Recommendations: Namesake, Misaeng (미생), and Day6

This is technically a Favourite Things post. So I guess, have the proper pic?

Here ya go:

The problem is, I have about three new favourite things I want to share with you.

The first, as you might have guessed from the name of the post, is Kate Stradling’s new book, NAMESAKE.

Somehow I managed to miss both the tweet announcing its publication AND the blog post (I blame the flu. I am sick, and tired, and incredibly stupid) so I was hugely excited when a random Amazon search showed up Namesake.

I’ve now finished reading Namesake, and have joined in a discussion of its linguistic and thematic excellencies over on Kate’s blog in the comments section, where she announced the release.

I would normally do a proper review here, but the fact is that I was reading and reviewing Kate’s books before I actually knew her, and then I discovered that she had in fact read and reviewed mine, which makes things awkward. (I don’t review under my author name, and it was a mistake far too easy to make.)

So now I don’t so much review her books as scream “BUY THIS BOOK IT’S FLAMIN’ FANTASTIC AND YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO STOP READING IT”.

(For the record, I’ll have it be known that I was her fan first.)

(Also, read Namesake. It’ll be the best book you read this year.)

Misaeng. Ah, Misaeng!

Ah, those iconic Misaeng terrace scenes…so many…so good!

You guys probably know by now how much I love puppy dog heroes. I love being able to cheer wholeheartedly for characters, and I can thoroughly cheer for Jang GuRae. I was a little unsure at first, because the actor is the slender, pretty type that I don’t necessarily care for–but that character! Guys, the character! He’s a Baduk player (think a Korean sort of Chess) who at the age of 26 has been unable to continue playing Baduk from a necessity to earn money. He joins a company instead, sponsored by a mysterious benefactor–something that earns him the immediate ire and disdain of his coworkers.

This is basically Sales Team 3 in a nutshell. Mr Oh is wild-haired and mad, Mr Kim is slightly concerned, and GuRae has no idea what’s going on but lots of enthusiasm…

I love seeing the world through GuRae’s wide, idealistic eyes; and more, I love seeing how this drama shows the way the world sees GuRae. I love the changes he brings about because people come to see the world through his eyes–or themselves through his eyes. And it’s not just puppy GuRae; the rest of the characters are wonderful to watch. Because although I love Jang GuRae the best, I relate best to flawed, twisted, wrong-minded characters who stand on the knife’s edge of ruin. I know how hard it is to see yourself as you are, and how much harder it is to change when the change needs to come from within yourself. I know how easy it is to give up and blame anyone but yourself.

And this is pretty typical of all the interns. I love them all.

This drama does everything right character-wise, and it has one of the most beautiful ways with metaphor that I’ve seen since watching Beautiful Office. The episodes have flown by, though I’ve been trying to eke them out, and now I only have 7 left to go…

This one is going to be one I buy after I watch it on Netflix.

Okay, so the last thing that I discovered this week and immediately loved is the Korean group Day6.

Guys, I try really hard not to discover new Korean groups. I’m very happy with Jung Yonghwa, CNBLUE, B.A.P., and a smattering of BTS and GOT7 with assorted, much older faves. I don’t have the time or the energy (or the money) to be buying more Korean music. But somehow I ended up on the Twitter of Day6’s Jae–I don’t remember how, maybe it came up in my reccs–and there was Dwight’s face (yup, the Office’s Dwight) staring at me and a feed that I found pretty amusing. Which of course meant that when I went to Youtube and found a clip of Day6 mixed with other stuff, I thought, well, why not give it a listen.

I’m so glad I did. That first clip was Congratulations, which I loved the first time I heard it. Loving a song straight up is really unusual for me, because when I find a new group it usually takes a few songs for me to warm to them, and a few repeats for me to thoroughly love the music. I dunno. Maybe something’s broken in my music centre. Then I went on to 좋은걸 뭐 어떡해 (which translates roughly to ‘What can I do?’) and which I loved even more than Congratulations. So now I have a new band to listen to. I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS, GUYS. I DON’T HAVE THE TIME. On the other hand, Day6’s music is a great addition to my writing playlist, so there’s that…

Last but not least–and nothing to do with Favourite Things but more in the way of a general update–the cover for Memento Mori will be done in another week or two, after which there will be excerpts, cover reveals, special blog posts, giveaways, and other awesome stuff in preparation for Memento Mori‘s publication month!

I’ll have preorder links to share, too, so keep an eye out. And let me know about your Favourite Things discoveries this week!

6 thought on “Recommendations: Namesake, Misaeng (미생), and Day6”

  1. Kate Stradling August 22, 2017 at 2:30 pmEditReply

    Is it really awkward that I’ve read and reviewed some of your books? Your writing is too much fun not to want to share my enjoyment of it with others. #ohwell #noregrets

    Thanks for the recs! I’m honored that Namesake is among them!

    • W.R.Gingell Post authorAugust 22, 2017 at 2:38 pmEditReply

      No, not really–I’m just always leery of getting the whiff of ‘reciprocal reviews’ on me or my writerly friends. I totally agree though–I found your work too much fun to not review and share even after I saw you’d reviewed one or two of mine =) Now I do mailing list stuff and general social media squees instead 😀

  2. R August 23, 2017 at 12:57 pmEditReply

    If you ever get the chance to visit there’s a book village called Paju outside of Seoul (you can catch a bus from Seoul, its a popular day trip). And of course the Kyobo flagship bookstore in Gwanghwamun, just down the road from the palace, is a super crowded book heaven (and has beautiful stationary too). The Hyundai Card Library is gorgeous, and there are many book cafes like Cafe Comma. I used to live in Seoul and have a friend who worked as a literary translator, so I can tell you first hand how book obsessed Koreans are. Book sales are insane, especially given the small population, and a lot of authors are household names in the way that they aren’t in many other countries. A lot of non-English books get translated into Korean before they do English because of how voracious the market is. I think its something rather overlooked by foreign observers of Korean culture because often the language barrier gets in the way of experiencing the literary culture, in a way that it doesn’t for music or film/TV.

    I think a few of the bigger, more emotionally weighty titles in fiction get published internationally, like ‘Please Look After Mom’, but actually the most popular genre in Korea is Poetry and Essays. I really love Do Jong Hwan’s poetry personally, and really recommend it, but I think Ko Un is the most popular internationally. There are some historical dramas based off of popular books like ‘Moon Embracing the Sun 해를 품은달’ and ‘장옥정 사랑에 살다’…but sadly they probably aren’t ‘literary’ enough to get an official translation.

    Anyway, I really really loved Masque! I wholeheartedly fell in love with it and visited your blog only to find that you have an interest in Korea so I thought I’d chime in.

  3. W.R.Gingell Post authorAugust 23, 2017 at 1:46 pmEditReply

    Oh wow! Thanks for the poetry recommendations! I’ve been looking for more to read since having discovered Yoon DongJu (seriously LOVE his poetry!) through my Korean language lessons–and even MORE thanks for the awesome book store recc! I do plan on going to Korea (hopefully next year, to get some immersion learning) and I was actually wondering where I would go for a good selection of books. I find that reading in Korean really enhances my vocabulary, and that I recognise words when spoken more readily if I already know what they look like/mean.

    I’d considered the book market in Korean, but it looks like I’ll have to consider it again. I’ve got the feeling I could work out Naver Books if I worked hard at it (I read a few manhwa on there) and if I can find a good translator, I think the cost would be well worth the gain. Mind you, I’m not literary, I’m more…well, genre, I guess.

    I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Masque! I hope you enjoy the others as much =) And again thanks for your fantastic comment!

    • R August 28, 2017 at 4:09 amEditReply

      I’m going to get started on Spindle soon! But I’m also tempted to read Masque five more times haha! Isabella is one of my favorite protagonists, right up there with Sophie from Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle.

      Kyobo’s main store is also not too far from Changdeokgung, which is IMO the most beautiful of the remaining Korean palaces. Try to sign up for Changdeokgung’s Secret Garden (Biwon) tour online once you know your travel dates, because there are limited spots and they fill up really fast. Its totally worth it!

      Do Jong Hwan’s 흔들리며 피는 꽃 is my favorite of his poems…he lost his wife to cancer when he was quite young and raised his children as a single father for years so he writes a lot about grief but also about hope and resilience. I hope you enjoy it!

      • W.R.Gingell Post authorAugust 28, 2017 at 12:23 pmEditReply

        Lovely! I hope you enjoy Spindle as much as Masque =) (I also love Sophie and Howl’s Moving Castle, one of my all time fave books).

        I’ve actually seen a video or two on Youtube featuring Changdeokgung and the Secret Garden–I think it was Cari Cakes–and it’s so beautiful! I’ve got it on my list of places to visit when I go to S. Korea next year (there’s an actual list on my phone 😀 )

        Oh! That’s really sad about Do Jong Hwan! I’ve seen but not yet read 흔들리며 피는 꽃 (I’m part way through 다시 피는 꽃) so I’ll look at that one next. I love poems that have hope and resilience in the face of grief, which I guess is why I went first for one titled 다시 피는 꽃, I suppose 😀

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