So instead of reviews of every book I read in the year 2009, I am only going to mention the books that I read that I would end up recommending to other people.

Christopher Barzak is a writer from Ohio who went to Japan. (sound familiar? I actually met him there and had a conversation with him and Yoshio Kobayashi).

And his second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing , is a book I recommend to Everyone (including my parental units.)

It’s the intertwining story, centered in Ami, Japan, of a group of people and how love and death touches their lives.

But the reason I recommend this book, is because there are very few Western authors who can write about Japan, and write Japanese characters in Japan, and get it mostly right. I think Christopher Barzak gets it mostly right. He captures the pressures of society so well that when characters commit suicide you understand why.

He captures in his foreigners-in-Japan characters some of the reasons we run away from home.

And in the end, he teaches through all his characters that we can choose the masks that we wear to tell the world who we are, but in the end, they are only masks and are changeable.

It’s a beautifully written book as well as being insightful into how English-speaking Westerners and Japanese encounter eachother in Japan.

Recommended for: Anyone over the age of 13. (for some truthful scenes about death and sex)