Quote of the Week

But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.

~Haruki Murakami

Quote of the Week

Pure love for another person, and what people call romantic love, are two different things. Pure love doesn’t manipulate the relationship to one’s advantage, but romantic love is different. Romantic love contains other elements—the desire to be loved by the other person, for instance. If purely loving another was enough, you wouldn’t suffer because of unrequited love. As long as the other person was happy, there wouldn’t be any need to suffer because you weren’t being loved in return. What makes people suffer is the desire to be loved by another person. So I decided that romantic love and pure love for a person are not the same. And that by following this you could lessen the pain of unrequited love.

~Haruki Murakami

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

220px-Killing_Commendatore_by_Haruki_Murakami_-_CoverI started to read this book in February and was really enjoying it but had to put it on hold after reading more than half of the 681 pages when I realized I actually still don’t have any idea what’s it about or what’s it all for (or am I missing something?). A week ago (thanks to the long holiday!), I realized this is Murakami. It may (or it may not) be the entire point of the story. Where is it heading? It doesn’t matter.

Killing Commendatore follows the life and experiences of the unnamed narrator, a portrait painter from Tokyo. He and his wife separated and he ended up living in a house on top of a mountain which belongs to Tomohiko Amada, a famous artist. It was after discovering the painting, Killing Commendatore, in the attic that a series of mysterious circumstances started happening.

This again proved what a great narrator Murakami is but I’m slightly unsatisfied with the ending, though. I wished he could have given us a little bit more in order to connect the mysteries somehow. And a little bit more of Menshiki perhaps? But then again, it’s Haruki Murakami. He always leaves the reader wondering about unanswered questions or an idea or this time a metaphor. All in all, it’s a good read but not one I’d recommend as an introduction to Murakami.

Quotable Quotes:

“That sometimes in life we can’t grasp the boundary between reality and unreality. That boundary always seems to be shifting. As if the border between countries shifts from one day to the next depending on their mood. We need to pay close attention to that movement otherwise we won’t know which side we’re on.”

“Our lives really do seem strange and mysterious when you look back on them. Filled with unbelievably bizarre coincidences and unpredictable, zigzagging developments. While they are unfolding, it’s hard to see anything weird about them, no matter how closely you pay attention to your surroundings. In the midst of the everyday, these things may strike you as simply ordinary things, a matter of course. They might not be logical, but time has to pass before you can see if something is logical.”

“I had taken a nap, but my head was muddled. It felt like a ball of yarn had been crammed into the back of a narrow desk drawer, and now the drawer wouldn’t close properly.”

“A face is like reading a palm. More than the features you’re born with, a face is gradually formed over the passage of time, through all the experiences a person goes through, and no two faces are alike.”

“From far off, that slice of ocean was nothing more than a dull lump of lead. Why people insisted on having an ocean view was beyond me. I much preferred gazing at the surrounding mountains. The mountains on the opposite side of the valley were in constant flux, transforming with the seasons and the weather, and I never grew tired of these changes.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Quote of the Week

Love can rebuild the world, they say, so everything’s possible when it comes to love.

~Haruki Murakami

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge #3 – Day 1

Big thanks to Elma for this challenge. It’s pretty late but here it is. 🙂

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days, or whenever the mood strikes you.
  3. Tell why that quote appeal to you.
  4. Nominate three bloggers for each post.

The nominees:

Prakhar Bansal

Divya

Nidhi

If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.

-Haruki Murakami

This quote is from Haruki Murakami’s book, 1Q84. This appeals quite much to me because of experience. I get to love someone with my whole heart even though I can’t be together with that person…

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

downloadSouth of the Border, West of the Sun is a book I’ve known years ago but didn’t have the chance to read because I can’t find a copy and I only want to read Murakami works on paperback. It’s unfortunate that I still didn’t find a copy but I need a Murakami fix to get me back to my reading so hello Kindle!  The first thing that came to mind though when I read the title page was hope and suicide.

The book is about a man’s mid-life crisis, narrated by the 37-year old Hajime, born as an only child in Japan who met Shimamoto, an only child as well at the time when being a single child was rare in Japan. They formed a bond from there and had a strong connection, an innocent relationship but young love didn’t quite blossom and they started drifting apart when they started attending different high schools.

