My second book of the year was Haruki Murakami’s short story, The Strange Library. The copy that I bought is adorned with beautiful illustrations that sometimes encapsulate the text on the pages. Although it was a quick read, the story, the illustrations and the pace made for an immersive experience.
In my reading life, I have only read 3 short stories by Murakami and not a single novel. The strange library is a fantastical tale of a young boy who gets trapped in a library. What I liked most about the book, is that the events that unfold are far from the norms of reality and yet so grounded in human life. The ‘unexpectedness’ and the simplicity of the story’s components make it as compelling as it is basic. One can feel the restlessness of the protagonist amidst the layers of fantasy that the author creates. On a very remote level, this book reminded me of Miyazaki’s films.
As part of my resolution for 2015, I decided to read a book a month. Predictably, it took me longer than a month to finish The News: A User’s Manual by Alain De Botton but I am glad I did not rush into it. The book is an insightful analysis of all aspects of the news that we consume today. It discusses the news’ content, its tone, its purpose and ideal functions. What was most endearing to me was the idealistic take on the world, devoid of the general cynicism that we can seldom avoid these days. It is an optimistic discussion on the information we consume today (as news) and what it should ideally be – what each piece of news conveys and how it is perceived by the reader.
I found myself reflecting on my decisions in design. It made me think about ‘meaning’ and how everything that we consume is possibly lacking the right kind. So many times one sets out to relay a certain message but is often oblivious to what real impact it has on the audience. Not only does it discuss the worth of the message but also the intent and motivations of the creator. It leaves a lot of room for introspection.
Next on my 2015 Book Line Up is Murakami’s short story, The Strange Library. The copy that I have is an illustrated one which is a bonus.