The True Sea

Slow Living, Inner Peace and Self Love


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Judging a woman by her books

Disclosure: The gorgeous Harrow table lamp was a housewarming gift from the lovely folks at Lighting Majestic. In April they also featured me in their Easter issue of Mega Majestic Monday.Chiaki Creates - Judging a Woman by Her BooksI read a lot. I always have. I try to use the library and second-hand bookshops as much as possible but if I’m looking for an obscure book, I often end up resorting to eBay. Because I read so much and so quickly I would end up with books everywhere in no time if I didn’t give them away when I’ve finished them. I donate books to charity shops, give them to friends or leave them in public spaces for anyone to pick them up. I also recently started bookcrossing. I really do judge people by their books so I thought it’d be fun for you to judge me by my book collection. The books on my shelves are of the following three categories.

Books that I haven’t read yet:

Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension by Michio Kaku – Michio is my favourite theoretical physicist.
The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking by Simon Singh – I have a slight obsession with codes.
Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life by Paul Ekman – I also have a slight obsession with reading people and understanding how people work.
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood – I adore Isherwood and I want to re-read this heartbreaking novel.
The Ipcress File by Len Deighton – I love the film from 1965 starring Michael Caine but I only recently found out that it was originally a book.Chiaki Creates - Judging a Woman by Her Books chiakicreates.comBooks that I keep referring to:

Tea and Cake London by Zena Alkayat ­- This is a brilliant guide to tea and cake places in London.
Colloquial Japanese H. D. B. Clarke and Motoko Hamamura – For learning Japanese.
Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho – All bloggers should have a copy of this book.
Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business by Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho – Because I freelance.
Craft, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Creative Hobby into a Successful Business by Mateo Ilasco – Because I sell my handmade things.
Fun with Fabric by Jane Foster – Who doesn’t love Jane Foster?
The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry – This is a fantastic book which helped me figure out exactly what I want to do for a living.
Custom Lettering of the 60s and 70s by Rian Hughes ­- It would be odd if I didn’t own this.
The Encyclopaedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand – I’ve always been very fascinated with urban legends.
The Art of French Baking by Ginette Mathiot – I’m working on mastering the art of French baking.
The Cinema Book: 2nd Edition edited by Pam Cook and Micke Bernick – My film encyclopaedia of choice.
Joy Division by Kevin Cummins – One of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Molecules of Murder: Criminal Molecules and Classic Cases by John Emsley – You probably know by now that I have a morbid streak.
Chiaki Creates - Judging a Woman by Her Books 3Books that have sentimental value:

Roald Dahl: Collected Stories – I grew up reading his short stories for adults but I didn’t read his children’s books until I was a teenager.
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami – This book will haunt me forever. It’s fantastic.
The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde ­- I grew up reading his works.
Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edogawa Rampo – Japan’s Edgar Allan Poe, hence the name. I wish I had discovered him earlier.
I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume – Essential classic Japanese literature which I’m currently re-reading.
Strangers by Taichi Yamada – This is simply too good to let go of.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – My favourite contemporary novel. You can read more about my thoughts on it here.
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto – When I read this novel it mirrored my own life in a bizarre way so I can’t bear parting with it.
Touching From a Distance by Deborah Curtis – I adore Joy Division and Ian Curtis.
Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook – I really do.
Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara – One of my favourite authors.
Autofiction by Hitomi Kanehara – She is brutal and full-on and absolutely amazing.
Psycho by Robert Bloch – One of the best novels ever written.

Apart from the three books that I’m currently reading, those are all of my books. Not bad for someone who used to have book shelves, cupboards and storage space full of books.

How about you? Do you judge people by their books?

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Spring reading list

Chiaki Creates - Spring Reading ListHotel Iris by Yōko Ogawa
Seventeen-year-old Mari works with her mother in a seaside hotel on the coast of Japan. One night they are forced to eject a prostitute and a middle-aged man from his room and Mari finds herself drawn to the man’s voice. Mari begins to visit the mysterious man at his island home and he initiates her into a dark realm of both pain and pleasure. This disturbing erotic tale by a new-to-me Japanese author sounds just like my cup of tea.

The End of Alice by A. M. Homes
The story centres on the correspondence of two paedophiles. The narrator is a middle-aged child-killer serving his twenty-third year in prison and the other is his admirer, a nineteen-year-old woman intent on seducing a young neighbourhood boy. Slowly, through these letters, the narrator’s monstrous character emerges. I like difficult reads and I keep coming across this book so I thought I’d give it a go.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan. This will be my third Yoshimoto book. I highly recommend her novel The Lake if you haven’t read it.

