Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Do you wish you could spend your life drinking coffee, hanging out at your local bar, smoking cigarettes and occasionally doing some writing?

If your answer is yes I have the perfect book to accompany and inspire you!

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are two short novels recently released in the one volume. They are the earliest novels by contemporary Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Their release marks the first time these two stories have been published in English outside of Japan, and they make up parts one and two of a trilogy.

Hear the Wind Sing is written in first person viewpoint from our unknown narrator who is home from University for the summer break. During this time he smokes cigarettes, hangs out with his friend the Rat at J’s bar, listens to music, and contemplates the three serious relationships he has had so far. Then he has another cigarette. That’s it. That’s all that happens in this book. And it’s greatly enjoyable.

Pinball is set three years later, from the viewpoint of the same narrator. He is now working in Tokyo, translating papers. He is currently living with a set of identical twins. He sets out to find his old favourite pinball machine. He smokes a lot of cigarettes. It also follows the story of the Rat, who has remained behind in the old home town and is struggling to move on from J’s bar. He is also smoking many cigarettes.

If you are a person who loves a strongly driven plot with peaks and troughs and build and twists and turns then forget about it, walk straight past this book and don’t look back!

If you are strongly against cigarettes and hate the thought of people smoking then you may want to put this book in a fireplace and watch it burn.

But if you are a person who can sit by a window and do nothing else but watch the rain come down for an hour, or if you like to wander about your local neighbourhood just to soak in the atmosphere, or if you love to sit by train windows and watch the world go by you will love this book.

This book is the equivalent of a lazy Sunday with your friends, drinking beers, or a long leisurely stroll. The narrator is interesting, you may or may not find him likeable but I doubt the author would care. It details the daily goings of his life and what he is contemplating at the time. It is one of the most relaxing, most enjoyable reads I’ve ever had. After the book was over I struggled to remember what had happened, or what any of it was about. This may seem bizarre but the book has a way of making you live the moment with the narrator. What comes before or after doesn’t matter.

This book is for adults, because it talks about adult things. There’s no swearing or adult scenes, no violence or explicit content. It just talks about subjects only adults would understand, like the feeling of staying in a town too long when your friends have left; when you break up with someone without having a conversation about it; or when you decide to go hunt down a pinball machine you loved three years before, just to see it again.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for a relaxing read. It would be perfect to enjoy with a coffee at a cafe.The third book in the trilogy is titled A Wild Sheep Chase. I will certainly be looking into that next.

 

Thank you for joining us today at the Boss Book Club!

 

Happy Reading!

 

By the way, I’m not kidding about the smoking. The narrator lights a smoke on every single page. Every one…

 

 

 

 

 

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Humans of New York

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we are going to take a look at Humans of New York, a book of photographs by Brandon Stanton.

The Humans of New York project started in 2010 when Mr Stanton lost his employment as a bond trader. He had a camera and an interest in photography so he embarked on the ambitious project of photographing 10, 000 New Yorkians….

What initially began as a Facebook page eventually morphed into a blog, and through the power of social media its popularity skyrocketed around the world. The Humans of New York blog now has over 8 million followers (a few more than the Boss Book Club but hey, we’re getting there…). Stanton has since switched away from the 10,000 people goal post and is instead simply aiming to update the blog daily with a couple of portraits.

The huge popularity of the blog has lead to the release of the book, which contains a selection of Stanton’s photographs, as well as an introduction from Stanton himself.

This book is charming, interesting and inspirational on two fronts: the images themselves, and the quotes and stories that go alongside them.

In terms of photography content, there is a wide diversity of people on display. People from all ages, races, and gender are featured here. There are stand-alone shots, pictures of couples, group photos of neighbourhood communities and whole crowd shots. Even animals get featured alongside their Humans of New York counterparts!

