Saturday 21 December 2013

Season's Readings

Season's Readings is not exactly an original variation on Season's Greetings, but  it's been put to good use this year by Kinokuniya, Singapore, as the title for its Christmas calendar-cum-promotional-catalogue. 

Kinokuniya is a Japanese book chain, operating throughout Asia, Australia, and across the U.S., and selling Japanese language books, as well as local language and English language books in each store. It  has a pleasing commitment to books from Asia, and, if the Singapore calendar-catalogue is anything to go by, a commitment too to local publishing.  

The calendar-catalogue is organised by month, and book category. If you celebrate Christmas, you've left your shopping late, and you're short of gift ideas, it's a good place to start.  For those of you not in Singapore, I now offer my pick of their picks.

January / Fiction: Crazy Rich Asians /  Kevin Kwan.   Asian Book Blog's September book club pick.  A wild romp that dazzles with the excesses of Singapore's super-rich.  Perfect for free-spending teenage girls.

February / Fiction: Strange Weather in Tokyo /  Hiromi Kawakami. An old fashioned romance set in modern Tokyo.  Perfect for secretly-sloppy outwardly cool dudes who, rather than being caught reading romantic fiction, would wrap it in brown paper covers.

March / Children's: Jet Black and the Ninja Wind / Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani.  The story of a teenage girl descended from ninjas. Perfect for pre-teen ninjas.

April / Children's: My Awesome Japan Adventure: a diary about the best 4 months ever! / Rebecca Otowa. The title says it all. Perfect for under 10s relocating to Japan.

May / Lifestyle:  I'm skipping this one, on the grounds that any book a person of normal intelligence could possibly categorise as Lifestyle can't be worth the paper it's printed on.

June / Food & Drink: Baking With Tropical Fruits /  Melinda Lim. Great bakes using mango, pineapple, lychees, and so on.  Perfect for woodworkers. (Only joking - perfect for cooks.)

July / Business: In Line Behind a Billion People / Damien Ma and William Adams. How scarcity will define China's ascent in the next decade.  Perfect for students you dislike - spoil their Christmas by reminding them of the competition they're up against in our globalised world.   

August / Business:  Another one I'm skipping, this time because all the books look deadly dull. 

September / Science and Humanities: Countdown: our last, best hope for a future on earth? / Alan Weisman.  An investigation into humanity's future. Perfect for the loons otherwise known as climate change sceptics, although if they haven't had what passes for their minds changed by now, then they probably never will. 

October / Humanities: The Straits Chinese House: Domestic Life and Traditions / Peter Lee. A  lavishly illustrated guide to Peranakan culture through their homes.  Perfect for expat wives who've set up shop as interior designers. 

November / Biography: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban / Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. What can you say? This is surely a book that everybody ought to read, especially those least likely to - so if you do happen to know any English-speaking fundamentalists, try slipping them a copy, although perhaps it would be best not to mention Christmas. 

December / Comics: Super Graphic / Tim Leong. The geek's infographic guide to the comic book universe. Perfect for pale boys who are so in love with their screens they never leave their bedrooms.

If you do celebrate Christmas, I hope you give some great books, and, in return, get some equally great books in your stocking.  

Asian Book Blog will now close until January 5, when the first post of the New Year will be a discussion of December's book club pick, The Valley of Amazement / Amy Tan, which would itself make an excellent Christmas gift - add it to your wish list if you haven't already read it. Happy Christmas, and happy reading, now and all through 2014.