A little disclaimer:
These are short reviews noting just my most important impressions, sometimes I'll describe the plot, but rarely. If I put in spoilers, they will look like so! Like with my anime reviews page, these are just recently read books, I might include more past books in the future. Currently I'm on a huge Japanese author binge. Please ignore.

Shintaro Kago
Book Cover Author Title Short Review
Sayaka Murata Convenience Store Woman
Read it in two days, the book was an extremely light and fast read. I loved the protagonist, I related hard to the way she blends in with her normal coworkers to seem like less of a turbo autist. The work talks a lot about expectations put on adult women, how after a certain age you're not seen as normal if you don't want to have children or a husband in an extremely conformist society. Your value is assigned to you based on how good of a mother and wife you are. The writing style is really simple which is what got me into it so easily. I really recommend it, especially to any woman that ever felt pressured into being a baby machine. Lastly, I loved the contrast between the way someone is treated and perceived as a "weird" woman, to the way someone is treated and perceived as a "weird" man. The man is much more hostile and self-absorbed... Many such cases! P.S. I hate the book covers with the "This book made laugh! It's hilarious!" qoutes. Way to miss the point lmao.
Sayaka Murata Earthlings
Another fast and light read, this one I couldn't even put down. Everyone compares it to Convenience Store Woman, so I will too, simply because it seems like a spiritual succesor. Truth to be told, I liked it more than CSW. The ending impressed me and shocked me, at the risk of sounding like a psycho, I envied it a bit. Sometimes you just want to go wild you know. Truly unhinged, really beautiful. I think I said it before, but Earthlings is CSW on steroids. It feels like the author went where she truly wanted to go in her most unhinged fantasies and I applaud her for it. Maybe it hammers the baby factory aspect a bit stronger than CSW but I don't care. I love crazy stuff. It has some gore and absurdity which is right up my alley.
Yukio Mishima Thirst for Love
Yukio Mishimas writing style is a bit more descriptive than Muratas or Yoshimotos, but I think it's still decently readable even though the prose is much slower. The whole book I was really in it with the main character, Etsuko. You really feel her passion and control AND the lack thereof. Her obsession and her love are so strong, contrasted with Saburo's thoughtlessnes and carelessnes it leaves you frustrated. I loved Etsuko as a character, despite how short the novel was. I can't say the ending caught me completely off guard as I was sort of expecting it, but the way it happened was unexpected.
Yukio Mishima The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
I couldn't find anything about this online, and unless the trope of "a group of early teenage boys with a psychopathic leader that act like all knowledgeable philosophers and think aging will dumb them down" is a common one in Japanese fiction, I feel like this book inspired Usamaru Furuya's Litchi Hikari Club a manga about a group of teenage boys doing psychopathic things and trying to reach immortality or whatever. It's a gorey twist on the fear of puberty and growing up expressed through extreme violence. Anyway, this book had this although it could be more political I feel. And reading some reviews to make something of it I guess I'm right. Not that interested in that aspect, though it's important to note it. Mishima was a "bit" of a nationalist. Anyway these teens are naive, but not innocent. They view life through the lense of heroism and glory, and living with an amazing purpose. Naivety is a good word for being obsessed with glory,honor and the like. They're frustrated by mundanity of adult life, they hate their fathers, they don't want to become them. I really really liked this book, but I'm a bit frustrated as I can't exactly put into words why I liked it. I guess I like seeing children being scheming little sociopaths, although the cat scene was really uncomfortable to read. I don't like reading about animal violence.
