The Book Review: Half Empty by David Rakoff.

“We are disclosing animals, wired for unburdening. It’s what we do as a species. When I am being told, I listen, mindful of the honor, remembering all the while that the shore would be mistaken to believe that the waves lap up against him because he is so beautiful.” 

Hello and Happy Sunday! 

I re-read David Rakoff’s Half Empty a while ago and I am a huge fan. My glass is usually half full but it is interesting to read about people who prefer their glass half empty and like to be on the negative side of the pond most of the time. I am a huge David Sedaris fan and David Rakoff is right up his alley. Rakoff’s theory is that “…all research is Me-search” and I like to reflect on how annoying and at the same time right-on he can be. 

Great entertainment in ten essays make you find out about the power of negative thinking with a pretty sweet pace of challenging sentences or as Rakoff puts it “my ideas move like cold honey”. Throughout the book, Rakoff refers to being Jewish, Canadian, gay and “freakishly small” and I was pleasantly surprised by the content. With this series of autobiographical essays that are mostly based on disappointment, failure and pessimism, Rakoff’s holds up a mirror to society, all with this amazingly dry humor that I love. Sometimes his writing style is pretty dense and some people might be put off. There are just many tangents he goes off on and I also had to re-read certain passages but I love challenges. 

“There will be peaks of great joy from which to crow and vales of tears out of which to climb. When and why they will happen, no one can say, but they will happen. To all of us. We will all go back and forth from one to the other countless times during a lifetime. This is not some call to bipartisanship between inimical sides. The Happy and the Sad are the same population.”

While Rakoff wrote Half Empty, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor and began chemotherapy. Unfortunately he passed away in August, 2012. In his essay “Another Shoe” is a little twist of his usual humorous take on negativity. He describes how he felt when his cancer came back and that he is struggling through it with hope and this strong belief that it does not really matter what goes on with your life, you must hang on and keep moving forward. The book is just an amazing mix of laugh-out-loud moments and funny images that he described in such a way that some would stay with me for days. 

“My room is cheerfully located between the sixth-floor elevators. The springs of my bed wheeze. The elevator dings. The ice machine right outside my door rumbles forth its icy bounty, a steady tattoo that beats “Stay up! Stay up!” I am in a canvas that Edward Hopper never felt bummed out enough to paint.”

Sarcastic, funny, thought-provoking, sometimes sad, sometimes very funny, delightful and brilliant. For David Rackoff or David Sedaris fans a must-read! Enjoy! 

Order the book here. Also, watch this interesting video below if you would like. Have a great week. 

The Book Review: Mondscheintarif by Ilikó von Kürthy

Hello and Happy Sunday! 

“Girlfriends, let me tell you exactly how it is. The worst problem every woman faces is called: Man!” 

Cora Hübsch is waiting. For a phone call from a man she spent one night with and had the best sex of her life. She waits for a long time. And what happens if women wait too long for a phone call? They begin to doubt and question the entire dating/relationship thing. So she patiently waits. The phone remains silent. In the meantime and while waiting,  Cora could find a cure for AIDS, split an atom or prepare her tax return. Maybe she can throw away the old christmas tree that sits lonely and sad on her balcony since December. It is going to be a long night. 

A great funny little book when the reader gets the chance to observe how Cora’s life changes through this period of waiting. At some points I could not stop laughing and at others I had to nod blankly because the author, Ildiko von Kürthy is so right on and entertains the reader with tons of irony. I also like Cora’s monologues. “Shouldn’t I just call him back if I feel like it,” she asks her best friend Jo. Jo simply responds “after you had sex with someone and he didn’t call you back for three days then this night meant nothing more to him than leveling out his hormones. Don’t ever call him before those three days passed. Never. Under no circumstances“. Personally, I don’t agree with some of these problems Cora and Jo explain and have; however, Mondscheintarif shows clearly one problem that most women have: to make decisions! Any decisions. Also, some parts are a little exaggerated and you might know how things will turn out pretty quickly. But I loved it nonetheless.