The Night Guest: A Novel by Fiona McFarlane
Ruth is a widow who lives alone in an isolated house on the New South Wales coast. One day a stranger turns up and claims that she’s been sent by the authorities to be Ruth’s carer. At first, Ruth is happy to have the company. Frida is efficient and helpful, and willing to listen to Ruth’s stories about her childhood in Fiji and the man she fell for there. But why does Ruth hear a tiger prowling through the house at night? How far can Ruth trust this enigmatic woman? And how far can she trust herself? This is another book that I keep coming across.

Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss
The mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives, and a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful. The scene: a cottage on the coast on a windy evening. Inside, a room with curtains drawn. Tea has just been made. A kettle still steams. Under a pool of yellow light, two figures face each other across a kitchen table. A man and a cat. The story about to be related is so unusual yet so terrifyingly plausible that it demands to be told in a single sitting. A funny Gothic horror from Hammer Books about a talking supernatural cat, well why not?

Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim and the unexpectedly captivating daughter of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the unsolved case to the point of obsession. This will be my third Higashino book. His novels are captivating and I love how he doesn’t give you the solution until the very end.

Freudian Slips: All the Psychology You Need to Know by Joel Levy
Freudian Slips presents the essential facts and findings of psychology in an accessible and thoroughly enjoyable way, leaving no Freudian slip or phallic symbol unexamined. From Bobo dolls to invisible gorillas, Clever Hans to Little Albert, the halo effect to the Stockholm syndrome, the book charts a path through the subject’s controversial history and along its most intriguing diversions. This book sounds like an easy way to brush up on my psychology.

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key. He has the keys to all the houses he has ever sold. I have a thing for peeping Tom fiction, both literature and film, so I have high expectations for this book.

Ring by Koji Suzuki
A mysterious videotape warns that the viewer will die in one week unless a certain, unspecified act is performed. Exactly one week after watching the tape, four teenagers die one after another of heart failure. The hard-working journalist Asakawa is intrigued by his niece’s inexplicable death. His attempt to solve the tape’s mystery before it’s too late assumes an increasingly deadly urgency. After having seen the Japanese films more times than is probably healthy, I’m finally going to read the book that started it all.


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Let’s talk about American Psycho

Chiaki Creates - Let's Talk About American PsychoAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is without any doubt my favourite contemporary novel. I recently saw American Psycho: The Musical at the Almeida Theatre and it completely blew me away. It was pure perfection as a musical. Matt Smith (my dashing Doctor) was absolutely amazing as Patrick Bateman. The musical got me thinking about how unfortunate it is that it’s such a widely misunderstood novel.

Bret recently said in an interview that “Patrick Bateman seems to embody something about masculinity that was blooming at a certain point in the late 80s to early 90s. This kind of damnification of the male. This obsession with male narcissism and beauty. Men being looked at in a way that women had been looked at for decades. American Psycho was probably the first novel about a metrosexual.”

You can’t deny the very obvious references to another favourite book of mine, Psycho by Robert Bloch. Firstly, the surnames Bates and Bateman. Then there’s the titles of the novels, and both Norman Bates and Patrick Bateman are serial killers, well Patrick is a supposed serial killer.

Yes, American Psycho has a lot of gore in it but that’s not all there is to it. I’ve noticed that the gore tends to be what people who haven’t actually read it talk about. It’s the same people who can’t understand how it can work as a musical. Well it does because it’s not a horror novel or a gorefest. It’s a very clever social satire, the perfect black comedy. Its blithe nihilism, the extreme obsession with perfection and the relentless boredom of the characters are just a few reasons why American Psycho is utterly hilarious.

Without the casual violence Bret wouldn’t be pushing the limits of the book’s depraved hedonistic culture. It’s definitely one of the reasons the book has had such a huge impact. It’s comforting to know that Bret didn’t really want to write the violent scenes. He wrote the book and left the murder scenes unwritten. In the end he filled them out with details from actual serial killings from FBI criminology textbooks at the New York Public Library.

Having studied psychology I find it very interesting from that angle as well. Depending on how you interpret the novel, Patrick could for example be suffering from antisocial personality disorder or schizotypal personality disorder. It intrigues me tremendously. I also have a weakness for stream-of-consciousness narratives.

I highly recommend reading it. Although you might want to skip the violent chapters if you don’t have a strong stomach. If you have read it already, then read it again.


