I’ve written about books here and here. Additionally, below is a list I maintained until 2007 of all the books I had read (or remembered reading) during my time in Japan. Books by Japanese authors were read in translation unless otherwise noted.

2007 (most recently read at top)

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond (Recommended)

Dead Cities: And Other Tales, by Mike Davis (Recommended with reservations)

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond (Highly recommended)

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, by Bill Bryson (Recommended, of course)

Along Some Rivers, by Robert Adams (Recommended)

The Spectator Bird, by Wallace Stegner (Recommended)

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (Recommended)

The Missionary and the Libertine, by Ian Buruma (Recommended)

Beauty in Photography, by Robert Adams (Recommended)

Diana and Nikon: Essays on Photography (Expanded Edition), by Janet Malcolm (Recommended)

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Ongoing Moment, by Geoff Dyer (Highly recommended)

An Anatomy of Dependence, by Takeo Doi (Recommended with reservations)

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (Highly recommended)

A Severed Head, by Iris Murdoch (Recommended with reservations)

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture, by Ruth Benedict (Highly recommended)

Take the Cannoli : Stories From the New World, by Sarah Vowell (Not recommended)

Holidays on Ice: Stories, by David Sedaris (Not recommended — my review)

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (Recommended — my review)

Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby (Recommended — my review)

How to Be Good, by Nick Hornby (Recommended — my review)

Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, by Nick Hornby (Recommended — my review)


Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee (So-so)

Inventing Japan: 1853-1964, by Ian Buruma (Recommended)

Made in America, by Bill Bryson (Recommended)

Berlin: The Downfall, 1945, by Anthony Beevor (Recommended — my review)

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, by Simon Winchester (Not recommended — my review)

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, by Franklin Foer (So-so)

The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup, ed. by Matt Weiland, Sean Wilsey (Not recommended)

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Leavitt, Stephen J. Dubner (Recommended)

Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld, Expanded Edition, by David Kaplan and Alec Dubro (Recommended — my review)

Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan, by Robert Whiting (Recommended — my review)

Japanese Rules: Why the Japanese Needed Football and How They Got It, by Sebastian Moffett (Not recommended)

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell (So-so)

Lebanon: A House Divided, by Sandra Mackey (Highly recommended)

Out of Place: A Memoir, by Edward Said (Highly recommended)

From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map: Essays, by Edward Said (Recommended)

Notes from a Big Country (American edition: I’m a Stranger Here Myself), by Bill Bryson (Highly recommended)

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer (Recommended, with some reservations)

Crazy Horse: A Life
, by Larry McMurtry (Highly recommended)

Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey (Highly recommended)

River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, by Rebecca Solnit (Recommended)

The Sound of Mountain Water, by Wallace Stegner (Recommended, with some reservations)

Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager, by Buzz Bissinger (Not recommended)

Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank, and the 2004 Red Sox, by Bill Simmons (Recommended, with some reservations)

Oh the Glory of It All
, by Sean Wilsey (Recommended)

Reading American Photographs: Images As History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans, by Alan Trachtenberg (Recommended, with some reservations)

The Polysyllabic Spree, by Nick Hornby (Recommended — my review)


N.B. As I was studying Japanese almost the entire year, I read very little.

Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger (Recommended)

Chronicles: Volume One, by Bob Dylan (Recommended)


The Nightless City: Or the History of the Yoshiwara Yukwaku, by J.E. de Becker (So-so)

Five by Endo, by Shusaku Endo (Recommended)

Season of Violence (and other stories), by Shintaro Ishihara (So-so)

The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi and Arrowroot: Two Novels, by Junichiro Tanizaki (So-so)

The Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson (Recommended)

31 Songs, by Nick Hornby (Recommended)

Song of the Exile, by Kiana Davenport (Highly recommended)

All I Asking for Is My Body, by Milton Murayama (Recommended)

Plantation Boy, by Milton Murayama (Recommended)


The Last Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, by Ryotaro Shiba (Recommended)

Japan’s Longest Day, by The Pacific War Research Society (Recommended)

Thousand Cranes, by Yasunari Kawabata (Recommended)

Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, by Lois-Ann Yamanaka (Recommended — see related blog post)


Sputnik Sweetheart, by Haruki Murakami (So-so)

A Personal Matter, by Kenzaburo Oë (Recommended)

American Fuji, by Sara Backer (Not recommended)

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