Two novels by Japanese authors consumed in two different formats

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When the Olympics fever began to rise, despite the new normal of our lives that is being held hostage by the rise and fall of Covid-19 cases, I turned towards books about Japan or by Japanese authors. To be perfectly honest, I have been gravitating towards writing Japanese writing since a visit to Japan in 2018 (seems to be in another universe a long long time ago).

Sharing my opinions on two books with very different stories consumed in two different formats.

‘Convenience Store Woman’

Genre: Fiction

Author: Sayaka Murata

Translated into English by: Ginny Tapley Takemori

Format: Audiobook

Audio narration by: Nancy…


And a simple mantra to get to the finish line

Pedicure feet
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“Start a run and make sure you finish the run. Don’t mind how fast or how slow you are running. Just run. But the ultimate goal is to finish” ~ Eliud Kipchoge

Many years ago I signed up for a yoga teacher training program. It was a four-week residential program located in a verdant ashram in Kerala, India. I assumed that with my devotion to the practice of yoga and my enthusiasm for structured learning, I would breeze through the curriculum with flying colors.

I did not.

Instead, I found myself limping — literally and figuratively, through that difficult month…


An update on stories chosen for distribution between 19 Jul -16 Aug 2021

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If I look back on the last three months, they have been super busy. Unlike people who take off during the summer to relax, I have spent my days (and nights) on my upcoming book.

Writing was the easy part. What came later was more difficult.

It reminded me of the pain of childbirth, an excruciatingly painful yet fleeting episode followed by years of childrearing. The intensity and duration of the latter completely eclipsed the painful event of the birth itself. I’m happy to report that my…


Understanding yourself is the first step

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A few weeks ago I wrote about feeling torn between creation and connection and the tug of war between two competing (if not opposing) demands on my time and energy while my book gets into the final lap of being launched.

As I tried to make peace between the two, trying to keep the creative muse happy while feeding the needy beast of connection, I realised that I have been here before.

Between work and home, between self and society, between personal and public, there is always a tension, a push-pull of priorities that causes unease

It feels chaotic at…


Stories can be powerful agents of change if we have the courage to share them

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“Stories bring us together, untold stories keep us apart”~ Elif Shafak

For a long time I was just a reader. First as a bookish schoolgirl and later as a quiet teenager who preferred the sensibly laid out plots in novels and logically solved thrillers to the confusing world around me. I graduated from Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers to Agatha Christie and Sidney Sheldon, reading whatever I could find in the homes of friends and relatives — dog-eared books, old magazines and past issues of Reader’s Digest.

Sometimes I shelled out precious rupees from my monthly pocket money for dusty bargain…


The joys of writing and publishing include making difficult choices

Photo credit Ranjani Rao

One evening I sat by the not-so-secret lake hidden in the nature reserve behind my home. It’s my favorite place to unwind after a day spent in front of a laptop. The only view that doesn’t hurt my eyes is a soothing expanse of green or a body of water.

Of course, I am not the only one who likes this place. It is a communal meeting place for tired humans and wary animals. I often post photos of my four-legged and feathered neighbors who inhabit this space on social media.

However, this Friday evening was different. Although I acknowledged…


Do nothing or at the very least, do something else

Photo credit Ranjani Rao

Earlier this year, when my daughter graduated from high school, she found herself at a loose end. After months of a punishing schedule to prepare for a tough examination, she felt lost.

“I feel guilty sitting around. I should be studying. Or doing something,” she said.

I understood her frustration. Like sudden decompression, the lifting of intense pressure seemed to throw her off balance. Without structure and deliverables, she was confused. There was no discernible long-term goal and no daily list of action items to be checked off.

While she was no longer a carefree child capable of filling time…


WRITING PROMPT RESPONSE

Setting aside time for play may not be easy, but it is essential especially during a pandemic

Photo credit Ranjani Rao

While working on the final touches to my memoir, I found myself exhausted from constantly being in front of a screen. From my day job to the online class I’m taking and of course, the book I have been writing, each activity demanded screen time. And there is only so much my eyes could take.

Yet, it wasn’t just visual fatigue that was getting me down. I do take breaks, short ones around my home, and longer walks in my neighborhood. I listen to audiobooks during my free time. …


I thought writing my book was the end, but it was just the beginning

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Purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find ~ John Coleman

In my recent op-ed for the Straits Times, I wrote about the value of work and the worth of an individual. In it, I recalled an interaction that happened over twenty years ago in California. When I took my baby daughter for her routine immunization to the well-bay clinic, I witnessed scenes of distress and bouts of crying from infants who had received their childhood vaccines.

“You make babies cry”, I told the nurse, half-joking, half-anxious as I held my squirming baby in my lap.

“I…


A midyear checkin reveals progress on four fronts

Covers of fiction books
Photo credit Ranjani Rao

The Goodbye 2021 Hello 2021 planner that I received as a gift early this year helped me plan for the year and also reminded me to stop after every quarter for a quick check-in.

I was surprised to see that I had made good progress on four fronts:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Learning

Traveling through books

In any given year, I read a lot of books. I also travel a fair bit. Last year, thanks to Covid-19, I was unable to move out of my tiny cocoon in Singapore. Yet, I could travel freely, through books.

The fabulous Public Libraries Singapore allowed me to…

Ranjani Rao

I write insightful personal stories about my scientist, immigrant, travel life. 4 books http://bit.ly/RanjaniRao. Share memoir journey -www.ranjanirao.com

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