and feel it to be closer to Erikson’s novels than its prequels.

Our next book group read is Under the Skin by Michel Faber which I should be starting in a couple of weeks. I didn’t particularly like Crimson Petal and the White (I know I’m in the minority here) although Romola Garai’s depiction of Sugar in the tv adaptation was pretty good. But Faber’s first novel is a mystery and I’m rather intrigued.

I am also going through my annual phase of wanting to read books that will give me some direction and inspiration in life. I am congenitally averse to self-help books but one of my friends recommended Mrs Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women by Mrs. Moneypenny and Heather McGregor and I am tempted to read it.

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

29 January, 2013

Swedish Folk Tales

Ooh, two posts in a day. Aren’t you the lucky ones?

Check out what I’ve been slurping for my complexion in Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish and don’t judge me.

In bookish news, I’m currently ensconced in Eowyn Ivey’s beautiful The Snow Child for my book group. I’m normally put off by a lot of hype but since reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, I feel chastised and am prepared to believe.

And I’ll leave you with some interesting links from Twitter:

Kay Nielsen’s Stunning 1914 Scandinavian Fairy Tale Illustrations from Brain Pickings. We used to own a book of Swedish Folk Tales illustrated by John Bauer. So beautiful and enchanting.

Best Fictional Libraries in Pop Culture from Flavorwire

And have you seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Thank you Simon T, Ana and Iris! It’s Pride and Prejudice‘s 200th birthday this week. My favourite adaptations are still the black and white film starring Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson which I first saw when I was 14 and, of course, Colin Firth’s Darcy. Still swooning.

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

15 January, 2013

Hello. How are you?

It’s extremely chilly in London although we haven’t seen any more snow since the brief flurry yesterday. But here’s something to cheer you up at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish where I talk about Shonan Cheese Pie from Japan. So check me out!

In bookish news, I’m currently reading Shusaku Endo’s famous novel about Christian apostasy and martyrdom in 17th century Japan, Silence. It’s a deep and moving portrayal of faith and I love Endo’s writing. I’m keeping to my promise of reading only from my own shelves at the moment, although I have to admit I bought some books while strolling through a couple of charity shops in the weekend. Oops. But I’ll keep them for later in the year, of course.

The British Library is hosting a free exhibition on crime including a series of events on crime writing which I’m really excited about. I’ll have to make my way there for a peek and possibly a coffee. Just sitting in that lovely building is inspiring.

Badaude has a lovely piece in berfrois.

And Bellezza has a wonderful post about Haruki Murakami and translation.

Slightly Peckish Christmas!

26 December, 2012

2012 Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody! Although I’m not a Christian or particularly religious for that matter, we’ve always celebrated Christmas since we were small due to the international hotpot that was our expat life. Even in tropical Bangkok, we had a real fir tree in a pot even though it was small, and my sister would sit, pen in hand, brow furrowed in concentration, waiting to jot down Santa’s address each year. Ah, the joys of childhood.

In the spirit of Christmas, here’s this week’s Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish where I went to sample the delightful Roganic which was a real Christmas treat. Enjoy.

In bookish news, I’ve finished Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey which wasn’t what I expected (but more on that later in January). I’ve now started The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett and want to finish it before catching up on the tv adaptation which aired last week. Apparently they’ve mutilated the story but that’s tv for you. Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy was a childhood favourite of mine but I’m beginning to fear that my tolerance for saccharine prose is being stretched here although Burnett is proving something of a surprise. My next book group read is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol so maybe that’ll provide just the right dose of cynicism.

Before I turn into a grinch, can I also remind you that Tony‘s January in Japan will be starting soon and will coincide with the final month of Bellezza‘s Japanese Literature Challenge 6. I plan on finally reading Shusaku Endo’s Silence which I’m really looking forward to. He’s one of my favourite Japanese authors. And maybe I can fit in something by Yukio Mishima or Yasunari Kawabata.

So what are you reading this Christmas?

Slightly Peckish Tuesday

6 November, 2012

rolls around again! Actually, I lie. That’s next week so do make sure you check out some chirashi action at Umami Mart: Slightly Peckish next Tuesday.

I’m off to Colombo for a wedding (not mine!) and having thought long and hard about what books to take with me (priorities, ahem) I’ve decided on the following:

The Chemickal Marriage by G.W. Dahlquist – the third and final installment of the Glass Books trilogy. Ooh, Cardinal Chang!

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – sometimes I need reminding. Also lots of people have told me how brilliant and hilarious this book is.

The Doomsday Book
by Connie Willis – I have been dying to read this novel about historians from Oxford who time travel back to the Middle Ages. Hopefully it’ll be better than Michael Crichton’s Timeline.

Dark Road to Darjeeling
and The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn – because I love me some Lady Julia and the dashing Brisbane.

Is that too many books for a 10 day trip where I probably won’t be able to do any reading for 7 days as I’ll have all my school friends with me and we can usually talk the backside off a baboon?