[Review] 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

[Review] 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Published by Harvill Secker on October 2011 (first published 2009)
Genres: Japanese literature, Magical realism
Pages: 925
The verdict: four-half-stars
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The year is 1984. The fates of Aomame and Tengo are intertwined.


I first picked up this book in late December 2011. Yes, it nearly took me a year to finish. And often enough I was extremely frustrated with this book. Mostly because this book was a deceivingly slow read. As a friend suggested, even the fastest reader could probably not finish this book very quickly. At the same time, I’ve read far longer books that took me less time and that were more engaging. Plenty of times I had to put 1Q84 down because I just got tired of it.

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Geeking out in London

I have been doing some traveling the past few months. In April I went to London with friends. Our main purpose was L’Arc~en~Ciel’s concert, as London was one of the stops on their world tour. But clearly we ended up doing more than that! So here is a bit of a travel report and some geeky tips for geeky travelers.

One place I can never resist visiting when I’m in a big city is the Hard Rock Café. I just can’t resist the food, the atmosphere, looking at all the rock props..! I must admit while I love the London location (staff is friendly and food is tasty!) they were not my favourite. I’ve visited quite a few HRC’s (told ya, can’t resist)… Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Prague, all locations in Japan… and my favourites were probably Fukuoka and Amsterdam. Nonetheless, the HRC London is near Hyde Park so when there’s no queue, do check it out for tasty food!

Then, as Sherlock Holmes fans, we had to visit the museum at 221B Baker Street. It was extremely crowded and perhaps a bit tourist trap-y, but enjoyable enough.

The next stop wasn’t on our list of geeky-things-to-do-in-London (so obviously the list was flawed) but when we saw it nothing could stop us: The Shakespeare Globe Theatre. So interesting! The museum part was incredibly fascinating in itself and during the tour we loved seeing the theatre itself. Sadly the season for plays hadn’t started yet so we couldn’t actually watch a play, but that’s very high up on my list for next time. (As for Shakespeare in general: The British Museum will have a Shakespeare exhibition from July 19-November 25 this year! Go go go!)

Our main reason to be in London was L’Arc~en~Ciel’s concert at Indigo2, as mentioned before. The band was having a collaboration with a Hawaiian burger restaurant: Kua’aina. Ok, not actually very geeky, but I am still tagging them because their burgers are amazing (and I am generally not very much into burgers!). At the restaurant we just so happened to sit next to Doctor Who actor Tommy Campbell, who then suggested to us we should head to the concert hall by… boat. Best idea ever, so we arrived at the concert in style.

My final geeky destination was the Film Museum. I visited the South Bank location, but after returning I found out there’s another location in Covent Garden. Which must be visited next time. Anyway, I managed to spend quite some time at the museum. They had a few interesting exhibitions, such as the “Ray Harryhausen – Myths and Legends” exhibition showing the techniques used, background information etc. If anything, the location itself was also interesting. I managed to get myself lost on the way out…

Of course, theatre geeks must absolutely go see a musical or play in London. If you’re tired of the Phantom of the Opera (but how could you?) there is still plenty to see. I recommend checking out Theatre Monkey’s guide before you go.

Other things you cannot miss:

  • Forbidden Planet, a cult entertainment/sci-fi megastore. Your stop for geeky goods! It is walkable from Picadilly, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Rd. Also double-check their book section: you can find a lot of signed books!
  • Skoob Books, selling used books. The store itself is quite wonderful, but I can especially recommend checking out their warehouse catalogue! You can ask them to fetch you books which you can check out when you visit. And trust me, they’re really selling some nice editions!
  • The British Library occasionally has extremely interesting exhibitions! I visited their ‘Out of this world’ exhibition on science fiction a year ago and it must have been one of my favourite exhibitions ever. and they had a marvellous exhibition displaying manuscripts after that which I sadly had to miss. Definitely worth to see if there’s an exhibition before you go. (And their store is book lover heaven!)

Bookish links.. part 2

I wasn’t intending to abandon this blog like I did, oops. Anyway, there is never-ending fascinating, funny or unbelievable information out there on the web about books. Here is part 2 of the Bookish links! This time: blogs on Tumblr!

Bookshelf Porn

Porn for book lovers.

When you see it you will understand. If you love books of course.

Bookfessions

These are confessions and/or thoughts of a book lover, bibliophile, book addict, reader, lover of literature, nerd…

Better Book Titles

This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

And some of them are really very accurate!

Book-aesthete

Since collecting actual books is somewhat cost-prohibitive, I’ve begun to amass all of the books I would love to have if I had the means. Some are new, lots are old, all are unique or beautiful or unusual or in some other way have captured my fancy.

I looooove this one. And sympathise with the author, haha.

Back from Rolduc…

We’re back from Rolduc and I am reliving our adventure by looking at the hundreds of photo’s I took, with an abbey beer in my hand (I can absolutely recommend the beer at Rolduc!). We are still in the process of data collection, and with all the fragments and annotations we found (think hundreds)… Well, let’s say it is quite a bit of work!

Going through the photo’s we will most likely make more exciting discoveries. Will update on that later! My personal find so far is a manuscript book from 1652 with hymns. Manuscripts were all supposed to be moved to another location, but it seems they missed this one. I am still in the process of researching it and am excited to present it in a while! But for now:

Old books Rolduc (video)

The video is in Dutch, but it gives an idea of what we found, and how.

Bijzondere ontdekkingen bij onderzoek boeken Rolduc (Dutch only)
Onderzoekers van de Leidse universiteit hebben belangrijke ontdekkingen gedaan in de omslagen van boeken bij abdij Rolduc in Kerkrade.

Zo werd onder meer een muziekstuk gevonden van bijna 700 jaar oud. Ook ontdekten ze hele grote rechtshandschriften voorzien van aantekeningen. De vijftien studenten en hun begeleiders sluiten hun onderzoek dinsdag af.

(See especially the video and radio fragments!)

The media coverage of the project is great! We also appeared in newspapers:

We found treasure…!

So by now our first day of ‘treasure hunting’ in Rolduc is over. All I can say is: we found some really amazing things! Old manuscript fragments, interesting information on the provenance of the books… When you’re holding a book and a little bit of medieval handwriting peeps out..!

As today was just a ‘quick sweep’ of the three libraries in the monastery, we only have an idea of what is hidden here. I hope that by the end of tomorrow we will be able to say more about our findings..! But our findings include lithurgical manuscript pages, manuscripts on law, and fragments dating as far back as the 12th century (at least)!

For now, please keep checking the project hashtag on Twitter, as we are all actively tweeting about our findings throughout the day! #rolduc2012

And now let me give you an overview of Rolduc… and some of our findings!

The building (it’s huge)

The ceiling of the abbey church

The beautiful rococo library

And now, our findings. I promise tomorrow (if I have the chance) I will write more about what exactly we found, but here is a (very) little overview: