Saturday, 20 June 2015

Review: The Guest Cat

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide was one of those books that just jumped out at me as being a perfect fit as a present for someone, specifically for my flatmate, who loves cats and also enjoyed Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. I gave it to her as a birthday present, but almost immediately wanted to buy myself a copy too. Thankfully, I was spared the expense as my flatmate agreed to lend it to me.

Though the book's blurb sold it as a story of a practically estranged couple coming together through their shared love of a visiting cat, it's actually a lot more subtle than that. The story - if you can even call it that - is told almost as a series of reminiscences. The tone is very gentle and introspective, and the description of scenarios and events is punctuated by philosophical musings, as well as some quite poetic passages.

Particularly striking was the narrator's relationship to nature. Chibi the cat, who visits the narrator's home regularly, takes on a full personality, with her own little habits and quirks, and her relationship to the neighbourhood cats is described in detail. Even plants and insects are given enough attention and reverence as to almost make them characters in their own right, while the humans, all of them unnamed, take a very deliberate backseat.

I think this will be a book that sticks with me for a long time, and that I will revisit often in my mind. I am a little surprised that the book is a New York Times bestseller, as I can kind of see it as the type of thing that wouldn't appeal to everyone, but it really worked for me and I'm glad to see it has worked for so many other people too. The ending did leave me a little confused, but overall what I took away was a strong sense of atmosphere and a heightened awareness and appreciation of the world around me.

I also found this review of The Guest Cat, which I think captures the essence of the novella really well. This article in Japan Times also gives a bit of context about stories about cats in modern Japanese literature, which I found really interesting.

What did you think of The Guest Cat? What is your favourite piece of Japanese literature? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

One Year Bloggiversary - 25 Facts About Me

So today, dear readers, is my ONE YEAR BLOGGIVERSARY! Say WHAAT!? It's been a whole year since I published that awkward introductory post and dived headlong into the world of book blogging. Though I've definitely not been the most consistent with my posts and the challenges of my final year of university did rather put a damper on my reading plans, I have really loved getting stuck into the blogging community and learning a whole lot about books along the way.

So in honour of this momentous occasion, I thought it was about time I wrote a little something to help you lovely readers get to know me a little better! I recently launched a shiny new 'About Me' section, but it's not very detailed. So here are 25 (mostly) non-book-related facts about me. Enjoy!

1. I love playing the piano. I'm not really a performer so normally this just means jamming on my electric piano with the headphones on. My fave things to play are the late Romantic composers, especially Debussy and Ravel (big up the classical music, yo!). I also play the clarinet and flute.

2. Mulan is my favourite Disney film. (Though me and Disney actually have a bit of a love-hate relationship...)

3. I love knitting.

4. I am a Christian.

5. I am obsessed with the Wicked soundtrack. Seriously, I could listen to it on repeat for ever and ever.

6. If I could punch one song in the face, it would be 'The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers' from Disney's Winnie the Pooh. Actually, I just passionately dislike everything about Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

7. My knowledge of the Harry Potter books and films is embarrassingly extensive. I feel like this isn't all that uncommon in the book-loving community, but around most other people it earns me some funny looks.

8. I love Ultimate Frisbee.

9. I really dislike hearing children speak French.

10. I'm a massive sucker for strawberry chocolate. In Germany they have these things called Yogurette and I could just eat them forever.

Definition of heaven right here

11. I can pretty much quote the entirety of the film Chicken Run.

12. I was a gymnast in school.

13. I am obsessed with nail varnish.

14. I am firmly of the opinion that tea is the best medicine.

15. I am very fond of bad jokes, and if they involve puns, so much the better.

16. I can solve a Rubik's Cube (thanks to YouTube...)

17. I really really hate tomatoes.

18. My walking speed is well above average. I put this down to many years of running late and having to power-walk up the hill to school.

19. This year I got involved with the Christian Union's work with international students, which was the most fun and rewarding thing ever. I love internationals! <3

20. I adamantly disagree with anyone who would call the German language 'harsh', 'ugly' or 'aggressive'.

21. I have a nerdy love for Medieval and Renaissance French literature and culture. I blame my awesome lecturers at uni ;)

22. I have a not-so-secret mega-crush on Alfie Enoch, who plays Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films.

"I can make your Deans come true"

23. I also really enjoy baking (I just wrote that as 'bacon'! I enjoy that too..!)

24. I firmly believe letter writing is the best form of long-distance correspondence. My friend and I write to each other regularly, and getting actual letters IRL is the best feeling!

25. One drawer of my desk is entirely devoted to chocolate and sugary snacks.

So there you have it! You now know a little something more about me than you did before! Please feel free to share any random/hilarious/awesome facts about yourself in the comments, or let me know which one(s) of my facts interested or surprised you the most.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...