This novella is fun and entertaining but personally even though  I don’t want to follow any “rules” when it comes to relationships. If I want to call someone I do exactly that. Simple. But for Cora and Jo, it is necessary for a woman to live by the rules. The more complicated, the better. Otherwise it would be boring, right? 

I read this book a couple of times already. I even bought my sister a copy and she loves it. Same for the movie. We both know entire passages by heart. It just makes me comfortable and happy when I read it. 

Is this book something I would enjoy? 

First of all, the movie or book is only available in German. However, if you want to practice German, watch the movie. This book is for you, if you are waiting for a guy to call you back after a first date/night. Also, if you love a special mix of humor, sarcasm and melancholia, read this book. Then you will love Cora and the plot for sure. The book is written in the present and switches back to three days ago, the past, which makes the story more interesting and catching. The protagonist Cora has a very refreshing way of telling her story and of course tons of honesty and humor. The book or the movie are just like good friends. Friends you like to turn to if you are not feeling well, if you are lonely or want to talk. 

Book and movie highly recommended. Order the book here. 

Enjoy and have a great week! 

The AudioBook Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

Hello and Happy Sunday!

I just want to stop by here quickly after a long party-weekend at my sister’s  house and therefore, lack of sleep. Are you in the mood to read something funny? I just finished the Audiobook version of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I read all of Sedaris’ books but this one I enjoyed the most. I was able to hear and see him at a book reading in Boston a couple of years ago. It was fantastic. There I listened to men who sat behind me. They said that David Sedaris’s audiobooks are way better and so funny when you listen to him read. So I purchased the book. I am not a huge fan of audiobooks, but this one, wow -let me tell you, it is good. 

There are 25 stories, some shorter, some longer but easy to read. Sort of like “one more quick story and then I talk to you”. David Sedaris is very smart, funny and entertains the reader with awesome, hilarious stories. You will find out about the humiliation of learning French as an adult (my favorite story) when Sedaris moved from New York to Paris and needed to take French lessons. Annoying American tourists, teaching a writing course when you have no clue how to and many stories about his entertaining and funny father or learning how to play guitar from a sexist midget make Me Talk Pretty One Day one awesome read. I like how different stories and Sedaris’ changing mix in tone make some stories just laughing out loud funny while others have a somewhat deeper, more serious meaning. 

It just does not get boring to listen to David Sedaris speak – and especially not when he reads his own material. David Sedaris’s logic:

“I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself. Why refer to lady crack pipe or good sir dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?”

“I hate you’ she said to me one afternoon. ‘I really, really hate you.’ Call me sensitive, but I couldn’t help but take it personally.”

Highly recommended in audio format. Buy Me Talk Pretty One Day here and watch this awesome interview if you would like. Signing off for tonight. Have a great week. 

The Book Review: The More of Less by Joshua Becker.

Hello and Happy Sunday! 

Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I read two books by Joshua Becker already and am following his blog. I am into minimalism myself and those facts as  well as the cover and title drew my attention to his latest book. This does not affect my opinion of the content or the book in my review.

“Security, acceptance, and contentment are not the only hidden motivations that might be driving you to buy too much. The more you remove, additional unhealthy motivations will begin to emerge. They may be difficult to uncover, but it is important that you do so. Some people buy more than they should because they have a sense of inadequacy and try to compensate for it with accumulation.”

Have you ever thought that you might have too much stuff? That your house or garage is so stuffed that you cannot even enter it? I read many books on minimalism already and when Joshua Becker’s had been released I was excited to receive a copy to read. Becker explains in one of the chapters: “First, let’s review what minimalism is. It is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them“. What led me to minimalism in the first place was that I was tired of constantly cleaning, managing and organizing all the stuff that was piling in my apartment. When I moved I did not want to take everything with me and started to simply throw things away, donating them to just have less work without even thinking of a minimalistic lifestyle. 

