Reread Review: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Author: Cornelia Funke
Title: Inkheart
Series: Inkheart #1
Format/Source: eBook/Library (oh how I missed my hardcover!)
Published: 2003
Publisher: Chicken House
Length: 534 pages
Genre: Fantasy 
Read If You: Love reading, like the premise/don’t mind reading to get to the next two books
Rating ★★★★½
Links: GoodReads IndieBound Chapters | Amazon

Sixth book for the Reread Challenge

WHEN I First Read – I remember being in grade five…I must have read it not long after it was released, in 2003 or 2004.

WHAT I Remember – I’ve read this book so many times it’s difficult to recall my first impression of it. I remember most of the plot, and that I loved the prose. A particular feeling after reading the book for the first time that I do remember, however, is wanting to catalogue my own private library, inspired solely by Elinor. I remember feeling physically ill reading the chapter when Elinor finds her library decimated. That scene was just as awful for me this time around! I also thought being a bookbinder would be an excellent profession and I wondered how I could go about becoming one. In general I remember enjoying the second book more, but I like to read all three together 😉

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read I planned to reread the trilogy this year because it had been a few years. I picked it up in July because I was so bored at work, yet feeling overwhelmed by preparing to leave Japan – I wanted something fantastical yet familiar.

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading Very satisfied, but a little surprised at how quickly Capricorn’s demise comes about once Meggie starts reading. I didn’t remember that (I also forgot that Basta survives, hah). Something else I’m finding interesting is how my impression of Dustfinger has shifted since I first read the book. For many years I imagined him to be a dwarf-like character, quite a bit older than Mo. (I think this idea was influenced somehow by Mulch from Artemis Fowl and characters from Bruce Coville’s The Unicorn Chronicles.) Then for awhile I had the impression of him that Funke actually described. This time around, for some reason, he was that older character I had initially pictured. Who knows what he’ll be like next time around! I did feel this time that I could understand better why my friends who tried to read this book didn’t like it…I’m not sure how much it would appeal to someone who doesn’t already love books and stories.

WOULD I Re-Read Again – Yes, yes, yes. I keep rereading the books I’ve always loved so I’m always giving the same answer! I haven’t lived long enough to have a ‘gap’ in my memory. Perhaps if I don’t reread this for 20 years I may feel differently when returning to it…but I hope I don’t ever leave it alone for that long!!
 

Re-read Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Author: Haruki Murakami
Title: Kafka on the Shore
Format/Source: Paperback/my copy
Published: 2005
Publisher: Vintage International
Length: 467 pages
Genre: Magical realism
Why I Read: Love this book, wanted to reread it while I’m living in Shikoku (where most of the story takes place)
Read If You: Love a strange tale
Rating ★★★★★
Links: GoodReads IndieBound Chapters | Amazon
Fifth book for the Reread Challenge. Read my original review.

WHEN I First Read – January 2011

WHAT I Remember –Being absolutely captivated and awed by this story that seemed written just for me. Really identifying with a character for the first time in a long time, perhaps ever. Boy finds comfort in a quiet library and a distant cottage? Take me with you. Strange happenings alongside deep introspection? You’re in my imagination. My first Murakami novel and still my favourite one.

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read I wanted to reread my favourite Murakami novel while living in Japan. When I first read this book, the place names meant nothing to me. When I started rereading, however, I realized that most of the novel actually takes place near where I live! I visited a cafe in Tokyo dedicated to Murakami’s works. I had a lovely time there and chatted with the owner, Kunio Nakamura, who gave me his guidebook to real-world places from Murakami’s novels. Next week, I will visit Takamatsu. Even though the guidebook is only in Japanese, I’m going to do my best to visit the locations that Nakamura matched the story.

This place is too calm, too natural – too complete. I don’t deserve it. At least not yet. (151)

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading – I felt very content, like I was comfortably full after a delicious meal. I was surprised by how much of the storyline (especially the conclusion) I didn’t remember. Some parts shocked me (note on page 407 – “WELL I FORGOT THAT HAPPENS!”). I forgot how much of a role Hoshino played (when he first appeared, I thought “I think he does something important?” but I didn’t remember him being around so much). I forgot how much I liked Oshima’s advice (he says many of the parts I highlighted). I seem to have only remembered the feeling I got from the story, rather than the actual story. This was a pleasant surprise, though, because it was almost like reading the story for the first time again! Only this time I knew I was in for a treat.

“…But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging. Do you know what I’m getting at?” (112)

WOULD I Re-Read Again – Yes! Perhaps in a couple years when I’ve hopefully forgotten most of the story again and I can have another fresh read.

“The people who build high, strong fences are the ones who survive the best. You deny that reality only at the risk of being driven into the wilderness yourself.” (316)

Once again, I’m extremely pleased that I was still able to find comfort and meaning in the pages of Kafka on the Shore. I noted a number of lines and passages that stood out to me. I don’t think I did that on my first read because I was so absorbed in the encompassing narrative. Are there any books you discovered as a new adult that you still love today?

Family Reads: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 Welcome to the inaugural post of Family Reads! Family Reads is a monthly feature where my mom, dad or sister and I read and discuss a book. Posts with a link-up go live on the last Sunday of each month, so feel free to grab the banner and join in however you like.

Reno: Neil Gaiman is a favourite author of mine. Moo took me to his signing and waited patiently for a few hours while I stood in line! Ocean became my new favourite Gaiman book during my first read and I brought it to Japan so I could reread it for the first time. 

Mom: My connection to NG is through my daughter. I recall years back seeing the movie Stardust and thinking that would make a great book. Oh, so little did I know. Years later I took that same  daughter to his book signing. When she says a few hours, please translate to 6.5 hours. His books are often topics of conversation in our home. I was excited when asked to read Ocean – I experienced first hand the imagination in the words NG puts to paper.

After explaining my rating scale to Mom, we both gave this book 5 stars. Mom says she would like to have a copy on her shelf to reread. Now, onto our discussion. We spent a couple hours on Skype chatting (mostly talking about the book, but with family interruptions and tangents include). I recorded and transcribed our conversation, then selected some highlights for this post (we talked about a lot). You’ll get more out of this discussion if you’ve read the book (spoilers ahead!). Here is some of our discussion on memory, children’s experiences, and relating to the story (and also, what might be the narrator’s name?).

I remember my own childhood vividly… I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let the adults know I knew. It would scare them. (Maurice Sendak, quoted at the begin of Oceans)

Reno: I was reading a blog post about whether the boy’s experiences are ‘real’ or not. Some people think it’s just the kid rationalizing what happened. But that quote at the beginning, especially, makes me think… That’s why he forgets his experience, because he’s an adult now, he can’t really believe that all happened. Does that make sense?
Mom: Yup. So when he’s back there, he remembers everything vividly, but when he leaves, his mind says “No, that’s too out there, it can’t be true.”
Reno: It’s like what kids experience isn’t as valid or real.
Mom: Right, like there’s no possible way it could be real. Like when you’re in kindergarten and you use all different colours for different things but as you get older you’re told you should only use this colour for that, because the sky’s blue and not orange.
Reno: YES, spot on! Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean your imagination or experiences aren’t real or vaild.
Mom: Yeah, because we all experiences things in a different way.
Reno: That’s why everyone likes this book in a different way…because it’s ‘deep’.
Mom: Because everyone relates to it on different levels, how it’s ‘their’ story.
Reno:  Yes! That’s how I feel – “This book really speaks to me” and 5 million other people, in their own way. I think that’s part of why Oceans  stands out so much – we all love American Gods or Neverwhere for the same reasons, but we love Oceans perhaps for own ranging personal reasons.

***

Reno: What do you think of the main character not having a name? *Mom makes a face* Haha, Mom’s like “Wait a minute…”!
Mom: How does he not have a name?
Reno: He just doesn’t. He’s never named.
Mom: Oh! *flips through book* Okay, so you start reading and you just have this picture of a boy in your head. I never noticed that he didn’t have a name.
Reno: It’s so smoothly written. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes it more adaptable, like how you can put yourself in his shoes more.
Mom: Yeah! Well, for goodness sakes. If I had to say he had a name, I would have said Fred or something.
Reno: Hahaha, Fred, that sounds good. I was thinking something like…not Kevin, but maybe a K name…Tom? No, not Tom… Rick? No no, not Rick! Something British. Fred is pretty good, actually.
Mom: Fred is the only name I can think of him by.
Reno: Maybe I just think of him as Neil. Neil is pretty good, too.
Mom:  Well, I never gave it a thought that I didn’t know his name. I just knew. You just relate to him anyhow.

Reno: I think that’s good. I have a lot to work from.
Mom: Oh, do you? I didn’t feel I’d given you anything.
Reno: No no, there’s lots! Good job, Mom.
Mom: Thank-you! I enjoyed it. Did I tell you I’ve read The Book of Lost Things now?

And then we proceeded to talk about that one for half an hour 🙂 So, that’s it! That’s the end of my first Family Reads posts. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll probably experiment with the format going forward; I’m not yet sure the best way to share the conversations. I had tons of notes that I wasn’t sure how to incorporate, and instead decided just to focus on what I thought was the most important part of our discussion. Going forward perhaps I’ll include more. Anyway, I definitely had a lot of fun talking about one of my favourite books with my Mom! Is there anything you would add to our discussion? If you’ve written a Family Reads post this month, add your link here. (pardon me while I figure out how to run this sort of link-up feature…)

___________

The Ocean at the End of the Lane also counts towards the Re-Read Challenge.

WHEN I First Read – Shortly after publication, at the start of July 2013. I was traveling around Ireland at the time, so I didn’t devour it the day of publication like I would have at home.

WHAT I Remember – The feeling that this was Gaiman’s most personal story for me, and that it was a small story in an immense story.

WHY I Wanted to Re-ReadOcean is one of the precious few physical books I brought to Japan. I planned on rereading it this year because I hadn’t read it since its release (though I feel like I reread it when I got back home from Ireland [Sept. 2013], there’s no documentation of that). Mom said she was going to read it next, so I decided I would also read it for our first Family Reads.

