Friday, 23 May 2014

Summer Reading List

May is almost over, and it's time to get back to work for me.  Not that I've ever really stopped.... but it's time to ramp up the intensity again.  So here's my summer reading list:
I'm keeping track of my progress at Goodreads.  I'm pleased to say I only had to add one of those books to their site!  Can you guess which one?  (They had a different version of the Japanese title.)  Feel free to add me if you're there!

I'm turning 無縁 into another 100 day challenge, which may be harder than getting me off my butt to dance and stretch.  It's one of the foundational works for medieval Japanese history, but Amino's writing style is incredibly dense and my academic vocabulary in Japanese sucks.  It's 268 pages, so I'm aiming for around 2.5 pages a day (stopping at a reasonable break, obviously).  I expect to fill an entire notebook with vocab lists and notes.  I'll be glad I did in the end...

I'm currently reading The Art of Not Being Governed.  I'm about 27% through it, according to Goodreads.  So far it's fantastic.  The chapter I finished discussed how and why people entered state spaces and how state administrators defined "civilized" and "barbarians" according to a given group's position vis-a-vis state administrative control.  An interesting point that we don't deal with too much in Japanese history is the further ethnicization of non-state people and once-state people who moved out of state control and became "barbarians".  I'm really excited to keep reading it.

The next three on the list are Inter Library Loan books, so they need to be read first.  I also need to take copious notes on those as they'll be on my prelims list in three years and, well, if I can read notes on something I've already read when I'm reading through a list of "everything written in English about premodern Japanese history" instead of reading 300 page books again, well...  They're also very thought provoking subjects.  I'm on a state formation/statecraft/performance kick the last couple of months...

I'm super excited about JAPANimals.  It's one of the books we sell through my university, and a damaged copy came through so I was able to snag it since it can't be sold.  I've been itching to read this for a year!

The next two must be read by September, since they were also freebees from a student organization (with the caveat that I read them and present on them in September).  I'm curious about Taiheiki.  I've skimmed a little of it (same with Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns), but the prose is... ick.  It's a translation, for starters, and the bits I've seen in Classical Japanese aren't very nice to read to begin with.  As for Chronicles.... that makes me alternately want to laugh or throw something.  It's a translation of a primary source, and the writing is fine, it's just a pseudo-religious political tract written at a very frustrating point in history (that I probably am too invested in).  Anyway, it's something I need to be more than familiar with, so copious notes will be taken.

The next one is a non-Japanese history book that was cited in The Art of Not Being Governed.  I added this book primarily because it deals with maritime spaces.  I probably won't read all of it, but it looks interesting.  The last book was supposed to be read for April (same deal as my two primary source books - free book, have to present), but I only had time to skim it.  I'm saving the best for last, right?  I'm really itching to read it though!!  I have another book on the sea and island studies (The Sea: Thalassography and Historiography edited by Peter N. Miller) that's been on my reading list since the fall, but I'm not sure how ambitious I want to be with my language program about to start.

So enough writing about reading.  I'm off to read!

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