Sentence of the Day: Still THE DOOR

Reading soooo slowly. But this book needs to be savored.

p. 27:

He wasn’t a bad man, although he made me leave school, and the headmaster was very upset about it, but I was needed to cook for the harvesters because Mother wasn’t up to it, and I also looked after the twins.

In this novel, labor is front and center. Whether that labor is writing, or housecleaning, or making things with one’s hands.

All the translations self has read so far this year have been excellent:

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (transl. from the Japanese)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (transl. from the Norwegian)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (transl. from the French)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Favorites So Far, September 2018

  • Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto (novel)
  • La Belle Sauvage, vol. One of The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman, and His Dark Materials, the entire trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass (novels)
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
  • The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson (novel)
  • In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien (novel)
  • Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (novel in stories)
  • Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay (novelized biography)
  • Jamaica Inn, by Daphne du Maurier (novel)

This was a great reading year for NOVELS. Which means self has come full circle in her reading life. Until this year, her favorite books were histories and nonfiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Status Report: Books Read (So Far) 2018

By now it should be clear how much self loves constructing lists. And book lists best of all.

Self set herself a goodreads Reading Challenge of 32 books, which is pretty ambitious considering last year she didn’t make her challenge goal of 26 books.

Nevertheless.

Books Read This Year (in the order of their Goodreads Average Rating)

  1. The Odyssey (the translation by Emily Wilson)
  2. La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
  3. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  4. The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman
  5. The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
  6. The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
  7. Travels with Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck
  8. The Romanovs: 1613 – 1918, by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
  9. Conclave, by Robert Harris
  10. Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  11. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
  12. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  13. Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire, by Leslie Peirce
  14. In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien
  15. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  16. Mikhail and Margarita, by Julie Lekstrom Himes
  17. The Mandibles, A Family: 2029 – 2047, by Lionel Shriver
  18. Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto
  19. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
  20. As Lie Is to Grin, by Simeon Marsalis

Today, self went poring over her recommended reading list and discarded a list called “Recommended Summer Reading” (downloaded from a literary website). Summer is practically half over and by the time she gets to the books on that list, it will be winter.

On her To-Read list 2018 are a biography of Daphne du Maurier and three du Maurier novels. She hopes she can get to them soon. She wishes Steinbeck weren’t so engaging because he is really slowing down her reading rate. Before she began Travels with Charley she read an average of a book a week.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

#amreading MOSHI MOSHI by Banana Yoshimoto, p. 15

Her flat, affectless tone still gets to me:

  • “. . .  I’m talking about the lie that you have to live a proper life, or else you’ll be ruined . . . “

2nd Banana Yoshimoto Sentence of the Day

If life is a process of accumulating more and more things you simply can’t bring yourself to make peace with, well, my feelings about this are vast and deep enough for an entire lifetime’s worth of hang-ups.

— p. 4, Moshi Moshi

Despite the fact that self did not make her reading goal of 30 books in 2017 (She got to 26), she signed up again for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and upped the ante: 35 books to read in 2018.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Murakami Sentence of the Day

Even when self isn’t particularly taken by a Murakami story, there is always a take-away.

This story was written in the Jurassic period. Records in jackets? And none of Murakami’s characters use e-mail or text-messaging. Nevertheless:

  • The dwarf would take half-played records off the turntable, throw them onto the pile without returning them to their jackets, lose track of which went with which, and afterward put records in jackets at random.

— from “The Dancing Dwarf,” Story # 14 in The Elephant Vanishes

“A Window” by Haruki Murakami

Self decided to start reading story # 11 in Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes because a reader on Goodreads called it “boring.” She’s not reading in order. Which is the neat thing about short story collections: you can totally cherry-pick.

It is the most ordinary of Murakami’s seemingly ordinary stories, it’s about the perfect hamburger, what do you know, and it begins with one word:

GREETINGS

Any story that opens like that holds promise.

A few pages in, there is this:

  • I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make. It is this that gives birth to meaning.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Typical Conversation If Married to a Dentist: Story # 5 in THE ELEPHANT VANISHES

Self has no memory of reading any of the stories (except for the one about cooking spaghetti), how odd. If ever a book demanded close reading, it is this one. Each sentence has a precise and very unpredictable effect. For instance, one sentence can say, “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow” and the next sentence will be something like “So I settled on the couch to watch a game show.”

She is totally in awe of Murakami’s unwavering commitment to the absurd.

  • I didn’t want to think about plaque on people’s teeth, and I especially didn’t want to hear or think about it while I was eating.

The next sentence is about how the narrator wishes she could just resume reading — of all things — Anna Karenina instead of listening to her husband.

Oh of course! Anna Karenina throws herself in front of a train; is Murakami implying that the wife would throw herself in front of a train if she has to spend another minute listening to her husband talk about plaque removal?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Murakami Throws Shade on Ugly Dentist

Story # 5 of The Elephant Vanishes: Sleep

(Murakami writes from a woman’s point of view in this one. Self found the effect a bit startling at first)

“I know why you’ve got so many patients,” I always say to him. “It’s because you’re such a good-looking guy.”

This is our little joke. He’s not good-looking at all. Actually, he’s kind of strange-looking. Even now I wonder why I married such a strange-looking man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Murakami, Greatness

  • This is my seventeenth straight day without sleep.

Sleep, Story # 5 in The Elephant Vanishes, by Haruki Murakami, translation by Jay Rubin

How many years ago did self first read this collection?

It left hardly any impression.

She loves it madly now.

Stay tuned.

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