In high school, Hajime had a relationship with Izumi. He later met Izumi’s cousin then soon found himself having sexual affairs with her. Izumi was devastated and the relationship ended. He went on living his 20s without any serious relationships until he married Yukiko at 30. He loves her and their two daughters. Soon enough, he opened up a jazz bar and became prosperous.

Then Shimamoto reenters the picture as she shows up in the bar one night after reading a magazine article about a successful jazz bar and its owner. Hajime came to realize he’s still in love with Shimamoto when he saw her. She shows up every now and then until they eventually end up having a night of sex in Hakone. Hajime was willing to give all up for Shimamoto but she has other things planned.

I think Shimamoto’s character is one of the strengths of this book. Murakami never explained about what happened to her all those years but there were hints (though I’m not so sure of my interpretation of them), and that she’s tired of her life and existence. I only know that her happiest days were the time she was with Hajime as a child with a lame leg listening to music and was trying to relive those memories when he saw Hajime once again. All throughout the book, Shimamoto’s character pushes the plot forward but still, typical of Murakami, the specifics about her weren’t revealed. I’m used to Murakami’s female characters to be mysterious but somehow, I wished for more of Shimamoto.

Izumi and Yukiko’s characters were clearly portrayed and I easily identified with their emotions but when it comes to Hajime, I neither liked nor disliked him. He was just a voice narrating his erratic life story.

South of the Border, West of the Sun is almost devoid of surreal elements. Murakami here focused generally on love and heartache. He painted us an honest portrayal of a man dealing with mid-life crisis by allowing Hajime to express his feelings. No author has ever gave me that feeling of melancholy the way Murakami does. It’s not always that I get to read books that convey intense feelings this much. Murakami is very skillful on this and the translation by Philip Gabriel is excellent.

This by far is the most conventional Murakami I’ve read and this somehow reminds me of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and also Murakami’s Norwegian Wood which I intend to reread sometime soon. The love affair wasn’t as heartbreaking as that of Toru Watanabe’s but probably the book wasn’t meant to let us totally sympathize with Hajime.

Funny how I was reminded of someone the entire time I was reading this. It’s sometimes hard not to wonder about the past most specially when things can’t be changed, but still I wonder what could have been…

This is a short read but definitely one with words and emotions that stay with you long after you’ve finished.

Quotable Quotes:

“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star. 
It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”

“I hurt myself deeply, though at the time I had no idea how deeply. I should have learned many things from that experience, but when I look back on it, all I gained was one single, undeniable fact. That ultimately I am a person who can do evil. I never consciously tried to hurt anyone, yet good intentions notwithstanding, when necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centered, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.”

“The sad truth is that certain types of things can’t go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can’t go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that’s how it will stay forever.”

“…some feelings cause us pain because they remain.”

“I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge #1 – Quote #1

I’m so glad to accept this Three Days, Three Quotes Challenge from Shreya. Thank you! I just can’t say no to quotes challenges! 😉

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

The nominees:

Mvadi

Myrtle

Poonam

Happy Monday, homo sapiens!

A Reread: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

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Book #24.

This is one of Haruki Murakami’s novels which I include in the short & “normal” category among his books. I say short & normal because the other categories are long & weird and short stories. But even if I categorize this to “normal” there is still something that goes out of the ordinary.

The story is about the “colorless” bachelor, Tsukuru Tazaki, who was never able to get over the cruelty of his four best friends in high school who abruptly excluded him from the group one day when he went home from Tokyo during their first year in the university. He was told never to contact them ever again and though he tried to challenge them for a reason, he was only told that he already knows why. Tsukuru then started drifting through life. He suffered from depression and since then wasn’t able to make long-term relationships. Until he met Sara…

As most of his books do, this explores themes about loneliness, friendships, melancholy, life, loss and identity. The story flips back and forth between what happened during his young adult days and the present. I’d describe this book as quiet, poignant and thoughtful about a man’s journey on dealing and understanding the past in order for him to move on with the present and a better understanding of himself.