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Winter reading list

Chiaki Creates - Winter Reading ListWhat a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
A wickedly funny take on life under the Thatcher government concerning the Winshaw family who are getting richer and crueller by the year. I picked this political satire up because I love Coe’s The Rotters’ Club. I’m reading it at the moment and it’s hilarious.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
Psychologist Maria Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Moving through principles of logic and deduction, creativity and imagination, Mastermind puts 21st century neuroscience and psychology in service of understanding Holmes’ methods. I read a book a while back on this very subject but unfortunately I was quite disappointed with it. I hope this one will live up to my expectations.

Crime by Irvine Welsh
Ray Lennox is a Scottish detective inspector who has fled to Miami after suffering a stress and cocaine induced mental breakdown. He stumbles upon a ten-year-old girl who is the target of a paedophile ring and he becomes determined to protect her at any cost. What intrigues me the most about this book is that it sounds really quite different from Welsh’s other books.

The Collector by John Fowles
Frederick is a lonely young man who collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. I absolutely adore the film from 1965 (I wrote about it here) but I didn’t know that the film was based on a book. I found a copy of it in a local charity bookshop a while back and I was so anxious to find out what it was like that I read it in two days. It’s a fantastic read.

Drunk Tank Pink: The Subconscious Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave by Adam Alter
The world is full of hidden forces that shape our every thought, feeling and behaviour without us ever realising. In this brilliant study of the strange recesses of our minds, Adam Alter reveals the power secret cues exert over our daily lives and the societies in which we live. I find the subconscious so utterly intriguing and this book definitely sounds like my cup of tea.

Body by Asa Nonami
Self-esteem, the cost of vanity and being-careful-what-you-wish-for are the thematic connective tissue of this collection of psychological horror stories. How can one resist when all the stories end with a gruesome twist? I read her book Now You’re One of Us earlier this year and it’s still with me. I can’t bear parting with it neither mentally nor physically.

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
In Japanese folklore ubume is a ghost that arises from the burial of a pregnant woman. Kyogokudo is an exorcist who doesn’t believe in ghosts. He creates fake supernatural explanations for his clients problems and to cure them he exorcises the ghosts through staged rituals. In this first book in a series of nine so far, Kyogokudo must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. A new to me Japanese author and I’m super excited about it.

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch
A satirical, sometimes farcical 1961 novel. Primary themes include marriage, adultery and incest within a group of civilised and educated people. Set in and around London, it depicts a power struggle between grown-up middle-class people who are lucky to be free of real problems. This book was a harbinger of the Sexual revolution that was to hit Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. Sounds like a must-read to me!

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Why do underdogs succeed so much more than we expect? How do the weak outsmart the strong? Drawing on the stories of remarkable underdogs, history, science and psychology Gladwell makes the connections others miss. I absolutely adore Gladwell and I can’t wait to read this new book of his.


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Autumn reading list

chiaki creates autumn reading listThank you so much for all the Birthday wishes I got here and on all other social media. I had a fantastic day starting with the first listen of Nine Inch Nails’ new album Hesitation Marks, followed by The Mousetrap in the West End and dinner at a swanky French restaurant in Covent Garden. It was amazing but I still maintain that having a Nine Inch Nails album released on my Birthday is the best Birthday present ever.

My beloved digital SLR is at the camera doctors so I’m afraid the quality of the photos I post are going to be less than excellent for a few weeks. Now here’s what I’m planning to read this autumn. I’m already two thirds through the first book and I can’t wait to read the others.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
15-year-old Bee’s eccentric mother disappears and Bee has to go to the end of the earth to find her. The story is told through a series of emails, doctor’s reports, school fund-raising letters and of course by Bee herself. This is not the type of book I’d normally pick up but I do love satire and I kept coming across it so I figured I’d give it a go. Also, I really like the cover.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A diary washes ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox and it has a profound effect on the woman who discovers it. Part mystery, part fantasy it sounds like a perfect story to me. It’s longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Ozeki is a new to me (half) Japanese author and I can barely contain myself.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Eva’s son Kevin murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher when he was 15. How much is Eva’s fault? This book has been on my reading list for years. My former host dad recommended it to me as I’m into psychology and am very fascinated with psychopathy.

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
A man’s favourite elephant vanishes and the balance of his life is subtly upset. An insomniac wife wakes up in a twilight world of semi-consciousness in which anything, even death, seems possible. A book of short stories in which Murakami makes the ordinary extraordinary. I haven’t read any Murakami in a few months and I’ve never read any of his short stories.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Two couples meet over dinner in Amsterdam to discuss their teenage sons who have been caught on CCTV committing a horrifying act. Only the parents have identified them but how far will they go to protect them? I spotted this book in one of Stef’s photos over at Oh So Lovely Vintage and after reading the synopsis I bought it straight away.

Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand
My whole life I’ve been drawn to urban legends so I’ve probably already heard most of the ones in this book. I just really like studying the human mind and how it works. I know that people love telling stories but it always baffles me whenever someone insists that something happened to a friend of a friend when I know that it’s most definitely an urban legend.chiaki creates autumn reading list 2


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Summer reading list

summer reading listApparently I haven’t shared a reading list with you lovelies for six months. The reason being that I stopped planning ahead what books I was going to read. I haven’t had a lot of time to read lately and I inevitably ended up with a big pile of books next to my bed so I thought I’d share them with you.

Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case by Agatha Christie
I grew up reading my mum’s old Christie books. This instilled in me that there’s nothing as cosy as a nice little British murder mystery.

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
Another Poirot novel because why not.

The Liar by Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry’s very existence makes me happy. I stumbled across his first novel in a second-hand bookshop and since it’s one of the few of his books that I haven’t read I simply had to pick it up.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
I felt like I should read it because it’s a classic.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I do love my Japanese literature. Even so I felt hesitant about reading this book for some reason. I’m glad I changed my mind as I’m halfway through it and love it.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook
Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Yet I didn’t rush to buy this book and it’s just been sitting by my bed ever since I got it. This might seem odd but I’m actually saving it as a treat for when I really need it.

The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking by Simon Singh
How can anyone not be into breaking codes? I’ve heard good things about this book and I hope it will live up to it’s reputation.

An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks is the funniest, most engaging neurologist around. Fingers crossed that this one is as good as his The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

I Am a Cat by Sōseki Natsume
This is a classic Japanese book that I’ve been meaning to read for a long, long time. It’s a satirical novel about Japanese society in the Meiji Period as seen through the eyes of a cat. It’s sardonic and funny.summer reading list 2


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Book Q&A

book Q AWhen I stumbled across this lovely Q&A on Hannah Ackroyd’s blog I instantly knew that I had to fill it out myself. I read a massive amount of non-fiction but I decided to focus almost entirely on fiction. It took me ages to choose favourites, apparently I have quite a few.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m also currently reading several creative business books.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read after you’ve finished these books?
I have a never-ending reading list. Next up are The Liar by Stephen Fry and An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks.

Five books you’ve always wanted to read but have never got round to?
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
The Sundial by Shirley Jackson.

What magazines do you have in your lounge right now?
I love art and design magazines but lately I’ve been sticking to crafty ones like Mollie Makes, Simply Crochet and Homemade with Love.

What’s the worst book you ever read?
It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read but The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave really annoyed me, although retrospectively I can’t remember exactly why. I do remember that I desperately wanted to change the title to Bunny Munro is Going to Die.

What book is really popular but you really hated?
Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney. I couldn’t even finish it and that is very rare for me. I loved his Bright Lights, Big City but this one, not so much. I also found Fanny Hill by John Cleland quite overrated.

What’s the one book you recommend to everybody?
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Every now and then I buy a copy of it and give it to someone. I also tell people to read Franz Kafka.

What are your three favourite poems?
It’s so difficult to only choose three. I’ve always been a dedicated lover of poetry and I wrote quite a lot of it when I was younger. I’d have to go with The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, Antigonish by Hughes Mearns and Le Chats by Charles Baudelaire.

Where do you usually get your books?
Second-hand bookshops, charity shops and eBay. Sometimes a dear friend lends me a book as well. I need to start using the library again really.

Where do you usually read your books?
Everywhere. In bed, on the sofa, on public transport, in tea rooms, in the park, while walking some place or waiting or queuing or cooking. Every chance I get.

When you were little, did you have any reading habits?
It was the same when I was a child. I read as much as I could. I would be sitting reading when my mum went to her evening shift and 6 hours later when she got back, I’d still be sitting there reading. There are holiday photos of me completely engrossed in a book, having my very own change of scenery within the book.

What’s the last book you stayed up half the night to read?
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. It is spellbinding.

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
I don’t believe I ever have. What a silly thing to do.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Definitely, I do it all the time. I like pretty things. I did this with Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and it became one of my all-time favourite books.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin without any doubt. I also loved Taste And Other Tales by Roald Dahl and anything by H.P. Lovecraft.

Which book changed your life?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Or even more so The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
“…there is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing…” – American Psycho

Who are your top five favourite authors?
Today it’s Bret Easton Ellis, Agatha Christie, Haruki Murakami, Oscar Wilde and Daphne du Maurier.

What is your favourite classic book?
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov or Psycho by Robert Bloch or A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Five notable mentions?
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami.
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie.
The Strangers by Taichi Yamada.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe.