Wish List for Readers

Grant Snider. New York Times Book Review: Sketchbook, 11/30/18

We completely understand. But don’t forget that you can find many of those at the library for free.

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Books to Film: Holidays 2018

Queen of Scots by John Guy

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When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: She was crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months of age, and Queen of France at sixteen years; at eighteen she ascended the throne that was her birthright and began ruling one of the most fractious courts in Europe, riven by religious conflict and personal lust for power. She rode out at the head of an army in both victory and defeat; saw her second husband assassinated, and married his murderer. At twenty-five she entered captivity at the hands of her rival queen, from which only death would release her.

All the Mowgli Stories by Rudyard Kipling

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Movie: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: The collected stories of Mowgli, the fabled wild boy who was raised by wolves, taught by a panther, befriended by a bear and had many great adventures in and around the jungles of India.

Schindler’s Ark (List) by Thomas Keneally

1394875Schindler's List movie.jpgMovie: Schindler’s List: Remastered
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: In the shadow of Auschwitz, a flamboyant German industrialist grew into a living legend to the Jews of Cracow. He was a womanizer, a heavy drinker, and a bon viveur, but to them he became a savior. This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Movie: Dumplin’
When it comes out: December 7
What the book is about: Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

287861Mortal Engines teaser poster.jpgMovie: Mortal Engines
When it comes out:
December 14
What the book is about:
“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”
Welcome to a post-apocalyptic world where communities exist only as crews of giant, predatory vehicle-cities, criss-crossing the decimated landscapes of Earth.

The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” (featured in The New York Times) by Sam Dolnick

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Movie: The Mule
When it comes out: December 14
What the book is about: A 90-year-old horticulturist and WWII veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel.

Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers

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Movie: Mary Poppins Returns
When it comes out: December 19
What the book is about: Pulled down from the clouds at the end of a kite string, Mary Poppins is back. In Mary’s care, the Banks children meet the King of the Castle and the Dirty Rascal, visit the upside-down world of Mr. Turvy and his bride, Miss Topsy, and spend a breathless afternoon above the park, dangling from a clutch of balloons.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Movie: Bird Box
When it comes out: December 21
What the book is about: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

4788505Image result for holmes and watsonMovie: Holmes & Watson
When it comes out: December 25
What the book is about: “It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Sherlock Holmes, scourge of criminals everywhere, whether they be lurking in London’s foggy backstreets or plotting behind the walls of an idyllic country mansion, and his faithful colleague Dr Watson solve twelve breathtaking and perplexing mysteries.

Best Sellers List Update: Election Day Edition

(We put Non-Fiction first!)

The New York Times Best Seller List: Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction

  1. KILLING THE SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

38714362As the true horrors of the Third Reich began to be exposed immediately after World War II, the Nazi war criminals who committed genocide went on the run. A few were swiftly caught, including the notorious SS leader, Heinrich Himmler. Others, however, evaded capture through a sophisticated Nazi organization designed to hide them. Among those war criminals were Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death” who performed hideous medical experiments at Auschwitz; Martin Bormann, Hitler’s brutal personal secretary; Klaus Barbie, the cruel “Butcher of Lyon”; and perhaps the most awful Nazi of all: Adolf Eichmann. Killing the SS is the epic saga of the espionage and daring waged by self-styled “Nazi hunters.”

  1. THE MAMBA MENTALITY by Kobe Bryant (NEW)
  2. SHIP OF FOOLS by Tucker Carlson
  3. EDUCATED by Tara Westover
  4. FEAR by Bob Woodward
  5. BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS by Stephen Hawking
  6. THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis
  7. PRESIDENTS OF WAR by Michael Beschloss
  8. LEADERSHIP by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  9. IN PIECES by Sally Field
  10. SHADE by Pete Souza
  11. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean
  12. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari
  13. ALMOST EVERYTHING by Anne Lamott
  14. BEAUTIFUL BOY by David Sheff (NEW)

 

The New York Times Best Seller List: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. THE RECKONING by John Grisham (NEW)

38389488Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite son–a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed his pastor and friend, the Reverend Dexter Bell. As if the murder was not shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete’s only statement about it–to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family–was: “I have nothing to say.” He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave.

