The Strange Library

by Haruki Murakami

I remember browsing through Amazon right after I ordered Colorless Tsukuru…and seeing the pre-order for a book called The Strange Library. Its release date was only a few months after Colorless…normally knowing how long it takes to get a murakami book translated..I was baffled at the immediate release….

I acquired the book recently and read it in one sitting. Because you can read it in one sitting. Well, technically, you can read any book in one sitting, but this one especially since it’s so petite.

The Book is designed and art directed by famous cover designer Chip Kidd, but he did a lot more for this story than for his other hired gigs. There were numerous images running throughout the pages. They weren’t all original drawings or art, a lot of collected images from the internet made the cut in low resolution (but I think that’s the point).

It’s a very beautiful little compilation. And for ten bucks, what else can you get? Like a fancy coffee? In my opinion, it’s not the best Murakami read, it’s too short for it to be savored. And his, at times, long-winded style can only be truly enjoyed in its full capacity. I did’t get much out of this little book but I still enjoyed it. It’s a nice piece of art to have at home and to flip through at times.

If you’re a huge murakami fan, you should probably get it. but If you are just an average reader of his, you can probably peruse this at the library in twenty minutes.

All the books that I’ve been reading lately…have been petite. Well, I’m pretty busy with catching up on all the Oscar noms you know (i’m kidding but I have been watching more movies than reading books lately, also I think my attention span has been shot…)

Posted: January 18th, 2015
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If this isn’t nice, What is?

by Kurt Vonnegut ]

I received a copy of If this isn’t nice, What is? for Christmas. It is a collection of Kurt Vonengut’s graduation speeches at various universities across the country. I am receiving my masters (MASTERS???) of Business (BUSINESS????) in advertising come May, so the gifter thought it’d be an appropriate read.

I love Kurt Vonnegut. I always see him as a wise uncle that I never had. He inspires me to live with more humility. He inspires me to be a better person…after all he is a humanist.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though there are few speeches in between with similar themes running through each of them. They are valuable at any stage of a graduate’s life.

But! If you are itching to buy a collection of something of Vonnegut’s… I recommend his collection of letters much more. It is an amazing read. You’ll learn that he’s every bit genuine in his real life as he is with the public and media.

I hope to update this blog a lot more…though it feels bleak.

Posted: January 17th, 2015
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Stephen King On Writing

Stephen King is a prolific horror story writer. What can I say, I’ve never read any of his stuff.

I really can’t stand blood and gore, even in books. It makes me jumpy but then again these days everything makes me jumpy.

Even though I have no first hand experience with Stephen King’s work. I do know that he’s a very successful writer and according to my friends, this is a great read.

And it was!

I read it two weeks ago and it’s still lingering on my mind. The book is divided in two parts; the first half is a memoir of his experience prior to becoming a best selling writer and the second part consists of advice for novice or seasoned writers.

His personal story is fascinating, especially when written in a fascinating way, even though I was reading the book mainly for the second portion, I found myself hanging onto every word about his family, life and writing.

the second half of the book is invaluable. It has a lot of advice, especially when read in conjunction with a classic styles book like The Elements of Style, which recently, was released with an illustrated edition, you’ll gain a lot of knowledge about writing really fast.

But of course, everything else comes with practice.

I feel so unnatural writing these blog posts now.

Everything feels unnatural.

What’s up with that? Let’s hope it all passes.

Posted: June 2nd, 2014
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Park and Eleanor / Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

by Rainbow Rowell

I saw it on display at the book store and took a liking to the cover. But upon closer inspection I realized it’s YA and that John Green provided a blurb. Then I knew immediately what type of story we’re dealing with here.

a young adult love story that revolves around an out of character heroine with some special traits and an even more special young man that saves her from her situation. It’s also likely that our hero just is about the most wonderful guy there is, he’s caring and funny and knowledgeable about off beat pop culture. He also is popular and liked by many girls that are considered “conventional” girls that may be pretty and popular too. But because he’s got such a great big heart and special eye for unique beauty, he chooses our heroine.

It may seem like i’m ratting on the book but I’m not. But lately I’ve realized that the pattern with YA is that the underdog (unpopular female with the wrong type of jeans) gets the prince (sensitive book smart boy who’s also good at sports) at the end. There are a LOT of these type of stories, even more with the advent of popular author John Green.

Despite all that (a bit of complaining on my part), Park and Eleanor is a great read. It’s well written and depicts a time before playlists on spotify and shared music had to be put into tapes. Eleanor’s struggles feel sincere and you honestly want her to end up better, and spend more time with Park.

Their puppy love is very sweet and keeps you rooting for their relationship. Biggest disappointment would be the ambiguous ending. Even though any reader would clearly understand what happened at the very end but given how likeable the characters are, you’d want a more solid ending.

—————

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

by David Sedaris

It’s a Sedaris collection. It’s not wildly amazing but always a relaxing and funny read. What else can I say about it?

YOU

by austin grossman

To start off, I must admit that I didn’t even finish the novel. I left the treacherous journey with 20 pages left. I just didn’t care anymore.

To be fair I am not much of a gamer, my interest in gaming goes as far as Mario Kart and 5 hour binges of Tetris for the Nintendo DS. I am not a gamer but I appreciate games, and I appreciate what they’ve done and what could do with story telling. In that sense, I was excited to read this book. Austin Grossman is also the author of Soon I will be in Invincible

The protagonist is named Russel… RUSSEL! Russel is a law school drop out who finds a job at a gaming company called Black Arts that’s founded by his best friends from high school. He took the job because he didn’t have a lot of options left. He took the job even though he did’t know all that much about video games or the process of making video games.

The company that Russel works at is founded by his friends Simon, Darren and Lisa. Sadly Simon died and the company slowly falls apart. Russel goes into the job with bare minimum knowledge and slowly returns to his childhood of video games and video game creation with his friends.

The protagonist is not likable at all and he seems like the type of person that would back stab his friends to get ahead or something. So, it’s pretty hard to like Russel even though the novel tried so hard to portray him as a passionate character. But it’s all fluff and fizz, he didn’t seem to really care and I didn’t care. It seems like the character was trying to find meaning for his own life through the death of his friend and the so called creation of this video game.

So, once that’s on the table it’s pretty hard to go on… I think this could also work in favor of the novel if you made the characters so gross and unlikable that you want to see what happens to them. Russel barely registers even though he’s the narrator. I’m just like, okay whatever, I’m more interested in those tent-like t-shirts that you talked about…

The story chugs along slowly while they decide to continue the franchise that their founder Simon created, but not all goes well obviously.

There’s a lot of details about video game making that the author is well versed with but while it was interesting to learn it was also annoying to read about.

I think the biggest flaw about this book is just that every character is annoying and worse than that, you just don’t care about any of them. I don’t care what happens to Russel, I even find it hard to believe that he’s named Russel.

kind of disappointing.

Posted: May 28th, 2013
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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

edited and compiled by: Mason Currey

I remember reading his blog: Daily Routines back in the day. The blog was wonderful but it stopped updating a few years ago. I was deeply disappointed but then this book came out! This has to be one of the best blogs turned books, and one of the few ones that have much more content than it does on the blog. Nor does it rely heavily on regurgitated writing or graphics.

It’s a compilation of artists, writers, composers and the daily schedules they kept or not kept to keep their creativity locked in. I loved reading this, every single one of them was so fully interesting in their own way. Unfortunately, I have found a perfect schedule for myself as i lack discipline.

But I highly recommend this read! It’s a great read.

Posted: May 21st, 2013
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GODS WITHOUT MEN

by Hari Kunzru

I finally got around to reading this book and finishing it. I tried it once before and felt overwhelmed by the beginning. But because I have SO much time at work I decided to try it out again.
The story takes place over many periods in time at a single location called The Pinnacle in the dessert some where near Las Vegas. In the various points in time, different people lived there and crazy things happened. The novel mainly revolves around a jewish woman and a second generation Indian man and their autistic child. They go on a vacation and end up a motel somewhere near the desert and their son disappears. The couple survives through a media frenzy over their lost son but recovers him many months later. Jaz, the father of the son, ends up being paranoid over the recovery and subsequent changes to his son.

Although the story of the lost boy is the main focus of the novel the remaining chapters wove together a complicated story line that spans centuries. To completely honest I don’t full get some of the details and I especially don’t understand the ending. The writing is extremely solid. It was from this novel that I realized the major difference between a seasoned writer and a novice. A seasoned write has a more demure style rather than something flamboyant that a novice would bring about. I am not certain on my observations but when I read something that’s “good” I could feel the weight of the words whereas if I read something by a novice writer the words would seem like they are floating in the air, and they are only kept on the page through by awkward style.

was a full and true book, and for me that’s the highest praise that you can give to any piece of writing.

Posted: May 6th, 2013
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Leaving the Atocha Station

by Benjamin S. Lerner

It took me what felt like forever to read this book. I tended to read around lunch time but I figured sometimes interacting with my co-workers wouldn’t be a bad thing. so somehow, it ended up taking quite a while to finish.

