Bookshelf: 1Q84

1Q84I just finished the third book of 1Q84 and I’m really sad it’s over! A few month ago I read book one and two and didn’t discover that there’s a third book until last week. I couldn’t believe that I missed it before.I’m not going to summarize the story, since I feel that it’s much to complex . You can get an idea what it is about here.
As you already can tell, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s not exactly something new, rather all you can expect from a good Murakami brought to the boil. It starts with two different stories about two main characters, and in the beginning I had no clue how they connect. While at first everything seems normal, at some point strange things happen and you don’t know if they are real, or just in the protagonist’s head. But as the story goes along you get an idea that through these things there has to be a connection between the two protagonists and bit by bit the whole thing comes together (although not all questions get resolced). I really admire it, if an author is able to start at different points of a story and to bring it together at the end (other great examples are Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem and Die Frequenzen by Clemens J. Setz. I think the last one is only available in German). The story is really exciting, at some points I rarely could wait to find out what will happen next, what’s the meaning behind the events and for some things to finally happen which had announced themselves over chapters. In between there’s a lot of confusion, but in my opinion that’s part of a good Murakami, too. Next to the two stories coming together they also develop on their own. Bit by bit you get to know the main characters better and learn about their past, what made them to the persons they are and what brought them to the points of their lives they are currently at. While the personal stories of the main characters add some depth to the story, they are also essential for the overall plot.

All in all I liked the first two books better than the last, since they are more exciting. Although the third one is the one where most of the mysteries are resolved, it’s sometimes a little lengthy. Nonetheless I couldn’t put away one of them. I really wished there was a fourth book.

Have you read it? Did you like it?

The Small Things: Reading aka getting lost in another world

reading3

Reading definitely is one of my favourite things to do. I love to dive completely into it, not noticing what’s going on around me anymore but being completely into the book’s world.  I don’t have to worry or to think about my problems, it’s like being somewhere else. It’s a way to escape I can absolutely count on and it’s been like this since I learned to read.

Books pictured from top to bottom (randomly picked from my bookshelf):

  1. Peter Manseau, Bibliothek der unerfüllten Träume/Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter
  2. Ernst Augustin, Raumlicht; Der Fall Evelyne B. (I can’t find an english version, maybe it has never been translated, what a shame!)
  3. Antje Rávic Strubel, Kältere Schichten der Luft (also no english version found)
  4. Marisha Pessl, Die alltägliche Physik des Unglücks/Special Topics in Calamity Physics
  5. front: María Cecilia Barbetta, Änderungsscheiderei Los Milagros (also no english version found).

I’m sorry that most of the books pictured aren’t available in English, I wasn’t aware that apparently only few German books seem to get translated!
Do you like reading? What’s your favourite book?

Bookshelf: Skippy Dies

skippy-diesImage of english paperback: Pickle Me This
Image of german paperback: morebooks.de

The only negative thing about “Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray is that by knowing the title you also already know that something very sad is going to happen in this book. And, very consistently, it happens straight on the first page. Skippy dies during a donut eating contest with his best friend, Ruprecht. This scene already reveals the atmosphere of the whole book, being sad and funny at the same time, leaving the feeling of a big tragedy.
“Skippy Dies” consists of three parts, in which you will learn which events lead to Skippy’s death, what happened afterwards and finally, why it did happen.

In the first part, called “Hopeland”, as the title already suggests, everybody is full of hope. Skippy, a shy, slightly clumsy student at a Dublin boarding school for boys, falls deeply in love with a beautiful girl from the opposing school for girls, drooling over her through Ruprecht’s telescope and hoping to finally get to meet her at the Halloween Hop, which is eagerly awaited by all of the school’s boys. Also falling in love is Howard, a former student of the school, who has returned as a teacher after failing in the outside world. An encounter with the gorgeous supply teacher, Miss McIntyre, leaves him deeply conflicted whether to hold on to what he has or whether he should hope for more in his life. In the meantime, Ruprecht, who’s Skippy’s best friend and the school’s genius, is trying to contact other dimensions by conducting strange experiments.The highlight of “Hopeland” is the Halloween Hop, whose course of events leaves everybody astonished and confused.

In “Heartland”, the second book, nobody seems to believe that Skippy actually has a girlfriend, Howard’s life is turned upside down and Ruprecht finally manages to reach out to another dimension. But soon their hopes begin to crumble, as they one by one start to realize that these life-changing events aren’t what they seemed to be, all ending in the central point of the book.

In the third part, “Ghostland”, Skippy is already gone and everything is falling apart. The left-behind struggle to make sense out of his death, everybody in his own unique way trying to prevent Skippy from being forgotten and to find a way to go on with their own lives.

When I first read the blurb I thought this would be an entertaining coming of age story with a sad touch, but actually I found “Skippy Dies” to be a lot more, having an almost philosophical level lying underneath. It’s a book about feelings of isolation,  the inability to communicate and connect with the people surrounding you and the different struggles for ways to overcome these feelings. But above all the book addresses what happens to all the hopes we all have in our lives, if we should surrender or risk something trying to fulfill them and if we can trust in fortune. Finally it tries to give an answer to the question, how to deal with all the humiliations in life. And even if the answer isn’t absolutely new and certainly not right for everybody, I give the author great credit for working up the courage to provide one and for writing about such big issues without being pathetic.

Besides it is a nicely written story with a lot of slightly weird characters, therefore meeting my criteria for a good book and highly recommended. Not to forget the nicely designed look, at least the german paperback is really beautiful.

Any thought’s on this book? Have you read it or are you going to? I’m looking forward to hear from you in the comment section!

Introducing: Bookshelf

booksI love reading.
I always try to read some non-fiction books, mostly on psychology, because I think I should use my time meaningfully, but the problem is that I just can’t refuse a good novel. So usually after a few pages  Freud  goes stale on my bedstand while I get lost On the Road with Jack Kerouac (my all-time favorite).

I guess my taste in books is a little bit whimsical – I like weird characters, in my opinion a thrilling story is nothing without good language and I’m more interested in how a character experiences the events than in what actually happened. I prefer stories that tell about “normal life”, always looking for a clue how to get my own life right. I don’t read crime stories (though it’s said that there shall be good ones, too) and I don’t read fantasy (except Haruki Murakami is considered fantasy).

In the category “Bookshelf” I will introduce some of the books I like, hoping to give you some inspiration on what to read next. And since I like talking about books nearly as much as reading them, I hope you share your recommendations, opinions , favorite books and authors or anything else concerning this topic in the comments.