Category Archives: Books I enjoy!

Saturday’s Book: Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux

Photo by Gil Epshtein

Our local library has something special – a reader’s “gift” corner.

Any person looking for a “new home” for some of his /her books can place them in this corner, near the entrance. Sometimes the library itself adds books that they have multiple copies of but don’t seem to be leaving the shelf.

People place a wide variety of things there, ranging from old encyclopedia volumes, trashy novels, auto magazines and old textbooks. The books are in different languages.

Sometimes I find a real treasure there, like this book!

I’m enjoying it immensely! Paul Theroux travelled, in 1986 from London to China by train, and then extensively in China.  His descriptions are so vivid and he writes so nicely! He spent a lot of time talking to people (in their language!) which makes the tale particularly interesting.

There have already been several mentions of English teaching. He taught English in Singapore before this journey. In Beijing (in the book it is still Peking) he taught English at a night school for a while. In Shanghai he encounters a regular English day at a park – a grass roots “institution” where people converged to learn and practice English. This was before the arrival of the Internet…

My son pointed out that it is somewhat illogical that I began reading the “gift” book and not the other two books I brought from the library which have a due date, but who has to be logical all the time?!

*Photo by Gil Epshtein

Saturday’s Book – Great House by Nicole Krauss

I’m about halfway through the book and can’t quite make up my mind about it.

I LOVED her previous book “The History of Love” and couldn’t stop talking about it for a long time. However, this book sometimes has me engrossed while at others feeling a bit depressed. There are separate stories and in each one the loneliness, the silence is sooo great that I’m unhappy. Which could be taken as a sign of how well Krauss writes since I feel drawn into the story.

I don’t know if the stories will tie in with each other yet. I don’t need books to have happy ends but I do need some sort of resolution and hope that it isn’t just a collection of stories of the silences that exist alongside a HUGE desk. The book “Between the assisinations” by Aravind Adiga was like that – tragic stories connected only by the place, no resolution at the end. That one left me with an unfinished feeling to it.

I’m still reading – we’ll see!

Saturday’s Book: “South of the Border West of the Sun” by Haruki Murakami

I went to the library to look for Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the end of the World
which Tyson recommeded, but they didn’t have it. They did have this one by the same author.

It’ s a good book!  I wouldn’t call it his best but I enjoyed it.

Also just read a short story of his in the New-Yorker. He definetly uses a recurring theme of a girlfriend / wife vanishing which causes the man to reexamine his life. Saw in both the book and the story and in previous books.

Saturday’s Book “Shelter” by Susan Palwick

At the library this book caught my eye. The title seemed intriguing, the first paragraph more so, so I borrowed it without having any idea what it is really about.I do that often at our library. The Enlglish section is not bad for a library in Israel but not vey big. When I come looking for something specfic  that someone recommended it is most likely that I won’t find it. But if I come to browse I often find good books that I have never heard mentioned!

Anyway, this book turns out to be science fiction, a genre which I haven’t read in a long time. It is very well written and I found the first few chapters fascinating. I’ve continued well past that and plan to continue reading the book, but I did feel somewhat disappointed after those opening chapters.

The beginning of the book gave the feeling of a theatre where all the players are in one place and through their dialogue the story, the relationships and their history unfolds. We (the readers) don’t go back in time. In the case the situation is a horrific storm in San-Francisco, A homeless man seeks shelter in what turns out to be  a talking house (an A.I). They are both interacting with a “translated” man who lives on the net.

But after “hooking me” the author doesn’t make the most of this situation, but takes us back in time to tell the story of the events in a chronoligical order. Did I mention that the book has 574 pages?! I would have had the entire story take place over the three days of the storm, in the house!

Still, It’s well written, I’d better wait and see what happens later. I’m only up to page 163!

Saturday – Japanese Authors

Since our thoughts are with the people of Japan and the devastating events they are dealing with, I’ve decdided to write about the Japanese authors I enjoy.

I’ll start with Kazuo Ishiguro, though he left Japan as a child and grew up in England. It’s just that I recently read his book “Never Let Me Go” which I couldn’t put down. A small book which I really recommend. The other book I read “When we were Orphans, is not a “quick read” but also highly recommended.  I never read the book ” The Remainder of the Day” – I just saw and liked the movie!

I REALLY enjoyed reading both “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami. Actually the first book I read by him was “Sputnik Sweetheart” which wasn’t as good, so I’m very glad I didn’t give up on the author!

May the news coming from that direction improve soon!