If you are new to minimalism, this book is a great way to start your journey to declutter and give your life an overall cleanse. You will learn that excessive consumption leads to more piled up stuff in your house and eventually to a bigger house to store it all. Many love faster cars and to have the latest technology but does all this really bring happiness is the question. Are people happier just because they live in a mansion? Becker gives a lot of food for thought that made me realize that when I was younger I had a constant desire for more. To buy the latest fashion, the latest gadgets but I constantly wondered why it makes me happy for just a little while. Then I needed something else. Something fancier, faster, better. 

When I read the book I knew that I am much happier owning less. You will learn through practical tips and approaches how to declutter your life and home. Becker said, “You don’t need to start with the hard stuff. Start easy. Start small. Just start somewhere.” The author asks challenging questions that make you consider the minimalistic life. He also shows how we get manipulated constantly through advertisements, commercials, TV and so much more. I liked how Becker uses many examples from his own life on how his minimalism journey started. He also mentioned The Minimalists who I have been following for a long time as well as many other minimalists and their stories which is very inspiriting. Joshua Becker and his wife are the founders of the non-profit organization The Hope Effect with the goal to provide homes to orphans. All this became possible due to there minimalistic lifestyle and I think this story is fantastic. 

I loved the chapter on clothing. I don’t own many. This is my choice and I am fine with it. Quality over quantity. Becker offers many tips on how to clean your closets. Organizing my closet and clothes was easy for me. Books on the other hand was a different story. 

Becker talks about books and how he used to cram his shelves with books “to signal to anyone who visited his office that he was well read, intelligent, and worthy of esteem. When he understood this about himself, he felt embarrassed. He then removed two-thirds of his books, that he didn’t really need and realized that he no longer needs to impress others by the number of books in his shelves.” I love this. I am a huge book lover myself and I have a lot of books. Always had. To go through my shelves with a minimalistic approach I realized that books do not define me. They do add value of course in a way contribute to who I am, but they don’t need to sit around in my shelves forever. At least not all of them. So I keep the ones I cannot live without. 

I think The More of Less  is an extraordinary, inspiring and amazing book that I highly recommend even though if minimalism is not your thing but you would like to make some small changes in your lifestyle, declutter or discover some areas where you could apply some of the minimalist principles. 

Listen to this great interview with Joshua Becker or visit his website. Good stuff. 

The Book Review: Maestra by L.S. Hilton.

Hello and Happy Sunday! 

There is a lot of hype about this book. It seems everybody on this planet talks about it, read it, wants to read it and whatnot. “The most shocking thriller you will read this year“? Most inaccurate and unrealistic claim ever. I dragged myself through this book waiting for a change in the plot or something else interesting but unfortunately it did not happen. L.S. Hilton’s femme fatale Judith, who is the main character in Maestra seems like a weird psycho lady after just a couple of pages.

The initial set up of the story was good, entertaining and even grabbed my attention. The author introduced Judith as a young beautiful woman who tried to make her way in the art world. She seemed smart and works at a well-known auction house as a receptionist. All she wants is money however because of her debt and to buy great expensive clothing. Judith also wants to gain respect and entry in the real art society and world. Then she meets an old friend who told her about this amazing job as a hostess at a champagne bar. Judith works there occasionally, then every night, making a lot of money in tips, manipulates the customers to purchase the most expensive champagne which is the main purpose of the etablissement. Judith then saves all the money, starts a savings account and buys tons of expensive clothing and the labels and brands are mentioned constantly in the book. All she wants is to look hot; she also detests fat people. She is also a sex addict. The scenes described reminded me a bit of 50 Shades of Grey but more graphic, brutal and disgusting. Judith is most certainly not a virgin. 

