Tag Archives: Murakami

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019 and a New Reads List

The best thing about the new year is signing up to a new Goodreads Reading Challenge. So far, over the last few, I have failed to complete a single year – or if I’ve got anywhere near I wouldn’t know as I’ve failed to log the books I’ve read.

There’s not much to the rules of the challenge to be honest. You input how many books you want to read that year and then, as you complete each one, you check them off on the GR app. It’s quite addictive, at least in the first couple of months as you rack ’em up and see you percentage achieved rise (I’m currently on 12% with six out of 50 books done).

Anyway, I love to read and I love to buy books even though I shouldn’t and I’ve got some real peaches in the immediate pile (anyone else got piles in order of importance?). Here are some of the ones I’m most excited for:

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

I mean, what a title. It’s also meant to be an absolute belter so bring it on!

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I’m obsessed with this cover and even more intrigued by the subject matter. I think this is definitely next in line for me.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I’ve recently read Eileen by the same author (reviewed here) and it was gorgeous so this is a no-brainer. It sounds awesome:

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature.

Men without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami

I’ve always been a big fan of Murakami but somewhere along the line I read too much of his work and needed to take a long break. I’m back in the game now after I read his little short Birthday Girl. There’s just something about his prose.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

A classic I’ve not yet read though I’ve devoured the film many times and adore it (boo Polanski). Cannot wait to dip into this deeply unsettling world again.

Help by Simon Amstell

I love Simon Amstell and find him very clever and funny. Darren and I have seen him a couple of times doing stand-up and that’s was enough to make me snatch this up as soon as I saw it.

From a complicated childhood in Essex to an Ayahuasca-led epiphany in the Amazon rainforest, this story will make you laugh, cry and then feel happier than you’ve ever been.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

I’m currently reading this bad boy and it’s started well with a definite The Woman in Black flavour (which is mentioned on the cover with a bi-line by Susan Hill). As far as I’m concerned you can’t lose with Gothic literature but I just hope this is good as I suspect it’s going to be.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel

I got the movie tie-in novel after seeing the very, very good movie adaptation on Monday night (review to follow). I loved Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel and frankly, I wanted more as soon as the credits rolled. So this is going to be a lot of fun. What an ingenious idea for a scam though.

Lee Israel’s hilarious and shocking memoir of the astonishing caper she carried on for almost two years when she forged and sold more than three hundred letters by such literary notables as Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, Noel Coward, and many others.

Adèle by Leïla Slimani

Slimani’s Lullaby (know as The Perfect Nanny in some countries) was dynamite. In turn beautiful, odd and shocking, it tells the story of how the perfect nanny came to murder the young children in her care. Adèle centers around a seemingly perfect wife, mother and career woman (of the same name) who leads a very secret double life.

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I might have to cancel the rest of the month so I can get fully immersed. I will be reviewing as I go too so watch this space.

What are you reading?

Book Would You Rather

I’ve stolen this from Jill because I love a questionnaire and especially book themed ones. You can read my wife’s answers here, they’re good ‘uns.

Now, to the book version of ‘Would You Rather’! I’m not sure why but I feel like I should have a line of shots in front of me while I do this. (Relax, it’ll be shots of tea).

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Would you rather: read only trilogies or stand alones?

There’s only one trilogy I can recall loving the living shit out of and that’s The Millenium Trilogy (I’m not counting the fourth, written by a different author), so I’m going to go with stand alones. Except this is a hard one because sometimes one isn’t enough and you just want your favourite characters to live forever.

I feel like this is going to be a hard series of questions to answer…

Would you rather: read only female or male authors?

Eek! Some of my favourite authors are men (Haruki Murakami, Steig Larrson, Douglas Coupland). However, my very favourite is a woman (Sarah Waters) and women write a lot of thrillers and crime novels. PLUS, they’re women goddammit so I’m sticking with the girls. No brainer.

Or is it?

Would you rather: shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?

