Reading Year. Q4 + A Year in Review

This year my reading excitement has been gradually decreasing as months were passing by. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that on the second half of the year I got into watercolor painting. Most of the time, instead of reading I chose to play around with colors. And even though I have no regrets about it, when facing the fact that over the last three months I’ve read only three books, I can’t help but feel a little bitter. But enough of that, let’s take a look at the books I’ve read during the last quarter of this year instead.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I’ve read Norwegian Wood for the first time more than ten years ago. It was my second time reading Murakami novel and it was certainly a book that got me into his writing.

Back in October, I’ve got this urgent need to reread it. I acted fast. On my lunch break, I ran to the nearest bookshop and picked up a copy. I’ve spent remaining lunchbreak time reading Norwegian Wood in the kitchen of our office.

Norwegian Wood is very different from typical Murakami novels. It’s love story with no magical realism elements that are common in the rest of author novels, which I personally don’t mind.

It tells a story about Toru, a young man who is hopelessly in love with Naoko. However, their relationship is strained by a tragic death of their mutual friend. And while Naoko is trying to get her life together after a sudden loss, Toru finds himself drifting into loneliness and routine.

Rereading Norwegian Wood after all these years made me nod to myself thinking “yes, that’s exactly why I loved it”. As I was reading I realized I didn’t remember much about the actual story but the feeling I got while reading this books was exactly the same I’ve had years ago. I had this hard to explain connection with the book. I was absolutely consumed by it. Nothing else seemed to exist while I was reading and I love getting this feeling.

This time, I also finally noticed what a lot of readers point out about female characters archetype in Murakami novels. Nonetheless, I choose to see it as part of his writing style, rather than intentional submission of female characters in general.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

This has been my bedside table book for quite a while. I must say that a lot of things that have been mentioned in this book were not new to me. I’m and always have been a queen of blankets, candles, books and tea, calm evenings and homemade food. However, what I didn’t know up until now is that these rituals of mine have a certain definition and meaning in different cultures.

The Little Book of Hygge is full of interesting studies about the importance of happiness and feeling of togetherness in our lives. All in all, it’s a very sweet book that reminds you to reconnect with yourself and people around you. And for a homebody like me, this book is like a manifesto to home and slow living.

Autumn by Ali Smith (ebook)

Every time I pick up a novel by Ali Smith I get mesmerized by her writing. It’s ingenious yet reads so effortlessly. Ali Smith is known for speaking about current events and issues in her novels. Autumn is quite often called ‘a post-Brexit’ novel but in my belief, it’s a lot more than that.

It’s fair to say that Autumn is a gorgeously constructed puzzle that challenges the reader to solve it. It’s a story about 32 years old Elizabeth who is a junior lecturer at a university in London. While traveling back and forth in time and space, we also learn about Daniel Gluck, a neighbor of Elizabeths who she first met when she was a child. The two share a very special bond, even now when Daniel is 101 years old.

It’s a very contextual book which I dearly appreciate. Allow me to quote what The Atlantic said in the review of this book. “As the novel proceeds, she [author] layers together fragments of books and paintings and song lyrics in an act of literary decoupage, as if to mimic the fragile patchwork of national identity”. Brilliant!

Over the last 365 days, I’ve read 25 books which together make 6761 pages of material. The shortest book was 79 pages long, Theogony | Works and Days by Hesiod. The longest – 461 pages, The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. Interestingly enough, I’ve read both of these in the third quarter of the year.

Books that I’ve enjoyed the most were Stoner by John Williams (short review here), Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest and The Dumb House by John Burnside. And speaking of writers, this year I’ve discovered and fell in love with Ali Smith.

To learn what I’ve read throughout this year head to Q1 wrap-up here, Q2 wrap-up here and Q3 wrap-up here.

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