Book Recs Based on Studio Ghibli Movies

Hullo, world! 

It’s not a pleasant day here in the Pacific Northwest, but it is now officially reading break so I am immensely relieved & happy. This week, I am excited to announce that I will be sharing with you my first-ever attempt at creating a book recommendation list based on Studio Ghibli Movies!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confetti*

Yes, you’ve come to the right place if you are: 

  1. A devout Ghibli fan
  2. A budding Ghibli fan
  3. A wannabe Ghibli fan

It’s no secret that I am a self-declared Japanophile (given I’m Japanese, which I talk about more in this post) and an avid Ghibli fan. I’ve probably watched most of the major works and have known Miyazaki-sensei since the time before Ghibli, where he was working as an artist in the World Classics Animation series. (Pls let me know if anyone knows of the amazing works like Heidi, Girl on the Alps, A Dog of Flanders, or 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother!!) Sidenote: I’m very sceptical of the recent “Ghibli” movie by his son, but that’s beside the point. 

Anyhow. 

I’ve done my best to stick to books that have English translations; some of them are not books but another manga/anime that I think is right down the genre. It’s not an exhaustive list, so I might do part two in the future, IDK. 

But, without further ado, let me present to you, Book Recs Based on Studio Ghibli Movies!!

A: Castle-recs (Howl’s Moving Castle & Castle in the Sky)

  • Howl’s Moving Castle (very obviously) 
  • A Winter’s Promise 
  • Mortal Engines 
  • Sorcery of Thorns 

MY THOUGHTS:

This was the easiest list to come up with for apparent reasons. These two films are one of my absolute favourites in Studio Ghibli, not to mention I absolutely adore these books as well! (You can also read my review on A Winter’s Promise if you’re curious.)

B: War-recs (The Wind Rises, Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso)

  • The Eternal Zero 
  • Catch-22 
  • The Glass Rabbit 

MY THOUGHTS:

This list came to me quickly, but I debated over whether or not to include Catch-22 (also because I DNFed it halfway through…). As all these books are about the war, it’s kind of hard reading about them. At the same time, they offer perspectives from Japan (and Italy) which isn’t featured often here, so I would greatly recommend them if that sort of thing is your cup of tea. 

C: Epic-recs (Princess Mononoke & Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)

  • Children of the Whales 
  • Attack on Titan 
  • Future Boy Conan (prob. His earliest work!!) 

MY THOUGHTS:

It was surprisingly tough to find books that might fit this list, probably because i) both of these movies are the “unprecedented” genres and ii) not many English epics are based on Asian legendary backgrounds. So, all of them are manga or anime…but don’t run away just yet! I promise they are totally worth watching/reading if you love Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä. (esp. Future Boy Conan contains a lot of elements that will come out in later Miyazaki works)

D: Marnie-recs (When Marnie Was There)

  • When Marnie Was There 
  • I Had That Same Dream Again 

MY THOUGHTS:

When Marnie Was There came out about a year before I left Japan. It was also thought to be the last Ghibli work there ever will be, so I can’t forget the impression it left on me. Robinson’s book is just as breathtaking as the movie (if not even more so) that I couldn’t help but recommend it. Also, Yoru Sumino’s I Had That Same Dream Again has the same sort of translucent, dream-like quality that I love. 

E: Earthsea-recs (Tales from Earthsea)

  • Earthsea Cycle
  • Till We Have Faces

MY THOUGHTS:

Again, the Earthsea books expand Ghibli’s rendition of it. (I know some people hate the movie if they’ve read the book but I like the movie well enough!! Please don’t be too mad.)

And once I thought about it, C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces sort of reminds me of Earthsea (not to mention I have a strong compulsion to include any Lewis book in a given book list) so here we are. 

F: Heian-recs (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)

  • Land of the Lustrous
  • Heike Monogatari & The Heike Story

MY THOUGHTS:

This is a traditional Japanese story that’s read to kindergarteners. I remember being distinctly terrified of the messengers from the moon and just the overall storyline. (Most old Japanese classics are kind of scary, now that I think about it.) Princess Kaguya reminds me of the Land of the Lustrous, which has a similar connection to Buddism and the moon. Heike Monogatari is a Japanese classic that’s read in schools and recently, it’s been adapted into a beautiful anime so I greatly recommend that as well! 

Overall, it was much harder to come up with book recommendations than I thought. But it was fun, so I might do it again! 

What did you think? Do you agree with the books I recommended? What are some books you’d put on the list? What’s your favourite Studio Ghibli movie? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you below!

2021 MID YEAR BOOK FREAK-OUT TAG

Hullo, world!

It’s another beautiful (albeit cool) day here on the west coast. I’m a little down in the spirit because a) I have a cold that won’t go away b) we finished watching Jujutsu Kaisen season one c) I’m more or less stagnated in my writing lately. 

Well, I’ve discovered a fun tag off from Paperfury’s website that I’m snagging, so as to hoping it will also lift my spirits. 🙂 

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

1. HOW MUCH HAVE YOU READ?

I’m almost at my 100 book mark, so that’s always exciting. 

2. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING?

I’ve been keeping track of my reading diet ever since I decided I needed to read a more balanced load (you can read a bit about it in this post), and I’m glad to see I’ve been able to keep it up (sort of). It’s become a bit more lax, but I’m still happy with my current reading life, and that’s what counts. 😉

3. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

I guess it boils down to these three for now…

4. BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

Um, obviously Crooked Kingdom and (not a sequel) but Blessed Monsters and my all time favourite by Astrid Lindgren. Seriously, everyone should read Detektive Kalle Blomkvist.

5. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO

These three. I’ve begun both SL and TCatB, but haven’t finished them yet!! (And their covers are all very gorgeous!!)

6. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I’m not really good at keeping up with new releases, but from what I’ve seen, I’m excited for them! (Wait, a few of them are already released…oh well. I did say I’m not good with dates.)

7. OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Right, out of my comfort zone… Joyce’s Ulysses by far gets the prize (and it was another whopping 1,000 page long tome), a collection of essays (which I’m enjoying lieu slow progress) and a short story collection by Anthony Doerr (whose style I adore profusely).

8. BIGGEST SURPRISE

These two. I mean, you can read my review on the Ninth House on Goodreads if you’re interested, but it was just so hard to get into NH until everything I could think of was that. And I usually don’t read horror stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. 😉

9. NEW FAVOURITE AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU)

I’m currently raving (and still kind of hung over) from these authors. Seriously, everyone should read Democracy in America, even if they’re not American.

10. UNDERRATED GEMS YOU’VE DISCOVERED RECENTLY

It’s kind of summed up here…Badon is a manga, but it reads like a literary fiction, and DO I NEED TO MENTION THE SONG OF ROLAND AGAIN OR ARE WE AGREED THAT YOU SHOULD BE READING IT NOW???

11. REREADS THIS YEAR

Also, just finished reading Fangirl for the nth time again. #comfortread

12. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I think I cried WAAAY more than I usually do when I read, which is kind of funny when I consider it, or maybe I hadn’t met the kind of books that makes me cry until this year.

13. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

I mean, I love these books from the cover to the story itself to just everything. Looking at them makes me smile.

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT SO FAR THIS YEAR (OR RECEIVED)

Definitely these books.

15. GOALS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR

  • Don’t think too much about the amount of books read (or unread). Keep my focus on the quality of books! (That being said, my goal is still 120 books.)
  • Continue reading books I love and tougher books. Esp. with my uni syllabus, I’m thinking I’ll get to meet books I otherwise won’t meet.
  • Have fun with my reading life. I get too intense with everything I do…
  • Get back on bookstagramme around the beginning of August. Find a more sustainable rhythm to it.
  • Support my local bookstore when I buy books.

And that’s about it!

Thank you for reading! How about you? What are some of the books you’ve met this year? Books you’re excited meeting for the first time? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

12 Sci-Fi Books & Movies List

Hullo, world! 

