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:
Country Teacher by Tayama Katai
Blurb from Goodreads
Tayama Katai’s novel Country Teacher, based on the diary of Kobayashi Shūzō, achieved popularity for its realistic descriptions of the lives rural commoners at the beginning of the 1900s. Seizō, the teacher, lived in his hometown of Gyōda, which was dominated by the ruins of the medieval Oishi Castle some 45 miles north of Tokyo. In his early months of teaching, he lived at home, walking to and from the school in Miroku village nearly 10 miles away. As his experience illustrates, the rapid expansion of Japan’s education system left teacher candidates in short supply in rural areas, meaning that teachers often had only a bit more education than their oldest students. At home in Gyōda on weekends, Seizō spent his free hours with male friends such as Ikuji and Ishikawa, mentioned here, talking about his dream of studying in Tokyo—a dream blocked by poverty. Like the diarist on whose life this work was based, Seizō would die of tuberculosis in 1904 just as he was beginning to think brighter prospects lay ahead—and as Japan was rejoicing over victory in one of its early battles in the Russo-Japanese War.
Why I Want To Read It
Happy Monday everyone! At least I hope that everyone had a happy Monday and that everyone had a great start to the week. Otherwise, I hope that the rest of the week will treat everyone kindly. As for me, I am now reporting again to the office after being in isolation for nearly two weeks; I tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, I am no longer exhibiting any of the I have symptoms. I understand that the World Health Organization recently announced the culmination of the global health emergency that lasted a little over three years. However, the virus is still very much present; case in point, cases have been rising again here in the Philippines. As such, I do implore everyone to still observe the minimum health standards. Nevertheless, I hope everyone is doing well, in body, mind, and spirit.
Kicking off another week of blogging is a new Goodreads Monday update. By now, Goodreads Mondays updates have become an essential part of my book blogging ventures. It allows me to plow through my (perpetually) growing reading list and reevaluate why these books are even part of my reading list. It is also an opportunity for me to feature books I recently discovered, just like the book I am featuring in this week’s update. To start off, I have been immersing myself in the best works of Japanese literature in the past six weeks. Japanese literature is one of my favorite parts of the world of literature. While I read the works of new-to-me writers, May has been dedicated to writers who are familiar to me; I am currently reading my third Natsume Sōseki novel, I Am A Cat. Also going to be part of my May reading line-up are Yukio Mishima, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Banana Yoshimoto, Yōko Tawada, and Hiromi Kawakami.
However, for this week’s Goodreads update, I am featuring a new-to-me writer; I have done so in April and it seems that May is going to take the same route. While reading works of Japanese writers, I have also been backing them up by researching more about Japanese literature. This led me to Tayama Katai who, alongside Tōson Shimazaki, has helped establish the foundations for the I-novel. To devout readers of Japanese literature, I-novel is familiar; I first came across it through Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, a book I read during the first months of the pandemic. I-novel is a seminal movement in Japanese literature that started in the early 1900s. It is a form of confessional literature that is inspired by the writers’ own experiences. Among the masters of this literary subgenre are Osamu Dazai and Naoya Shiga.
This then led me to want to explore the origins of this literary movement. Admittedly, I have not come across Tayama Katai until this year. This, however, is not going to preclude me from exploring his works such as Country Teacher and Futon; Futon is considered one of the first works of I-novel. I don’t know why but the book, without reading the blurb, somehow reminded me of Natsume Sōseki’s Botchan. However, that seems to be not the case. For one, the Country Teacher‘s main protagonist is originally from a rural area, unlike Botchan where the main character grew up in Tokyo before moving to the countryside. Both books, it seems, offer insights and glimpses into the Japanese educational system during the early 1900s. I just hope that can find a copy of Country Teacher or any of Tayama’s works
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!