30. A Book from a Non-human perspective

First of all I can’t believe there is no graphic novel on the reading challenge list this year. I don’t read many but I like the opportunity to read at least one, especially as I have this series that I need to keep up with.

This could have been my blue cover book, but I don’t want to read a book from an animal’s perspective, so fantasy is a good fit for non-human characters (no one said they couldn’t be humanoid).

My favourite characters in this series are a little seal, a lie detecting cat and a prince who has a television for a head (in fact their entire race a TV headed robots, but I like the prince best).

This is one of those Romeo and  Juliet fantasy stories set to the back drop of war. Two people not supposed to be together, let alone fall in love, and well what do you know they do and have a kid to boot. 

The whole story is told from the kid’s perspective and follows the journey of her parents, and others, as they try to find her. It’s got all your classic fantasy/sci-fi alien lessons about understanding and prejudice and war and peace. And therefore it’s also got all your non-human characters and so fits this category perfectly. There is not one human, as we are human, human characters in the whole thing.

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46. A Book of Poems

So I haven’t exactly read a book of poems, rather a have read a book of poem. 

I’m not a great fan of poetry. There are a few poems I like. A smattering of Coleridge, quite a lot of Blake, the odd comic haiku. But in general it is not my preferred literary style. I like prose much more as it is much more straightforward. 

 

So reading a book of poems was going tone a stretch for me anyway. But like with most categories in is Read Harder challenge I did a little research to see what I might like to read. Tim Minchin’s Storm is what I found. And I sure am glad I did.

It brought to mind another poem (song actually, but aren’t somgs just poems set to lyrics?) that I love – science is golden by The Grates. Not that it has a lot to do with science, and almost the complete opposite message to Minchin. But it’s catchy and fun to sing.

But back to Storm.

It is a great free verse rang about the world and science. About how we know what we know and the utter preposterousness of most things ‘new age’. 

Minchin uses humour and rhyme to explore different ways of thinking hat coerce you into his point of view. And by he end you wholeheartedly agree with him.

  

Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?
Medicine.

Honestly, I could quote this whole poem but it’s better coming from Tim Minchin. So read the book,

  

And watch the movie

Not just because it’s funny, but also because it is true.

Coming up on my next blog: I’m going to start on the whole experientialism/minimalism thing.

35. A Graphic Novel

In the end all my research into what to read for the graphic novel category of the reading challenge was thrown out the window when I visited my local library.

It has just reopened after a ‘renovation’. I’ve put that in inverted commas because it didn’t really have a renovation. We’ve got a new civic centre and so they have moved the library entrance to be part of this new complex. They could have made the library so beautiful but instead they have done nothing. The walls are beige. The shelves are beige. The staff are beige. And there are not enough seats. Or books.

That said they do have about nine shelves (three bays) of graphic novels, all looking really new and barely read. They didn’t have any of the ones I had been looking at online, ones I had been thinking I may read, but they did have three I thought looked interesting and so despite there only being one graphic novel category on the list I borrowed all three anyway.

This is the one I chose to read first.

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However, there is some contention in my household about just how many graphic novels I can read for this challenge. I’ve found another with a number in the title and could read a third as the book I can read in a day. Apparently this is unsportsmanlike, according to my husband at least. I’m not so sure. I picked up all three at the library because they looked good and I wanted to read them. One of them is really long and I think it could count.
What’s the consensus?

And now to the review portion of this blog.

I should say upfront that I don’t read a lot of graphic novels. The ones I have read are those I consider classics of the genre – Maus, Anya’s Ghost and Persepolis. I think I have read a couple more too but they can’t have been that memorable. I’m not really into Manga or the comic book superhero style graphic novel and so I feel I am a bit limited in what I can choose to read. I also refuse to read graphic novel version of prose novels. Yes, they provide great access to literature for people who may not necessarily be able to get through Shakespeare, but I don’t consider them real graphic novels.

I enjoyed Empire State for its use of colour and flashback. And the two are inextricably linked. At least I think so. One thing I find hard with graphic novels is the timeline. And that’s my problem, not a graphic novel one. I am never quite sure what order to read the cells in and because there are no chapters or breaks usually I am not sure if things are happening chronologically or all over the place.

So if I did read this properly I think the red pages are flashback and the blue are taking place in the present. If I’m right this works really well and helps me figure out how the character feels and what they are thinking. The red and blue also work really well with the love themes that underlie the plot.

I like to think that the end is open and I choose to ignore the brackets of the subtitle and say that. It is a love story. But then again, perhaps not.

Coming up on my next blog: I’m a lot more impatient than I thought.

Returned

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This is a funny little book. Very unexpected, and then also very Murakami. Odd things happen and you can’t be sure whether it is supposed to be real or not.

Though one thing I am certain of is that it is about death. All his novels seem tainted by mortality and this one is no different.

But the funny thing is that it reads more like a children’s story. A fairy tale or fable, where the magical elements need no explanation, they just are, part of the universe of the strange library.

There is not a lot that goes on. And things turn so quickly and end so abruptly you wonder whether you have read a complete story or part of something much larger.

I feel that I want to say something about it being set in a library, being a librarian myself, but cannot find anything adequate to describe how I feel about that. I do feel though that I am always at a loss to adequately describe a Murakami novel after finishing it, except to say

wasn’t that amazing and peculiar?

There are no words, or at least not in English. Perhaps in Japanese I would do better?

While this post should just be about the latest release from Murakami, I did watch Easy Virtue today and feel the need to prattle on about it’s virtues as I don’t know if enough people have seen it.

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I had forgotten how much I liked this movie. It is one of my favourite 1920s set English films, up there with Gosford Park, funnily enough also starring Kristin Scott Thomas and including an bright young thing American character who is not at all what they seem.

Both films are about landed gentry and the American perception of such a system. They both contain romance and mystery and that sardonic wit particular to the upper class Englishman of a Hollywood film. And don’t forget the stoicism.

What that probably doesn’t suggest to you is that both are also highly comedic and well worth watching. As is any Murakami worth reading.

Coming up on my next blog: If only I had more leisure time.