My Recent Reads

Sunday, May 15, 2022

My good friend and I buy books from time to time; I'm not sure if I've mentioned it already here on the blog, but public libraries are not a thing here in the Philippines unfortunately. I used to spend most of my time in the library back in my school days, wherein most students would only consider going there for the aircon.. but I was probably one of those kids who took time to go through the shelves, choose a book, and read quietly in a corner. 

Now as working professionals without access to a library, my friend and I agreed to swap books whenever we have the chance. Books are expensive so I'm very particular with the titles I buy, though nowadays I've been leaning towards Japanese authors aside from Murakami. I want to give others a chance, much like how I've read If Cats Disappeared From The World and Before The Coffee Gets Cold

So far so good, though I realized it might be best to read such books in its original language so as not to lose some of its essence. Sometimes when I read a book which was translated from another language I would wonder if I'm getting everything the author meant, or somehow maybe the writing style could be even more elaborate if possible. In the end we as readers rely heavily on the translators to keep everything intact without sacrificing the artistic element (which admittedly is a big deal for me). 

It would be great to be fluent in many languages. But then as it is, I'm already struggling with my own native tongue plus I've been doing my best to learn Nihongo, which has my brain tied into knots most of the time. I'll dive deeper on my language learning woes later on in another blog post, but for now I'd like to share my thoughts on the books I've read in the past months. 

Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

This is the book to read if you want to be in your feels. The setting is constantly somber all throughout as things slowly disappear in the island and people forget. The Memory Police makes sure that everyone has forgotten and would check that there are no traces left. Meanwhile, our protagonist is a novelist who preserves the past through her writings while hiding her editor under the floorboards of her house in order to protect him from being captured. 

I read through this one slowly, because I wanted to bathe in its somberness. I know that sounds kind of emo but I enjoy novels that allow me to feel deeply. That's the kind of magic literature gives us, those moments when you just want to go back to a passage and read it again and again until you have it ingrained in your mind and you carry it with you for days, reminding you that you're human and capable of feeling a range of emotions. 

It made me feel nostalgic in most parts, since it deals with remembering and forgetting. Impermanence is beautiful, it teaches us a lot and reminds us not to take anything for granted.

Strange Weather In Tokyo by Hiromi  Kawakami

This was lent to me by my friend, and she eventually transferred ownership to me because I enjoyed it immensely :") It's about a single woman in her late thirties and whose life revolves around work. She goes out to a local bar one night and comes across her former teacher from high school, whom she calls "Sensei" throughout the story. From then on they meet and drink together, share about their lives and eventually get closer. 

Sensei here is 30 years her senior, so the age gap is very apparent. Yet it's the gap that keeps it interesting, as they learn from each other and have lots of interesting and wholesome conversations about the everyday mundane. The romance here felt natural as it developed over time, as the seasons came and went.

The novel touched upon loneliness as well, which our heroine felt at some point in the story. It's inevitable that we would feel lonely from time to time. We could be secure with every other aspect in our lives yet still feel some kind of void. Which is why reading on our heroine's chance encounter with Sensei just fills readers with hope. 

It reminded me of a lecture my college professor shared during one of our classes, wherein she mentioned: it only takes one person to fulfill our need for companionship. This does not necessarily pertain to a love interest, but it could be a friend, a family member, a stranger you just met.. it takes just one person.  

Almond by Sohn Won-pyung

Another novel lent to me ~ this one was a fast read, and I surely did feel for the protagonist as he struggled with naming his emotions. Due to his brain condition, he is unable to show any emotions or determine what they are exactly and this affects his life and how he deals with everyday situations. It's his mom and grandma who went through lengths to teach him about the world and how to deal with others, but everything changes when he deals with a damaging loss.

This one covers empathy and human connection. While it was touching to read on how his mom lovingly taught him how to deal with others, it was ultimately the experiences he had outside of his home that made him come out of his shell. It was refreshing to see the world through our protagonist's eyes. 

At first he was limited only to what his family members would teach him, and he would also rely on books to give him an idea on how to operate normally in society. Books are indeed enriching for our lives and it's wise to heed the advice of our peers, but to go beyond and experience life for ourselves is where the true learning becomes even more tangible. 

Novels similar to this one would be Flowers for Algernon and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (both reeeeaaaally good novels btw!). These are the kinds of stories wherein you just want to give the protagonist a big hug. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Ok, where do I even begin with this one? I haven't read a novel as moving as this one for a while now. I remember telling Chia, that if I were to give it a gist, it would be this: it's about a group of college students who miss out on the typical college parties and have their own kind of fun. This kind of fun though, at first I thought, ok cool they're deviating from the norm, but then the story builds up later on and it truly does intensify to a degree I did not expect! 

I don't want to write so much about the plot for this one, but I would vouch that this is a good read. The writing style is SUPERB, the satirical passages caught me off guard, and it certainly made me even more curious about dark academia. It made me invested in the characters, much like how I cared for the characters in Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. This one's a memorable read for sure.

---

I missed writing my thoughts on the novels I've read! I still have a lot of books in the pipeline, and I'll surely share my thoughts once again in a future entry. Hope you're having a restful Sunday, dear reader. : - ) 


3 comments

  1. TSH and Strange Weather in Tokyo!! 2 of my favs <3 it was so lovely reading your thoughts on these! both Memory Police and Almond are on my TBR, I'm bumping them up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I didnt know you are learning another language. For me it's really hard most of the time especially when you dont get to practice it properly. I haven't really been reading books lately but these sound amazing books (novel) to read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. the lack of public libraries is honestly one of the biggest dismay here in our country, in my opinion. :( although, my city is opening a supposedly newer and better one soon so i'm hoping it'll start some changes. *fingers crossed* i have a love and hate relationship with the secret history. i absolutely loved it but it put me in a reading slump where i'd just randomly pause and think about some parts of that book—a sign of a great read but i want to move on! haha!

    ReplyDelete