Yesterday, we went on an impromptu hike. I wasn’t expecting us to go to a 600+ metres peak, and the snow (apparently Vancouver is also Canada) and the clouds and basically everything. Well, it was gorgeous up there (albeit freezing), so I’m glad I went. I’m even more glad I’m back home typing this at my favourite desk. 

Anyhow. 

A lot of things happened this week, but one thing in particular reminded me how much I loved sci-fi, of all things. I know, weirdness. But sometimes there’s this thought that might pop up–Hey, I really love having bath and listening to podcasts or Mozart’s Requiem–and you kind of go on dreaming about it. So I’ve come up with a 12 Sci-Fi Books & Movies List

Without further ado, let us dive into the speculative and scientific…

1. Illuminae Files

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. (sorry, I don’t recall everything…just be reminded it’s kind of  intense)

Rating: PG15

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra — who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents — including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more — Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Okay, if you haven’t read this series yet, THEN WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE???

Jokes aside, it’s probably my fav. sci-fi books, like, ever. There are some content warnings (i. e. language, although it’s crossed out) so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re under fifteen, but this book’s for you even if you might normally not like space operas. I loathe space operas, and this is my fav. sci-fi book. Go figure. Plus, AIDAN. (Legit got me hooked on Mozart’s Requiem, which is what I’m listening to right now.)

2. Insignia

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG13

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy is perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . . .

This is the other sci-fi book I’ve read more than once. It’s been about two years since I last  re-read it, so my memory’s a bit foggy, but I loved the vibes of the story–hacking, check, corporate espionage and wars, check, weird teenagers, check–so I’d heartily recommend it if that’s the kind of thing you like. I mean, lots of weirdness and tech and military-esque-stuff. 

3. Cinder

Contents: Romance, thematic elements

Rating: PG

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.

She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

I recently read the first book of the Lunar Chronicles and absolutely fell in love with it. It’s mostly clean, I love all things cyborg–I mean, come on, it’s a sci-fi fairytale retelling! And it’s  Marissa Meyer. Nothing can go wrong with this setting. 

4. LIFE L1K3

Contents: Language, Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG15

It’s just another day on the Scrap: lose the last of your credits at the WarDome, dodge the gangs and religious fanatics, discover you can destroy electronics with your mind, stumble upon the deadliest robot ever built When Eve finds the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend and her robotic sidekick in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, battle cyborg assassins, and scour abandoned megacities to save the ones she loves and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Fans of Jay Kristoff, the Romanov family, androids and nuclear-scarred landscape, unite! I got to read this book as an ARC and I just devoured it in one sitting. What I love about this book is that it doesn’t read like a normal sci-fi, despite the setting. Obviously I’m kind of obsessed with Russian history, so I loved the undertone vibe to it. Plus, there’s a girl named Lemon Fresh. Why wouldn’t I love this book? 

5. Warcross

Contents: Some violence, Thematic Elements, LGBTQ2+, romance, &c. 

Rating: PG13

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Marie Lu’s a boss when it comes to YA sci-fi, but I’m really picky about books. Especially books set in Tokyo. *stares* Either a book captures Japan and its culture or it doesn’t. End of story. 

Warcross is the other book I’ll cradle in my arms and cry over. I just loved the neon city vibes–it brought back so many memories!! And I mean, Hideo is super hot. (Okay, I’ve got to admit, this and his family’s backstory that ties into bk2 is just…perfect.) And it’s one of those big corporate settings. I guess I really love slightly sinister organisations, sabotage, and espionage-vibes. 🙂

6. Space Trilogy

Contents: Violence, Some gore, Thematic Elements, (one lesbian person?)

Rating: PG13

OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET

Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there…

PERELANDRA

Having escaped from Mars, Dr Ransom is called to the paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus. When his old enemy also arrives and is taken over by the forces of evil, Ransom finds himself in a desperate struggle to save the innocence of this Eden-like world…

THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH

Investigating the truth about her prophetic dreams, Anne Studdock encounters the fabled Dr Ransom, who is in great pain after his travels. A sinister society run by his old adversaries intends to harness the ancient powers of a resurrected Merlin in their ambition to subjugate the people of Earth…

Didn’t think I’d pull a Lewis on you? Think again. (Obviously I’ll try to sneak a C. S. Lewis book in a given book list.) I just love the way his Space Trilogy is layered. Out of the Silent Planet is definitely the most old-schooled sci-fi of the three, almost reading like a Wells book, but with a decidedly theological twist that somehow works. 