  1. EVERY BREATH by Nicholas Sparks
  2. THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
  3. NOT QUITE OVER YOU by Susan Mallery (NEW)
  4. THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom
  5. HOLY GHOST by John Sandford
  6. A SPARK OF LIGHT by Jodi Picoult
  7. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  8. UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver
  9. AMBUSH by James Patterson and James O. Born
  10. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  11. VENDETTA by Iris Johansen (NEW)
  12. LOOSE ENDS by Kristen Ashley (NEW)
  13. THE WITCH ELM by Tana French
  14. REVELING IN SIN by Meghan March (NEW)

Best Sellers List: October Update

Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. LETHAL WHITE by Robert Galbraith (NEW)

28170940When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

  1. TIME’S CONVERT by Deborah Harkness (NEW)
  2. ORIGIN by Dan Brown
  3. JUROR #3 by James Patterson and Nancy Allen
  4. CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan
  5. WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery (NEW)
  6. VAMPIRES LIKE IT HOT by Lynsay Sands (NEW)
  7. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  8. CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND by Kevin Kwan
  9. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  10. TAILSPIN by Sandra Brown
  11. LEVERAGE IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
  12. SHADOW TYRANTS by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
  13. A SIMPLE FAVOR by Darcey Bell
  14. RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS by Kevin Kwan

Best Sellers List: August Edition ~or~ What Everyone Is Reading to Avoid the Heat

NYT: Best Sellers – Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. ORIGIN by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and the precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock the discovery’s secrets.

  1. THE OTHER WOMAN by Daniel Silva
  2. CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan
  3. SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn
  4. THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
  5. THRAWN: ALLIANCES by Timothy Zahn (NEW)
  6. THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham
  7. THE NAKED TRUTH by Vi Keeland (NEW)
  8. THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King
  9. COTTAGE BY THE SEA by Debbie Macomber

Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback

After seeing the price on the left for “One Snowy Knight” on Amazon, the author asked: “How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?”

SAN FRANCISCO — Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace.

Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon.

“Zowie,” the romance author Deborah Macgillivray wrote on Twitter last month after she discovered copies of her 2009 novel, “One Snowy Knight,” being offered for four figures. One was going for “$2,630.52 & FREE Shipping,” she noted. Since other copies of the paperback were being sold elsewhere on Amazon for as little as 99 cents, she was perplexed.

“How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?” Ms. Macgillivray wrote in an email. She noted that her blog had gotten an explosion in traffic from Russia. “Maybe Russian hackers do this in their spare time, making money on the side,” she said.

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Amazon is by far the largest marketplace for both new and used books the world has ever seen, and is also one of the most inscrutable. The retailer directly sells some books, while others are sold by third parties. The wild pricing happens with the latter.

Books were Amazon’s first product. They made the company’s reputation and powered Jeff Bezos’ ascent to his perch as the world’s richest person. Amazon sold books so cheaply that land-based shops could not compete. It controls about half the market for new books, more than any bookseller in the history of the United States.

Prices of $600 or more are popular among booksellers looking for big spenders. “If I’m selling a $10 book for $610, all I need to do is get one person to buy it and I’ve made $600,” said Peter Andrews of One Click Retail, a consulting firm.

But books are now a minuscule part of the company’s revenue. Amazon is expanding into seemingly every field and geography, rattling competitors along the way. Prime Day is a promotion that draws enormous media attention to discounted tech, gaming and other products. Meanwhile, the original bookstore is looking a little neglected, as if it were operated by algorithms with little sensible human input.

“Amazon is driving us insane with its willingness to allow third-party vendors to sell authors’ books with zero oversight,” said Vida Engstrand, director of communications for Kensington, which published “One Snowy Knight.” “It’s maddening and just plain wrong.”

The wild book prices were in the remote corners of the Amazon bookstore that the retailer does not pay much attention to, said Guru Hariharan, chief executive of Boomerang Commerce, which develops artificial intelligence technology for retailers and brands.

Third-party sellers, he said, come in all shapes and sizes — from well-respected national brands that are trying to maintain some independence from Amazon to entrepreneurial individuals who use Amazon’s marketplace as an arbitrage opportunity. These sellers list products they have access to, adjusting price and inventory to drive profits.

