Norwegian Wood: My Review

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Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publication: 1987
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5

Trigger warning: suicide

The story:

Norwegian Wood is a coming of age story following Toru Watanabe through his first years of college, and his relationships with Naoko, who is presented from the beginning as someone he promised he would always remember. They are linked together through one of their friends, who has passed away, which has both reinforced their relationship and made Naoko more fragile. As she spirals down, Watanabe finds himself growing closer to others in ways he didn’t really expect.

My opinion:

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

To be honest, I had mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to like it because it was recommended to me by a friend, and at first, I really did. In some parts, it really struck me how deeply human it felt. The characters are very realistic, with both qualities and flaws, they make mistakes and know when to acknowledge. As this is mostly a coming of age story, this felt really realistic and relatable.

But the things is, some parts really rubbed me the wrong way, whether the discourse surrounding sex – which I totally wasn’t expecting to be so present and graphic – or the representation of mental illness. I do appreciate the fact that Naoko’s portrayal seemed rather accurate, but at the same time, I’m not sure what to make of the treatment the other characters gave her. For example, the use of the term “crazy” by Reiko really made me uncomfortable as well as some other things concerning both mental illness and suicide.

The sex/rape scene between Reiko and her “rotten” student also made me feel super uncomfortable, like, it was super disturbing and I didn’t see the point of including this girl’s character in the story (like, please, if you’re going to include a gorgeous lesbian in your book, could you make it in a non disturbing way? Thanks.)

Overall, this book is cleverly crafted, it’s soft and slow-paced and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. It was a beautiful character-driven story. However, there were a few things that made me uncomfortable in the way mental illness was addressed. I also felt that the story was really dragging by the end, and the ending itself was rather underwhelming. So in the end, I was not sold. It was my first Murakami book, though, and I will definitely be checking out some of his other works!

Thanks for reading this far, and feel free to share your opinion on Norwegian Wood, or recommend any other of his works!

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Blogversary & Life Update

I feel like I haven’t posted a life update in forever and now seems to be the right time to do it! But first of all — and I know I miss it every year — a few days ago was my blog anniversary. I have now been blogging here for three whole years and I can’t believe I got that far. Thank you all so much for being here with me on that journey!

As for the life update, I graduated from university at the end of June and am now the proud owner of a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature. I quit my job as a waitress at the beginning of August, and I’ve been traveling in Austria and Slovakia since then. And I will be starting an internship in a publishing company at the end of the month, something I still can’t believe. For that I’ll be moving to Strasbourg and I’m really excited about it!

That’s it for the news, if you want to read more about my trip to Vienna check out my last post. I will be back in France on Wednesday. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day 📖❤️

Visiting Vienna

One of the first things you should do you’re in Vienna is going to Stephansplatz, which is basically the city centre, the ancient medieval town. There you can walk through many tiny and beautiful streets, among bookshops, cafés and souvenirs. As soon as you get out of the metro station, you see the cathedral (Stephansdom) which you can visit, and you can also climb up the South Tower to get a great view on the city. It’s 343 steep steps, but it’s totally worth it! (Student tarif: 6€)


Two streets away from the cathedral stands the Mozarthaus — formerly known as Figarohaus — one of the many places where Mozart lived while he was staying in Vienna. You can visit it (full tarif: 11€), it’s 3 floors in total with an overview of Mozart’s life, works and family. He lived in this house for three years, and this is where he composed The Marriage of Figaro as well as Don Giovanni. It’s beautiful and the audioguide is in many languages, totally worth it!


In the Hofburg, also known as the Imperial District, you can visit the National Austrian Library, which is 650 years old and one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. (Student tarif: 6€)

Take your time walking around this neighbourhood because it’s absolutely gorgeous! It’s full of cafés and souvenir shops, and obviously old, beautiful buildings such as the parliament and the theatre, as well as the opera. You can also visit the Sisi museum there, as well as the Theatre Museum, which is in facts, a small palace. Don’t forget to walk past the opera as well!


Further in the North of Vienna, you can go to the Prater Gardens. It used the be the imperial hunting grounds, and has now become an amusement park. You can take the old ferris-wheel and have an amazing view over the city (for 9€), go on roller-coasters and eat cinnamon donuts there, and it’s totally worth the detour.


 

One of the unavoidable sights in Vienna, of course, is the Schönbrunn Palace, where Marie-Antoinette spend some of her childhood, and where Sisi lived as an empress. You can visit the Palace, or just tour the gardens and walk up to the Gloriette, where you have a great overview of both the site and the city itself.


If you’re into architecture, a walk from the city center (Wien Mitte) will take you through the 3rd district to the Hundertwasser House, which is a unique (and quite famous) building. The place itself is quite pretty along with some lovely souvenir shops.


Tips:

For public transports, there’s a weekly ticket available from Monday to Sunday which only costs 17.50€.

If you’re going to Vienna, be ready to walk a lot and spend a lot of time in cafés!

In the summer you can also take the U2 line up North and take a swim in the Danube!

There are also many opportunities to take day trips from Vienna, either with the bus or the train, to cities such as Bratislava (capital of Slovakia) or Salzburg (home city of Mozart in Western Austria), which I both recommend.

Have fun traveling, and I hope you have a wonderful day 💜

Book Event: Meeting With Olivia Laing

Last Tuesday, my favourite bookstore Shakespeare and Company organised a reading with Olivia Laing, in honour of her latest release and first work of fiction Crudo, which I also just finished reading and loved: this book was mind blowing. I first came across Olivia Laing a few months ago when I read her book The Lonely City (review) which was absolutely fascinating, so when I saw that she would be in Paris and do a reading, I knew I had to be there.

 

And yes this comes straight from my Insta Story, how could I resist.

Olivia Laing has published three non fiction books, and has been on the shortlist for many book awards. Crudo is her first work of fiction. It takes place in 2017, was written in the span of 7 weeks and follows the events of the summer, through the perspective of the main character, Kathy, who is getting married, and was inspired by artist Kathy Acker and Olivia Laing herself. It deals with the Trump election, Brexit and the nuclear menace among other topic, as well as the main character’s fear of commitment.

This book was an easy and endearing read. It is extremely well written, all the more so considering there were barely any revisions, and at the same time, it is also an important read, considering it deals with all the crazy events of last summer. If this had been published two years before, as a work of speculative fiction, no one would have actually believed this would happen, and yet here we are.

Anyway. I arrived super early at the reading, knowing how these events work, and I got a spot on the second row, which was amazing. Olivia answered questions about her book, and even read some parts of it. She is such an inspiration, and I’m so glad I got to see her in person. She also talked about the book she is currently working on, which will deal with body image, a topic I’m really interested in, and I can’t wait for this project of hers to become an actual book.

After the reading, she signed copies of her book, and I even got to take pictures with her!

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July Wrap Up

My monthly wrap up:

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (review)
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (review)
Crudo by Olivia Laing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Image of Deception by Charlotte Anne Hamilton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (review)
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drew ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book event of the month:

I met with Olivia Laing at Shakespeare and Company, it was amazing!!

Latest movie I’ve seen:

Ready Player One (❤️)

Currently reading:

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

The Image Of Deception: My Review

While waiting for the sequel for Lambs Can Always Become Lions, I picked up Charlotte Anne Hamilton’s latest release, The Image Of Deception and not one second do I regret it. This is the book I’ve always wanted to read. This is the book I’ve always wanted to write. And lately, one of my new favourites.

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Release: 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The story:

When Clarissa finds out that her boyfriend of two hears has been cheating on her, she sets up a date with the other woman, pretending to be him. Without a plan, she meets up with Megan, and realises that she had no idea she was dating someone who was already taken. Together, they start plotting revenge on him, except what neither of them had in mind is that feelings would get in the way…

My opinion:

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

One thing I really loved about this book — apart from the fact that I live for its plot, it’s really the best thing ever trust me — is the fact that both main characters are about my age, and at a similar point in their lives. There are a lot of (YA) books with characters in high school, but the thing is, the next thing kinda is New Adult and the characters in that genre usually already have a job and such, and I find it kind of hard to find books where the main characters are actually college students, dealing more or less with the same things that I deal with right now. For that and just that I am grateful for this book.

Now let’s just move on to the part where it melted my stone cold bisexual heart. Both Clarissa and Megan are absolutely wonderful, realistic characters, and I just loved the dynamic between the two of them. It was sweet to see them slowly falling for each other without accepting it at first — slowly, and then all at once.

I also really loved Megan’s roommate, she was such an inspiring character! That’s just one of the things I love about Charlotte Anne Hamilton’s books, they are so beautifully diverse.

Bonus, Clarissa has an adorable dog who is to die for!

Overall, the pace of the book was perfect, the characters were adorable, and it ended with a positive message — I just love that Megan and Clarissa gave up on actually getting a revenge and concentrated on their own relationship, going at their own pace and supporting each other!