Book Babble #4 – The People in the Trees

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

★★★★★

Ashamedly, had I not been as infatuated with Yanagihara’s second novel, A Little Life, I would probably have never considered picking up The People in the Trees. I bought it only with the assumption that the author of one of the greatest books I’d ever read was not capable of disappointing me, and yet I still neglected reading this book for a stupid amount of time, for very stupid reasons. Firstly, the plot outlined in the blurb (and it really is the entire plot, on the surface) didn’t appeal to me; I had no interest in science or anthropology or scientifically-accurate semi-fictional memoirs despite never having read one before. Secondly, of all things, the footnotes scared me! I was convinced I was not the sort of person to enjoy a novel with footnotes (granted, I didn’t like John Green’s Abundance of Katherines, which is littered with many tongue-in-cheek footnotes, although these were to provide comedy, rather than something as horrifying as the Harvard referencing system), and this novel is full of them, some filling entire pages. Yes: I was very stupid to have put off this novel for so long.

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Book Babble #3 – A Tale For The Time Being

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

★★★★☆

I always used to have a bit of a thing for ‘diary’ books when I was younger – Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Do Not Read This Book – and A Tale For The Time Being is perhaps the first ‘mature’ diary novel I’ve read. One half of this novel consists of the diary of Nao, a Japanese schoolgirl, and the other half consists of Ruth Ozeki’s fictional account of reading and investigating the diary. That might sound a little odd, but the idea works – mostly (I’ll get to that later). Continue reading

Book Babble #2 – The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

★★★★☆

I’m a big fan of short stories. It all started after I read Instruction Manual for Swallowing by Adam Marek. Anyone who knows that collection knows they’re pretty weird stories -animals measured by volume, robot wasps, zombie cafés – but I was really into them. I read more and more short story collections, and ‘weird’ seems to be a common theme. It’s almost as if writers aren’t quite confident enough to carry their strange and unusual ideas out in a full-length novel, so they opt for short stories instead. Continue reading

Book Babble #1 – A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

★★★★★

I first happened upon A Little Life whilst tidying the shelves at Book Cycle. It was tucked away in the unloved ‘X, Y & Z’ section (which was made up of about 75% Zusak and 15% Zweig), and I only really noticed it because I’d never seen it there before. It was thicker than most books, and the cover was nice and bold but nothing special – nothing like the wonderful use of ‘Orgasmic Man’ by Peter Hujar that the hardback version has. The blurb on the back didn’t give me much information, either – all I knew was that it involved a group of university students. I figured I’d give it a go; the book was free, after all. Continue reading