Perelandra is almost Miltonian in a sense, but the action towards the end is  pretty break-neck. 

That Hideous Strength, without a doubt, is my favourite ST book. I think one can also classify it as a dystopian with an English countryside-dark academia vibe to it. Not quite Orwellian (because obviously it’s Christian in its outlook), but shockingly contemporary in its themes and contents. A must-read. 

7. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Contents: Violence, Thematic Elements, some graphic contents (I think?)

Rating: R18+

In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.

If you haven’t noticed it yet, I love sci-fi books that are philosophical at its heart. And, I’m also a Murakami fan. 

This is the second or third book I read, and it’s definitely my fav. Murakami book. I love how vague and otherworldly this story is although I can trace faint outlines of normal Tokyo I know. Except it isn’t. This book isn’t for young audiences, however, so I’d caution that. (But I think it’s milder than other Murakami books, IDK.)

8. The Alex Crow

Contents: Violence, Gore, Thematic Elements, Actual War, some graphic contents, &c. 

Rating: PG15

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow.

I know I mentioned this book in another one of my book lists, but now that I think about it, it does have a decidedly sci-fi vibe to it so I’ve taken it up again! I love the convoluted timelines and Ariel’s story (which is heartbreaking) as well as the bizarreness of the expedition diaries. There’s this invisible scientific corporation undertone that’s also really chilling. 

9. Wilder Girls

Contents: Violence, Gore, Thematic Elements, LGBTQ2+

Rating: PG15

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

I did a review of this book I was going to post on my blog but never did. (I think I posted a short version on Goodreads.) Which, btw, expresses my sentiments well. 

But I wanted to include this book on this list because the situation is absolutely delectable. Like, an all-girls school that’s cut off from the rest of the world? An unknown illness that decomposes a person from the inside out (flowers budding from your arm, that kind of thing)? Um, I’d totally read it. And although it could be better, I really do love the setting. So if that kind of thing’s your cup of tea, go for it!

10. Anomaly

Contents: Thematic Elements, romance, &c. 

Rating: PG

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

I think this is the first Christian YA sci-fi I’ve read that was simply stunning. Like, I’d suffered through the whole Christian-contemporary-fiction-sucks stage, lots of despairing remarks, salvage attempts, tears (“Why can’t Christian books be awesome like non-Christian books??”) &c, and here’s a book that completely disrupts that. I debated a bit whether to put it in dystopian or sci-fi but think at its heart it’s sci-fi. Also, any book with a classical musician/music paired with science will not fail me. At least, I believe so. 😉

11. Inception

Contents: Violence, Thematic Elements, &c. 

Rating: PG-13

I know I promised you movies, and this ends up being the first out of twelve mentioned. 

But. 

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with sci-fi movies in general, and Inception’s about the only movie I’ll recommend without any hesitation. I mean, I read a follow-up book, Inception & Philosophy. I have Inception fanart on my walls. I dream about re-watching Inception every opportunity I get. Yes, I’m obsessed with it. 

12. Matrix

Contents: Violence, Some gore, Thematic Elements, Graphic scenes, &c. 

Rating: R18

Like the Wilder Girls, I have mixed feelings about this movie. I loved the first one, the second one’s a bit iffy, and it does kind of recover in the third one, but even writing about it makes me pause. I guess it’s one of  those movies I have a love-hate relationship with bordering on the negative side. 

Yet it is a really interesting conversation with philosophy. science, and cognitive systems (die-hard topic for me), so I obviously wouldn’t miss it. Would not recommend anyone under fifteen the youngest watching it. 

So that’s it! Thanks for reading so far. 

Are you a fan of sci-fi? What’s your favourite sci-fi book/movie? Do you like any of the sci-fi books/movies in this list? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!