So she works as a hostess and at the art house. At the auction house,  things start to go down. Judith finds out about a conspiracy and art fraud and ends up being fired because she wants to make it all public. At this point I waited for justice. I mean, who wouldn’t? Revenge? Nothing. All that happens from now on are brutal sex and killings. The author describes a sex party that Judith, a friend, and James, a “fat annoying customer at the hostess club” attend. Then an “accident” happened and James died. It is not even Judith’s fault but she escapes. I just wanted her to be caught at this point and the book to end. When she was with the next guy, Steve, I thought the story might get a bit better but is just downhill from there until the end. 

It seems that the author tried something here, and something different there and then combine both stories but it just does not work. Out of nowhere, Judith completely changes and is a cold-blooded killer and sort of sociopathic. The story could be okay but somehow there need to be flashbacks why she became like that, childhood troubles and whatnot for example. For me, there should be a lot more to a journey or story than just a confusing mix of weird circumstances. In an interview L.S. Hilton said that she did a lot of research before  and during writing the book. Well, I did not find any investigations, police reports or forensics. Doesn’t anybody try to catch her while she is randomly killing people, after having insane crazy sex and getting high all the time? The book just does not add up and fell apart pretty quickly. A good decent psychological crime thriller is something different. The plot hast too many holes. Trilogy? No thank you. 

Would I love to read this book? 

There is nothing mysterious about the plot. Don’t read it if you are looking for something glamorous, class, erotic, thrilling or a good plot. If you are into x-rated porn, obnoxiously expensive clothing and constant designer fashion names, expensive hotels and yachts, poor taste and slightly disgusting overall-feel, then you will enjoy this book. 

The Book Review: Radical Self-Love by Gala Darling.

Hello and Happy Sunday! 

“No matter where you are and no matter what is going on around you, this is the only moment you ever have. Tomorrow may never come, and your past is long gone. The future, with all its promises and anxieties, may never eventuate. All you have is this moment, right here and right now.” – Gala Darling. 

Self-love is important and life is limitless if you do understand that. I am not an expert on this, far away from it actually, but I am getting there slowly but surely. Of course I read everything on this subject I can get my hands on. I heard about Gala Darling before and followed her blog for quite some time. Gala suffered from eating disorders, harming herself and unfortunately much more. She explained a lot about her therapies, tapping and more on her blog so basically, if you read it, there is nothing new in the book. It is autobiographical with a series of homework, bullet points and lists. Let’s say, if you are new to the self-help/self-love scene this book might be great for you. It has a good introduction but if you already dove deeper into self-love it is most likely a bit boring and redundant. 

“Don’t be shocked by the fact that everything in your life feels crappy, and that you can never find a lover who treats you right. All of this stuff comes from not loving yourself. Truly. Everything we do in life comes from a place of fear or a place of love. How often do you think you allow fear to motivate you? How many times a day do you act from a place of love?”

What you will find in the book are tips on what to do when you are sad, how to love yourself and how to find more happiness within. The author also writes about loving others, that can only truly work if you love yourself first. Many tips, homework and tricks can be found in the book along with an easy to read format. What I really liked was Gala Darling’s somewhat energetic, funny voice. No doubt, Gala Darling is authentic and she comes across like as she lives her life according to what she talks about and preaches in her book. She also created the Badassery movement and explains all about it. I liked how she tries to help the next generation of women on how to find joy and adventure and that it is important to listen to your heart. You can have your cake and eat it too! However, for me, the book is simply lacking depth but it is a great beach or bathtub read. 

Is this book for me?

If you like to read something fun with some sort of inspiration, grab a copy of this book. It is most certainly entertaining but nothing ground breaking. Read it if you need a bit of a dose of self-esteem and tips on how to create this life you always dreamt about. If you are stuck in a somewhat soul-sucking job or dealing with a bit of  soul searching this book might lift you up or help you. It is important to enjoy life. We only have this one shot. 

The Book Review: Eating in the Middle – A mostly Wholesome Cookbook by Andie Mitchell.

Hello and Happy Sunday!

Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I read Andie Mitchell’s memoir It Was Me All Along and loved it. This fact, as well as the cover and title drew my attention to her latest book. This does not affect my opinion of the content or the book in my review.