Banana Yoshimoto Asleep
Ah, this book was so lovely. A break from Mishimas almost horrorish stories, despite the fact Asleep deals with death a lot more. It's a novel that contains 3 separate short stories. All three of them have these tiny supernatural elements and with how people confront their dead loved ones, enemies, friends. The second one was my favourite. All three main characters are pretty distinctive from each other, each having their own interesting quirks, surrounded by all kinds of people. Seriously, I love all these characters, you meet them all for a very short time but the glimpse you get into their lives is enough to leave a mark and make you want to hang out with them. Which is how I felt about the second story, there's something so comfy about it. I'll give a quick tl;dr: A woman that feels like shes turning into an alcoholic, in a relationship with a dude that owns a store but he used to do some shady business... Nonetheless he's very carefree and lets her live her life. She keeps dreaming of an old enemy, a girl who she battled with for the attention of a dude they both used to date, a phase of her life she's not particularly proud of. They'd both stay at his house at the same time and just growl at each other while competing for the attention of the guy. Anyway, she comes to terms with her feelings and comes to the conclusion that maybe her and that girl were actually friends.. or maybe more? Spoilers ahead kind of.Then she finds out the girl died a while ago, and her boyfriend takes her to a midget that can communicate with ghosts. I mean, what a story!! And I loved how her and her boyfriend communicate, I don't know, this one was just insanely charming. The third ones main character was the most relatable, and it's where the novels title comes from. I too sometimes feel like I nap my life away.
Banana Yoshimoto Kitchen
Similarly to Asleep, Kitchen is a novel divided into two short stories. It also deals with the themes of death and coming to terms with it, but also another added thing. Since this was the 80's I'd be inclined to say transvestites? instead of transwomen, or even men in dresses but mainly how someone, usually the female main character, perceives them. The first story intrigued me, and the way the trans character was handled. In fact, both the trans and the cross dressing character do so as a way to cope with a major trauma in their life. Eriko was a man, but he became a woman once his wife died and he was left alone to care for his son. In a way he replaced her. Could it be because to be a single father is different from a single mother? Maybe he viewed men as incapable of providing motherly nurture to their children, it's an interesting idea. I do not think fathers are incapable of that in theory, but many men do have and become fathers like that. He is truly an amazing person though. From an outsiders perspective, I noticed Japans view on gender, gender change etc. is a bit different from the West. But this is just my personal limited experience of course. In media I see them talk about okama more, which would be more of an effeminate gay man that may or may not cross dress and it's also an offensive term to some. I also noticed they're big fans of non binary shit, but I have no doubts that it's because of extreme gender roles their society enforces so it does not surprise me. By creating another binary though, one cannot escape gender roles, in my humble opinion. In the second story there is a cross dresser character, who was described as weird, and a free spirit. After the death of his brother and girlfriend, he starts wearing his girlfriends uniform to school. People are shocked but ultimately sympathetic. Men wearing dresses, and generally being gender non conforming is one thing they have a harder time with compared to women. That is of course, because being a man is seen as the default. Women's world is seen as something that one doesn't need to dabble into, so when a man does so, he is seen as weak. It can also be a sign of sexual deviancy, and many people dont really feel comfortable with that in public... Either way, both stories were really somber, cute, and even inspiring at some points.
Ottessa Moshfegh Eileen
This book was just what I needed. Eileen was 24, I am 24. Maybe this review will be more personal than the ones I wrote so far, but whatever.
Tl;dr: this book is about a woman, 74, writing about herself when she was 24 and when she ran away from home. She often makes remarks about how naive, angry and invisible she was up until she ran away and I understand that. Throughout my life, I had few instances of reinventing myself when arriving to new, unfamiliar places such as university and high school. I completely sympathize with her hate for her coworkers, and the childish, petulant anger I directed at them in my thoughts.
“Your sweater's on backwards, Eileen,” said Mrs. Murray. I pulled up my collar to check. “Or maybe not. You're just so flat, I don't know what side I'm looking at—front or back.” They went on and on like that. It was awful. I suppose my manners were just as bad as theirs. I was terribly grim and unaffected, unfriendly. Or else I was strained and chipper and awkward, grating. “Ha-ha,” I said. “Coming or going, that's me—flat.” I'd never learned how to relate to people, much less how to speak up for myself. I preferred to sit and rage quietly.
If this passage doesn't describe the way I felt working in that drugstore for 3 years, I don't know what does. I truly appreciated reading this book at this point in my life where I am on another journey where almost nobody knows me, in a whole different country. I don't relate to Eileen as a whole, but the parts where we're similar truly hit hard. But enough about me.
