#Read into 2016 – at the midnight hour I was reading

Read into 2016Having challenged you all to stop the reading clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2015 and share what you were reading at that time, I obviously had to take a dose of my own medicine. So here is the low down on my #readinto16

Though I’m not much of a party animal and in fact hate all the whooping that greets New Year’s Eve, when the clock struck the hour, I was enjoying a glass of bubbly with a few friends at home. So I was not actually reading at that moment (it would have seemed a bit rude wouldn’t it to rush off and stick my nose in a book??). Maybe other hostesses could have managed that with aplomb but not yours truly. So I will simply share what was on my bedside table at the time: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.


This is the first time I’ve read anything by Murakami. I’ve seen those big fat titles and thought them a little daunting (plus they seemed a bit sci-fi which I don’t get on with too well) . But during a business trip to the States I was at the bookstore looking for a book to read on the flight home. I was staring at Murakami, taking each one off the shelf and scrutinising it while debating whether this would be the moment to give him a go. I hadn’t noticed a colleague had come to stand next to me but he reached out, picked out a book from the shelf, handed it to me and said simply “take this one, it’s the best one he’s written, just wonderful.” It was Norwegian Wood.

That was three years ago and it’s taken me until now to get around to opening it. I’m glad I did because although I’m only about a third of the way through, I love it. You know how there are some books that you start reading and before too long you just know this is made for you? Norwegian Wood is one of those experiences.

To describe it as a love story makes it sound slushy. It is about love but it’s also about memory and loss. I have to force myself to read it slowly because I’m afraid of missing some of Murakami’s beautiful prose in my rush to know what happened in the love affair between the young Japanese students.

It’s getting 2016 off to a brilliant start……

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on January 1, 2016, in Book Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Murakami is a very good way to start the year in my opinion! 🙂

  2. You said you bought the book to read on the plane. Why didn’t you? I’m simply picturing awesome entertainment on the flight, like a mariachi band 😀

  3. I love Murakami very much! I did not love Norwegian Wood, although I liked it, but then I am drawn to his stranger stuff, and you’re not a fan of “magical realism.” So perhaps his work will appeal to you in the inverse from how it does to me, and you’ll love NW. I do hope so!

    As the bells rung in the new year, I wasn’t reading anything, but on my nightstand I had Leena Krohn’s Tainararon: Letters from Another City (a strange Finnish epistolary novella in translation that I am reading now) and the tragically-overlooked 1953 African-American classic Maud Martha, by Gwendolyn Brooks. I will be reading the Brooks during the coming week’s Bout of Books marathon event.

    Happy reading in 2016!

  4. I’m a Murakami fan – loved Norwegian, & Kafka; IQ – okay; Colourless Tsuzuki – no, did not enjoy. You can’t win them all. I finished reading Lost on Planet China by J Maarten Troost, marvelous travel bk; started Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov on 1 Jan – enjoying it so far, although its bizarre.

  5. I’ve fought shy of Murakami until now as well. I know I ought to do something about it because so many of my friends enjoy him so perhaps 2016 should be the year when I finally take the plunge. I’ve just been doing lists for the reading group which reads novels that have been short listed for major awards and I’m sure there was one of his books on an IMPAC short list. I must see which one it was and then have a go at persuading the group that we need to try him. That way I will have absolutely no excuse.

    • If you’re going to persuade them to Murakami then your reading group has more energy than mine – anything over 350 pages and we get complaints they can’t read it in a month…

      • I hadn’t realised they were that long, Karen. In that case, if we do read one, I must make sure that it is one of our five week months.

  6. I’ve read and listened to some of his, but not that one or his two most recent. I wasn’t reading at the stroke of midnight either, and ended up not starting my first book yet, because I’m trying to finish a library book first. Happy New Year! It’s fun to hear about what people are reading!

    • It doesn’t matter if you were not actually reading at that exact moment. If the book was on the nightstand, armchair, kitchen table and you were part through it, it still counts laurie

  7. Delighted to hear that you’ve been introduced to Murakami. I’d echo the thought that Norwegian Wood is a good way in although I started with the much wackier A Wild Sheep Cahse many years ago and would read read anything by him now. My own year started with John Lewis-Stempel’s Meadowland.

  8. What a wonderful back story to go with your read into 2016 choice – good to hear you’re enjoying it.

    • Sometimes those little moments make a book more special. You don’t get them if you always buy online which is why I like to get I to real bookshops as often as possible.

  9. Murakami is one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed a lot 1Q84, fat but reads quickly. I started the year with an upcoming translation from the French: Couple Mechanics, by Nelly Alard

  10. Enjoy!
    My 2016 is also off to a brilliant start with Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.

  11. I love Norwegian Wood, easily one of my favourite contemporary novels. The film is worth checking out too.

  12. Glad you’re enjoying Norwegian Wood – it’s a good Murakami novel to start with and I also really like Kafka on the Shore and Sputnik Sweetheart. I am less keen on his very early novels which are a bit too surreal for my taste. I started reading Fishnet by Kristin Innes last night which won the Not the Booker prize last year run by The Guardian – it’s excellent so far.

  13. I am glad you like it. I much preferred South of the Border, West of the Sun.

    Read into 2016 is a great idea. Strangely, I wasn’t reading anything. I had just finished Sindbad by Krudy and not started The Hands by Stephen Orr yet.

  14. I am glad to hear you are enjoying Murakami’s work. Norwegian Wood is wonderful but not the best example of what most of his work is like. No magical realism in his one but it is still wonderful even though it may not be his most representative work

    • I’m glad in a way that it doesn’t contain the magical realism elements since I’ve not had a good experience with other authors who use that technique. Maybe Murakami can help change my view but I need to warm up in small steps

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