“At first, I tried to lighten the desserts I loved. I traded the real ingredients for sugar substitutes, butter substitutes, and the worst-tasting ingredients of all: fat-free cream cheese. My mom would try them, her smile as fake as the taste of aspartame. I learned the hard way that most of my efforts at lightening tended to, ironically enough, result in a leaden dessert. And worse, I realized that I wasn’t satisfied after eating them.” 

Andie Mitchell struggled with weight loss and obesity since her childhood. She never found a way to eat in balance. In her memoir she described her journey in detail and now her cookbook has been published.  With these dishes she was able to reach her weight goal and maintain it, she claimed. In this cookbook she shares approximately 80 recipes and explains what ingredients are important to her and how she eats. 

I have a bunch of cookbooks and also reviewed a lot on my blog. However, there are cookbooks I fell instantly in love with. They are just beautiful to look at, with nice pictures, great stories and of course recipes that I instantly want to try. Cookbooks just do have something special, even though most recipes can be found online. In a way, Andie Mitchell’s style of cooking and some recipes she shares are similar to what I cook and like so I did not find it too inspiring. I found myself not in the target audience range. She shares recipes for a fresh breakfast, lunch, vegetables & sides, dinner or party dishes and of course sweet desserts – because life is sweet. However; honestly, nothing that I have not heard of. 

“Eating in the Middle is structured the way I eat and live my life. So, the vast majority of the recipes in this book are healthy, wholesome, and made from read food ingredient, with a focus on big, boisterous flavors. You’d swear most of them are richer than they are, like Lemon-Herb with Crispy Oven Fries or Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Cream.” 

After Andie Mitchell lost 135 lbs she felt transformed but also stopped herself from eating certain things. No more chocolate, cakes and she wondered if life is a constant diet. She missed all the foods she always loved – all those comfort dishes that are rich, creamy and cheesy. She had no idea how to incorporate those dishes in her new lifestyle and diet plan. In Eating In The Middle she explains how she dealt with this problem, as well as emotional eating, overeating and cravings. 

The dishes are easy to prepare but again, nothing inspiring or new to me simply because I consider myself an advanced cook. Also, there are many recipes that include meat and I am not a big fan of that. She also shares 3 fish recipes. If you are interested in the book I would advice you to flip through it at the bookstore before purchasing it.

What initially drew my attention to the book was that she kept her weight down for such a long time while eating this mix of indulging, yet healthy recipes. This book is beautifully done, with tons of great food photography and a gorgeous layout. Sometimes I thought I would love to sit at this table right now, in front of all the food even though I would not try everything. 

Would I like this book? 

I do recommend this book if you are a fan of Andie Mitchell’s writing. She has a very lovely, likable personality. You might also like this book if you want to know about nutritional information which Mitchell includes at the end of every recipe. Also, there are many weight loss/maintenance tips throughout the book. You may like the book if you have never heard of Kale Chips before and would like to make some. Also if you have never heard of Chia Pudding, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots or sesame green beans. 

Personally, a cookbook has to give me a bit more to remain in my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. It has to be a cookbook I love to go back to because the recipes are special, new, mouth-watering and don’t seem like they are taken right out of a Cheesecake Factory menu. Recipes that are not new to me but that I liked are:  the Bagel & Lox Salad (page 64), the Creamy Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomato & Artichoke Omelet (page 38) and the All The Greens Frittata (page 33) 

The Book Review: Recipes for Love & Murder by Sally Andrew.

Hello and Happy Sunday!

“My husband, Fanie, was dead and gone, but sometimes it felt he was with me again, like a bad taste in my mouth. Suddenly I could see the expression on his face just before he would hit me. My forehead was sweating and my heart beating fast. It was like I was having a bad dream, but I was wide awake.” 

