Is it time for a bump yet?
Here's a dump of the few of my recently read titles. My 40-60 minutes daily commute to and from work is both a curse and a blessing.Haruki Murakami - 1Q84
. I didn't finish it yet, I'm only a bit into the last book 3. But I love every bit of it so far. Murakami created a vast, subtle universe and it takes some 200 pages for the story threads that we follow to get anywhere near each other's influence. And then another 400 pages for the greater picture to start taking shape. But I just can't get enough of those slow, meticulous description of the apparently everyday and normal. I want to rush through it to the end, but I also want to savour every page and have it never come to an end. I was a bit wary about picking it up - I read a few things by Murakami earlier and I felt I got tired of his style which I found too subtle or sublimated. But in 1Q84 he seems to have struck the perfect balance.James Clavell - Shogun
. Another 1000+ page novel, vastly different from 1Q84, but my feelings about it were quite similar. I didn't feel bored or weary of reading it for a minute. As probably most people I first got to know this story from the TV miniseries
starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune. It was actually re-watching the series not too long ago that prompted me to pick up the book, and it turned out to be very rewarding. There's was more character development, way more political background, and most importantly way more cultural details. From the few reviews I read, while a work of fiction (though vaguely based on real events) and not 100% accurate, it is generally a great introduction to Japanese culture of that important nation-shaping period which can also be the key to better understanding of the country today's culture and art. I highly recommend it to anyone with a deeper interest in Japan than the obvious contemporary pop-culture products.Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
. I like to call it "dyslexia simulator" in my mind. That's not so say I didn't enjoy it, but there were very few sentences in the whole novel that I didn't need to read and re-read repeatedly not to lose track of what was going on. I didn't keep track of how long it took me, but reading it definitely left me mentally and physically tired. Which I think serves as a testament to Conrad's elaborate literary style. It wasn't much unlike the slow and exhausting trudge up the Congo river. In any case, it's rightfully called a classic that's just a shame not to know.Arthur C. Clarke - 2001, 2010, 2061, 3001
. The so called Space Odyssey
series. 2001 is a brilliant companion to the Kubrick's film, in a way co-written by the director. It stands its own ground as a novel, at the same time helping to explain many wtf moments from the film. 2010 picks up the plot in the way we know from the sequel film (also great IMO and unjustly held to the 2001's standards), although it is a noticeable step-down in the grandness of the concept. After that, 2061 and 3001 are quite frankly pure garbage, with ideas and themes not worthy of a grade schooler's piece of fanfiction. Both books quite simply poop all over the mystery of the original work and explain things in the most hackneyed fashion possible. A few times I had a good laugh, but I'd advise you not to waste your time with them. And I definitely can't bring myself to consider them a 2001 "canon".