I’m in the UK so sadly I don’t have access to Barnes & Noble. However, reading between the lines because I’m a clever sausage, I think what this question really means is, do you prefer to browse a big old bookshop or shop online, sight unseen?

I love both: never underestimate the quick fix obviously but there’s nothing quite like mooching for hours among the beautiful books. I prefer secondhand to be fair ‘cos they have a history, even if I have to make it up myself.

Would you rather: all books become movies or TV shows?

I don’t care as long as they’re good. How lame is that answer? It depends on the book, always – some stories need time to develop subtly over several seasons and some are so grand they need a silver screen to really convey what they’re all about.

I can’t think of any examples as I type this which I feel is very helpful.

Would you rather: read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

It would have to be 5 pages because is the latter even possible? I’m not actually a machine, despite popular rumour.

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Would you rather: be a professional reviewer or author?

Author because I would just love to write for a living but I’m not disciplined or ambitious enough. Notice I haven’t said I’m talented enough because I think I might be able to do a good job of my own book if I only had some original ideas. One day.

Until then, amateur reviewer, baby!

Would you rather: Only read your top 20 favorite books over and over or always read new ones that you haven’t read before?

Does this mean I can never revisit my faves? That’s fine: always read news ones, then. There are too many incredible stories and authors out there waiting for me to find them and there will never be enough time to discover them all which upsets me. I can only do my best!

I’m not a big re-reader to be honest. Unless it’s Red Dragon or The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, the first book to make me cry.

Would you rather: be a librarian or book seller?

Book seller. I’d love to have my own shop or stall. I’d be excellent at it but might not let books go if I didn’t think they’d be getting the love they deserve.

I talk too loud to be a librarian…

Would you rather: only read your favorite genre, or every genre except your favorite?

Only read my favourite genre, though I’d have to have regular breaks because murder without moderation can mess with your mind.

Would you rather: only read physical books or eBooks?

I’m all about the printed word, forever. I never read eBooks except graphic novels. No thank you very much. I need to feel the book in my hands.

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So that’s me!

If you want to do this yourself please feel free. I’m not tagging anyone but would love to read your answers if you do it. ❤

All images via Unsplash.

My Favourite Books

07bfe61dd392b74053edf7f34bf4ab4fI promised a post about my favourite books not long ago, though I didn’t realise then how hard it would actually be to compile my list.

I’ve gone for the traditional Top Ten format but I could honestly go on for hours about all the important books, the life saver books and the milestone books I’ve read in my life time.

I did think it was important to be honest about my most beloved texts, and include books that have mapped my life and love of the printed word, rather than be all pretentious. It would be ridiculous to say that I only ever read Sylvia Plath for instance, when we all know I’d rather have my nose in a Jilly Cooper.

*NOTE: Whilst reading back this post, it was peppered with “I loved it”, “It broke my heart”, “It’s soooo beoootiful!”, etc. I sounded like a giddy teenager. Let’s just agree that if a book is on this list, I loved it and it moved me in some way, K?* 

So without much further ado, in no particular order:

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The Millenium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest) by Stieg Larsson
When I think about these books it makes me want to pick them up and read them all over again. They are ace. Reading them, one after the other, is like immersing yourself in an amazing action movie that never lets up.

I’ve mentioned my love for Lisbeth Salander before and can honestly say that nobody has ever come close to her (for me) as a literary character (though I’m willing to wait for someone to come and match her). She is everything: strong, complex, spikey; kick ass.

The entire story is full of twists and terrible acts, is exhilarating, well paced, intriguing and bloody thrilling. I adore Mikael Blomkvist too, investigative journalist and main character. As he accepts a mysterious freelance assignment in the wake of a libel case he’s just lost, Mikael finds himself deeply embroiled in a dark family history. It’s a case that will grip you from the get go.

Also, if you’re ever stuck for something to do of an evening, Wiki the late Steig Larrson because his real life was fascinating and not so far removed from the trilogy that made his name. I am gutted that I will never read another book written by him, or meet (his) Salander again.

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