Hi friends! Do you ever wish that the weekend lasted like three days longer?? Every day I wake up and think to myself, ‘I am not ready for adulthood’ but here I am. Awake. A miracle.
Anyway! I hope you are all doing well! What have you been reading or watching recently? I saw Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness last week and I really loved it?! I love most Marvel movies (we are not going to talk about Age of Ultron or Endgame though) and I always know that I will have a good time! And I did. I also binge read𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒓 𝒃𝒚 𝑨𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝑶𝒔𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒏 last night so I am feeling emotional.
Today, I just wanted to do a little post talking about three of the short books I have recently read. For some reason, I have been really drawn to short novels or novellas recently, I think because of my attention span haha. So, what I categorise as a short book and/or a novella are books that are under 250 pages or 200 pages, respectively. I think when a book begins to go towards the latter end of 200, it’s just an average sized book. Therefore, in my mind books that are:
under 200 pages = novella
over 200 but under 250 pages = short book
over 250 but under 500 pages = average book size
over 500 pages = a tome
over 1000 pages = a weapon
In my head it makes sense.
Let’s begin! The most recent short book I read was 𝑩𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑪𝒐𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒆 𝑮𝒆𝒕’𝒔 𝑪𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝑻𝒐𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒌𝒂𝒛𝒖 𝒀𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒈𝒖𝒄𝒉𝒊. This book has been languishing on my shelf for a while. I had originally picked up this book because the premise sounded so unique and interesting? But I kind of forgot that it was on my shelf, not going to lie. I spontaneously picked it up last week when I realised that I had no book for my train commute into the city! I need to read or listen to music on the train or else I get super restless and bored. I had been powering through so many books on the train (read two 𝑨𝒈𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒂 𝑪𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒆 novels) that I wanted to keep the momentum going. So I picked 𝑩𝒆𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑪𝒐𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒆 𝑮𝒆𝒕’𝒔 𝑪𝒐𝒍𝒅. Here is the blurb since I won’t be summarising the story itself, just talking about my feelings about it:
What would you change if you could go back in time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
I enjoyed it. I gave it 3.5 stars. It was good. Would I reread it? Most likely not unless I decide to pick up the sequel or companion novel that came out last year. At this stage, I have no motivation nor desire to read the sequel. I just don’t have strong feelings about this book. It was good and I appreciated it but it wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed the fantasy or sci-fi element, I enjoyed the rules and the way that this magic was regulated, so to speak. I think the cafe itself is super fascinating and I wanted to know more about that specifically. Who built this cafe? Why was it built? How did the time traveling start? But I think the fact that you as a reader are constantly asking questions, is actually the point of this book. It kept you engaged and wanting to read more.
I was, however, fully expecting to break down and cry when reading this since it’s so easy to make me cry! But I didn’t even tear up. It was strange. I think the writing for me was not something that I vibed with. I think this was a result of the translation. I felt a little bit like the emotion was leeched out of the writing? I felt disconnected from the characters as a result – I felt like I was reading these stories and these charactes from behind a haze; it was quite disconcerting. But this is purely a me thing since everyone absolutely adores this book! I just feel so sad that I don’t have the same relationship to it.
I also randomly picked up another book on my shelf that I spontaneously purchased second hand a few months ago. 𝑨 𝑺𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒑𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑰𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒘𝒐𝒐𝒅 was a study in melancholy. That’s the only way I can describe it. I didn’t really know much about this book when I decided to read it, only that it was about a man grieving his lover and that it’s gay. Literally all I needed to know. Here’s a little blurb:
Isherwood’s short, poignant novel is a tender and wistful love story
Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in suburban California left heartbroken after the death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Isherwood shows George’s determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life as well as the soul’s ability to triumph over loneliness and alienation.
Taking place in the late 1960s in California, the entire novel is a character study of George, attempting to understand himself and his life without his lover, Jim. It is slighly existential, it explores capitalism and its hypocrisy, generational difference but also homophobia and mourning. We just follow George around in his daily life as a professor, his interaction with his homophobic neighbours and their children, his friends, etc. There was an exploration of the idea of ‘performativity’ in the sense that we perform or present ourselves a certain way to certain people. When George is at work, he is different to how he is at home. I think this is for most people, but especially for queer people (and I would also say for people of colour?) we need to present ourselves in a way that is palatable for others, particularly if you work or are around people who may not be the most accepting of people. As my research is working within a similar type of idea, this was fascinating to me to see.
I gave this book 3 stars. The writing was good, George was an interesting character – it was a solid book. I think I would recommend this book to others, especially if you are wanting to get into classics. This might be a good start. Not too dense, not too hard to understand. And it’s super short. There are cultural and racial stereotypes sprinkled throughout the book – I think for the time of its publication, it would have been considered progressive in this way but for someone reading it in 2022, it is still lowkey racist. Something you may want to be aware of.
I have recently spoken about this book on my blog and over on my new instagram, but 𝑨𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒎𝒃𝒍𝒚 𝒃𝒚 𝑵𝒂𝒕𝒂𝒔𝒉𝒂 𝑩𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒏 was absolutely fantastic. Here is a little blurb:
Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.
The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?
Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.
The book follows an unnamed narrator who is a Black British woman going about her life, trying to maintain a level of normalcy after discovering that her health is in serious decline. We observe the macro and micro aggressions she faces at her workplace, walking down the street – essentially just existing. She is a successful woman and her success rubs many white men the wrong way. She was moulded herself into the sort of person that is acceptable; she is a banker, doesn’t rock the boat, is palatable to the white people who surround her and as a result, she feels disconnected to her identity and her sense of self. We see the legacy of trauma that colonisation has especially on immigrant families from those colonised countries – especially the legacy of violence.
I gave this 5 stars because I found it especially poignant and provoking, wonderfully written and immersive. There are a few little twists and turns which shock you as the reader – I cried a few times. This book is a novella, it is tiny but it packed such a punch. I think because it is so small, I don’t really want to say anything because anything I say will be a spoiler. Just read it.
And that’s it for today, friends!
Thank you so much for reading my little blog post. Please let me know what you are reading currently!!! Or if you’ve read any of these books. I would also love some short book recommendations!
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,