Russell's Top Twelve - Kafka on the Shore
For the next twelve months I am going to run you thorough what I would consider my top twelve favorite books of all time. I will say that the end to the list - 6-12 - can fluctuate and do ... often. However, the top five are pretty solid.
I am starting the Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I have read a lot of Murakami, and to be honest I am not sure that I understand everything he writes about. But I do know that I have loved everything I have read and could just as well have put Wind-up Birth Chronicle or Norwegian Wood on this list. I think they are all excellent. However, Kafka always rings true to me because it was the first one I read. This book is exciting, complicated and the ending is so strange that I often will have it pop into my head ever now and then. And when my friend Steve read it and asked me about it, all I could say was "I don't exactly know how it ends ... but I loved it!"
The book is really two tales told in opposite chapters - the story of Kafka who runs away from home due to an odd idea of a curse that involves his mother. And the story of Nakata, a cat hunter who's latest prey takes him on a journey outside his comfort zone. The plot of this novel is too difficult to explain - and each character runs into so many interesting people that I would want to talk about them all. So, I won't.
However, I will talk about the amazing library the centers this novel, and the way that Murakami makes the library seem magical. If you are a book nerd like me libraries hold a special place. And the majestic nature of this one made me want to get on a plane and fly to Japan to sit in a room and read old books. I am 100% certain that you, fellow book nerd, will love it to.
I will say this is not an easy book. And I had to read the ending twice to even get an idea of what was trying to be said. And I think that is the beauty of Murakami - he allows you as the reader to make your own choice as to what his work means to you. Also, he will throw in enough American pop culture to keep you on your toes.
Murakami is always on the short list to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. And every year he does not win, is really a loss for Literature. His books are amazingly complex, challenging, beautifully written and fantastic adventures. If you have not read him before, please go pick him up! I promise - you will not be disappointed.