Strange Weather in Tokyo.

Strange name for a book and stranger was the way in which I happened to read it. A friend who was invited for lunch knew that I love books and he arrived lugging five books none of which belonged to any of the genres that I prefer reading. (My preferred reading comprises fantasy, historical fiction, science-fiction, and thrillers – in that order.)

I think he must’ve generalized that being a woman I would be interested in romance and so two out of the five books were in the Romance genre. One was “The Winner Stands Alone” by Paulo Coelho and one was a thriller –  “The Girl who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson. If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that for the last one year, I’ve been terribly distracted, so despite picking up “The Girl who Played with Fire” first, I gave up after a few pages. Then I picked up the 175 pages long (or short) “Strange Weather in Tokyo,” and was pleasantly surprised that its simple narrative kept me engaged.

———– Spoiler Alert ———–

The heroine of the novel, Tsukiko is a 37-year-old single woman who meets her high-school teacher at a bar. The teacher is over 60, widowed and a man who leads a simple life. Gradually, for no particular reason, except perhaps her loneliness, Tsukiko starts enjoying her random encounters with her teacher, who she calls “Sensei” throughout the book. Eventually, she realizes that she has fallen in love with him, when she becomes jealous of the attention he showers on a woman teacher. 

———– Spoiler Alert ———–

The storyline, as you can see, is fairly simple and straightforward. I prefer stories with complex plots (Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books are some of my favorites.) The characters are simple and straightforward too. I like complex, layered characters (Tyrion Lannister of the Game of Thrones is one of my favorites.) The settings don’t change much and the descriptions don’t have enough details – in fact, I still don’t know what everyone looks like. I like to “see” the places, “watch” the events unfold, “look at” the characters…

And yet, I read the whole book at a time when I couldn’t get myself to read at all. I think Hiromi Kawakami, the author, wanted to achieve just that. Her book is polite and laid-back like her characters, the love-story is devoid of passion – it just…flows along, and that’s the charm of the book.

Here’s a picture.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

I guess that’s all ­čÖé

(And if I am starting to add smilies at the end of my sentences, I am already on my way to meet and bring back my old, happier self.)

Why Adults Read Fantasy?

What exactly is fantasy?

The unreal, the abstract, a flight of imagination, the attempt of a writer to stretch the limits of human potential and create beings similar to humans but who have super-strengths and places, the kind that don’t physically exist in this world…

And what does it inspire in its readers?

A dream, a hope, a possibility however improbable, that for a while they could exist in a different world and experience feelings that they don’t get to experience in this world.

When we pick up a fantasy novel/novella through which we consciously step into a world that is different enough to be safe, yet similar enough to hold up the suspension-of-disbelief, we enjoy it – for through its characters we experience a whole range of the experiences – most which fall out of our normal everyday range. Continue reading “Why Adults Read Fantasy?”

Eating Books.

This week, I tasted a couple of books and swallowed one. About those┬áthat must be chewed and digested... I’m still working on a few that I read years ago.

I love reading books from different genres – mostly fiction and some non-fiction (mainly historical and psychological.)

In my little library there indeed are books that must chewed and digested (and those┬áthat I am still chewing and digesting.) Some of these are:┬áKen Follett’s Century Trilogy, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series.┬á

And then there are books that I’ve swallowed. I ordered them because they were on the bestseller lists of psychological fiction. I didn’t┬ástop to experience their texture (or the lack of it;) I didn’t swirl them around my tongue long enough to let my senses be taken by them; and now, I don’t remember anything about them at all. Continue reading “Eating Books.”

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