A book just beckoned me to pick it up was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakmi, an epic novel set in an alternative universe within the year 1984. One of the people who has noticed the shift in time is Aomame, a beautiful hit woman in Tokyo.
As she tries to unravels what this new world has in store, an old childhood friend,Tengo, crosses her path unexpectedly and the two of them need to connect before the myriad of outside forces(including a bizarre cult,a wealthy widow who has abusive men assassinated and a bodyguard fond of quoting Chekhov) tear them and this new reality apart.
I've never read Murakami before yet I know of his literary reputation for writing oddly themed books with interesting characters such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, both of which are way shorter than this book. Perhaps starting with one of those is the more sensible route but this was the book that got my attention and sometimes your first instinct is your best one:
I also picked up Fredik Backman's A Man Called Ove, which was the basis for one of the Best Foreign Film nominees at this year's Oscars. It's translated from Swedish and tells the story of the title character who at first appears to be your typical grumpy old man.
What he is is tired of life, now that his beloved wife has died and along with being made to retire, is not satisfied with berating his neighbors over their violations of local protocol. Ove plans to join his wife but a new family that has just moved in winds up urging him to stay alive.
I've started this book already and despite the plot description, it's a charming read. The humor is dark at times yet smartly done, plus Ove's backstory is slowly revealed and you get more of a sense about why he is the way he is. I plan to see the movie as well (via Netflix) and probably read more of Backman's works, which are fortunately readily available in the U.S..
Discovering a new author is great, especially when you've heard plenty of good word on their work and find that it was all true. Sort of like making a new best friend, only I wouldn't break up so quickly due to the car they drive like our determined leading man feels he has to:
Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery has our leading lady Polly Waterford doing well in life and love at her seaside bake shop. However, when the property changes hands, she is forced out of the building yet is not about to give up on her business.
With the help of her friends, including beekeeper boyfriend Huckle, Polly sets up a food truck but there are more hurdles on the horizon to overcome. Jenny Colgan really has a nice knack for engaging lighthearted fare, which is just as tasty as the recipes she includes in some of her books. I have high hopes that this summery read will be as refreshingly sweet as the lemon posset that Colgan insists is a lovely seasonal treat:
I paired that purchase with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, a book that I've been meaning to try and what better time than now?
The Pulitzer Prize winning novel has a lonely teenage hero living through his geekish pursuits in New Jersey yet the scope of the book is so much more than that. Oscar's family back in the Dominican Republic went through some incredible drama of their own, particularly under the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo that affected the course of their life and perhaps cast down an ancient curse upon them as well.
There are touches of magical realism, along with intense bursts of footnotes and heartfelt narratives that mix and match genres as they go forth. In addition to the many honors that this book has won, it's also a nominee for the One Book, One New York reading campaign that will announce it's winner soon. Even if it's not chosen for that program, this certainly is a novel worth reading this year indeed:
As I said earlier, A Man Called Ove is the first book that I've been reading out of this bunch. However, I am still not sure of which one of these to take up after that. Such a fun problem to have, deciding what to read next-if only all of us could have such a positive choice to deal with! Then again, maybe we can: