Book Review: Counterattack of the Thirty by Sohn Won-pyung

What an impressive design.

Just finished reading of “Counterattack of Thirty (Original title: 서른의 반격, 2017)” by Sohn Won-pyung. Walking in a bookstore and this cover illustration captured my eyes suddenly. What an impressive design. The title was actually much more intriguing. I skimmed through the book at once and I found out that the “thirty” means age of 30. In the novel, Ji-hye the protagonist of the novel is around 30, and living unsatisfied ordinary days as an irregular employees. She tries to get a regular job at a decent, stable company in her favorite job territory, but the reality was a bit hard. Then, she somehow worked in the company, but one day there comes a mysterious irregular coworker, Gyu-ok, and he propose an interesting suggestion to her; counterattack against their unfair society. Although these revenge are really tiny prank thing, but they can gradually make a small crack in their unfair daily environment.

The story line would sound familiar to you, but the story is not that simple. The atmosphere of the book seems much like cloudy, and actually, you would finish reading with the same atmosphere of cloudy. However, thanks to the story, we can think the cloudy atmosphere as more positive one when you close your book.

This books tells you the beauty of counterattacks. Due to a development of SNS or ultimate capitalism society, we can easily feel depressed or unpleasant when you look at your tiny smartphone window. You are forced to compare almost everyday, and everyone seems to be angry with a tiny bullshit stuff. People must be extremely busy or boored. We are becoming or more scary for doing a different thing and get criticized.

However, one of the lessons the book told me, it is counterattack that your life really begins. Even though, it is a very small revenge or counterattack, very small objection, that would make a very small but important change in this world. There is a line I love .

Just say “it’s wrong” when you see something goes wrong. At least it can lead the better world.

Counterattack of Thirty (Self Translation)

Now I’m feeling I can totally agree with the idea. Without our objection, everyone tries to make you somebody else. Therefore, why don’t we resist, oppose against unreasonable reality. We are all deserve to oppose something when we are around 30. I’m becoming 29 in this year, and it is my real pleasure that I could read this book at this age.

My Great Conflict: Should I read books in Japanese or English?

Today, I’d like to talk about my great great conflict as an English leaner as a second language. If there are some readers who can understand my feeling below and could leave some comment, that would be really helpful. Anyway, my issue here is “Which books should I read more, Japanese books or English books?”

As my profile picture looks, I Am a Japanese (often misunderstood as Korean 60% and Chinese40% in an international airport). My dream when I was 9 was to be a pilot of airplane because pilots seemed so cool because they spoke really fluent English and was a kind of a symbol of the coolest people who use English. However, as my eyesights getting weaker (not by studying hard, but watching illegal uploaded anime videos on YouTube of dawn in a dark room), I became a person who don’t have any specific dream jobs.

High school teacher took a poll of what kind of university and job do I dream when I was 16. Holy crap. How many 16 years old can write your dream job or future plan seriously? That was one of the most ridiculous poll I had ever taken at the time. So, I just wrote “Tokyo University (Harvard in the US)”. I meant it. I was serious in a way. But, my score and grader was not that good, actually far from it. And exactly it was the high school day that I started and have been struggling and continuing asking myself “Who am I?” and “Who do I want to be?”

Anyhow, I was somehow good at subjects of Politics and Economy and English at that time, I chose universities and departments of such territories. Then, it turned out that the best option that I got was English Department of Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. Then, I became a university student of English department. My major became an American literature, and movies. The lectures and seminars on American literature was really fun, and I somehow became a grad student of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. The novels of Kurt Vonnegut became one of my top priority to research.

During that time, I became so depressed because the life routine was like a prisoner’s one; reading through a day in a windowless laboratory. Then, I finished a master degree and now I’m teaching English at a high school. The problem when I was a student was I got too much input, but now, my problem became that I have too much output. So, crying for the moon, eh?

However, I’m still falling love with literature, I mean the whole cultural thing especially book and movies. I love reading books of not only fiction but also essays (critical philosophical ones to anything seemed fun). Then, I found myself writing something is also really fun to me. I can write 24 hours about anything especially, especially, especially in Japanese because I am anyway Japanese… I may have 100 times or 1,000 times more deeper and wider expression in Japanese. Everyone should know that.

So, writing is my lifetime hobby now, but you know, as you expect, I want to write in English too. I want express myself in English too because I can reach to more people by expressing in Japanese, and I want to use my English skills as a tool like anybody else do, like company men working at a global company, international company men, pilots, international surgeon, or like that.

