I've been following Grace's blog and youtube channel for a while now, so of course I was very excited to finally read her book My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy (on Goodreads). Do I have to mention, that I've binge read it in one day?
Grace from the blog Texan in Tokyo is a freelance writer and artist, living and working in Japan. She blogs and draws comics about her daily life and all the cultural differences, that she experiences, while living in a foreign country. And her husband Ryosuke accompanies her along the way.
What I like about this book is, that Grace gives you an insight on what the daily life in Japan looks like. These are real stories and experiences, that happened to real people. And even though it’s non-fiction, the “spotlights”, which are occasional longer topics and explanations, are written in such a way, that it’s easy and fun to read. But of course the majority of the pages are comics!
While reading the comics, I noticed that I would remember many of the stories from blog posts or videos. Because of that it was easier to understand some of the jokes. So it might seem like a problem for those, who don’t read the blog, but still want to read the comic book. For me personally it just made the book even more enjoyable. Every time I recognized a story from a comic, I would get really excited.
Some of my favourite comics and spotlights where those about language learning. As you probably know, I’m not a native English speaker. Still I try to be a part of the English-speaking Internet. That's what this blog is for, right? I want to write something, that a native could read and understand without the nagging feeling, that it was google translated. I want to know, how the English-speaking brain works.
Learning foreign languages is my passion. My mother tongue is Ukrainian, which comes from a different language family than English. I know, what it’s like to learn both closely related languages (like Russian or Polish) and those, that look more like alien talk (English, German, Japanese). English and Japanese came from completely different language families. These languages differ in sense of grammar and syntax. If a native English speaker wants to learn Japanese, he has to memorize a whole set of new words. He can’t even associate many of these words with Latin roots or morphemes. So when two foreigners try to communicate in either of the two languages, being misunderstood is something to expect.
I think, I got a little carried away with that linguistic analysis. But my point is, that my favourite part of the book was about these little misunderstandings and cultural differences, that come from the language. There was a spotlight about, how it makes no sense to drop hints and argue, because of misused words. And I liked, how Grace said, that in intercultural relationships we expect to have these misunderstandings, but we should do the same even within one country and culture. Even people, who speak the same language, can sometimes fail to communicate and understand each other. So instead of assuming, that they understand, just because the words are the same, why not try to be a little more forgiving and thoughtful of other people. Why not remind ourselves, that words not always correspond to thoughts and feelings. If a person says a hurtful word, it doesn’t mean that he had this intention to hurt you.
There are two more books to read, but I’ve decided to savour them, and finish what’s on my currently-reading list first. Well, okay. I know, that'll never happen, I'm not that disciplined with my reading, but at least I'll try. <3