The beginning of the plot was lost on me as I had read it so long ago. But I didn’t choose to go back and start from the beginning. It felt sufficient to pick up from where I had left out even though I had no idea how the story was going on the page.

The novel revolves around a young American in Madrid on a fellowship about the importance of literature during the Spanish Civil War. Despite his fellowship, he doesn’t do much research or writing. Instead he finds himself making local friends and smoking hash while wondering the relationship between himself and two women; Isabel and Teresa. He meets locals that garners interests in his poems. He also suffers from some sort of anxiety and takes “white pills” that he finds himself reliant upon.

It’s a beautiful read, and filled with non-concrete charm. I would assume that the young American fellow is based on the author himself, or at least pieces of himself.

Posted: April 16th, 2013
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Truth in Advertising

by John Kenney

I chose to read this book for obvious reasons especially with my upcoming ad school deadlines (cries a river).

The story isn’t bad but it isn’t fantastic. It’s not that humorous and it’s not that fresh. But I did enjoy it because I enjoy reading about things related to ad agencies.

But i did realize one thing, and I feel like it’s a very important thing to realize.

I realized the difference between a really good writer and a novice writer. They say that the story often makes it or breaks it. You get seriously shitty writing like Twilight and 50 Shades and it ends up selling a gazillion copies because it has a fantastic story? Okay, the story isn’t the Three Musketeers or anything but people obviously enjoy reading about it. So besides that, besides the 50 shades of the literary world. What is the difference between a heavy weight writer and a novice?

this might be complete speculation on my part and it will be difficult to explain because it is more a feeling than anything else. Novice writes without weight, they put down words that they think would work, they do jokes because the writing feels dry, but a lot of the times it isn’t funny and it lacks depth. They write deep philosophical paragraphs about the laments of life and living in a busy city like New York, it feels hollow, no matter how deep they may think they are (all my stuff feels deep to me at the time then it’s really not). While long time novelists or extremely confident first timers writers write with depth. Maybe they thought a lot about it, maybe they didn’t but their extreme confidence in their own style and writing brings the depth, it brings the weight. And when you, as a reader, gets a woah sort of feeling, even if you have no idea what’s happening (e.g. me reading 2666).

Confidence in style translates directly to the reader. Novice writers dont have that confidence a lot of the times, especially apparent in young people? I don’t know what I’m saying.

Quotes

page 296

I say, “Is it enough? What we do?”
Martin stares for a time. “No. It’s not enough. Relative to a trauma surgeon or special ed teacher or UN AIDS worker in Uganda, no. It’s not nearly enough. But I’m not any of those things. And i’m okay with that. I like what I do. I think what we do has value. Good companies matter to people. Their products matter to people. Do they make a difference in their lives? Probably not. But it does matter. By the way, in the time I’ve been here, this agency has worked on campaigns to get teenagers to stop smoking, bring inner-city children to camp for the summer, a battered women’s shelter in queens, and the New York chapter of the American Red Cross. For free. And we’ve changed people’s lives as a result. I think that’s a pretty god way to make a living.”

I’m waiting for him to fire me, waiting to be humiliated because I do not understand basic things sometimes.

“Do you know how many portfolios we receive each day? copywriters, art directors, people who want to make their living here? and yet I stand with you, a person who wants to throw a good job away. I mean, if I could show you a photo of the woman I’m dining with … and yet here I stand. Why? It’s rhetorical, so don’t try to answer. I stand here because although I have thought about firing you many times with great relish, I don’t. I don’t because I think could be good. But you have to want it. People like you, Fin. That’s not a small thing in this business. You want to hug me now, I know. I have that effect on people.”

Posted: March 5th, 2013
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

by Haruki Murakami

Whenever I feel like I don’t know what to read I end up reading Murakami. I think I am pretty much through with his catalogue, including the two novellas that were never released outside of Japan but were translated into English and available for sale on Amazon Japan.

As you can see I stopped kidding myself that i could read a book in a week and every week.

Honestly I read this at work so maybe only half of it went in my head. The beginning was great then it slowed down and I really didn’t enjoy the parts about the leeches. The ending was great and felt really calming for some reason even though the protagonist was going to basically lose it.

It’s definitely not my favorite Murakami book for sure but it wasn’t bad? I can’t tell because I feel numb from all this mistreatment that I’m getting from work, okay thanks bye

Posted: February 21st, 2013
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