It is spring already and I haven’t uploaded my annual “Books I read in”-piece yet! My only excuse is that ever since November, my daughter and I have taken turns in being ill with colds, flu, migraines etc. etc. At the moment we are both well, though, so here is the blog-post:
In 2015 I read (or re-read) thirty-eight books, mainly novels, short stories, non-fiction and anime in the languages English, Danish and a tiny bit Japanese. No German, French, Swedish or Norwegian this year, I am sorry to say! I didn’t have any books published myself in 2015 because I had a very difficult year with much illness and knee surgery etc. so I didn’t get to write anything. Instead I concentrated on reading, especially books by the two authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Haruki Murakami.
When you see my list of books read in 2015, you may think that I am a big Haruki Murakami fan, but I am not. Some of the first books of his that I happened to read were “A Wild Sheep Chase” and “Dance, Dance, Dance”, which I found quite good so I kept on reading, hoping that the rest of his works were just as good, but they weren’t.
The problem is that when you have read one book by Haruki Murakami, you have read them all. His protagonists are always very ordinary men in their thirties, living in Tokyo. They usually have a job that involves writing (author, journalist, publicist or the likes) and they have always been married, but either they are divorced or their wives have mysteriously disappeared. They all have a cat with a fish-name like “Herring” or “Mackerel” and they all have an underage teenage girl as their sidekick. Sometimes she is thirteen, sometimes fifteen, but she is always crazy about this ordinary, thirty-something bloke and dying to sleep with him (!!). The protagonist then experiences something highly supernatural, which he finds very annoying and he just wants to go back to his boring old life. On top of that Murakami is extremely sexist, as in his opinion all women are spoiled, unfair, paedophile, sex crazed weirdos who act and talk like women in porn movies, including enjoying lesbian sex although they are straight. It is quite awful, patronising and humiliating to read, especially when you’re a woman, I suppose. Worst of all, the books are long and repetitious and outright boring, but I kept on reading and eventually it paid off.
It turned out that Murakami has written two very good books, namely “Kafka on the Shore” and “Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World”. They are very different from the rest, “Kafka” because the protagonist is a teenage boy and “Hardboiled Wonderland” because Murakami introduces a second world situated in a very unlikely place. They are both wonderful novels, I think.
As for Ursula K. Le Guin, I first started reading her Wizard of Earthsea series when I was about sixteen, but I found it ever so boring, so I gave up after the first volume. Now at the age of fifty-three, I went back to it and just loved the entire series! I guess the sedated narrative pace suits me better now than in my youth and besides, it is plain to see that - just like Jill Murphy’s “The Worst Witch” series, Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” etc. - the series has been a major inspiration to Rowling’s “Harry Potter”.
Furthermore, I appreciate Le Guin’s way of building worlds much more now than then, because it is done in much the same way as I have always done it myself when I write. In that way the works of Le Guin remind me of the works of Jorge Luis Borges, as they are both very meticulous in building fantasy worlds, right down to describing the contents of the books in the fantasy libraries and how to read the maps of worlds that don’t exist, just like I do! I didn’t quite appreciate Borges until recently, either, by the way.
Regarding Le Guin’s books, I love the entire Earthsea series and I am very fond of her other books as well, so I’ll continue reading her in 2016. Anyway, here is a complete list of the books I read in 2015. I hope it will inspire you to read a couple of books yourself:
Bergan, Ronald: “Film”
Dick, Philip K: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
Dick, Philip K: “Filmatiserede noveller”
Ditlevsen, Tove: “Barndommens gade”
Enomoto, Toshiya: “Japan”
Hollinghurst, Alan: “The Stranger’s Child”
Ishiguro, Kazuo: “Never Let Me Go”
Ishiguro, Kazuo: “An Artist of the Floating World”
Ishiguro, Kazuo: “Nocturnes. Five Stories of Music and Nightfall”
Jensen, Thit: “Den erotiske hamster”
Kirino, Natsuo: “Out”
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “A Wizard of Earthsea” (book 1)
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “Tales from Earthsea” (book 5)
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “The Compass Rose, Short Stories”
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “The Farthest Shore” (book 3)
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “The Left Hand of Darkness”
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “The Other Wind” (book 6)
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “The Tombs of Atuan” (book 2)
Le Guin, Ursula K.: “Tehanu” (book 4)
Murakami, Haruki: “1Q84”, book 1
Murakami, Haruki: “1Q84”, book 2
Murakami, Haruki: “1Q84”, book 3
Murakami, Haruki: “A Wild Sheep Chase”
Murakami, Haruki: “After Dark”
Murakami, Haruki: “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”
Murakami, Haruki: “Dance, Dance, Dance”
Murakami, Haruki: “Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World”
Murakami, Haruki: “Kafka on the Shore”
Murakami, Haruki: “Norwegian Wood”
Murakami, Haruki: “South of the Border, West of the Sun”
Murakami, Haruki: “Sputnik Sweetheart”
Murakami, Haruki: “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”
Murakami, Haruki: “Wind/Pinball. Two novels”
Murakami, Ryu: “69”
Nakamura, Shungiku: “Junjo Romantica”, vol. 17
Nye, Robert: “The Late Mr. Shakespeare”
Ōe, Kenzaburō: “The Silent Cry”
“Unyttig viden” (ed. Michael Ebert & Tim Klotzek)