As always, I was again left with the ambiguity of its ending. Many unanswered questions as usual and so it’s totally up to me again to fill in the gaps. In the book, tomorrow is Wednesday, the day Tsukuru will have the answers from Sara. Is she really dating another guy or will she be Tsukuru’s life partner? What’s hidden inside Midorikawa’s bag whenever he plays the piano? What happened to Haida? Who murdered and raped Shiro? Anyhow, Murakami still left me satisfied.

Quotable Quotes :

“But there are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough. Life is long, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes victims are needed. Someone has to take on that role. And human bodies are fragile, easily damaged. Cut them, and they bleed.”

“People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody.”

“You need to live it to the fullest. No matter how shallow and dull things might get, this life is worth living.”

“Words don’t come out when you’re hurt that deeply.”

“Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

MenWithoutWomen_Hardcover_1-789x1024Book #23.

Men Without Women is comprised of seven short stories about, as the title suggests, men without women. These tales all feature male lead characters contemplating on themes like love, loss, solitude, grief, loneliness and infidelity. Every story features a kind of relationship that has a great impact on our male protagonists, how lack of women in their lives affect them and the way they perceive women. No, it won’t take you to the surreal and complexity of worlds in the likes of Kafka on the Shore. These stories are far easier but darker and somewhat reminds me of Norwegian Wood.

As always, Murakami was able to create characters very delicately and similar with his other works, he always gives us the most important details but lets our imagination finish the rest of the concept/idea. Other elements present in the stories familiar to Murakami readers include jazz music, baseball, whiskey and cats.

I don’t think I will ever be disappointed by Murakami though whenever I read his works, I always need to put myself in a particular frame of my mind. I’m not really sure what that particular frame of mind I’m talking about exactly is but it makes me unified with the book. And though you won’t like every story in this collection, I’m pretty sure you’ll like at least one of them. This would be a good choice for anyone who wants to try reading his books but don’t know where to start. Or a well worth stopgap for his fans while waiting for the next big one.

Now this leaves me thinking what about women without men in Murakami’s pen?

Quotable Quotes :

“Everything is blowing up around us, but there are still those who care about a broken lock, and others who are dutiful enough to try and fix it…But maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.”

“I guess I was happy then. But that much happiness can lead to an equal amount of pain.”

“As time passes, memory, inevitably, reconstitutes itself.”

“Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt.”

“…in every situation, knowledge was better than ignorance. However agonizing, it was necessary to confront the facts. Only through knowing could a person become strong.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Quote of the Week

Music has that power to revive memories, sometimes so intensely that they hurt.

-Haruki Murakami, Men Without Women (Yesterday)

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Book #23. (2016)

This is the most difficult Murakami read for me and it took me a long time to finish. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it is actually a very good one, it just took me longer than usual to comprehend what Murakami is trying to tell me. 🙂 I’ve read somewhere that the English translation by Jay Rubin cut three chapters from the Japanese version. Maybe the deleted chapters would have helped me understand the book more. Anyhow…

I don’t know how to say this right but for me, the book isn’t a total page-turner compared to his other books. Not because the story isn’t interesting enough. It is actually very interesting, however, it took me time and effort to digest its content. Even halfway through the book, I still didn’t understand where the story is heading.

Toru Okada resigned from a job he finds meaningless, but also refused to get a job because it is what the society expects. And so begins Toru’s dropping out of the society. One day, he was cooking spaghetti. The phone rings. A mysterious caller. The cat disappeared. A few days later, his wife, Kumiko, disappeared as well. Toru drops further and further out while in search them. An ordinary start that lead to a very complex story. So, even if this was given to me without the author’s name on it, I would certainly identify that this is a Murakami work.

The Manchurian thread are the best parts of the book for me though I don’t really quite understand how it would resonate with the rest of the book. Or does it have to? And what exactly is he trying to say about the war? Is it to show the violence in Japan’s past? It’s one of the reasons I’m left unsure after I finished reading. Should the different plots fit together? Are they meant to fit together? Really, I’m not sure. The confusion, lack of closure and the loose ends are all probably a part of the plan.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but would also advise you to read it when you have the time to commit. After reading this, you will never look normally at your cat again or the ordinariness of spaghetti. Man, I think I need another vacation… A vacation at the bottom of a well.

