Form: This is a graphic novel of sorts, instead of illustrations the story is told through photographs and paintings with very little text. To start wForm: This is a graphic novel of sorts, instead of illustrations the story is told through photographs and paintings with very little text. To start with the photography/artwork in this book is absolutely stunning. (it is also a very well made book printed on good quality paper which really enhances the look of the photographs).
Plot: This book tells the story of Glory who is a musical prodigy and master piano player. Although she has been gifted since childhood her father gets more fanatical about her gift after her mothers death. When she is sixteen a Frank (a teenager from Argentina) moves in next door. Over the coming months as she begins to have more of a life outside of music, she also loses the ability to play anything other than Chopsticks. She is subsequently sent to a rest center, this book opens after she disappears from said rest center.
Why I loved this book: My favourite aspect of this book is how interactive it is. Firstly there are lots of links to youtube video's that link to the story, secondly Frank and Glory make each other playlists/mixed CD's. I loved listening to the songs as I read the book it really added to my reading experience. Lastly because there is so little text it leaves a lot of the story down to the reader. Junot Diaz said it better than I ever could, 'Chopsticks' is like that one ex-lover you never shake off- the one that was a mystery- beautifully distilled'.
Who would I recommend this book to: Everyone. But especially people who like innovative, beautiful and subtle story telling. Or people who like YA literature/stories about first love.
Rating: 5/5. It's a new favourite of mine. ...more
Plot: A retired artist, Masuji Ono reflects on his life, and his changing environment in post-war Japan. This book focuses on the artists changing perPlot: A retired artist, Masuji Ono reflects on his life, and his changing environment in post-war Japan. This book focuses on the artists changing perceptions of his own past as well as the changing cultural landscape of Japan as a whole.
Favourite Quote:(This is also the opening of the novel). ‘If on a sunny day you climb the steep path leading up from the little wooden bridge still referred to around here as ‘the bridge of hesitation’, you will not have to walk far before the roof of my house becomes visible between the tops of two gingho tress. Even if it did not occupy such a commanding position on the hill, the house would still stand out from all the others nearby, so that as you come up the path, you may find yourself wondering what what sort of wealthy man owns it. But then I am not, nor have I ever been a wealthy man’.
Firstly I should just say this is one of my new favourite books so this is probably going to be less of a review more of just a post full of gushing praise. So with that in mind:
What I really loved about this novel was how beautifully/subtly written it is. This is particularly true of in regards to the shifting opinion the reader has of the unreliable narrator, (I would say in many ways that this book is a character study of the narrator/protagonist). You get a sense from the beginning that the narrator/protagonist is presenting his version of the truth. Especially when he directly talks to the reader using ‘you’ he begins to second guess the readers perception of him and you begin to notice how his importance in the world is different to other peoples sense of his importance. This is seen also when people are angry at the old ways of Japan he sees it as a direct slight to him. In many ways he is representative of many aspects of pre-war Japan and is therefore really distrustful of how prominent America and American heroes are becoming in both Japan and in his grandsons life.
The more I think about this book more layered I think it is and the more I have to talk about but to keep from spoiling the plot. I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did and I can understand why people would find this book difficult to get into or even slow. All I can say is that I personally found the writing beautiful and the protagonist so compelling tat I breezed through this book and even if you find it difficult to into I believe its a really rewarding read.
Who would I recommend this book to?: Anyone who is interested in a quiet contemplative, (this book mightn’t be for you if you like plots that thunder along at a mile a minute) and skillfully written book. in particular I would recommend it to people who like reading books written from the perspectives of unreliable narrators as this is the best example of that style of writing I have ever read. Personally I found this book much better than the previous Ishiguro book I had read ‘Never Let Me Go’, but if you have read and liked the unreliable narrator aspect to that novel I would also recommend this to you. ...more
Plot: Tita is the youngest daughter so in her family's tradition she is duty bound not to wed but instead to look after her abusive mother until she dPlot: Tita is the youngest daughter so in her family's tradition she is duty bound not to wed but instead to look after her abusive mother until she dies. Even when she falls in love with a boy from the village, who asks for her hand her sister is offered instead. Tita finds shelter in her exquisite gift for cooking, occasionally her gift transcends normal limits and she is able to project her feelings onto the dishes she cooks. This book follows the love, the loss, the sorrow and the duty bound up in Tita and her family.
Favourite Quote:On killing chickens 'It occurred to her that she could use her mothers strength right now. Mama Elena was merciless, killing with a single blow. But then again not always. Foe Tita she has made an exception; she had been killing her a little at a time since she was a child, and she still hadn't finished her off'.
Structure: This book documents 12 different stories from the lives of Tita and her family, these stories all revolve food, love (or the lack of it) and are all touched by magic. Each chapter also begins with a recipe detailing a dish that is important to the plot, I will definitely be trying to cook some of them.
The fact that this novel had such a precise structure meant that it had a great rhythm, which kept me reading. This is one of the few books that I finished and then felt I had to re-read almost immediately.