Then there are the wild pricing specialists, who sell both new and secondhand copies.

“By making these books appear scarce, they are trying to justify the exorbitant price that they have set,” said Mr. Hariharan, who led a team responsible for 15,000 online sellers when he worked at Amazon a decade ago.

Amazon said in a statement that “we actively monitor and remove” offers that violate its policies and that examples shown it by The Times — including the hardcover version of the scholarly study “William T. Vollmann: A Critical Companion,” which was featured for $3,204, more than 32 times the going price — were “in error, and have since been removed.” It declined to detail what its policies were.

A decade ago, Elisabeth Petry wrote a tribute to her mother, the renowned novelist Ann Petry. “At Home Inside,” published by the University of Mississippi Press, is now out of print, but late last week secondhand copies were  for sale on Amazon. A discarded library copy was $1,900. One seller offered two copies, each for $1,967, although only one was described as “Nice!” All these were a bargain compared with the copy that cost $2,464.

“I wish I had some of that money,” Ms. Petry said.

Buying books on Amazon can be confusing, because sometimes the exact same book can have more than one listing. For instance, a search for the Petry book turned up another listing. This time, there was just one copy for sale, which cost a mere $691. Whether a customer paid that price or three times that sum apparently depended on what listing he or she found.

“Let’s be honest,” said Peter Andrews, a former Amazon brand specialist who is manager of international client services at One Click Retail, a consulting firm. “If I’m selling a $10 book for $610, all I need to do is get one person to buy it and I’ve made $600. It’s just a matter of setting prices and wishful thinking.”

One of the sellers of Ms. Macgillivray’s book is named Red Rhino, which says it is based in North Carolina. The bookseller’s storefront on Amazon is curiously consistent. One of the first books on the store’s first page was Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential.” It was priced at $607, a hundred times what it cost elsewhere on Amazon.

All the books on the first few pages of the storefront — including such popular standbys as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “1984” — also go for $600.

That appears to be a popular price point for booksellers taking the high road. Acme Books, which was selling the $691 Petry book, used that exact price for “101 Blessings for the Best Mom in the World” and quite a few other books.

Supersonic Truck recently marketed copies of “Kitchen Confidential” for $614, which is $608 more than what Amazon itself is asking. According to Amazon, Supersonic Truck has 100 percent positive ratings.

Supersonic Truck recently marketed copies of “Kitchen Confidential” for $614, which is $608 more than what Amazon itself is asking. According to Amazon, Supersonic Truck has 100 percent positive ratings.

Red Rhino got nearly 1,400 customer-service reviews over the last year — an impressive number, considering many customers do not bother posting reviews. The reviews are 91 percent positive, although some of the reviewers appeared uncertain just what a book is. “The book is intact, and it is not broken,” wrote one. Commented another: “Very nice. Flexibility noted in many venues.”

Neither Acme nor Red Rhino returned emails for comment sent through their Amazon pages. As with many Amazon booksellers, it is hard to determine what, if any, existence they have outside the retailer.

Even a casual browse through the virtual corridors of Amazon reveals an increasingly bizarre bazaar where the quaint policies of physical bookstores — the stuff no one wants is piled on a cart outside for a buck a volume — are upended. John Sladek, who wrote perceptive science fiction about robotics and artificial intelligence, predicted in a 1975 story that computers might start making compelling but false connections:

“If you’re trying to reserve a seat on the plane to Seville, you’d get a seat at the opera instead. While the person who wants the opera seat is really just making an appointment with a barber, whose customer is just then talking to the box-office of “Hair,” or maybe making a hairline reservation …”

Mr. Sladek, who died in 2000, is little read now, which naturally means his books are often marketed for inordinate sums on Amazon. One of his mystery novels, “Invisible Green,” has a Red Rhino “buy box” — Amazon’s preferred deal — offering it for $664.

That is a real bargain compared with what a bookseller with the improbable name Supersonic Truck is asking: $1,942. (Copies from other booksellers are as little as $30.) Supersonic Truck, which Amazon says has 100 percent positive ratings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ms. Macgillivray, who has published eight novels, said she had been poking around Amazon’s bookstore and was more perplexed than ever by the pricing.