I am teaching English but I realize that this job doesn’t require teachers to use their English as a tool. You know, maybe we are good at teaching how to use the screwdriver but don’t make anything using the driver! Just teaching is not enough to me. So, I want to create and be somebody using English as a tool.

Therefore, for example, I want to write some novel in English. And for that, I really think I should read many English books. But, unfortunately, or maybe this is a great excuse though, there are so many attractive Japanese books in this world. Oh myyyy…. I am so weak and lazy that I opened some English books and then I realized I read some other Japanese book after closing it.

So, my question is this. Should I read more Japanese books to fulfill my desire and lose English ability, or read more English books to improve and deepen my English usage but lose Japanese ability. Ultimately, should I write in Japanese or English? That would be my problem. Maybe I would think too much, but you know, I want to make it clear. I’m a person if I could set a really clear goal, then I can do my best.

The reason I read books (part 2)

Now I can tell you a lot of things about the importance of reading books. It’s simply because I’ve read a certain amount of books for now. Before reading, I had no idea how to get smart. The easiest way to get smart (in a serious meaning) is just reading books written by really smart authors. It must be difficult to try to bite such an hard stuff because you had enjoyed chewing marshmallow thing so far. But then, you’ve got a word that can describe your world more vivid and concrete. You can get a new language or colors to describe your view. If you didn’t read books, no matter how you try to think of something deeply, the depth of your thoughts can be a puddle’s one. However, reading books can bring you to the real depth.

There is a quote which I already forgot who said though, I really like. It goes like “When you are reading books, you are ultimately reading yourself”. Reading ability of a passage or article can be measured by certain tests, but how about reading ability of life? Reading books can definitely brush up your skill of reading a real life situation with cool head. Of course, there would be a side effect of reading books. One would be like you would feel lonely when you are reading. Or you would think too much about the world. However, still the benefit of reading books would absolutely outweigh the minor impacts of it.

I’ve loved books for almost ten years now (from 18 to 28). I sometimes thought, if I could find myself as a bookworm when I was a child, I can be a fresh writer around my age. But, people have their own time zones, right? Comparing yourself with others can be insulting your self (maybe said by Bill Gates?). So, I never compare. I just compare myself with past myself. Anyway, I have been very interested writing something for almost ten years (weird coincidence, huh?). So, I try to write as much as I can these days. At my workplace, I write a kind of newsletter, or any documents. At home, I write Japanese diary or this English blog. I wish someday I can live with writing for somebody not only in Japanese and English.

Thank you very much for reading this article.

Thoughts on Haruki Murakami’s “Murakami Radio” for Stay Home

The advertisement of “Murakami Radio”

No matter how you say, I do believe that Haruki Murakami is the best Japanese living author. He is mysterious and he has unbelievable knowledge about literature and music (he is a great collector of vinyl record for Jazz or Classical music). That actually makes me jealous since I have far less knowledge than him, but I have certain knowledge of him. He never appears any TV shows or even radio program, and actually I (one of his huge fan) love such his stance (there are too many pretending genius author on TV). Therefore, when I first heard the news that Haruki Murakami had his own radio show, I was laughing out loud with crying.

It is said that the very first program was planned the last one, but the great interest of listeners make him come back soon, and he host his show regularly these years. And on May 22nd, he aired the unscheduled radio show from his house. Here is his official comment for the listeners on the official website of Murakami Radio.

Haruki Murakami’s study. What a cool study. Maybe Haruki Murakami↗︎

These are difficult times. We’re living with all kinds of restraints and new inconveniences. There’s nothing easy about not seeing the people you want to see, or going the places you want to go, or doing the things you want to do. It’s hard. Which is why I’ve chosen the songs you’re about to hear — this is music that, for me, has the power to soothe the soul, music that cheers me up a bit. All the songs you’re going to hear are playing on my home system, the system I always use when listening to music. If things sound a bit different today, that would be why. Welcome to my study.

What a cool comment. Actually you can read about the contents and get the information about songs played in the show in the official site.

Since I think he is a kind god, the situation he’s staying at his home makes me feel really weird. But, just the fact makes me really relieved. I actually prefer listening to his talk rather than his favorite music. His talk has a full of wit and honesty and humor. Every simple mention seemed to contain a great secret of our lives.

Thank you for reading. Have a great Murakami night.