Quotable Quotes :

“People don’t always send messages in order to communicate the truth… just as people don’t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves.”

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”

“I realize full well how hard it must be to go on living alone in a place from which someone has left you, but there is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.”

“A life without pain: it was the very thing I had dreamed of for years, but now that I had it, I couldn’t find a place for myself within it. A clear gap separated me from it, and this caused me great confusion. I felt as if I were not anchored to this world – this world that I had hated so passionately until then; this world that I had continued to revile for its unfairness and injustice; this world where at least I knew who I was. Now the world ceased to be the world, and I had ceased to be me.”

“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster.”

Rating : 5/5

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

danceBook #16.

Our nameless narrator from A Wild Sheep Chase is back once again in this book as he starts to feel nostalgic about the Dolphin Hotel in Sapporo where seemingly good things happened to him. Something from within him strongly urged him to have a vacation and visit the place again. On this trip starts a series of strange events.

Interestingly, the characters have names now, except for the narrator. 🙂 Most of the characters have a mysterious side in them. Kiki, who just disappeared. Gotanda, our narrator’s former classmate whom I felt like hiding something since the beginning but was an interesting character for me. Yuki, a thirteen-year-old psychic. (I really liked Yuki and the narrator’s bantering. Pretty much a comedy!) Yumiyoshi, the receptionist in the new Dolphin Hotel. The Sheep Man. And several others.

Dance Dance Dance addressed a lot of themes such as aging, death (a very common theme in Murakami’s books), life’s meaning, illusion, reality, boredom, the importance of human connection, etc. These are themes more inclined to the heavy side but still there are also moments that will make you smile and laugh.

Typical of Murakami’s works as well are the loose ends that he leaves us with. And for me, I am still left contemplating about who the sixth skeleton is. That scene where he was driving in Hawaii with Yuki and he suddenly saw Kiki and he soon came running after her and was led to a room with six skeletons. I can account to five but who’s the sixth? Is it the Sheep Man because he’s gone from the mysterious room of the Dolphin Hotel? Or is it the narrator himself? Anyhow, it’s sort of a happy ending.

Murakami is such a brilliant writer that he always, always makes me doubt which of these things happened and which did not. In any case, this was another surreal ride but for the meantime, I will have to take a break before I start dreaming about the skeletons or the Sheep Man…

Quotable Quotes :

“People have their own reasons for dying. It might look simple, but it never is. It’s just like a root. What’s above ground is only a small part of it. But if you start pulling, it keeps coming and coming. The human mind dwells deep in darkness. Only the person himself knows the real reason, and maybe not even then.”

“People fall in love without reason, without even wanting to. You can’t predict it. That’s love.”

“Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely.”

“Friends don’t need the intervention of a third party. Friendship’s a voluntary thing.”

“People leave traces of themselves where they feel most comfortable, most worthwhile.”

Rating ; 4/5 stars

A Reread – A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #15.

I’ve decided to reread A Wild Sheep Chase since I’ve just finished the first two books of The Rat Trilogy just recently and it felt like reading it for the first time… twice! I can say I appreciate this book more now. I was able to understand it better as well and it opened my eyes to things I wasn’t able to grasp on my first reading.

In this final book of the trilogy, we still have our unnamed characters from the previous books and we finally have one named character, too! Kippler, the cat. 🙂 It was also while reading this that I realized how much I care for the characters in Murakami’s books. They are mostly intriguing that I really care about what’s going to happen to them. Moreover, Murakami has a way of describing the characters’ feelings like no other.

In a nutshell,  we have our protagonist who’s living a mediocre life, haunted by a whale’s penis, who doesn’t seem to be affected with his wife’s betrayal which led to their divorce, and soon meets a girl with unusually beautiful ears. Then the disappearance (and reappearance) of his friend, the Rat. We also have the sheep professor who locks himself in one of the rooms of Dolphin Hotel owned by his son. An Ainu youth who helped some early Japanese settlers in Hokkaido. A dying wealthy man known as the Boss, who sent his secretary/representative to our narrator to go find a mystical sheep with a star mark on its back. What do all these characters have to do with each other? They’re all a part of a wild sheep chase…

I didn’t really realize it the first time I’ve read this but I noticed that aside from the mystical sheep, war is also something we find in common among three notable characters here — the Boss, the sheep professor and the Ainu youth. They’re all remarkable characters in their own ways which is in contrast to our narrator who seems to be unaffected with his divorce, no ambitions and there doesn’t seem to be anything of significance to him. This I think, once again is an example of how Murakami was again able to explore the meaning of life and the meaning of living through the eyes of a mediocre Japanese guy disappointed in a modern world and in this life. There were several instances when the narrator feels nostalgic about music and the simple life he had when he was younger thus he struggles with the changes and modernization happening around say for example, the Boss’ right-wing. It’s also quite notable that Murakami probably felt that the modernization and corruption that happened to Japan is mostly because of western/foreign influence thus he used the sheep which was a new livestock brought to Japan, nobody knew about it, no historical connection in the lives of the Japanese, but was able to make big changes. The sheep though is something I see as a driving force for people who are weak to try to be as successful or productive as they can be. It somehow represents ambition and will to be powerful. Well it really depends on the reader what the sheep is trying to represent and this is just what I think but it’s the same thing that made our narrator and the Rat uneasy and troubled.

When the book ended, it made me want for more, though probably, as far as the Rat is concerned, I think the story has ended. And it’s sad. But still, as is what’s expected of every Murakami book, there are far more unanswered questions left behind. I’m not sure if Dance, Dance, Dance has the answers to these questions but I’m certainly looking forward to reading it soon.

Quotable Quotes :

“I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.”

“The song is over. But the melody lingers on.”

“Some things are forgotten, some things disappear, some things die.”

“I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas – if I like these things, why should I apologize?”

“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment. Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #14.

Pinball, 1973 is the second book in The Rat series and just like Hear the Wind Sing, this is also a short read. So we have here the same unnamed narrator, now a few years older and got addicted to pinball, his acquaintance, the Rat who is still lonely and had a strange affair with a certain woman, J the bartender and a few additional unnamed characters like the twins who just one day appeared in the narrator’s apartment.

Pinball generally talks about loneliness and being alone. One trying to distance himself from people and one who can’t open up himself to others. Here we see how deeply his girlfriend’s suicide from the first book affected our narrator. The Rat on the other hand continues to struggle with his own life, not knowing exactly what to do and whether to stay or leave. The narrator and the Rat never met in this book but it seemed like their loneliness kind of connected them and that same loneliness consumed me.

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball are a good warm-up to Murakami’s first full-length novel A Wild Sheep Chase which I happened to read back in 2015. I thought then that I didn’t seem to miss on anything without reading the first two books but now that I’ve read them, it is very likely that I’ll read it again and will somehow enjoy and understand it more.

It’s very interesting to see the author’s writing progress in this second book of his. Pinball is better than its predecessor and we can see more signs of Murakami’s strangeness already and most importantly how his characters contemplate about the important questions in life and how they deal with it, which in a way makes us readers rethink about how we deal with our lives as well. I kind of wished it to be a little longer too because when it started to get better, that’s when it ended.

Another Murakami work that gave me something to chew on.

Quotable Quotes :

“Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.”

“I could go on like this forever, but would I ever find a place that was meant for me?”

“We fell silent again. The thing we had shared was nothing more than a fragment of time that had died long ago. Even so, a faint glimmer of that warm memory still claimed a part of my heart. And when death claimed me, no doubt I would walk along by that faint light in the brief instant before being flung once again into the abyss of nothingness.”

“Happiness is a warm friendship.”

“There are — how do you say — things in this world our philosophy cannot account for.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

hear-the-wind-singBook #10.

Hear the Wind Sing was Murakami’s first novel, more like a novella actually because it’s very short, and you’d feel it even shorter because of its frequent page breaks.

It’s set in Japan with a nameless narrator on his summer break and his friend known as the Rat who struggles with his everyday life filled with loneliness.

