August's Beach Read

In honor of the Beach Read theme of this month's 1book140 via Twitter, I decided to get myself in the mood with some beach photos:

The novel this month is Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. Mythic tales told with a postmodern twist, or so I've heard. It's going to be grand I tell you, grand.


Kafka on the Shore: Murakami Madness

Oh man. I’m still battling with this book – and I finished it two days ago. There are so many questions I have, and so many things that went right over my head, that it makes it difficult for me to like Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

I didn't hate it. So that’s a plus.

Ok, so. Plot line:

Meet Kafka Tamura, a 15 year old runaway, who leaves behind his father, a world renowned sculptor, in search of, well, himself… I guess. Or perhaps it’s better to say he was looking for his mother and older sister who abandoned him years ago, and THEN finds himself. He makes his way to a quaint little library where he befriends Oshima, a librarian/receptionist who, by the way, is a female – that dresses like a male – and likes males. So a homosexual transgendered librarian? Anyway, that is not really of any importance in the story, just an interesting fact. Kafka becomes employed by the owner of the library, a fifty-something year old woman named Mrs. Saeki. Madness ensues.

Meet Nakata, an elderly man who, having suffered a high fever and coma when he was younger, is “not very bright.” Nakata can not read, yet he can talk to cats. Yes, cats. He can also make fish and leeches fall from the sky. Nakata begins a sort of psychic quest, with the help of a young truck driver named Hoshino, westward (towards the exact same library where Kafka Tamura is living/working). Madness ensues.

I think I can put it this way: There were parts that were really good in Kafka on the Shore, and then there were parts that I just didn’t enjoy. But – I did feel the need to finish it. To see where Kafka would end up. To see what Nakata was setting out to do. To see where Murakami was headed with this strange tale.

In the end – I really don’t feel like it needed as many fantastic metaphysical elements as it had. There were parts that I feel could have been left out – i.e. fish/leeches falling from the sky. Nothing came of that, nor was there really any reason for that to happen. Unless it was some strange biblical allusion to the frogs that fell from the sky in the Egypt – but then that still confuses me. The metaphors in the book were THICK. Thick I tell you!

Loose ends stay loose ends. And that just aint my style I guess. I’m not saying every book has to tie its plot up in a neat little bundle, but when MAJOR ideas never come to fruition, then yes, that is a tad upsetting as a reader.

If you like weird, and I mean weird, and you don’t mind extremely descriptive sex scenes, then give Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore a shot.

On to reading!


Lookey Lookey I Got a Bookey (for cheap AND for charity)

So, I found this thrift store the other day while out and about with a book nerd friend of mine. They have funky old furniture, clothing, movies (specifically a large collection of VHS tapes), and BOOKS. And not like a thousand dusty copies of romance novels, but relatively good books. Thus, for 99 cents each, I bought Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker and Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. Talk about a deal.

And guess what the thrift stores proceeds benefit? Pets!

Thus more cute dogs, like my own, can find good homes. Hurray.

I am directly in the middle of Kafka on the Shore (which means I am behind in @1book140), and so far this book is cuh-razy. An old man who can talk to cats and predict fish falling from the sky. A fifteen year old kid who wakes up in some bushes covered in someone's blood. Ghosts. All sorts of wackiness (and I am told it only gets wackier). So today, besides cleaning the house, is going to be a power reading day.

 On to reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Should Be Required

Ok, so I was trying to think of all the books that really affected me in middle school, high school, and college (i.e. ages 13-19) And thus, here is my list:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee– Classic. Everyone should pretty much have this on their list. There are so many characters and themes in this book that will continually be alluded to throughout life that it would be a shame to not read it.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I recently read this, not while I was in my teens mind you, and it was so impacting on me that I decided if I ever go into teaching, I would make all of my students read this. It’s simple and easy for people of all ages to read. It is inspiring in the way Coelho tells you to follow your dreams and your destiny. It is an all around good book.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – This book opened my eyes to censorship, to not being ignorant towards people trying to control me into thinking a certain way… or not thinking at all.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – This book basically changed my life in high school. I’m sure it didn’t have the same effect on 90% of the rest of my class, but I was moved. This book made me want to never ever ever stop reading (even if I one day went blind).

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card – Again, another book I didn’t read until quite recently, but my boyfriend was actually the one who was like “You MUST read it” and, well, he just never reads. So I gave in, and he was right. Enders Game is good (in my mind) for those boys (and girls) in school who think reading is lame. I believe Enders Game would definitely pull them in and have them hooked right away (boyfriend being example #1). 

Go Ask Alice – Drugs. Rape. Self esteem issues. Sex. The topics most people feel scared to talk to their kids about.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen – I just remember love love loving this book when I was younger (that could have something to do with the fact that I desperately wanted to go and get lost in the woods somewhere because of My Side of the Mountain). Watching the main character, Brian, learn to survive in the wilderness was both moving and exciting for me as a young teen.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse– I like this book because it was different. It’s a series of poems all put together into a book to tell the story of a young girl growing up in the Dust Bowl years in Oklahoma.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – Classic. Boys stuck on island who turn into savages. Loss of innocence. Sow head on a stick. Piggy’s glasses. Sucks to your assmar.

Maus by Art Speigelman – Graphic novel about WWII. The Jews are represented as mice, the Germans as cats. It follows the life of Speigelman’s father as he fought to survive the holocaust. Very Awesome.

You have diary, comic book, poetry, science fiction, survival stories, coming of age. All that good stuff that will make young adults want to read. 

On to Reading!


Diamant's Dogtown

Anita Diamant, the same author who wrote The Red Tent (if you haven’t read – read.), has written this book, The Last Days of Dogtown… which, like The Red Tent (the biblical story of Dinah), is based off of a tiny little fragment of a story that she turns into a Full Length Novel – making whole characters out of what is only a minuscule mention in some historical text. 

Basically Dogtown was this little rundown village in Cape Ann, Massachusetts way back when. It’s a ramshackle little place where all sorts of witches, whores, and drunks live. Basically, if you are a degenerate, you live there. Or, if not, you plan to one day get out and move into Gloucester, the nearby town where you can maybe make something of yourself.
The book follows the lives of over ten characters in a mere 261 pages – but ultimately it ends up being about one woman in particular, Judy Rhines, a very lonely woman who learns to make a life for herself despite setbacks that she has faced.

There is a lot of “taboo/forbidden” love in this novel (i.e. interracial, lesbian, premarital, etc.), there is murder, there is scandal, and there are plenty of secrets to be had. It takes a while, but you get yourself woven into the character’s lives and the scandals that surround Dogtown as it finally falls apart. 

This was a pretty good book. I feel like it could have been made into a much longer novel or perhaps just have had fewer characters. Some of the lives I was thrown into learning about seemed like they were delivered too fast - I wasn’t able to get all emotionally connected and all. I also had moments where I was like, “did learning about this or that in a character’s past make me like the book anymore?” And the answer was no. So your mom got murdered? Eh, you aren’t even that big of a character in the book. Sorry.

Diamant does have this way of making me want to know the full history of what she is writing about. After The Red Tent I had to pick up the Bible and read Genesis just so I could see that tiny blurb about Dinah, and this book is no different. After turning the last page I wanted to do research Dogtown and see what it was all about.

On to reading!

Oh, and P.S. I’ve more or less given up on Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman.

Mr. Klosterman –
In case you ever randomly come across this, I just want you to know that I do not admire your fiction writing skills as much as I respect your essay writing skills. Keep to nonfiction old chum. 
Sincerely, me.


Lookey Lookey I Got a Bookey

Yes, that's right, more books.

Between the Tides by Patti Callahan Henry [My mom really wanted me to read this - to be honest, I'm not even positive what it is about, but I shall appease her and read it.]

Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides [I've seen the movie, yet have not read the book.]

Canary Row by John Steinbeck [Another Steinbeck novel - just to help disprove my own theory that I hate him.]

Nothing that I am TOO overly excited about, but nonetheless, more books! Hurray!

Also, as a semi-side note, I am busy reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami for @1book140 on Twitter. If you didn't participate last time with The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, you can definitely still chime in this go around! We have only just started the discussion process for the first section of Kafka.

I'm also trying to read Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman [as I noted... jeeze.... a LONG time ago]. It is slow [forced] reading on that one folks.

On to reading!


Dream Jar

Today I am having a giant urge to read The BFG by Roald Dahl (get it? giant. ha. ha.).

It's been forever and, well, I want to read something nostalgic from when I was just a wee one.

 Have a wonderful Fourth of July kiddos.

On to reading!