This book is truly, really good at detailing a character and making her feel alive. I completely understand Eileen. All her contradictions, everything. It all made sense. How she says she's not superficial, how she's a prude, yet in her mind she's obsessed with grousome things, and she spends her days daydreaming and fantasizing about a man. It's so good. Many people call Eileen too whiny, self-loathing and self-pitying but I don't really think so. She talks about herself quite critically, and for an old lady recounting her days of youth I don't think it is out of place. She felt bad for her old self being where she was. You would feel bad for yourself too.
Frances Cha If I Had Your Face
Every day I wake up, I thank God I was not born in South Korea. Joking of course, I am not religious. But I'm still thankful not to be a Korean. This book only affirms my views. The entire time I was reading this, I was filled with unease, sadness and anger. To live in the 21st century, in a country so incredibly obsessed with your status, your looks, your family, where you went to school, university and so on and for all of that to amount to zero because as a woman you are still nothing but trash. Just trash. What a shithole. It always boggles the mind - in a country where men cheat on their wives and girlfriends so much, where clearly being a degenerate unfaithful male is seen as somewhat of a standard and an expectation if you are rich, basically in a country where men are more openly animals, you still have to be careful not to offend their fragile little minds by shielding them from saying the word menstruation and instead having to say feminine products. They can't keep their dick in their pants for 10 minutes but they still feel shame from being reminded women have periods. It was such a short remark but points out this ridiculousness of it all, it made me so angry.
This book is about 5 women. Ara, Kyuri, Wonna, Miho and Sujin. All of them except for the last one get to have chapters told from their POV. They're a group of roomates, friends, acquintances, neighbours. The book heavily focuses on Koreas obsession with status, plastic surgery, superficiality, getting married and so on you get the gist. It's all told to you from their perspective, and you get to see how all of these circumstances influence the girls. The book was a quick read, once I actually started reading it for real I couldn't put it down. I cried a few times near the end because I know these types of situations are real. And Wonna's situation made me particularly sad although it was bitter sweet in the end. This book wasn't my first clash with korean culture, their society and the way people suffer in it. It made the book heavier to read. If you're interested in these kinds of things - beauty standards, high expectations, women's place in a highly misogynistic society etc. this book will be great. Besides that, it's a book about five women being friends despite all their differences, despite the internalized misogyny deeply wooven into their very being, they still care for each other and help each other climb up as much as they can. It's such a brutal world, honestly I feel like I'd crumble under the pressure.
Eric LaRocca Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
I didn't really like this book. The book is about 2 women exchanging emails and ims when suddenly their exchange takes a "dark" and "twisted" turn. I've seen this book get recommended in multiple places I frequent so I figured it might be a decent read, I like internet spooky story related stuff but this didn't really sit well with me. First I didn't really like how both characters had almost the exact same writing style, on top of it being overly pretentious and full of unecessary similes. Then I didn't really like how their relationship took such a sudden turn into bdsm bullshit, when there was barely any development or build up. Third, which is purely subjective, it made me cringe. I'm no stranger to online relationships, cringy erp and creepy internet drama. I've experienced a lot of it first hand too. I've seen some stuff. So this kind of just makes the experience of this book a lot less enjoyable. I get that it's the year 2000 and all but there was something really unnatural in how these two characters were conversing and if that's what was supposed to be creepy about this book, it kind of missed the mark because both of the characters talk like they came straight out of the "in this moment I am euphoric" copy pasta. The most disgusting parts of the book are crushing a salamander with a rock, a kitten dying by being ran over, the mc eating a piece of rotten meat in order to get "pregnant" with a tapeworm, a little child getting tortured. Which really, while it might make you wince or feel bad for the animals, is not as sick and twisted as people made it out to be. Plus a lot of the shit from that stupid bdsm contract was retconned in the "Masters" emails like almost right away and the fact that it was an online relationship just made it all the more laughable. With how everyone was describing it, I was expecting more. Even the author made it sound a lot wilder than it really was. Also something about this book being about two women, but the two characters don't read to me as women at all. After anonymously interacting with men and women for a long long time, you actually get decent at recognising who's who even if they don't state it outwardly. Women and men are socialized differently and that's just the way it is. Ending this review with a do not recommend.
