Posts filed under ‘Murakami’

And… the other books for 2008

Well, I’ve pretty much lost inspiration for this blog as I scramble to finish my phd, but who knows what will happen in the new year? So here are the non-thesis related books I’ve read this year since I stopped counting. Probably in roughly reverse order…

The Virgin in the Garden, A. S. Byatt. Finished this today. I bought it in Leeds to read over Christmas. Partly because it was big and fat and dense, and partly because I’ve been meaning to read it for ages. I read book four in this quartet, A Whistling Woman, four years ago, and it’s starting to make a lot more sense now. I found The Virgin in the Garden to be slightly hard to get into, and irritatingly detailed in places, but I can see why so many people I respect have told me it’s a work of genius. It’s set in Yorkshire, and tells of the adolescence of a very clever/educated girl, as well as the experiences of the very clever/educated/slightly mad family and colleagues who surround her. Centred around a play retelling the life of Elizabeth I. And now I definitely want to read the other two books…

The King Arthur Trilogy, Kevin Crossley-Holland. This consists of The Seeing Stone, At the Crossing Places, and The King of Middle March. I loved them all, especially the first and the last. The middle one really is about ‘crossing places’ and interim times, and once you get used to this it’s good as well, and relates quite nicely to the middle section of the Morte D’Arthur, in which random knights go round in circles on random quests to no particular plot development… (What I mean to say is, it’s clever how he does this.) If you like the Middle Ages you absolutely have to read these books – they are beautiful and light and fresh and I loved them. (I ordered these on Amazon for a rainy day.)

Gatty’s Tale, Kevin Crossley Holland.

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell. Bought this in the Nice airport, as the most appealing English book they had. It’s about a boy growing up in the UK in the 80s. I quite liked it – funny and wry and slightly depressing. Some nice descriptions of stammering.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. A perfect, glowing book written in the voice of an aging preacher, writing for his seven year old son whom he will never see grow up. One of my favourite books I read this year. I ordered this after coming across praise of it on several blogs.

Oh Pioneers. Willa Cather. Bought this in Salt Lake City as it felt appropriate to my surroundings. It was lovely, just as My Antonia was. I would love to read everything Cather ever wrote.

The Last Magician, Janette Turner Hospital. I bought this on sale in the Leeds University Bookshop, because of it’s Dante references. It’s sort of a mystery, superimposed on Sydney, superimposed on Dante’s Inferno. One of the characters is a brilliant photographer/film maker. A childhood tragedy binding all the characters together is slowly uncovered. Sort of terrifying and lovely and nostalgic all at once.

After Dark, Haruki Murakami. My friend Vic, who I was staying with in Leeds, lent this to me. I didn’t like it as much as Kafka on the Shore, but still enjoyed it.

The Ladies of Grace Adeiu, Susannah Clarke. Bought this in the Munich airport, out of a minimal selection of English books. Very entertaining Victorian style retellings of fairytales.

The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster. This contains three short novels: The City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room. I liked how the stories echoed each other. Michael bought this one, and read it, and liked it.


December 31, 2008 at 5:48 pm 2 comments

My other June reads

Hmmm, I was on a role there for a while wasn’t I, then I forgot about this place… Anyway, to catch up… I picked up Kafka on the Shore by Murakami in an airport bookshop and absolutely loved it. Gripping and funny and elegant and strange. I read this in a hotel in the mountains. It seemed somehow appropriate. And then I read Leviathan by Paul Auster. As I went along I kept thinking it wasn’t his best, but it got quite exciting and clever towards the end. Oh what wonderful nuanced reviews I am giving. You can see why I’m doing a PhD in English literature. Ahem. After that I was in Stansted again, waiting for my train up to Leeds, and bought a copy of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This was partly because I have a soft spot for Russian Literature, partly because I have been meaning to read it ever since I read an essay one of my cousins wrote about it for his year 12 English project several years ago now, and partly because it had a black cat on the cover, as did my copy of Kafka on the Shore. I read it on the train and then in Leeds in between packing up my English life into boxes. But I didn’t finish it. I really liked the strange chapter on Pontius Pilate, but I got bored of the people disappearing for no reason and the rest of it didn’t really grip me. I probably just didn’t give it enough time and I’m sure I’ll get back to it at some point.

August 2, 2008 at 3:36 pm 5 comments

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