A variety of New York backdrops are featured also, from abandoned parking lots, city skyscrapers, or neighbourhood slums, to subways, parks, gardens and the local fire station. I spent hours poring over the photographs and being inspired by the vibrancy of the subjects. The photographs are full of life, and all tell a story. In terms of style, there are some candid photographs, but most of the subjects are aware of the camera and are posing for it.

The text that accompanies each photograph is short: sometimes a few words only that state where the photograph was shot, other times a quote from the subject of the photo, other times a short story (2 or 3 lines) is given about that person or the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. At first I was put off by the text because I didn’t expect it. I expected a book of images only. Once I adjusted my thinking however, I found the quotes, and tales behind the photos incredibly enjoyable. It pulled me further in to the stories of the individuals, and drove me to turn the page to find out about the next person. I felt the text elevates the reading experience and gives you a stronger connection to the person who is being featured and their personality or history.

This book is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who wants to feel inspired. If you have a passion for fashion or styling hair, you will be inspired by this book. If you are fascinated by people, and the depth of human experience, you will love this book. If you are a writer, there is plenty of inspiration for characters or short stories, or if you love travel (or have been lucky enough to go to New York!) this will undoubtedly entice you to go there. Of course, photographers will find inspiration here. What is particularly exciting for amateur photographers is that Stanton admits to never having trained in photography, he simply got out there and took photos, and his blog has lead to major success (which I’m sure is a tad frustrating for those who have trained and worked for years and are still yet to be published…)

This book is largely full of positivity: there are many smiling faces, photos of friendship and love, the intriguing, the weird and wacky, and the quiet and thoughtful. It certainly left me feeling good about the world after I finished it, and it really opened my eyes to the lives that are being lived (as a lady from Australia) on the other side of the world.

 

This book would make a beautiful gift for yourself or another.

 

 

Happy Reading and thank you for joining The Boss Book Club!!

 

 

Did you enjoy Humans of New York? Know of any excellent photography books? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Soul Music

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

This week we are back to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, this time focusing on the third book of the ‘Death’ section of the series, titled Soul Music.

This book focuses around the main character of Susan, a 16 year old girl who unexpectedly gets thrown into the family business, and reluctantly takes on the role of the grim reaper, dealing out death to those whose life timers have run out. The rest of the story revolves around a Troll named Cliff, a dwarf named Glod and a human named Buddy, three struggling musicians who inadvertently create Discworld’s first ever rock band. As the creatures of Discworld listen to rock music for the first time, there are bizarre, hilarious and even dangerous consequences.

As with all the Pratchett novels I’ve read so far of the series, they are a must for fantasy fans. This book however, will greatly appeal to fans of rock and roll and all things music. The whole book reads as an ode to the joy of music and the importance of live bands. If you’ve ever picked up a guitar, been in the mosh pit of a concert or struggled to find yourself the perfect leather jacket you will appreciate this book.

Pratchett has a wonderful way of taking a subject that is familiar and creating a fantasy/ alternate history as to how it came into being. In Soul Music Pratchett masterfully takes rock music and creates a whole new origin story as to how it was created. The ensuing adventure is imaginative, humorous and has elements that are familiar, as well as completely different. There are many moments of satire, as Pratchett gently mocks the ‘wannabe’ rock stars compared to serious musicians, the financial side of a musicians life, and the establishment that cannot deal with such unfamiliar and dangerous music. Also, there are more rock band references and puns than you could point a drum stick at!

In terms of characters, the wizards from the previous book Reaper Man make a reappearance as they struggle to understand what the sound is all about. They are a particularly endearing bunch of very wise men who have absolutely no clue about life in general. I greatly enjoyed the adventure of the trio of musicians as they strive to reach the top and the various obstacles that get in their way.

Susan’s character was complex and interesting, as she juggles her immortal responsibilities of dealing out death, with her humanity and compassion. I have to be honest and admit that for the most part I did not enjoy her sections as much as I did the trio of musicians, or the wizards. I think the reason for this is because she is written to be a very logical, somewhat abrupt person (which is part of what she has inherited and why she would do well as Death!) but this coldness made her appear rude and distant and she was therefore a little unlikeable for me. Towards the ending I warmed towards her more, but still appreciated the other story elements better.

