Monday, February 21, 2011

Love, loss and pinball

Pardon my absence here over the last couple weeks. All is well, I've just had a lot of things on the go. But even though I haven't spent a lot of time online recently, I have been reading.

Last weekend, last Sunday specifically, a few of us had a little Murakami #minireadathon over on Twitter, during which I read Haruki Murakami's first two books, the two short novellas, Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973. Having read quite a few of Murakami's other books, it's quite interesting to go back and see where it all began, and to spot some of the themes and ideas that continue to occur in his later work. Like Norwegian Wood which I read last month, these two stories are also set in a relatively normal setting. They don't have his now-trademark surrealism running through them. I have to say that I think I prefer his more bizarre stuff, but these were completely enjoyable to read as well, and a must for any true Murakami fan.

I had started it but set it aside for the weekend, so after the Murakami read-a-thon, I resumed reading Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier, a recent release from Other Press. It was very cleverly written, completely engaging, and I loved it! It was also a nice reminder of how much I enjoy reading literature in translation from all countries, not just Japan. OK, I do have a special fondness for French lit as well but it's so refreshing, if that's the right word, to read books from other languages and cultures. I hope to read more in translation this year.

One of the benefits of being offline recently has been that I've spent more time reading. It's not really surprising but Twitter, and the internet, can sure be distracting and time-consuming. So instead of checking in on Twitter, email, what have you, I've been making good use of my Sony Reader on my train commutes. I read Enough About Love on it, and now, I'm almost done reading Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton. A story of family, flaws and all, which I'm really quite enjoying. I actually wasn't sure about it initially as I don't always get on with Southern, small town stories, but it has drawn me right in, and I keep picking it up when I have the chance.

Next up, another story translated from the French, Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi, published by the fantastic Peirene Press. I've heard many wonderful things about this short novel, and I can't wait to read it. One of the reasons I haven't got to it before now, is I wanted to have the time to devote all my attention to it, and read it through in one sitting. Well, tomorrow is finally the day.

Also this week, I'll be reading Audition by Ryu Murakami, the February author for the Japanese Literature Book Group. There's still time to grab one of his books and join the discussion next week. His books are often quite slim.. nudge.. nudge. And after that, this coming weekend is Persephone Reading Weekend, hosted by Claire and Verity. I'm planning to read Every Eye by Isobel English, that I received from Teresa for the Persephone Secret Santa exchange last December. Can't wait!

Plus Memory's Tigana Read-along starts this week. I just received my copy and am looking forward to finally reading my first book by Guy Gavriel Kay. I don't think I'll have time to start it this week but I hope to catch up with the schedule for Part II in March. And the read-along runs to the end of April - it's a pretty big book after all - so there's still time to jump in.

So, lots of fun books in my future.

What are you reading this week? Will you be reading a Persephone this weekend?

It's Monday, What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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  1. A nice collection of titles! I don't think I've read Murakami's first two novels. Will you be writing a post about them? 'Enough About Love' also sounds very intriguing! I'll also be participating in the Persephone Reading Weekend although I haven't decided what to read yet:)

  2. I haven't talked to you in a while! Glad to see you are still around and reading! Have a great week!

  3. Good to see you back!

    You read some great books! Look forward to read your reviews!

    Here is my Monday: Mailbox/What Are You Reading?/Musings post!

  4. You have been busy! Under The Mercy Trees is one I can not wait to read. have a super week :)

  5. Again, a list of books that I want to read!! Haven't heard of Persophone books before though, must go and check it out.

  6. I'm reading two books right now. Not my usual habit, but I didn't want to wait to finish the first before starting a new ARC that showed up in my mail the other day. What are they, you ask?

    The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino


    Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

    I'm enjoying both, but have to say that Erica's is going to be the winner of the two.

    Have a great week, Nat!

  7. You've been doing some really great reading! I'm totally envious since mine seems to have come to a momentary standstill. Ack! ;)

  8. Its nice to see the books you're reading! I have Under the Mercy Trees yet to be I am glad it is one you are enjoying. I hope you love Beside the Sea - it is a beautifully written book, dark and compelling. Can't wait to see your review.

  9. Enjoy your reading time! I want to read more translated works this year, too which is why I joined your challenge. I really need to go buy the book soon!
    sadly, I already read my Persephone but loanedit to a good friend and will celebrate with discussion instead. :)

  10. Ah, I must manage to fit in some Murakami and Murakami in my near future.

    Every Eye is very gentle but worth paying close attention to - looking forward to your thoughts and, of course, your participation.

  11. I'd like to read some more of the less surreal Murakamis - thanks for mentioning them.
    Life seems so busy at the moment, so many things to do and not nearly enough time to read!

  12. No blogging, lots of reading :)

    Since my last review at the start of Feb, I have read:
    Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
    Plays and Petersburg Tales - Gogol
    Salem Chapel - Margaret Oliphant
    Monkey Grip - Helen Garner
    Rabbit, Run - John Updike
    Thousand Cranes - Yasunari Kawabata
    Siddhartha - Herman Hesse
    An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro



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