Tag Archives: non-fiction

2:46 – Memories of the Earthquake in Japan

Making my way through my older reviews to talk about the books on YouTube, I arrived at a very special book. It’s 2:46 – Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. You can read my original review here.

I did more than just talk about the book in my video. I talked a bit about the experience and how I feel about the book now. Check it out.

What are your memories of the earthquake? Most likely, you weren’t anywhere near it, but there was a lot of news about it. Let me know in the comments below.

More Books!

Enjoy seeing what I have in my book collection? Well, here’s your chance to see more! This video has a book with an interesting title, but I’ve already reviewed it on here. Also, I keep cracking up at the blooper I left in this video. I don’t know why I keep laughing at it.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Blogging Versus Writing Books

I blog. I write books. I haven’t finished a book. I don’t think I know what finishing a blog is like. Finishing a blog post, yes. But a blog? I don’t think they really have a conclusion.

There are differences, but there are some similarities. Of course, the biggest differences are that blogs tend to be informal, lack editors, don’t require any publishers, and can be updated at any time. Books are more permanent, are sold through vendors, have a story, and actually have a conclusion.

But there are similarities, too. They can both be non-fiction or fiction. They can both have pictures. They both allow writers to express themselves. And they can both make you money.

These are just some similarities and differences. There are many. And sometimes they complement each other. You can use a blog to sell books. You can publish excerpts on your blog. You can advertise your blog or website in your books, which can allow readers to see what else you write.

How do you think writing books and blogging are different or similar? Let’s talk about it in the comments (on this blog about books)!

Book Review – Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist

himynameislocoHi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist is  part memoir, part social commentary written by fellow Japan resident Baye McNeil.  He talks about his experiences ranging from his childhood in New York, his time in the Army, and teaching English in Japan.  But throughout this book, there is one common theme: racism.

He starts the book off with something most foreigners in Japan experience, the empty seat on a train.  It’s quite obvious that the reason is that he’s a black man in the homogeneous Japanese culture.  He returns to the empty seat several times throughout the book, sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as a friend.  He talks about his experience with racism not only in Japan, but also growing up and living in pre-911 New York.  But it’s not all about racism against him, it’s more about how he and everyone else in the world has some degree of racism within them.  Everyone judges others in some way based on their race.  I understand what he’s talking about, although his experiences are far more difficult than I’ve experienced.

It all sounds very serious, but Baye uses a lot of humour in his writing.  There are several conversations with a Japanese person throughout the book, many times humourous, but also perplexing. It shows how many people in Japan have such little experience with cultures outside Japan, they don’t understand a foreigner’s point of view.

I found his childhood experience growing up in New York to be fascinating.  It’s totally outside of my own experiences that I found it engrossing.  I learned a lot about life in 1980s New York City, at least his life.  His writing made it vivid.  I could picture everything he described, I felt like I was with him.  I could sense his feelings during his childhood, his time in the Army, his experiences dating with someone of a different race, and most of all, Aiko.  It was an emotional roller coaster.

The writing style is pretty conversational, and he sometimes rambled on quite a bit.  But it was natural sounding and very candid.  I felt like he was opening himself up to anyone who reads this.  You not only learn about him, but I think you also learn a bit about yourself while reading.  It forces you to think about whether you are racist, even a tiny little bit.

I would recommend this to a variety of people, those who live in Japan, those who are interested in racial relations, and those who enjoy autobiographies.  It’s a great read, and a great debut book.  Highly recommended.  I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

Author: Various

Genre: Nonfiction History, Essays

Published 2011

Review copy: Free eBook from Amazon

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Goodreads Description

In just over a week, a group of unpaid professional and citizen journalists who met on Twitter created a book to raise money for Japanese Red Cross earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. In addition to essays, artwork and photographs submitted by people around the world, including people who endured the disaster and journalists who covered it, 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake contains a piece by Yoko Ono, and work created specifically for the book by authors William Gibson, Barry Eisler and Jake Adelstein.

“The primary goal,” says the book’s editor, a British resident of Japan, “is to record the moment, and in doing so raise money for the Japanese Red Cross Society to help the thousands of homeless, hungry and cold survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. The biggest frustration for many of us was being unable to help these victims. I don’t have any medical skills, and I’m not a helicopter pilot, but I can edit. A few tweets pulled together nearly everything – all the participants, all the expertise – and in just over a week we had created a book including stories from an 80-year-old grandfather in Sendai, a couple in Canada waiting to hear if their relatives were okay, and a Japanese family who left their home, telling their young son they might never be able to return.”

If you’d like to make a donation to aid the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, please visit the Japanese Red Cross Society website, where you can donate via Paypal or bank transfer (watch out for the fees, though!) or the American Red Cross Society, which accepts donations directed to its Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund (but only accepts donations made with U.S.-issued credit cards).

And of course, if you like the book, please tell your friends, and tell them to give generously as well! Thank you! Japan really does appreciate your help!

Review

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake is kind of special to me.  On March 11, 2011, I went through what many of the people who contributed to this book went through.  I live in Japan, and on that day, so many things changed when the magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake hit the Tohoku region of Japan, off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture.  The devastating tsunami came along afterwards, and then a nuclear meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima made things even worse.  What I read in this book is very similar to my own experiences, and it brought back many memories.

The editor of 2:46, Our Man In Abiko, put together a collection of personal accounts by many social media users and bloggers, as well as some famous people, in just over a week.  That is quite the feat.  This book was created to raise money for charity to help relieve the situation in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region.  Some contributors include William Gibson, Yoko Ono, Baye McNeil, Jake Adelstein, and many others.  I had an opportunity to participate, but didn’t really think about it at that moment.

So, how is the book?  Don’t expect it to be well written by every contributor.  These are average people who are amateur writers at best, though there are a few professionals who write extremely well.  The experiences are wide and varied, from people living near the disaster area to those who are living overseas.  But they all have a connection to Japan, most having lived there.  Some contributions conveyed emotions quite well.  I found that I could relate to most of the pieces, and could clearly picture what was going on.  I could feel the motion of the earthquake as I read it.  I could see how people reacted in my mind.  I lived it all over again several times through this book.

Don’t expect amazing narrative or prose when reading this, but please read it to see what it was like to experience a 9.0 magnitude megathrust earthquake and the resulting tsunami and nuclear disaster. Highly recommended!

4 out of 5 stars.