November 2011 wrap up

Wow, here we are already in December, time to look at our statistics, wrap up all our Reading Challenges, and see what else we want to read before the end of the year, and sign up for new fantastic Reading Challenges for 2012!

In November, I read only 5 books, but with a total of 1961 pages, which is a good average for me of 65.36 pages/day; thanks Murakami, I would not have done it without your most amazing 1Q84

Sadly, it looks like I did not finish any non-fiction book this past month, I’m still in the middle of 2.

And I listened to only 1 audiobook, 11:32 hours long, which is an average of 23 mn/day. But I have 2 going on right now…

So here are the novels I read:

1Q84, by Haruki Murakami – 924 p.
In A Strange Room, by Damon Galgut – 207 p.
Departure Lounge, by Chad Taylor – 173 p.
The Broken Teaglass, by Emily Arsenault – 370 p.
The First Rule of Ten, by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay – 287 p. [ebook]

Alas, I only reviewed 1Q84 so far.

The next 2 I read to finish my Europa Challenge, not too great.

As for the last 2, they are mysteries, easy and good. The very last one will be published next year actually, it’s with of a former Buddhist monk who became a detective, with some bits of Buddhist wisdom here and there. Neat actually. So reviews upcoming for all these.

And my favorite is with no doubt, as I give it my 2011 favorite award:

 

Read my review if you have not done so yet, and run to your library to get the book!

AUDIO BOOKS

As you know if you follow this blog, my favorite female narrator is Orlagh Cassidy. Even if I had listened to another audiobook this past month, this one would probably have been my favorite anyway:

My review is here

 

Reading Challenges

2011 Audio Book Challenge – Addicted- Listen to 12 Audio Books: 12/12   DONE!
My Dewey Decimal Challenge – Master Level =4.  26/4!  DONE!
2011 Non-Fiction Challenge – 7-9 books from different categories: Future Jeopardy Champion. 22/9!  DONE!
Europa Challenge – Ami Level =4. 4/4DONE!
Japanese Literature Challenge – 1 book between June 1, 2011 and January 30, 2012: 3/1  DONE!

*** *** ***

I am all covered as for Reading Challenges for 2011, and am in the process of signing for quite a few for 2012 – a post will come soon.

Here are the books I would like to read before the end of this month:

– Saint Gregory Palamas As A Hagiorite [in process]
– Is That A Fish In Your Ear? [in process]
– A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, part 2, maybe [in process]
– The Man In My Basement [in process]
– There But For The – audio [in process]
Heresy – audio [in process]

Then I would like to listen to Heresy’s sequel: Prophecy

And I plan to read these, at least:

– For The King – very good historical novel I believe
– Reamde –trying again this author, they say this book is easier than his other ones
– Books Can Be Deceiving – a good mystery
– To Say Nothing Of The Dog –famous classic science-fiction book

How was your November month?
What do you absolutely want to read before the end of the year?

#80 review: 1Q84

1Q84

by

Haruki MURAKAMI

Translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

924 p.

Published by Knopf in October 2011

***

This book counts for

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I enjoyed very much After Dark and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, so when I heard that this life opus was coming out, I requested it very early on from my public library, the best ever, and I got it THE DAY IT WAS RELEASED IN BOOKSTORES!

It was really thrilling to be able to dive into it right away, and what a dive it was!

I enjoy long books, but it’s probably the first book of over 900 pages when I never felt bored one line or thought the author could have made it shorter; actually, I was sad it ended, and I could have gone on many more pages. It does seem to me in fact that a sequel would be great.
12/8/21 update: I was actually quite upset a few years later when I learned that the translator had actually skipped some passages!! So it IS longer (in the Japanese).

And it is a work in translation, and translated by 2 people! Not sure how they did it, it felt the same style all over, and so fluid, it did not “stink translation”, as I sometimes say. OK I don’t read Japanese, but still, this seems to be really well done. Congratulations to fellow translators!
Except for skipping pages!!

So what is so good about this book? First, if you are familiar with Murakami, you have to expect the unexpected, some weirdness here and there; interestingly, this weirdness transpires early on in faces descriptions: eyes, ears, unusual facial characteristics.

As Aomame slips into… into what? another world? another dimension? lots of things around her happen to contain some elements of weirdness, but ever so slightly, so that you never really know if you are in the “real” world or not. One sign though is the presence of two moons. Since I opened 1Q84, I have caught myself checking how many moons were up there…
I think Murakami is for me the perfect example of magical realism.

So you could consider this novel as a reflection on what’s really normal in our lives, in our relationships, in the world around us.