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery is a fantastic murder mystery mixed with love, sadness, romance, food, the beautiful nature in South Africa and friendship. Tannie Maria loves food, to cook and is a woman who writes a column about recipes and relationship tips for the local paper, Klein Karoo Gazette. She solves relationship and love trouble through good advice and delicious recipes that are described in such a yummy way that I felt like trying some of them right away. Don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Chocolate heaven, full of flavor and nourishing recipes can be found at the end of the book. Pictured below is Tannie’s famous Milk Tart. 

Things change however, when one day, Maria received a letter from Martine, a woman who is being abused by her husband and tries to escape this hell she lives in. This reminded Maria of her own past. She had been abused for years and years by her husband before he passed away. This was reason enough to help Martine and to write her a letter back. Shortly after, local police informed the newspaper about the murder of this particular woman. Together with Harriet and Jessie, who are Maria’s colleagues at the Klein Karoo Gazette, they decide to find the person who committed the murder(s). They assist the police and find themselves in several frustrating and dangerous situations. Will they be able to find the killer? Things take a turn when Jessie went missing and Maria receives death threats herself. 

Is this book for me?  

This novel is very compelling, charming, a real page-turner — yet eye-opening and thought-provoking regarding this serious issue of the abuse of women in South Africa. I also enjoyed to read many words in Afrikaans that are explained in the glossary of the book. The reader will also find interesting details about South Africa and its beauty. 

The author focuses a lot on the characters which I love. I can almost see Tannie Maria cooking in her kitchen. This book is a real joy to read if you are into delightful, light crime novels, South African culture, of course food with a touch of serious issues. 

You can purchase a copy here. Do visit Sally Andrew’s website if you would like to find out more about South Africa and videos and pictures from the author. Enjoy! 

The Book Review: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

Hello and Happy Sunday!

“Now you’ve said it. The hopeless emptiness. Hell, plenty of people are on to the emptiness part; out where I used to work, on the Coast, that’s all we ever talked about. We’d sit around talking about emptiness all night. Nobody ever said ‘hopeless,’ though; that’s where we’d chicken out. Because maybe it does take a certain amount of guts to see the emptiness, but it takes a whole hell of a lot more to see the hopelessness. And I guess when you do see the hopelessness, that’s when there’s nothing to do but take off. If you can.”

I would like to share a book review of one of my favorite books. I don’t even know why I haven’t written it so far. It is a beautiful, eye-opening story that is also very thought-provoking. 

How does the perfect life look? Does the perfect life even exist? The story takes place in suburban America in the 50s. April and Frank met and fell in love almost instantly. They are both intelligent, beautiful and talented and the relationship moved at a very fast pace. Maybe too quickly. Not long after they first dated they decided to get married. Both wanted to have kids and dreamt of a big house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. The American Dream. April realized one day while she took out the garbage that this is not the life she wanted and visualized; that this just cannot be everything. She wants to move to Paris with Frank. They both agree to do something out of the ordinary. However, their plans changed. April became pregnant. 

I describe this book as very wise, yet tragic and a bit depressing considering that many out there might still have dreams out of the ordinary but are afraid to take the final steps simply because of this need of routine, security or comfort. How many are out there and frustrated on a daily basis but keep working at the same job for years upon years because eventually they will retire and then they plan doing all these awesome things. “As soon as…..!”  The author does not want to dissect the suburbs or the traditional family life. If people love this type of lifestyle, good for them. Yates focuses more on the fact that April and Frank are both painfully aware of their shallow surroundings and try to escape this routine. There both think that there must be something else to life than just taking the train to the city every morning, working from 9 to 5, coming home exhausted and sad to just do it all over again the next day. They want to change because they are unhappy and frustrated and feel the need to accomplish something else in their life. 

When I read the book a couple of years ago for the first time, I realized that many scenes were just so familiar to me. I have been stuck too at points.  Stuck in relationships, stuck in jobs that I did not like, you name it. This is why I loved the part when I found out how Frank got his job. A job and financial stability that seems oh! so! important. Well, it is but it is not everything. The reader will also find out about April’s disappointment and sadness while doing the housework to a perfection because this is all she has. Cooking, cleaning and tending the house – waiting for her husband to come home in the evening. And in the meantime  dreaming about Paris. 

