Sunday, 16 September 2012

What Books Are On Your Coffee Table?

Hello all!

It is odd that someone (me) who loves reading and cannot live without books, has never done a post about books. Queer, or as Alice in Alice in Wonderland says: "Curious and curiouser!"
There is not a day that I don't spend at least an hour reading. No matter how busy I am, no matter how tired I am, no matter what time I get home, I will make sure that I have "me" time with my book. Even if I just go grocery shopping, I have a book in my bag. You just never know - something unexpected my happen like, the sky might fall on my head, I might get kidnapped, or stuck under a big rock, or most likely be in a long supermarket queue. You see, on such occasions, only a book can save me.
I read something today that Sebastian Faulks said in his interview in The Guardian:

"I don't know how you can understand other people or yourself if you haven't read a lot of books. I just don't think you're equipped to deal with the demands and decisions of life, particularly in your dealings with other people... I wouldn't know how to break bad news, how to sympathise, how to be a friend or a lover, because I wouldn't have any idea what was going on in anybody else's mind."

So, what have I been reading lately? The last book I read was actually Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. Absolutely beautiful and harrowing narrative of the senseless World War One as well a a heartbreaking love story, that had me thinking about it for days after I've finished it. If like me, you are late in catching up with this beautiful book, I strongly recommend that you start your autumn with this one.

This year's Booker shortlist looks very interesting, but until I get my hands on those new stories, here is what I am going to be catching up on for the next few months:

I have been meaning to read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood for years now. I have had it for long enough, and I am finally ready for it.

Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It is his memoir, but more about Murakami, in a moment.

And then, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, (by the way, allow me to show off a little here, this is a signed book!!). This is arguably one of the most controversial books of the last, well,... at least 20 years if not longer. In February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for blasphemy on its author and things have never been the same since then. This act showed (amongst many, many other things) what power a written word has, what it means to fight for freedom to speak, or express a view, what it means to stand by what you have created even if your life is at stake and what significance burning a book has. I've tried to read the book in the past, but I think I was too inexperienced and naive to understand it, so I left it and decided to come back to it, when I am more mature and able to understand it. Well, the time has come, and this is my next adventure. I am so excited, I cannot wait!

Pablo Neruda's The Captain's Verses is there on my coffee table, because I go back to it all the time. It is a beautiful collection of poems that gets me through life whether I am happy or sad. A must have, in my world.

And now, to my favourite writer, the mad, the odd, the funny, the strange, the wonderful Haruki Murakami.
I have been reading him for years, and I am like a kid in a sweet shop when I hold a book by him that I haven't yet read. If you don't think you are ready for the book I am going to recommend next, I suggest you start with his Norwegian Wood or Kafka on the Shore.

And so, I started my summer holidays with his epic (over 800 pages) 1Q84. I gobbled it up in two weeks. Trust me, it is no mean feat to read something so mammoth and heavy in such a short time, but I just could not get enough of the world and characters he created. I am not going to do a silly thing like try to give a summary or a review of this complex book. It would be pointless. However, I will tempt you with this: the world he has created has two moons in it, cults, a man and a woman looking for love and it is all set in the year of 1Q84. And yes, it has lots to do with George Orwell's 1984.
There were days when I would read it for 5-6 hours, go out for a drink with friends in the evening, then come back home and continue reading until the small hours.  
One night, I stayed up till dawn, enraptured in its world, went to sleep for a few hours only to wake up after a sweet slumber to have breakfast on my terrace with the characters from he book. In my book, a perfect night and a perfect morning. Something I will remember for a long time to come.
Here are few lines from 1Q84 to whet your appetite: 

"Someone once said that nothing costs more and yields less benefit than revenge."

"But you can't possibly tell that much. Tengo's name has never taken a step outside my heart.
Please, Miss Aomame, the man said. Then he released a brief sigh. There is nothing in this world that never takes a step outside a person's heart."

"This is what it means to live on. When granted hope, a person uses it as fuel, as a guidepost to life. It is impossible to live without hope.

And, so that's it for this edition of my book club. The only fear I have is that I will die before I have read all the books that I want to read in my life. I know how this story ends; I know I will die having not read everything I'd like to read. However, while I am here, I am going to try my best to continue this most exciting of the love affairs with the most perfect of art forms and continue broadening my horizons through the stories from all over the world.

PS. To my shame I have never read a Si-Fi book. I will be correcting this strange behaviour in the next few months.

So, what is on your coffee table or by your bed? What is your favourite book? Maybe you like reading dictionaries? (I am quite partial to that too.) Any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Happy week everyone, and of course, happy reading!!

Red xx



Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Red:
We could not agree with you more about the constant pleasure to be had from reading and to be surrounded by books. And we are completely at one with what Sebastian Faulks says about how literature gives one such an insight into life and, of course, enables one to experience events, environments, and even people, which and who would in all probability remain outside of one's daily life.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I could not survive without reading in the evening. At the moment I am hooked on a series of books about Rhodesia before Zimbabwe. Diane

Magical Day Dream said...

That's a lot of books! I mainly read during the holidays, but normally I don't make much time for it. I started in Plato months ago, but it isn;t an easy read ;) Also I want to start on a book my boyfriend gave me on 10 most beautiful experiments. I've never read anything from Pablo Neruda, but I have passed his (former) house by the sea when I was in Chile. One of my favourite reads: star girl. Have you read it? It's about an ukulele playing girl and her rat who makes a positive contribution to the world

Cappuccino frío said...

now i am reading Ken Follet!
I am enjoying it!
Have a nice weekend!

Mary Jo at TrustYourStyle said...

Oh my goodness, I did not know that you were such a book lover! I am too although it's been awhile since I read as voraciously as I once did. My favorite book this summer was Let the Great World Spin and I am definitely going to check out some of your recommendations asap. I need a good book to get lost in asap! HOpe you have a wonderful weekend!
xo Mary Jo

Anonymous said...

Oh isn't it the best feeling when you find a book that you can barely put down? Real life becomes an intrusion into and all absorbing magical world, I love that.