Arikawa puts together a story of maturity and innocence in The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Satoru, a thirty-something year old man and his cat, Nana, head out on a journey across Japan to visit Satoru's old friends in the hopes one will be able to take Nana into their home. Death, the joy of pets, nostalgic meetings with old friends, and the exciting proposition of making new ones all crop up in this short, stirring read. Arikawa's themes are deep enough to benefit from the musings of adults, while her language and whimsy are sure to be a hit with middle grade readers also. In short, there's something here for everyone!
Some books manage to do alot with a little. The Nakano Thrift Shop is the story of a Japanese woman who works in a...thrift shop. She reminisces over pieces that come in, muses about the lives of the regulars, and goes out with a coworker. The book has a simple setup, each chapter is named after an item that appears within it and has some central meaning. Really it's like reading loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. Quaint, breezy, relaxing.
A literary history, an American history, a constitutional history. I read Kevin Birmingham's book to learn about the publishing history of one of the most infamous novels of the 20th century. Things I learned: Suppression and flat censorship of literature in America extended well into the 1900s, that our nation once had vice societies designed to control consumption of "unsavory" entertainment, and Ernest Hemingway was a smuggler of contraband. An exempelary book on the importance of free speech and challenging the status quo.
My Struggle is cringe-inducing, family drama, and oversharing to the next level. And I love every word of it. Karl Ove Knausgaard crucifies himself on a page while making his words universal. The book that has mattered to me the most for the past two years.
This is the single most beautiful children's book I've ever read. A poignant rumination on death and the afterlife told through the voyage of a train across the galaxy.
Some people say that classical music is boring and it's clear those people have never read The Rest Is Noise. This book is full to the brim with scandal, murder, and art. No prior musical experience needed.
The longest story in this collection is a mere nine pages. This is a delicate, airy, atmospheric group of concise, open-ended vignettes. They'll never take more than 10 minutes to finish but they'll always leave an impression.
Rare is the thriller as socially critical as it is suspense filled. Out can satisfy someone seeking to understand the patriarchal culture of Japan or the reader looking for a heartracing tale of murder through the killer's eyes.
I first read Norwegian Wood during my sophomore year of high school and have read it every year since, normally around winter. It was my first real taste of Japanese fiction (as Murakami often is) and I've been hooked ever since. Like the 60s? Read this book. Like love triangles? Read this book. Like a book to just unapologetically wreck you? Read this book.
Knut Hamsun's Pan was my introduction to Norwegian literature. Lieutenant Glahn is a young hunter living in the forest beyond Oslo, then Christiania, eking out a meager living with his dog, Aesop. We see the neuroses of a young man seeking love and happiness. Hamsun is a top-notch prose writer and his characters are always fleshed out and laid bare for his readers to soak in.
Japan is renowned for the short story and Tsushima upholds the legacy for sure. "A Sensitive Season" featured in this collection is probably my favorite short story of all time.
A densely layered mystery involving a man and his missing wife. At once a novel about the collective unconscious, the self, and the polar opposites we find for ourselves. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!
Ulysses is one of *those* books. The kind that sit on your shelf, the kind you'd love to brag about having read, the kind that you figure could change your life if only you had the time or opportunity to really dig into it. Well, I'm happy to say Ulysses really might be the greatest novel of all time. I had to read it for a class in spring of 2018 and loved every bit of it (well maybe not every bit). Sure, there's lots to miss but that also means there's plenty to get! A few episodes will make you want to bang your head on the wall because of how esoteric they are (looking at you "Oxens of the Sun"), while others will leave you absolutely speechless with Joyce's language. You'll definitely laugh, you might cry, and you might chuck the brick across the room! Ulysses is the only book I think everyone should read because it is that universal, that entertaining, and that essential.