My favorite scene. 

Yates holds a mirror up to society and just tells a lot of truth. This kind of truth that makes people uncomfortable and embarrassed. After reading Revolutionary Road I started to ask myself some questions and realized what is important in my life. For this alone I think it was an excellent read. What gets people through life? What are their morals or justifications? Are April and Frank betraying each other? Or their own selves? 

You can purchase the book here. Also, see the trailer of the movie if you would like. 

Have you read the book or seen the movie? How did you like it? Have a great week. 

The Book Review: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami.

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Hello and Happy Sunday!

“The old man came to check on me that evening. He was delighted to find me lost in my book. Seeing how happy he was made me feel a little happier. No matter what the situation may be, I still take pleasure in witnessing the joy of others.” 

Knowledge is good but it might be dangerous sometimes. I fell in love with Murakami after I read his novel After Dark a long time ago. I remember the day when I purchased this book so clearly. I liked the cover and needed a book to kill some time at a café. Well, three hours and five lattes later, I still sat there reading this book. I also really enjoyed this, this and that one. I have always been eager to read more from Japan’s famous author. When I found The Strange Library at a Vintage Bookstore in the East Village in New York I was as happy as a kid in the candy store. Well, bookstores are my candy stores anyway but you get the picture.

This gem of a book is wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated and shrink wrapped when I purchased it. I love the old-fashioned library card wallet attached to the cover that reminds when I used to take out books at my local library as a child. How unique and special. Besides this I have to tell you that the entire book is slightly strange and different from any other book you might have read. It is filled with amazing photographs, graphics and art work that all adds to the weirdness of the story. Most of these illustrations come from old books that have been found in The London Library and included and mixed  in an unusual  way with the story. 

“All I did was go to the library to borrow some books. “If you don’t know something, go to the library to look it up.”

This story of this novella takes place at The Strange Library. The narrator (a young boy) is on his way home from school and finds himself wondering about the Ottoman Empire’s tax system and how taxes were collected. [Have you ever thought about this? Well, I have not!] He walks into the local library to ask if there are any book available on this subject. The librarian, an old man, helps him and finds three huge books. He also tells the narrator that he has to read those books in a special “reading room” and cannot take them home. The boy agrees, even though his mother waits for him at home and the library closes soon. He follows the old man who leads him to a maze underneath the library that is in complete darkness and guide him to this strange reading room. Here, the narrator soon finds himself imprisoned with a little person who is a sheep man. Sheep man makes the most delicious doughnuts, soups and other dishes.  Weird enough at this point? Let me continue. Now a girl walks into the “prison room” where the narrator is attached to a chain just long enough to go to the table to read the books. This girl only talks with her hands. Now, sheep man and girl tell the boy that the old man seems to have a huge appetite for smart brains – especially smart boy brains and has no intentions of letting him out any time soon. Even worse, as soon as the boy read the books (which should take him approximately one month) the old man will kill him – and eat his brain. 

Will the narrator be able to escape? What else will happen? 

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Actually, I would describe this book as nightmarish, thought-provoking and interesting. Murakami surely has a wild imagination but I loved all the symbolism that just kept my attention throughout the book. I always dreamt to be at a library over night and locked in at some point but not anymore, hah! However, after re-reading the book I felt that  there is so much more to discover. 

Read this book if you are a fan of beautiful illustrated books and a lover of novellas.  Also of course if you like Murakami and his amazing surreal imagination. I would not suggest getting this book on e-readers, simply because of all the art work in it. This is a book to touch, hold and smell. And also, please continue going to your local library. Unless you find this wooden door that leads to total darkness and down a serial staircase  to a suspicious reading room. 

Order this book here. Enjoy!