Weekly Reads: 6.9.14

Busy weekends and buys weeks, but I’ve been enjoying some reading time lately. Up now, I’m reading

How to Read Literature Like a Professor
By Thomas C. Foster

It’s a really interesting, fun and thought-provoking read.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

“Oh, so, you’re reading Murakami?” my brother commented, motioning to the book on the end table in my family room. I knew he’d read some Murakami—or I assumed so because they were on his bookshelf and you know I’ve read everything on my bookshelves.

“Yeah,” I said. “I just started. I’m just on page 20 or so and it’s kind of weird.”

Hmmumm,” my brother said in a way that foretold the rest of the book. I didn’t know how weird it would get. But he did.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice

The Wing-Up Bird Chronicle
By Haruki Murakami

Review

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was the most weirdly wonderful novel I’ve ever read. It’s weirdness is interesting in it’s almost run-of-the-mill way. Not to say that every book is as weird as this is, but the novel itself is almost a completely normal book but then there are these really weird parts of it.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice blo

At once the story seems mundane, but there was always an undercurrent of oddity that makes the mundane almost a lie. In this book, Murakami was able to pull off an impressive feat—taking the simple and making it complex, the mundane and making it bizarre.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice

Murakami’s success in this book can definitely be attributed to two things: 1) a rich imagination and 2) excellent writing. In the beginning when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading the book, the excellent writing kept me going.

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Murakami’s writing is richly imaginative, detailed and complex. It’s simply wonderful.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

Only one character, Toru Okada, was really well developed in this story, but as the story progressed, the minor characters began to take on a lot of depth and complications.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The plot of this story was one of the seemingly normal things, but it wasn’t normal. Toru was doing and experiencing a lot of unusual things and these experiences contributed to an odd plot. But the plot moved on at a good, smooth pace.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

The story Murakami told here was just amazing, and he has quite a way about storytelling.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

After finishing this book, I wondered how I’d waited so long to read any piece of Murakami’s work. In fact, I almost wondered if the previous 28 years of my life were in some way a lie just because I hadn’t read this book. Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Have you read any other book that caught you as completely off guard as this one did for me?

Sensitivities: rape (briefly depicted), prostitution (briefly mentioned), brief sexual activity, gruesome torture (detailed) and murder (referenced)
A new feature I’m adding to book reviews is a sensitivity warning. I may enjoy the book and recommend it, but there could be some things that could be bothersome to others.

Weekly Reads: 1.6.2014

My reading is starting off quite well in the New Year! I’m close to finishing

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice blog

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
By Haruki Murakami

Unfortunately, I won’t be finished by tomorrow for the book club I read this for. I’m still undecided about going; do I want spoilers or not? Right now, I don’t think so. I am happy I read this book because it’s great, but I really want to discuss it with someone!

My holds at the library should be ready this week for

Beloved by Toni Morrison | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice blog

Beloved
By Toni Morrison

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice

Letter to My Daughter (Audiobook)
By Maya Angelou

Brother, I'm Dying by Edgwidge Danticat | Weekly Reads at The 1000th Voice blog

Brother, I’m Dying (Audiobook)
By Edwidge Danticat

I’m really excited to dig into some more diverse authors, topics and themes ahead of my Exploring Black History Month Through Literature series next month. That name’s certainly a mouthful.  Maybe I’ll think of a catchier name by then.

Happy reading!

What are you reading this week? What is your favorite book by a black author?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Audiobook Review: Pharmakon

Audiobook Review: Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn | The 1000th Voice Blog

Pharmakon
By Dirk Wittenborn

A couple years ago my brothers, sister in law, husband and I came across a going-out-of-business sale at the oddest book store. None of us, self-proclaimed book lovers, had ever heard of any of the books. Nick handed me this audiobook. It sounded weird, but at less than a buck, I took a chance. I’m very glad I did.

Told over the span of 50 years, this multigenerational story uses multiple points of view to tell a complicated sometimes absurd story.

The book starts briefly narrated by Zach. We don’t know much about him and we learn just a little about his father. This is just a teaser before moving into the third person limited narration mainly focused on patriach Will Friedrich.

One of the fascinating aspects of this book was how little Friedrich, a pioneering neuropharmacologist and trained psychiatrist, knew nothing about actual people especially his family. The story mainly centers around each member of the family and some friends eventually figuring out of acknowledging that fact.

Voice Talent

This audiobook was skillfully read by Mark Deakins and Lincoln Hoppe. They were both able to really embody the feel of the book during their particular parts.

Rating

Writing 4 out of 5 stars

The writing in this story was tight and intriguing.

Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars

The pacing and set up of the story kept me interested in finding out what happens next.

Total 4 out of 5 stars

Have you ever read or listened to Pharmakon? Have you ever found a diamond in the rough in an odd bookstore?