This book has nice ties with Mort and Reaper Man which precede it in the series. I would recommend reading the other two first as you will appreciate the characters more, however it is not necessary to understand the story.

Overall, this book is excellent, and if you’re yet to take a look at the Discworld series I thoroughly recommend you do, I’m having a wonderful time!

 

Happy Reading folks,

 

See you next week on The Boss Book Club!

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

It’s time for a seatime adventure!

 

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!

 

Today we will be reviewing the classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea!

 

Seeing as this is a classic, here is just a little bit of the history and background in order to appreciate this book properly! Firstly, it is written by Frenchman Jules Verne, who lived from 1828 to 1905, and whose other numerous novels most notably include Around the World in 80 days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Twenty thousand leagues under the sea was originally published over a two year period as a serial, so readers originally received the tale in installments between 1869 and 1870, with an illustrated version released a year later.

That’s all the basics, so let’s get down to the story.

The story is told in first person perspective by a doctor, Mr M. Annorax after he, his servant Conseil and a friend (a harpooner named Ned) are taken hostage on board a mysterious submarine called The Nautilus. In charge of the vessel is Captain Nemo, a mysterious character with an unknown motive and past.

This book is labelled one of the great adventure novels of all time, and with good reason. If you are a lover of the sea or of exploration then you will be delighted with this book. The book reads as one long, extroadinary adventure of the sights, sounds and occurings of underwater exploration that spans “twenty thousand leagues” or over six months underneath the ocean. Jules Verne uses the character of Annorax, who is a specialist in marine biology, to great effect to provide detailed explanations of the flora and fauna of the underwater world.

These detailed explanations of the various species of fish, crustaceans, seaweed and coral would have certainly captured the imaginations of readers at the time, however I found these detailed listings both a blessing and a curse as I read. At times they would stretch to almost a page long, and if I recognized what he was describing, they helped paint a beautiful scene of what the crew were observing. However, a lot of the time, the names of the various fish were unrecognizable, and unless you went through the effort of looking up every single one, it made for tiresome reading, slowed down the pace of the story, and left me wanting to skim over some of these sections.

This book is classified as a science fiction novel, which surprised me initially, until I found out that Verne’s explanations of the mechanical workings of the The Nautilus were way ahead of their time, and that submarines were only primitive when he wrote this novel. Verne goes into great detail as to how The Nautilus operates, which may be of interest to those who have an eye for technical details in their stories. However, if you have no interest in the mechanics behind submarine operation, these parts may drag for you as well.

Ultimately though, this book provides a unique and special experience for the reader as it is the ultimate underwater adventure story. In today’s world we can fly to any country, board any train, plain, tram, cart or donkey to do it. We can explore mountains, and desserts, and now they’re even talking about commercial trips to the moon in our near future! However, most of us cannot say we’ve ever been in a submarine, or have experienced what it’s like to explore the whole world, landscapes and life that’s at the bottom of the ocean. You will be hard pressed to find a novel that gives you that experience, and that’s why this book remains one of the best of all time.

Another reason this book is great is because it contains one of the most interesting classic literary characters: Captain Nemo. The tension and relationship between Nemo and Annorax runs as almost a second plotline, second only to the exploration of the sea. Is Nemo friend or foe? Villainous loner or solitary genius? Finding out the secret of Nemo will keep you interested from beginning to end.

I will be honest and say it was a bit of a hard slog to read at times, mainly because of the density of the language and the lengthy descriptions, however once I had completed it I was very glad that I had. This book remains the classic underwater adventure, and opens you to a whole world that many of us would not otherwise experience. Jules Verne is the ultimate storyteller of life under the sea.

 

Thank you for reading, see you next time on The Boss Book Club!

 

Did you enjoy 20000 Leagues Under the Sea? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!