Welcome to Day 4! Happy Monday.
First up, we’re announcing the winner of our contest from Day 1. Thanks for all your entries. We’ve picked a winner at random, so congratulations to Josephine Laubinger! (Josephine, keep an eye on your email today so we can arrange shipping your Limited Edition Star doll out to you.)
Today we bring you another chance to win a Momiji. I’ve been learning about jólabókaflóð. Have you ever heard of it? If you’d like a go at pronouncing it then you can hear it here. Jólabókaflóð is an Icelandic word that translates as ‘The Christmas Book Flood’ and it refers to the widespread tradition there of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then settling down for the evening with your new book and some chocolate. Sounds like the perfect thing.
In the months running up to Christmas, every single Icelandic citizen receives a copy in the mail of the annual catalogue, the ‘Journal of Books’ known as Bókatíðindi which features new releases for the year.
I think going to bed with a new book (and the chocolate) sounds like such a happy tradition. What have you been reading in 2017? Can you recommend any books that would make great gifts?
Here are ours from the three of us at Momiji HQ.
Claire: I’ve chosen Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe. I bought this as a gift for my mum as I’d heard such good things about it - she loved it, she said she had savoured every page, not wanting it to end. I took it on a flight to New York, I was travelling alone and I laughed so hard and so loudly that it got kind of ridiculous; but it was too good to put down. (It was made into a BBC TV series which I don’t think quite captured the brilliance of the book.) I’ve just read some reviews of the book online and it seems that people either really loved it or really didn’t click with it at all. I suppose the humour is kind of awkwardly British. If you like funny observations of people and a kind of Victoria Wood-esque perspective on life then I think you’ll like this. I reckon laughing to yourself in public has got to be good for the soul.
Cameron: I started this book in the glorious sunshine of Rhodes and finished it a year later overlooking the mountains of Turkey from the Greek Island of Kos. It was a personal journey for me, in time and of the mind. Before starting it I read a short summary of Japanese history so that I had some insight into the context of this great historical novel from Japan. It is based on a man who was both real and continues to influence modern generations in the form of anime and manga.
Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa is some 970 pages of small print but I loved and lived every page. The English translation (from Japanese) is gentle and endearing, contrasting markedly with the harsh events portrayed. At its heart this is an exploration of self-discipline and awareness of nature and our relationship with it. It is also a long-distance romance and the book explores the role of Zen in peace and the way of the sword - seemingly conflicted concepts. And the end is powerful yet... (no spoiler here!)
What the book made me do:
- I watched a documentary on the life of Miyamoto Musashi on YouTube.
- I started a Japanese-inspired garden last year and Yoshikawa's descriptions helped me to bring some authenticity to its development.
- I bought some books on Zen and Zen stories and am enjoying trying to understand them.
- Heightened my appreciation of our beautiful planet and nature in all its forms both small and large in the cities and the wilderness.
Helena: Little Women is one of my favourite books to read during Christmas season. It is a wonderful novel full of endearing characters. Having a sister is a lot of what attracted me to read this book in the first place and after growing up and spending time away from my sister I could really appreciate the unspoken sisterly bonds that endure throughout the novel. What I love about this book is that it doesn't matter if you are reading it for the first time or rereading it for the hundredth, you can learn or just be reminded of some of the simplest pleasures of life: love, family, hope and (perhaps cliche as it may be) true happiness brought by these and other precious things. This is one of those books that can be read as a good story to sit and enjoy, or read with the intent of finding morals and becoming a better of renewed person.
Please leave us a comment and tell us what you’ve enjoyed reading this year and why. It would be so lovely to share. We’ll pick a winner on Friday and send them a voucher for a Momiji doll. Terms & Conditions here.