Weekly Reads: 9.22.2013

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

Well, this week I took a break from reading Dracula by Bram Stoker because this book came in at the library:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter | The 1000th Voice Blog Weekly Reads

Beautiful Ruins
By Jess Walter

I’m reading this for a public book club in a couple weeks. With the new season starting for this program, I decided to push myself to join as much as possible. This book sounded pretty good, but it’s even better than that. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say!

As soon as I finish this, I’ll be back to Dracula. Despite my slow reading, I’ll definitely get done by late October when the new show premiers. (I hope it’s better than what reviewers have said.)

**Linked up with Book Journey**

What are you reading this week? Are you a member of a book club? Do you have an interesting theme or concept or a certain book genre?

Thoughts on William Anderson’s The Little House Reader

Thoughts on William Anderson's The Little House Reader #LauraIngallsWilder | a little (or a lot) about Laura | Laura Ingalls Wilder | The 1000th Voice blog

This collection of Laura’s pre-Little House writing has been skillfully edited by William Anderson who interspersed very relevant and interesting tidbits between the pieces. The entire collection provides a great peek into Laura’s writing life but also her life after the Little House books ended. (Did you follow that? Written before the Little House books, these pieces share what Laura’s post-Little House life was like.)

One thing that stood out to me was how wise Laura was and how capable she was as a writer sharing her wisdom through stories. Laura was also humble about this (and her success in general). When asked about her success, Laura said, “I was amazed because I didn’t know how to write.” Ahh, our humble, loveable Laura was really humble in real life. This makes me unspeakably happy!

One of the columns in the book is an account of the building and finishing of Laura’s dream house at Rocky Ridge Farm. What captivated me about this was her attention to detail and how contemporary she seemed. Laura’s writing is always clear and forthright, but her article is contemporary for a reason beyond that–in today’s world of shelter blogs, it’s interesting to see that Laura was as thoughtful about the details as many men and women are today.

Again, Laura sounds relatively modern in her column about how farm wives can make extra cash by hosting summer boarders in their homes. That’s not the part that sounds modern; in fact, the entire concept of boarders is outdated. But she spoke of how visitors from the city would pay well for the breath of fresh air and fresh food from the farm, not dishes and ingredients brought from the city. My mind immediately went to things like farm-to-table restaurants, backyard square foot gardens, farmers’ markets and more.

Overall, this was a great, well-edited collection. William definitely knows Laura and understands her in a way that most people don’t. He connected the various phases of Laura’s pre-Little House writing life with well-researched and well-reasoned commentary on Laura’s life and motives. I would highly recommend this book to any Laura lovers.

 

Reflections on These Happy Golden Years

Reflections on These Happy Golden Years #LauraIngallsWilder | a little (or a lot) about Laura | Laura Ingalls Wilder | The 1000th Voice blog

The love story of Laura and Almanzo starts in These Happy Golden Years, so the title of the book, pulled from a song Pa played, is so appropriate. I really love their love story right down to the end when Laura puts down and never finishes The First Four Years after Almanzo’s death.

There was one thing that I’ve been waiting months to comment on: bombing main in the cutters! After Laura returns from her teaching job, all her peers (and Almanzo) starting cruising up and down main street in their cutters. Almanzo, Laura, Cap and Mary lead the way, but it becomes a very popular past time. As a teenager in small-town South Dakota, I spent hours driving up and down main street, chatting with my friends. I laughed when I realized that Laura and friends were the first (or very close to the first) teens to bomb main in South Dakota. I owe her for more than I previously thought!

Laura spends her school breaks teaching in the country, studying at night to keep up with her regular classmates and riding back to De Smet on the weekends with Almanzo. I really liked how wonderful Almanzo is in this book (or always). Without being asked or told, he guesses that Laura will be homesick, so he drives 12 miles one way to pick her up Friday afternoon and another 12 miles one way to take her  back on Sunday. He spent a lot of his time driving back and forth. I really respect him continuing to drive Laura back and forth when she tells him there’s nothing in it for him.

Mary returns home toward the end of the book, sad to have missed so much and to see Laura marry Almanzo and leave them. Everyone, including Laura, is sad that their happy little life is changing, but, as Laura tells Mary, she and Almanzo just fit together. As sad as she was to leave her family of origin, she was excited and happy to be starting her life with Almanzo.

And then comes the small, rushed wedding. Laura in her black dress. Ida witnessing with her beau. It’s all so sweet.

What I Remember

From the first time I read this as a child, I’ve always remembered Laura’s black wedding dress. Ma said it would bring bad luck. It definitely seemed true for the first few years of their marriage, but we know it all turned out well for Laura and Almanzo.

What is your favorite literary couple? Do you love Laura and Almanzo’s love story as much as I do?