Banana Yoshimoto Goodbye Tsugumi
Out of all the Banana Yoshimoto books I've read so far this one is my... least favourite. It's not bad at all, and it's not like I didn't enjoy Banana's prose and characters but this time it didn't leave me feeling the way I felt when I read her shorter stories. Nonetheless, it's a nice book. It tells us a story of Maria's last summer spent in her hometown on the seaside, a turning point in her life. Very young adult, coming of age kind of thing. Frankly can't say I don't relate to that to a frightening degree so of course all the feelings this book is supposed to invoke in you, were invoked tenfold in me at my current stage in life. I always enjoy Banana's portrayal of happy and intimate families, and this book didn't disappoint either. The love story between Maria's parents is really sweet, and her dad is a great dad. I always like reading about well-functioning families. I guess the character that didn't sit well with me was Tsugumi, although I get the point of her character, I think. Just didn't vibe with her lmao. She's too anime-ish, I guess that's what I didn't like. She stands out too much in that way, so it ends up being a bit jarring. If you like reading about coming of age stories, or more like "this is the point where everything is going to change" stories I recommend this.
Osamu Dazai No Longer Human
First of all, I really loved the short length and the succinctness of this book, and it's the reason why I love modern Japanese authors in general. No Longer Human is something one might call autobiographical fiction? I think? A lot of the events here coincide with the events in Dazai's life. My expectations for this were hard to describe, as online I've seen it regarded as a masterpiece everyone should read or as a "TOP TEN shocking books you should NOT read if you're depressed!!!!". Frankly I side with the former. I can't say I'm in the best state of mind right now, but this book didn't make me want to kill myself or anything. Now onto the book itself.
I mostly want to write about the main character, Yozo, as I found him to be really fascinating. Yozo is an extremely interesting and well written character, and why wouldn't he be, when he's basically Dazai himself? What I found to be the most intriguing about him was his misogyny. It seems to completely be a reflection of himself. When it comes to misogyny in general I feel like much of what I've read when written by men is pure projection of their foulest innermost feelings onto women and then proceeding to hate them. In Yozo's case I would say it's very similar. However I don't think his disdain for women is based on power dynamics or an inferiority complex, but it is a combination of the facts that he was abused by a female servant as a child, and that in many women he meets, he sees his miserable self. He is very well aware of that. He says he doesn't understand women, but of course he doesn't, when he does his best to be misunderstood by everyone else. Deep down, various women are who he ends up relating to the most. His life is based around performing, pleasing and fear. He recognizes and is aware of the fact that his good looks are seen as lewd, rather like a woman's looks would be, as opposed to being seen as strong and powerful. He is the one being wanted, an object of many women's desires, as opposed to him doing the wanting (his wife aside, but even this part is really interesting!!). He is self-destructive and untrusting following his childhood trauma as opposed to releasing his hurt onto others as an abused man usually would, judging by general statistics. He deemed himself to be weak and a coward, and weakness is generally seen as a feminine stereotype. You can see why now maybe I came to the conclusion that he relates to the way misogynistic society sees women. In fact, women are often seen as lesser than human, a view Yozo himself shares when talking about prostitutes. And that is how ultimately he sees himself.
I'd also love to talk about his view of Yoshiko and the focus on her virginity. When talking about her virginity, her purity, I don't think he was necessarily focused on her physical virginity. In fact, his sexual relationship with Yoshiko isn't even brought up much. Rather the focus is on her pure and untainted view of the world, allowing her to be trustful of everyone. This is something Yozo lacks, and he loves Yoshiko for being a living and breathing example of this purity existing in a world such as this. When that trustfulness ends because of her rape, Yozo's hope crumbles and he goes back to self-destruction. He is not able to forgive her, or not forgive her, as ultimately this was not her fault. But even there he acknowledges how he lacks a certain authority your usual husband would have in this case.
I mostly focused on the topic of misogyny here as I haven't seen many other people talk about it in depth, but there's many more things I found compelling about Yozo. His performance, his anxieties and the concept of comedy and tragedy. And of course, there's more to him being "disqualified" from being human than just his sexual abuse and lack of trust in the world. This book is definitely worth reading and I found it to be quite insightful. Isn't it interesting how a man that feels wanted by women feels gross about it? Dehumanized even? Haha...