The book isn’t something that lives up to the current Murakami standards. There ain’t much to its plot and it just goes on without anything clear going on. It’s pretty much a collection of the narrator’s encounters with the Rat, with J, and the girl with only nine fingers. Then his being nostalgic about his past relationships.

That said, it doesn’t mean though that I didn’t like this book. There’s no parallel universe in it but there’s a familiar tone. There’s always something interesting in a Murakami novel and as long as it’s read for what it is, you’ll never be disappointed.

Up next : Pinball, 1973

Quotable Quotes :

“There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.”

“Sometimes, I imagine how great it would be if we could live our lives without bothering other people.”

“I like the sky. You can look at it forever and never get tired of it, and when you don’t want to look at it anymore, you stop.”

“…the wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that’s inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.

“Everyone who has something is afraid of losing it, and people with nothing are worried they’ll forever have nothing. Everyone is the same.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #6.

This basically follows the story of five characters — a 19-year old girl named Mari, Takahashi a jazz musician, Mari’s sister Eri who is in a very deep sleep, a Chinese prostitute assaulted in a “love hotel”, and a salary man, Shirakawa, who works late to avoid his family — one autumn night in Tokyo.

How Murakami-san managed to capture the happenings and feelings of time from midnight to dawn at a brisk but natural pace is amazing. Every beginning of a chapter shows a clock and as the night progresses, the story does, too. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but I also didn’t hate any of them. But the point is probably not to like or hate them, but to connect to them which I think Murakami-san effectively did.

This is not as bizarre as his other works but neither it is a straight narrative. It stays surreal because Murakami-san doesn’t bother with explanations and in his world, nothing is simple.

After Dark ended far too quickly for me and as usual, I was left with too many unanswered questions. I would recommend you read this in a coffee shop, overnight, with cups of brewed coffee. And maybe some music, too. Well, if you haven’t yet! 😉

Quotable Quotes :

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”

“What seems like a reasonable distance to one person may feel too far to somebody else.”

“A brand-new day is beginning. It could be a day like all the others, or it could be a day remarkable enough in many ways to remain in the memory. In either case, for now, for most people, it is a blank sheet of paper.”

“…people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel.”

“The silence is so deep it hurts our ears.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Quote of the Week

People don’t always send messages in order to communicate the truth… just as people don’t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves.

-Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Book #22. I am not a runner but picking a Murakami book is not unusual for me.

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This is a memoir of Murakami’s affair with long-distance running. He talks about the joy running brings to him, the places he visits and the things he do in preparation for the events, as well as the ups and downs of running. Moreover, he talked about the change running has done to him and how it helped in his writing.

I’ve read several books by Murakami and I love every single one of them. So reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is refreshing because I get to know more about the man behind all the madness! I didn’t know that he is a dedicated runner, joined 25 marathons and also entered the world of triathlon. He runs not to win events/races, he runs to stay healthy and active. He runs because he wants to. And through running, he developed endurance, dedication and focus which we can clearly see mirrored in his writing.

So whether you are a runner or not, a Murakami fan or not, I recommend you give some time to read this. Whatever your passion is, the book will in one way or the other motivate and inspire you.

Quotable Quotes :

“I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.”

“When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”

“In other words, let’s face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that’s unfair, I think it’s possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won’t seem to be worth all that. It’s up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.”

“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”

“It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself.”

Rating : 4/5

Quote of the Week

Each person feels pain in his own way, each has his own scars.

-Haruki Murakami

Quote of the Week

Memories warm you up in the inside. But they also tear you apart.

-Haruki Murakami

Quote of the Week

Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still. 

Haruki Murakami

Quote of the Week

Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Book #45 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

Book #45 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is a collection of short stories from my favorite author, Haruki Murakami…

This book is a collection of short stories set in different venues and features different themes/subjects like cats, monkeys, a firefly, jazz, friendship, chance, death, loss, etc. Out of these stories, some of my favorites or some that leave a deeper impression to me are The Mirror, The Year of Spaghetti, The Ice Man, Chance Traveller, Toni Takitani and Firefly.