But deeper, this is also a love story; not a usual one of course, as you will need to wait for the last chapter to see how it evolves between Tengo and Aomame.
What’s really interesting is that it shows how both characters are lead to each other 20 years after a brief encounter. This was particularly interesting to me now that having accumulated a few years behind me, I marvel at how long threads in my life lead me to where I am right now, and lead me to meet my own Tengo.

For most of the book, the story is told by alternating a chapter on Aomame and one on Tengo, which makes it even more suspenseful; I had to fight many a times the temptation to skip a chapter to follow a character, especially as Murakami stops a chapter right before something big, and you really want to know what happens next.

There are a lot of dialogues, and also beautiful descriptions and images. I regret not taking time to write down those as I read along. Uncanny and savory images.

By the way, I happened to read Lilith by George MacDonald just a bit before and it struck me that in both works, we find a great role given to the moon and to “little people of the forest”. I have not read anything about a possible influence. What do you think?

The New York Times review and others have been really tough against 1Q84, but please ignore them and give it a try yourself: this is a beautifully written book, a very rich story, with dystopian, romance, thriller elements, reflection on life and poetry. Where else can you find all these together except in a masterpiece?

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹 Murakami Haruki, born January 12, 1949) is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prize among others. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements. [wikipedia]

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
HAVE YOU READ ANY OTHER BOOK BY MURAKAMI?
DO YOU FEEL LIKE READING THIS BOOK?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

October 2011 wrap up

Not sure what happened this past month, where all the days of October went, but the fact is my wrap up is rather poor, and I’m still 8 reviews behind!

I read only 6 books, with a total of 1120 pages, which is a poor average of 36.12 pages/day; well, I have actually already read over 450 pages from Murakami’s 1Q84, but I only count finished books, so 1Q84 will boost my November rap up for sure – over 900 pages byt itself, and so far I enjoy every line of it.
Actually, this books is really getting me: yesterday night after work, I surprised mtyself checking that there was really just ONE moon. And I am not even kidding. Sorry I won’t explain more here, you will just have to read the book yourself!

To go back to October, I listened to 3 audiobooks, 26:10 hours long, which is an average of 50 mn/day, not too bad actually – which means I have done more painting on rocks, as I listen to audiobooks while painting!

NON- FICTION

Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, by William J. Broad, Stephen Engelberg, Judith McCoy Miller – 320 p.
This book was so creepy, would have been perfect choice for a Halloween Reading Challenge, even tough it is pure NON-fiction. I really had no idea all this was going on, apart from  a few articles on anthrax some years ago, we are given absolutely no information on tests and use of biological weapons on our own territory.

HISTORICAL FICTION

Road From The West, by Rosanne E. Lortz – 360 p.
It was great being part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour featuring this novel.

The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak – 440 p. upcoming review
I received this book an an egalley, it will be actually published in 2012, and I enjoyed it very much. This is my most favorite month for October.
I’m amazed at the number of great historical fiction writers these days; it’s definitely my most favorite genre.

AUDIO BOOKS

Unfortunately, I have not reviewed yet any of my 3 audiobooks listened to this month. But it will happen.

Lilith, by George MacDonald – 10:30 hours
I don’t know why it took me so long to plunge into MacDonald’s books. I really enjoy Lilith extremely. I felt in it the same wdith and depth as Tolkien

The Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov – 2 hours
I got this one as a free download, and I thought that was a nice way to discover Chekhov finally. I was rather disappointed.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern – 13:40 hours
I thought that everyone just loved this book, but even though the average rating in Goodreads is rather high, there are lots of people who did not enjoy it. I’m among those. This was way too complicated for me, I probably did not understand a thing, plus I did not like at all the narrator. More about all this in my upcoming reviews.

Reading Challenges

2011 Audio Book Challenge – Addicted- Listen to 12 Audio Books: 10/12
My Dewey Decimal Challenge – Master Level =4.  26/4!
2011 Non-Fiction Challenge – 7-9 books from different categories: Future Jeopardy Champion. 22/9!
Europa Challenge – Ami Level =4. 2/4.
Japanese Literature Challenge – 1 book between June 1, 2011 and January 30, 2012: 2/1

Did you notice a little change? I now try to insert the picture of the author when I review a book, to insert a bit more of color

*** *** ***

November starts fantastically with 1Q84 and an audiobook I requested from my library a while ago: Before I Go To Sleep. I really enjoy it very much so far, plus the narrator Orlagh Cassidy is so good, as usual.

Before the end of the year, I plan to read 2 more books for the Europa Challenge. Murakami’s 1Q84 will fit perfectly for my Japanese Literature Challenge, and I think I will let it at that. I have another Japanese novel I really want to get to, but it will be great in 2012 for the challenge of 52 bokks from 52 countries I will probably join.

I would love also to finally read The Master and Margarita, and Rebecca!

How was your October month?
What are your reading plans for November?