Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.

This week’s book:

Clouds Above the Hill by Ryōtarō Shiba

Blurb from Goodreads

Clouds above the Hill is one of the best-selling novels ever in Japan, and is now translated into English for the first time. An epic portrait of Japan in crisis, it combines graphic military history and highly readable fiction to depict an aspiring nation modernizing at breakneck speed. Best-selling author Shiba Ryōtarō devoted an entire decade of his life to this extraordinary blockbuster, which features Japan’s emerging onto the world stage by the early years of the twentieth century.

Volume I describes the growth of Japan s fledgling Meiji state, a major “character” in the novel. We are also introduced to our three heroes, born into obscurity, the brothers Akiyama Yoshifuru and Akiyama Saneyuki, who will go on to play important roles in the Japanese Army and Navy, and the poet Masaoka Shiki, who will spend much of his short life trying to establish the haiku as a respected poetic form.

Anyone curious as to how the “tiny, rising nation of Japan” was able to fight so fiercely for its survival should look no further. Clouds above the Hill is an exciting, human portrait of a modernizing nation that goes to war and thereby stakes its very existence on a desperate bid for glory in East Asia.

Why I Want To Read It

Happy Monday everyone! At least I hope that everyone had a happy Monday. Thankfully, today is a holiday here in the Philippines because today is Labor Day. Most of us got an extra day to rest and recover. For me, I am glad to update that I no longer exhibit any COVID symptoms. I hope that my next test will yield a negative result. I hate being stuck at home, especially in the midst of this oppressive heat which is, according to the local weather bureau bound to get even more oppressive this May. Anyway, I hope that everyone is doing well, in mind, body, and spirit. The pandemic remains a potent threat so I hope that everyone is still practicing the minimum health standards.

Kicking off another week of blogging is a new Goodreads Monday update. Goodreads Mondays have become part of a weekly ritual that allows me to peruse my (perpetually) growing reading list and reevaluate why these books are even part of my reading list. I have decided to extend my foray into Japanese literature this May. In April, I read the works of new-to-me Japanese writers but in May, I will be reading the works of familiar writers. I already kicked it off with my 13th novel by Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance. Also going to be part of my May reading line-up are Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Banana Yoshimoto, Yōko Tawada, Natsume Sōseki, and Hiromi Kawakami. I can’t wait to explore again their worlds.

However, for this week’s Goodreads update, I am featuring a new-to-me writer; I have done so in April but let us see how May goes. For this update, I am featuring Ryōtarō Shiba’s Clouds Above the Hills. To be honest, today is the first time I encountered Ryōtarō Shiba who, I just learned, was a prominent figure in 20th-century Japanese literature. He has established a reputation for his works of historical fiction which adds more premium to him, at least where I am concerned. You see, historical fiction is one of my go-to genres. I can never go wrong (perhaps most of the time) with historical fiction. However, it was only recently that the majority of his works are made available to anglophone readers, among them Clouds Above the Hills. The book’s English translation was released only in 2012, more than four decades after its original publication in Japanese.

It then comes as no surprise that Clouds Above the Hills, one of Shiba’s more popular works, is a work of historical fiction. The book’s subtitle, A Historical Novel of the Russo-Japanese War, basically summarizes the events captured in the novel. This further piques my interest because I can’t recall encountering or reading a book that has explored extensively the Russo-Japanese War which started on February 8, 1904 and ended on September 5, 1905. Imperial Russia and Imperial Japan were fighting over control of Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, and the Yellow Sea. War has been a staple subject in historical fiction but, if I ever get the chance to read this book, this would be my first time reading accounts of the Russo-Japanese War, albeit it is fictional.

Wow. Shiba has a very extensive bibliography although most of his works are yet to be translated to English. I just hope I can make a dent in this extensive list. How about you fellow reader? How was your Monday? What books have you added to your reading list? Do drop it in the comment box. For now, happy Monday and, as always, happy reading!