Yesterday was Haruki Murakami and I’ve seen plenty of people on Instagram picking up his books this month. I decided that I wanted to pick something up and decided to finally get round to this short collection. I’m not as well-versed in Murakami’s short stories as I’d like to be. It’s not about their quality but more about my attention span for short stories. I typically need a longer narrative to keep me going or I just lose my pace. I have lost count of how many anthologies I own but have never read more than one story. So, I was determined to keep to my “read more books from my shelves” resolution and finish this one.
We’re so close to the end of the year which means that everyone is thinking about what they’ve achieved this year. For us bookish folks that mainly means the number of books that we’ve read. I’m already seeing people compiling their list of favourite books for 2020. How are they so on it? I’ve figured out which my top 5 rated books are but that doesn’t mean they were my favourite reads. Flawless books don’t always give us the same feels as slightly flawed books do. It’s not always the most fun to read a technically brilliant book. I have been looking back over my reviews for the year though. I think I get more wary of ratings near New Year’s Eve because I remember all of the great books I’ve read over the last 12 months. The books I’m currently reading start to pale in comparison to the books I’d long forgotten about until now. I blame that for my struggle to rate this book. I couldn’t decide so went with a bit of a compromise. Next year, I’m only doing rereads on December. It’s easier.
I finished this book fairly late on Friday night so was feeling pretty smug that I wouldn’t have to rush to get anything finished today. I was going to have a relaxed day and try to get ahead with my next read. Did I? No chance. So, I’m hoping that I can get this written in super quick time and get a fair chunk done before bed. Will I? Well, considering I’m still get my head around my latest read, it doesn’t bode well. I was really looking forward to reading this one because I’d really enjoyed Convenience Store Woman. Although, I know that it’s an incredibly divisive novel. One of my friends absolutely hated it when she read it and I get it. It was the weird story of an outsider trying to find away to fit it. There wasn’t a great deal of plot and it did cross the quirky line quite dramatically. I assumed that Earthlings would also fall into this divisive realm of literature.
How do you decide which books to buy? Since being on Instagram, I have found my number of impulse buys increasing. It’s so difficult to see the beautiful covers in people’s photos and then not buy. This book was one of those buys. I’d seen a photo posted by poppymaeve and knew that I had to find out more about it. Once I had the synopsis then I knew it was a book that I had to read. There’s nothing I love more than a simple plot that turns into a great character and that’s what this sounded like.
I’ve been working from home since Wednesday and it took until yesterday for me to really use the situation to get on with my reading. I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon to finish the last 110 or so pages of my current read, which wasn’t great going considering it is only about 160 pages long. Still, it has hopefully set me up to get better and use my downtime to read more. Which I need to do considering how many books I’ve bought recently. My 2020 book buying ban had been going quite well until I was faced with having to spend an undisclosed amount of time stuck inside my house. Then I went crazy and decided I need to bulk buy books to keep me occupied. Not that I’m ever in any danger of having nothing to read. On the plus side, I bought and preordered a few books by international authors. I’ve been getting better at reading a wider range of authors in the past few years, so 2020 should prove to be my most diverse reading list ever.
I stumbled across this whilst browsing in a bookshop. I read the back and was instantly hooked. It sounded absolutely perfect and everything I wanted to read. So, I bought a copy. Like any normal human being, right? Apparently not. At least not according to the people on GoodReads. Whilst updating my status with this book the other day I saw something that really irritated me so I’m going to have a quick rant before I get on with my review.
I would never have read this novel if it weren’t for the Booker International longlist – I’d already seen the blurb a few months earlier and decided the book wasn’t for me. After the longlist was announced, I requested and received an ARC of The Pine Islands, direct from a very nice member of staff at the publisher
So, you had already rejected a book because it wasn’t for you but then it nearly won a prize. Then you demanded a copy of it for free, knowing that, in all likelihood, you weren’t going to enjoy it that much. What the hell kind of entitlement is that? This is the kind of shit that gives all bloggers a bad name. Like the people who went into a restaurant and demanded a free meal in exchange for a review. It’s pathetic. The fact that this person also appears to be the kind of person who uses their reviews to let everyone know that they’re more intelligent than you. I mean, it’s GoodReads for fuck’s sake. If the review goes on more than 5 paragraphs it’s too much. Anyway, as you can tell it put me in a huge mood. So, I’d better get on with the reason I’m here.
I saw this book in a bookshop a month ago and immediately wanted to read it. But, considering my TBR list is so huge, I decided against it. Until a few weeks later when I couldn’t resist anymore and bought a cheap copy. I couldn’t wait to start reading it. As soon as I’d done with Love, Nina I did it. And, if I hadn’t already passed my GoodReads challenge score, it would have been a perfect read. I finished it in 3 days, which for me is kind of miraculous. Does it help that I’m on holiday this week? Certainly but let’s not take away from my achievements.
If you’ve read my blog or followed me on Instagram for a little while at this point then you’ll probably know that I have a bit of a long history with the Man Booker nominees. I always get really excited when the longlist is released and desperately get my hands on loads of the books. Not only do I rarely get round to reading them but, inevitably, my favourites never end up on the shortlist. Maybe it’s my fault? Maybe I’m so cursed that any nominated book that I enjoy reading or like the sound of will never win the prize? My last read is one of those books. From the first time I heard about The Dinner Guest I was intrgiued. Telling the story of the author’s grandfather who was murderd before she was born, it sounded like nothing I’d ever read before. So, I bought it almost immediately and promptly left it on my shelves for ages. But, as I’m trying to make my through my unread books this year, I finally picked it up. It’s a pretty short book at only around 140 ages so I expected to have this done in a matter of days but, being me, I only finished it last night. And it’s safe to say I got a little emotional towards the end. But that’s been a fairly common theme this week. Let’s not talk about how many tears I shed watching the Gilette advert…
It became very apparent at the start of this week that there was no way that I was going to finish the book I was currently reading for this post. So, on Tuesday lunchtime I had a mad dash around the charity bookshop next to work to find something I could finish in a day. There were plenty of possibilities on offer but, having recently seen this on Instagram, I felt the discovery of this book was fate. Not only is the book gorgeous but it’s something I’ve only heard great things about. So, I bought it and started reading it immediately. I didn’t get as much reading done last night because I ended up dropping my phone outside my friend’s house. I ended up spending the time I had put aside to read desperately trying to find my phone and arrange to get it back to me. Still, thanks to a lunchtime of ignoring my coworkers and just reading, I finished the book in time. Now I just need to get this post written.
So, anyone paying attention to my Sunday Rundowns for the past few months will know that I’ve been suffering from a major reading slump recently. So much so that the last time I reviewed a book was way back in April. In fact, the book I’m reviewing tonight was one I started at the beginning of April. Yes, I stopped to read another book in between but after that it took bloody ages. I thought I was never going to finish. Every time I sat down to read I just couldn’t pluck up the energy. It’s a huge shame because I was so excited to read this novel. It was actually on my ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2018‘ list. For one thing, how can anyone ignore a title quite like that? It’s a fantastic thing. Especially for someone who loves Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so much. The war in Iraq is modern history but is something that we all have memories of in some way. The idea that the two were being combined into something darkly comical was super appealing. It’s just a shame I lost my mood for reading. As much as I enjoyed this, I think it deserves a reread when I get to a suitable time in my life. Once I’ve stopped lending it to everyone I keep convincing to read it. I just can’t help myself. I’m obsessed with this book.