Murakami’s short stories (and novels) make you dream differently. He’s able to bring out the magic of everyday life, he makes you see the extraordinary even in the most mundane situation. To cut the story short, there are no ordinary stories when told by Murakami.

Favorite quotes : “There are ways of dying that don’t end in funerals. Types of death you can’t smell.”

“Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing.”

“I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”

“I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away.”

“What I saw wasn’t a ghost. It was simply — myself. I can never forget how terrified I was that night, and whenever I remember it, this thought always springs to mind: that the most frightening thing in the world is our own self.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

52 in 2015 – Reading Challenge

My friend and I challenged ourselves to read 52 books this year and since I just started this blog a couple of weeks ago, I was only able to start to post from Book #34. So here’s the list from Book #1 to #33…

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – Who decides who’s sane & who’s not? cuckoo's nest
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – A quiet novel that contains so little action and yet carries great, gentle power.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – A psychologically twisted portrait of relationships gone wrong.
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – Highly readable writing style.
  5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – For fans of historical fiction or simply of a good story. invention of wings
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – I’m not sure how true in real life this portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome is but I think that it is very well written.
  7. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – A mystery that will keep you in suspense while keeping a smile on your face. body in library
  8. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup – “What difference is there in the color of the soul?”
  9. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – A kind of book that requires a little more attention than usual but worth reading.
  10. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I know a lot of people were raving for this book but I’m definitely not the target audience for this one.
  11. HHhH by Laurent Binet – A book so good even though I already knew the outcome. HHhH
  12. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – It’s not quite as good as his other books but I love it. Still Murakami. Weird and wonderful.
  13. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson – It’s not quite what I was expecting and it was so easy to figure out the outcome.
  14. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – Truly a page turner! Finished it so quickly. Highly recommended! aj fikry
  15. The Pact by Jodi Picoult – My third Jodi Picoult book. A tragic event turned personal family tragedy. I like the book though it left me with a lot to think about.
  16. By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho – “Love perseveres. It’s men who change.”
  17. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – While I personally think that suicide is stupid, I would recommend this book. I like the way the book’s written, alternating Hannah & Clay’s points of view within the same chapter. Truly a page turner because you want to find out who’s next on the tapes. I was so relieved to find out that Clay isn’t included for bad reasons. I can’t say I agree with all of Hannah baker’s reasons why she did it but I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it.13 reasons why
  18. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – One of the best stories I have ever read! What can I do but recommend this book? True to the book’s title, Louis Zamperini’s life’s one of survival, resilience & redemption. It’s just very unfortunate that evil Watanabe (the Bird) was never tried as a war criminal. I’m left with an unsatisfying ending but very real. unbroken
  19. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – The “dangerous” Miss Marple was first featured in this book. Suspenseful. Surprises and false leads.
  20. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck – Crushing! john steinbeck
  21. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Enjoyed this book because it felt real though the ending was a bit rushed.
  22. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult – I like Jodi Picoult’s works, but this didn’t make it high on my list.
  23. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Wonderful! Magical! the night circus
  24. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson – I was literally laughing out loud while reading this. Fast-paced & entertaining. the who saved
  25. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak – A simple, heart-warming book that makes you think and want to do better for yourself and other people.
  26. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks – A simple, captivating, romantic read. As always, Mr. Sparks has his way of giving life to his characters, making it so real. A great read about taking chances and following your heart.
  27. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax – “…remembering is not enough, if it simply hardens hate.”
  28. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks – This completely broke my heart so I’m not going to read any book of Mr. Sparks any time soon.
  29. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami – The title itself tells what the ending’s gonna be. Really loving Murakami more! a wild sheep chase
  30. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie – A nice exercise if you like to guess “Who did it?”
  31. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – The start was a bit jumbled up to the middle part that I found it hard to continue reading this book but the last few chapters got a lot better. It’s a brilliant story, it’s just the way it was presented that I didn’t like.
  32. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – Love the love story and the nasty mystery.
  33. A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie – Being able to guess who the killer is in this book just makes me feel good and clever. Haha! a murder is announced

There goes my list. Let me check yours! 🙂