This book contained a lot my favourite things, beautiful writings and sensory descriptions of food so evocative they'll make you hungry. (The sense of place was also described well, although I have never been to Mexico where this book is set I felt like I knew where the author was talking about). Amazing magical realism that is as intricately woven as a precise recipe and as re-readable and enchanting as a folk tale. In short this is one of my new all time favourite books and I would recommend this book to everyone.
(I would say that this edition ISBN: 9780552995870, is also incredibly well translated.)...more
This is seriously one of my new favourite books, and I really just want to quickly recommend it to everyone. I am definitely going to write a full revThis is seriously one of my new favourite books, and I really just want to quickly recommend it to everyone. I am definitely going to write a full review soon when I have had time to formulate how wonderful this book is. If I could give it more than 5 stars I really would. ...more
Plot: A woman happens upon a mystical night mobile library that contains everything she has ever read, this in turn makes her fall in love with readinPlot: A woman happens upon a mystical night mobile library that contains everything she has ever read, this in turn makes her fall in love with reading again.This book follows her visits to the night bookmobile, and also her journey with reading and books throughout her life.
The artwork: The paintings and artwork in this book really suit the tone, in particular the characters are painted/drawn incredibly well and portray the characters emotions really well, without them being over-exaggerated.
Would I recommend this book?: Personally this is my favourite of the three books, I think mostly because I’m a fan of books about books, and books that show characters development as a reader. This book is magical, creepy and a little dark and I would recommend it to any reader. This is also the one book out of the three that most resembles a graphic novel so people who love that format will enjoy this book.
Plot: This is the life story of an unnamed character as he gets filthy rich in rising Asia.
Structure: This book is written in the form of a self helpPlot: This is the life story of an unnamed character as he gets filthy rich in rising Asia.
Structure: This book is written in the form of a self help book, in typical self help style chapters include ‘learn from a master’ and ‘work for yourself’. Although it talks about its own status as a self help book it is in fact a novel and therefore uses the second person to act as the protagonist For example: ‘The whites of your eyes are yellow, a consequence of spiking bilirubin levels in your blood’.
What I liked: This felt like one of the most original books I have ever read. The particularly arresting element of this novel is of course the use of second person. The narrator directly addressing the reader as ‘you’ just pulls you into the action and keeps you involved in the story all the way through. This also means that this novel comments on the reader/author relationship in a really natural way.
I also really liked how characters were left unnamed, his mother and father are simply called that and a love interest of his is called, ‘the pretty girl’. At first I wasn’t sure about this because I thought characters might be hard to keep track of but the beautiful simplicity of the narrative stops that from happening.
It also has a great pace, the chapters are fairly short and it makes for quite an easy read.
What I didn't like: If anything it was a little short, I devoured the book so quickly that I just wanted to read it again. (I hope to pick up the authors other works soon).
Recommendation: This is a new favourite of mine and I would genuinely recommend this book to everyone it is a wonderfully simple but also daringly original book that I think a wide variety of readers would enjoy.
Another book you might like: If you enjoy the use of second person in this book you might also enjoy If on a Winters Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. Calvino’s book is a more difficult read as it has a maze of a narrative but the use of second person is really engaging and very much like Hamid’s novel ‘you’ as the reader represent the main character.
Plot: This is an un-chronological story of a romantic relationship, (that makes it sound boring it really isn't).
Structure: I don’t usually read bookPlot: This is an un-chronological story of a romantic relationship, (that makes it sound boring it really isn't).
Structure: I don’t usually read books about love but the unusual structure of this novel got me interested. Each segment of this book start with the definition of a word, (these words in alphabetical order), this word then becomes a starting point for an anecdote or story about the relationship.
What I liked: This is one of my new favourite books, its such an original and all around fantastic read. I would recommend it to everyone. The narrative voice of this book is both funny and poignant. This is one of the closest books I have ever found to a representation of the kind of relationships I have been in.
What I didn't like: Nothing, seriously. Just read it.
Favourite Quote:‘“I want my books to have their own shelves” you said, and that how I knew it would be okay to live together’.
Looking for something else to read: If you have already read this book and enjoyed it I am going to recommend you to try ‘Written on the body’ by Jeannette Winterson, (another one of my favourite books), it is another original and surprising book about love, with themes of gender and sexuality as well. Disclaimer: The lovers Dictionary is an easier read than Written on the Body, although I wouldn’t call Wintersons book difficult. Also there is more frank sexual language and adult themes in Wintersons novel which may not be for everyone.
This is a wonderfully written book with beautiful illustrations.
The subject matter of the book is a bit too close to events in my life for me to be oThis is a wonderfully written book with beautiful illustrations.
The subject matter of the book is a bit too close to events in my life for me to be objective abou them. But I will say it is written with a moving haunting but also realistic tone that fits the story.
But if you like this I would recommend the graphic novels: I Kill Giants and Three Shadows.