“There’s nothing illegal about someone listing an item for sale at whatever the market will bear, even if they don’t have the book but plan to buy it when someone orders it,” she said. “At the same time, I would think Amazon wouldn’t want their platform used for less than honorable practices.”

Since Ms. Macgillivray tweeted about “One Snowy Knight,” the price on Amazon has not stood still. The most expensive copy just jumped again, to $2,800.

By David Streitfeld, July 15, 2018, first appearing on NYT > Books

Guides for Better Living From Around the World

Nishant Choksi

Right now, I’m a bit embarrassed to be an American. Not usually. But now. If I see a tourist on the street looking lost, it’s all I can do not to blurt, “I’m sorry about what our president said today and will say tomorrow,” along with directions to the No. 6 train.

I must have a lot of company. How else to explain the staggering pile of self-help books where Americans are offered the path to a better life via the rituals and outlook of other countries? Last year there were lessons in happiness and well-being, via hygge from Denmark. And this year? Japan is teaching us to seize the day (humbly). Sweden is showing us how to find balance and simplify our lives. And France is showing us, well, everything else. Naturellement. Just because they invented Camembert and guilt-free sex, they think they’re soooo perfect.

A FRENCHWOMAN’S GUIDE TO SEX AFTER SIXTY, by the psychotherapist Marie de Hennezel, immediately catches your attention because the cover shows a woman of a certain age glancing coquettishly over the bedsheets. But that age isn’t 40. It’s perhaps 75. So this isn’t the American version of old; it’s the French version, which is to say: old. And that’s what makes this volume uniquely French: It’s deeply un-American in its realism. Aches and pains, medications that reduce libido, a diminution of hormones that mean friction is tougher on our naughty bits and of course the occasional urge to cover all the mirrors in the house: Aging ain’t pretty, Hennezel admits. Yet for many of us, Eros lives, and Eros wants its due. What’s called for, then, is a revolution in the way we look at sexuality: a de-emphasis on orgasms in favor of kissing and caressing, more solo play to connect with our erotic selves and “making affection” as an alternative to making love. Feeling good through exercise and a healthy diet is paramount; looking younger through plastic surgery is mentioned not at all. Reading the stories of septuagenarians and octogenarians who are finding love or intimacy or sometimes just sex, one is reminded that the very French concept of joie de vivre — a sense of joy that comes from curiosity and playfulness, from looking outward instead of inward — is its own form of Botox.

This joie is very much at the heart of Jamie Cat Callan’s lively PARISIAN CHARM SCHOOL: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and That Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi. Maybe “Parisian Charm School” seems so thorough because Callan, who has written several previous books on various aspects of French life, is an American; she approaches her subject with anthropological rigor. Here that subject is French charm, which is some combination of intellectual curiosity, spontaneity, style and a soupçon of reserve. Charm, she points out, can’t be Googled; it must be cultivated. Yet, at its heart, it’s a tangle of contradictions. As a fashion consultant Callan interviewed put it, “Never be too feminine, too girlie. Never be too complicated. Too obvious. Never look like you’re trying. But you must try!” Being French seems kind of exhausting. Still, we clumsy Americans can worship at this shrine and maybe pick up a few tricks. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be like the woman in this line Callan quotes from Colette: “When she raises her eyelids, it’s as if she were taking off all her clothes.”

Perhaps Sweden was a little jealous of all the lifestyle-giving attention its Danish neighbor received, so this year brings us Linnea Dunne’s LAGOM: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living. Loosely translated, lagom means “not too little, not too much, but just enough,” making Sweden the Goldilocks of nations, one that earned an article on the website of the World Economic Forum called “Why Sweden Beats Other Countries at Just About Everything.” The reason, it seems, is that Sweden makes the concept of “the greater good” practically into a religion. You start with free education and universal health care and end with great pastry (and the regular coffee breaks — fika — to enjoy it). Fairness and moderation are basic cultural values: “Lagom is accepting an invitation to spend the weekend at a friend’s house, but bringing your own bedsheets because it’s fair to share the burden of laundry. … It’s wearing bright-red lipstick, but leaving the rest of your makeup perfectly understated.” There’s a reason Gianni Versace founded his luxury fashion empire in Italy and H & M was born in Sweden: “There’s this inherent celebrating of frugality in Sweden. We like affordable clothes because it’s a bit vulgar to splash out.”

If anything sums up the gestalt of this book — and Sweden — it’s this: Swedes are rated among the world’s top 10 happiest people, but not the happiest. That would be excessive. The aim isn’t ecstasy but “sustainable happiness,” the sort of equilibrium that’s achieved through small moments of calm and bliss in your everyday routine. So, to live the lagom way, invite your friends round for fika, spend time in nature, give away items that don’t add to your pleasure in life — and, most important, help a neighbor.

The primacy of the common good extends to everything in Sweden, including shuffling off this mortal coil. Reading THE GENTLE ART OF SWEDISH DEATH CLEANING: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter, I couldn’t help thinking of my own parents, who were mild hoarders. When they were in their 80s and I meekly suggested that maybe they should get their home in order, my father’s response was: “Why? Soon it’ll be your problem.”

Margareta Magnusson is writing for people with families like mine — and maybe yours. Americans are just too much, she gently suggests. Swedes embrace consideration and minimalism, and the practice of “death cleaning” (which can start in your 30s — why wait?) embodies those values. “Let me help make your loved ones’ memories of you nice — instead of awful,” she says, and proceeds to do just that in this short, practical guide to getting rid of stuff. You categorize, normally going from large objects to small; you give things away or sell them, particularly if you have a family you know is going to bicker. And you never, ever start with photos or other items of great sentiment because you’re likely to get stuck. And oh, how right Magnusson is. After my parents passed away, my own death cleaning consisted of looking at old photos, then immediately giving up — taking everything they owned and putting it into a massive storage unit that has sucked up money for seven years. I may have to reread her book.

In Japanese, iki means “to live” and gai means “reason” — in other words, the reason to live and how you define it. Ken Mogi begins AWAKENING YOUR IKIGAI: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day with a story meant to illustrate the importance of this concept to the Japanese. He describes a famed sushi chef whose Tokyo restaurant is visited by President Barack Obama during a state visit and who is told by the president that his sushi was the best he had ever eaten. No big deal. “Ikigai resides in the realm of small things,” Mogi explains. “The morning air, the cup of coffee, the ray of sunshine, the massaging of octopus meat and the American president’s praise are on equal footing.”

Not really! Can I skip No. 4?

Mogi, a celebrity neuroscientist and broadcaster who has written more than 100 books, describes the five pillars of the ikigai way of life: “starting small,” “releasing yourself,” “harmony and sustainability,” “the joy of small things” and “being in the here and now” (what we might call “mindfulness”). And he demonstrates how some of the rituals most important to Japanese culture, from the tea ceremony to sumo wrestling, are based on these tenets. I admit that certain principles he espouses utterly baffled this Westerner, particularly the notion that in Japan finding purpose and joy in work, even work that requires great individuality and creativity, comes from a sublimation of the ego. He cites the example of the great anime artist Hayao Miyazaki, whose work is so repetitive and painstaking. Wait, if we all know who he is, how is he subsuming his ego? In work, Mochi explains, you have to be like a child, because “a child has no definite idea of the past or the future.” Seriously? Tell that to a 5-year-old screaming, “When will we get there?” in the back seat of a car because “there” involves ice cream.

I’m not sure if I could live in Japan for more than a week, what with all the appreciating of teeny porcelain objects and self-abnegation, but “Awakening Your Ikigai” is really quite a delightful look at sometimes mystifying Japanese traditions. (Spoiler alert: There’s a lot more to sumo wrestling than chubby dudes with man buns and diapers.) I can’t resist noting that in 2009, Mogi was charged with violation of Japanese tax laws for failing to report several million dollars in income. See? I guess America does have something to teach the citizens of other nations.

By Judith Newman, Jan. 23, 2018, first appearing in NYT > Books

Editor’s Note:

Judith Newman’s “To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son and the Kindness of Machines” was published in August. Her column appears every eight weeks.