I’ve taken out a couple of extremely laddish books from the library to read for fun. Seeing constant mentions of ninjas and pirates on the web, I became curious about the historical reality of these matters. So I’ve started on Stephen Turnbull’s Warriors of Medieval Japan (2005) and I’ve got David Cordingly’s Under the Black Flag (1995) lined up next. Here’s a fine passage from Turnbull:
“… even though the Age of Warring States was a time when samurai warfare went through its biggest revolution in history under the influence of strategy and technology from both Europe and China, it was also a time of amazing nostalgia. In spite of the hail of bullets whizzing past his ears, and the ranks of lowly spearmen under his command, even the most modern samurai leader kept looking over his shoulders to a glorious and often hypothetical past. This golden age, in his view, had been a time when a battle consisted of a number of individual combats fought between honourable enemies who had singled each other out by the issuing and receving of challenges. The victor would have taken the victim’s head as proof of duty done, and for his reward would have been as pleased with the name he had made for himself as with any grant of rice fields he may have been awarded by his lord.” (p. 20)
My wife and I have very different reading habits. Ideally, I like to read only one book for fun at a time, and I don’t stock up very far into the future. She, however, has tens of books and magazines going at any one time, and constantly amasses more. As I collect them from around the apartment I deposit them in our vertical book case. The floor and ten shelves are hers. The top two tiers are mine. Currently I have three copies there of a friend’s kids’ book to give away, plus three DVDs I’ve received as review copies for the blog, and the Swedish Tourist Association’s annual that arrived yesterday.