Thursday, May 29, 2008

Currently Reading and Retail Therapy

Hello one and all! If anyone is still reading, that is. I hate being so absent lately. I can't say that I'm monumentally busier than usual, but I have been online less in general. I get up in the mornings around 6:15, play with Daisy, take her out to walk, feed her, walk her some more, and maybe lounge on the couch and watch the news. Then it's time to get dressed and out of the house by 8:00 or 8:15, which puts me at work around 9:00ish. I teach at 9:30 and 12:30, so that eats up my day until 1:55. Then the trip home, more playing with Daisy, and my day is shot. She generally goes to sleep on the couch around 9:00, and then I get to crate her, shower, talk to B for a few minutes if he's out of town, read for a few minutes if I'm gonna, and then I pass out watching TV.

Exciting eh?

I am sneaking in some reading, though.

Today was gorgeous, so I staked Miss Daisy out in the yard with a chew stick while I sat on the porch and read After Dark, by Haruki Murakami. It feels like I haven't picked up a novel in ages. Between my slow reading in general and my non-fiction/environmental jag, I guess it sort is the first novel I've read in a while!

This is only my second Murakami offering, after Norwegian Wood, but so far it certainly lives up to my expectations. His writing is simple, straightforward, readable. I do love that there's a surreal glaze over everything. It doesn't strike me as magical realism, but there are some funky, otherworldly elements. In After Dark for instance, there is a lot of play with images. The book follows the characters through one late night. Each chapter is a different time in the night. One particular character is sleeping peacefully when her TV comes on and "we"--the reader and the narrator--see a man in a suit with a translucent mask on watching her sleep through the TV screen. Later we realize that she is now in the TV with the man while an empty bed occupies her room.

I'm not sure what the point of the surrealism is just yet--or if there's a purpose at all--but it certainly is striking. Murakami's knack for including affecting detail without overdoing it or making the writing tedious is his greatest strength. It's all very movie-like in my head. Love it!

In other reading endeavors, I decided it's been far too long since I bought a book, so I went to Books-a-Million during my downtime between classes today. I picked up the audio version of Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach. I know a lot of people have said they didn't particularly like this book...especially in comparison to Stiff, but so far I'm enjoying it. I love Roach's humor, and if nothing else, I'm sure I'll find that part of the book satisfying.

I also picked up a copy of Green, Greener, Greenest, by Lori Bongiorno. I've been lusting after it for a while, and I intend to include it in the goals I set for the first leg of the EcoJustice Challenge. I was particularly interested in Bongiorno's introduction. She mentions that her interest in environmental issues is rooted in health. Her husband died after a fight with melanoma, and she began to reevaluate what she was feeding her kids, slathering on their bodies, etc. Green, Greener, Greenest tackles food, cleaning, clothing, and other facets of everyday life and shows a continuum of green things a reader can do dependent upon their level of interest, finances, and commitment to the particular area in question. For instance, I'm really interested in the food part of going green. She writes about how foods are certified organic, gives the three levels that one might go to in order to be green, greener, or greenest. She emphasizes making small changes in everyday life, thus the options and ideas for picking and choosing what works in one's everyday life.

All in all, my reading is awesome this week in comparison to what it's been lately. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going. This pretty weather certainly helps. Daisy will drag me outside as MANY TIMES AS SHE CAN every afternoon, so if we can both lounge, everybody wins.


  1. Sounds like your reading is doing just fine. :) And that puppy sure is keeping you busy! Can't wait for your review of green, greener, greenest. And retail therapy is always good; I hope you like Spook. Is it the author reading?

  2. Eva, unfortunately it isn't the author reading. Which is sort of weird--having someone else with A REALLY DRAMATIC VOICE tell a story in the first person. And I know Mary Roach's voice, so I really want to pretend it's her reading. I definitely think I would prefer her version.

  3. We're still reading! And I recently finished After Dark as well.. Murakami is one of my favourite authors! I too love the detail and surrealism!

  4. I finished reading Kafka on the Shore yesterday and really enjoyed it. It had the Murakami standard 'surreal glaze' as you put it and was very readable. I think you'd like it. :)

  5. Thanks, Michelle! I'm about to dive back into After Dark until my next class. I have to remember to watch the clock or I'll probably miss the class all together!

    Thanks, Nat! It's on my list. I've heard nothing but good things about Kafka on the Shore. (Typed Kafka on the Short the first time. hehehe)

  6. I was really taken with After Dark too. I remember how it enveloped me for a good, long night. Hmmm, it's been a while since I've been that enveloped by a book. Maybe I should read more Murakami? Sounds like it did the same to you...

  7. I just bought After Dark and I can't wait to read it! Perhaps I should host another Japanese literature challenge? Some day? I'd love your input, as this genre is so lovely but often difficult to fully discern for me as a Westerner.

  8. Your reading seems fine to me! I love Murakami and must read sme more of his books. You've reminded me

  9. Of course we haven't given up on you. You know that, right? :)

    Sounds like you've had a lovely reading week and Fun with Daisy (capitalized because it just sounds like a great book title). Good for you. I'm with Eva -- can't wait to hear about Green, Greener, Greenest.

  10. The Green, Greener, Greenest book really sounds like my kind of book. I'm hoping my library will order a copy.

  11. Nova, definitely pick up more Murakami. If you haven't read Norwegian Wood, it's a big winner!

    Bellezza, even though I adore Japanese literature as a whole, I don't know that I'm a very good discerner. Although, Murakami has been criticized for being "too Western," so maybe I understand more than I think I do. Who knows! I just love his style. THat's all I know. hehe

    Let me know if you pick up more of his stuff, Seachanges.

    Nancy, I know, but I've nearly given up on me lately! I'm stretched to the max. Just wanna sleep! Even when I've had a good 8 hours I wanna sleep some more. With the covers over my head, preferably. And I was just thinking the other day that something to do with Daisy sounded like a book or TV show title. Now I can't remember! Drat!

    Nyssaneala, I'll cross my fingers that they order a copy! I'll be sure to update y'all when I finish it.

  12. Oh, we're still reading, all right! :)

    Murakami is one of those authors I keep looking forward to reading, while never ending up reading. I have some on TBR Mountain, maybe even this book. I'll have to check!

    Your Daisy posts always make me wish for a dog even though I've always been a cat person. :)


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