Category Archives: Ryu Murakami

As We Get To The End Of The Year…

So naturally I have started to go through what I think are the best books of the year which I will announce on the 30th of December, in the lead up and looking at other people blogs everyone is working out how many books they have read and by male or female authors like Simon Stuck in a Book. I liked this idea of as well as blogging your favourites of the year you do something a bit different too. However I thought of a few extra questions I would ask people, so here we go…

How many books read in 2008?
I think the one I am reading now will be the last one of the year as after that am reading Anna Karenina and don’t think could read that in less than three days and finish this one so “When Will There Be Good News” will be my 102nd book of the year beating last years 69.

How many fiction and non fiction?
In total 94 fictions and 8 non fictions.

Male/Female author ratio?

50 male and 52 female which really shocked me as I thought I had read much more books by women than men, odd.

Favourite book of 2008?
I have a pretty sneaky suspicion but you’ll have to wait until the end of the year!

Least favourite?
Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy was incredibly boring though I finished it, I didn’t finish Iain Pears ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’. I also thought that ‘Son of a Witch’ by Gregory Maguire was poor; I don’t think anything he has done has been as good as ‘Wicked’ though. I refuse to mention Abby Lee. I was also underwhelmed by Emily Bronte sadly.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?
I didn’t finish the aforementioned ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ just because after realising that I was going to have to read the same boring storyline four times from different people I gave up during the second. My Gran read this and struggled on through but said she wished she’d given up. The other was ‘Company of Liars’ by Karen Maitland which I really wanted to read but just wasn’t in the right mind frame for, maybe in 2009!

Oldest book read?
Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ which I thought didn’t live up to expectations at all.

Newest?
I have read a fair few new ones of which isn’t out until January, so a few pre-publication.

Longest book title?
I read quite a lot of long titled books such as any of the M.C. Beaton ‘Agatha Raisin’ novels but it was Mary Ann Shaffer’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is officially the longest.

Longest and shortest books?
Nicola Barker’s ‘Darkmans’ was easily the longest; shortest I think is ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling.

How many books from the library?
None, which is shameful isn’t it!?

Any translated books?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink, ‘Strangers’ by Taichi Yamada and ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?
Stella Duffy, I managed to devour three of her books this year!

Any re-reads?
Not this year.

Favourite character of the year?
Julie Ashton the narrator of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ just completely and utterly stole my heart this year, either her or Atticus from Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?
England and America through the ages, Italy, China, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France, Africa, Afghanistan, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, Guernsey, Mexico, post apocalyptic somewhere, and of course the land of Oz.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?
Five classics; Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, Henry James ‘Turn of the Screw’ and John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’.

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Filed under Bernhard Schink, Emily Bronte, Gregory Maguire, Harper Lee, Henry James, Iain Pears, John Buchan, M.C. Beaton, Mary Ann Shaffer, Nicola Barker, Ryu Murakami

In The Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami

After having read a few ‘ropey’ books that were not exactly my sort of book but also not really ones that I have particularly enjoyed ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami. Bizarrely this wasn’t actually the book that I had originally wanted, I wanted ‘Piercing’ which is a shocking tale of a man who stands with an ice pick above his child’s crib every night. But you don’t want to hear about that story you want to hear about this one.

The story is told by Kenji, an unlicensed tour guide of Tokyo, however this isn’t the normal tourist traps, he is a guide of the darker back streets and red light district. He is a sex tourist guide. We first meet him as he first meets his latest client an American called Frank. However there is something odd about Frank, he has a slightly inhuman quality and he lies, not just ashamed business man lies, but lies that sink deeper. There has also been a murder or two in Tokyo of late and evidence seems to point to Frank, but is Kenji’s client a psychopath, and if so will Kenji survive three nights or be an accomplice to murder?

This book was fantastic. At only 180 pages it manages to pack a real punch. You have a meaty and clever story line that not only studies the minds of psychopaths but also looks at the sex industry in Tokyo in modern times. I found the character of Frank fascinating and incredibly creepy. While there are some seriously gruesome scenes this book is more creepy and sinister than all out gore, a dark and disturbing modern thriller all in all.

This is the book that Grotesque really wanted to be but in about 300 less pages and with much greater pace and intrigue. The more Chinese and Japanese writing I read the more I love it. So with that I am really looking forward to reading more of it, and will be ordering ‘Piercing’ as soon as possible. Though this may not be the sort of subject that you may want to read, try, its great writing and you’ll manage it in one sitting I promise, it also has an ending that seriously makes you think.

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Filed under Bloomsbury Publishing, Review, Ryu Murakami