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading – Very pleased that the story held up on reread. It was just as deep and magical as the first read.

WOULD I Re-Read Again – Certainly! This has potential to be an annual reread book (not sure, though.)

Have you re-read any of Gaiman’s works? What did you think upon rereading?

Reread Review: The Scar by China Mieville

Author: China Mieville
Title: The Scar
Series: Bas-Lag novels
Format/Source: Paperback/my copy
Published: 2000
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 578 pages
Genre: Mieville is his own genre (steampunk?)
Why I Read: In the mood for a strong ‘place as character’ book
Read If You:  Like original world-building, grounded characters or ocean adventures
Rating:  ★★★★★ [ratings guide]
Links: GoodReads IndieBound Chapters | Amazon
Third book for the Reread Challenge. Read my original review.

WHEN I First Read – At the start of January 2013, while I was house sitting for my aunt.

WHAT I Remember – The vivid and intense world building. The immensity of the avanc (real whales freak me out because of their size – I got chills reading the descriptions of the avanc). Down-to-earth Bellis. The general decency of most characters. And something vague about how the story ends, but nothing about how it got to that point.

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read I wanted to enter that sort of world again. I wanted a meaty book I could really get pulled into. I knew I could rely on this one to do that. I picked up a physical paperback while visiting a huge bookstore in Osaka that has half a floor of English books *-*

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading – Excellent! Why didn’t I give this five stars + favourite before? I think I read the ending too fast on my first read and didn’t quite understand it. I was surprised by how much of the story I had forgotten (for example, I did not remember Simon at all.) was pleased to find aspects of the novel that I liked the first time surpassed my expectations this time. Bellis is such a great character, I think one of the most realistic and believable characters I’ve read in an unbelievable situation.

WOULD I Re-Read Again – I think so. I love the prose, the characters and the world, but it’s a thick book that’s relatively plot heavy and I think some time would have to pass so I can ‘forget’ the plot and enjoy it again.

This wasn’t a book I thought I would reread this year, but I’m glad I did! Have you read anything by Mieville? Are there any fictional worlds you’ve been wanting to revisit? 

Reread Review: White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Title: White is for Witching
Format/Source: Hardcover/my copy
Published: June 2009
Publisher: Picador
Length: 230 pages
Genre: Contemporary + magical realism
Why I Read: Ready for my annual reread
Rating:  ★★★★★ [ratings guide]
Second book for the Reread Challenge
Links: GoodReads IndieBound Chapters | Amazon

I love this book so much that I refuse to discuss it. Even if you loved it as much as I did, I don’t want to hear about it. Perhaps you loved it in a different way. I don’t want to know. I don’t want my love of this book to be spoiled in any way! I’m very fierce about it. There isn’t any other book about which I feel this way.* Then why I am writing this post? Oh, I don’t know, I’m just asking for trouble, aren’t I? ;P This year thus far I’ve been very diligent about documenting everything I’ve read and this book counts towards the 2015 Re-read Challenge I’m participating in…so maybe making a few notes about my reading experience (without somehow talking about the book itself) won’t kill me.

WHEN I First Read – I can’t quite remember, but I think it must have been shortly after the book’s publication in summer 2009 (certainly my first reading was in 2009). I remember reading it in the cafeteria at high school. Since then, I’ve read the book nearly every year (2014 flashed by too quickly for me to choose a good time to read it ;_;).

WHAT I Remember – I remember how I felt while reading it – totally enveloped in the story, as though nothing else exists, feeling differently even after I set the book down, spending more time quietly and observantly, thinking about different things than usual. I remember how the book feels in my hands, the soft touch of the pages and the perfect style of the font. I remember how I’m not sure I can ever understand the whole story, but I discover something new on each reading.

WHY I Wanted to Re-Read – To experience the sensations described above! I know I did an awful job at trying to describe ‘that feeling’ I get from this book. Perhaps it’s best to say no other book has made me feel that way. This is why I so often return to it. Also, I felt especially eager to read it because I hadn’t read it in 2014 (I should have read it in the spring, before I got caught in moving overseas!).

HOW I Felt After Re-Reading – Just as satisfied as every other time! Every now and then, I do a search for Helen Oyeyemi on Twitter to see if I’ve missed any interviews, etc. I was delighted to find another reader tweeting about how she felt the same way. She was reading the book for the first time and we talked about how we love it so much we don’t want to talk about it with anyone! I was very happy to find someone who felt the same way. She didn’t want the story to end, so I assured her it holds up on rereads.

WOULD I Re-Read Again -Yes, of course. I will continue to read this book every year, until – heaven forbid – it starts to lose its magic for me.

There. I’ve done it. I’ve spoken publicly about my most beloved book. I’m still standing. It’ll still be the same wonderful book next I read it. Phew. 😉 Is there a book you fiercely guard and love? 

*I only have a greater love for the Tolkien’s Middle-Earth writings, but it’s a different kind. That world is so vast, it allows a for a broad variety of fans. I can easily find those who feel the same way, and even if I’m chatting with those who have a different love than mine, I can set aside my personal adoration to explore all all its intricacies and build on them with other fans.