The Gate | Natsume Soseki

TITLE / The Gate

AUTHOR / Natsume Soseki


DATE OF PUBLICATION / Dec 4, 2012 (Originally published in 1910)

NO. OF PAGES / 256


If you like beautifully written novels where nothing much happens, this is the book for you.

Natsume Soseki's The Gate tells the story of Sosuke and his wife Oyone as they live quiet and uneventful lives on the outskirts of early 20th century Tokyo society. The couple already lives a life of little comfort when they find themselves suddenly burdened with supporting Koroku, Sosuke's younger brother, through the rest of his schooling. The novel follows about a year in the life of the young couple as they take in Koroku, continue their basic daily routines, and revel in each other's presence.

And that's about it. Something I learned about myself while reading this novel is that I actually really enjoy fiction with the very basic plot of just following someone's everyday life. The Gate's plot is brilliant in its ordinaryness, breathtaking in its quiet happenings. For some reason, it actually reminded me quite a bit of Jane Austen's Emma. The main action in this novel is the entrance and exit of new and different characters while the main character's daily life doesn't actually change that much.

Soseki somehow makes everything seem beautiful and poetic, from huddling around a brazier to changing clothes to Sosuke clipping his nails in the very last scene. Like the other Japanese literature I've read, Soseki's writing is so descriptive and yet simultaneously so subtle, and I now wonder if all those more modern writers learned this from Soseki himself.

I will say I wasn't completely enthralled with certain plot decisions, such as Sosuke's sudden decision to up and visit a Zen monastery. That whole section felt oddly disjointed and out of place and jerked me out of the world of the novel entirely. But as a whole I think this is a beautiful work that I would recommend to someone interested in getting to learn more about Japanese literature and Japanese culture.


Sunkissed / July Playlist

  1. Fall Out Boy / Fourth of July
  2. Lorde / World Alone
  3. Fun. / Out On The Town
  4. The Postal Service / Such Great Heights
  5. AMBER / Heights
  6. Cody Simpson / Pretty Brown Eyes
  7. BTS / Miss Right
  8. Fall Out Boy / Favorite Record
  9. AMBER / I Just Wanna (Feat. Eric Nam)
  10. BIGBANG / We Like 2 Party
  11. We Are The In Crowd / Come Back Home


1Q84 | Haruki Murakami

TITLE / 1Q84

AUTHOR / Haruki Murakami



NO. OF PAGES / 925



Books as Memories (Or, Why I Will Always Love Physical Books)

Ebooks or physical books? This is not a new discussion in the age of Kindles and digital editions of our favorite novels. Even so, this was never something I ever really thought much about. But in the past few months I've taken to borrowing Kindle editions of books from my library and I've had plenty of opportunity to decide which reading experience I prefer.

Obviously, an e-reader wins when it comes to convenience. If you have an ereader, you have direct access to so many books. You can purchase them from so many different online stores or borrow them from your library's digital collection. You can travel with a whole library at your fingertips and yet so much more room in your bags.

Ease of Use
I'm sure we've all had that embarrassing and painful experience of using your phone while lying on your back, only to drop it right on your face. I can speak from experience that this experience is even worse when it's a 400-plus page book you're dropping on yourself. Kindles and other e-readers quite literally streamline the reading process by encapsulating thousands of chunky texts in a slim tablet. When I lived in San Francisco, my Kindle completely revolutionized my public transportation experience. It's much easier to hang from a handhold on the bus and turn the page on a Kindle than to try and flip through a worn out paper back. If you have bad eyes, you have the option to enlarge the text and if you like to annotate, you can do so without worrying about losing your pencil.

Books as Memories
Having said all that, it may seem like I am writing an advertisement for the Kindle or, at the very least, prefer ebooks to physical books. That could not be more wrong. Regardless of convenience or how easy reading becomes with an e-reader, I will always have a strong love for physical books as little memory objects.

While an ebook is simply a bunch of pixels and coding that happen to come together to tell a story, all of my physical books bear physical scars of each reading. Most of my books have worn looking spines and many also contain notes and doodles in the margins. Dog ears and sticky notes run wild. But most importantly, each mark and fold is a physical reminder of the time and place where I consumed that story.

What do you think? Do you prefer ebooks or physical books, and why?