“Everything’s back to normal; but we both privately know that what’s normal has changed, and changed for ever.” (Michael Frayn)
Okay, so firstly, I’m not in Japan yet. It’s still June and I still haven’t got my Certificate of Eligibility, let alone my final year marks from UEA. But as I’ve said before, I want to start building this blog and filling it with content that would be here anyway in the future (my life in Japan is going to be through my eyes – thus, my hobbies and my life will frame the narrative along the way. I’m not interested in writing a factual wordsplosion on The Natural Beauty of Japan or anything of the sort)
So I’m excited to begin with discussing a few things that I’ve been reading recently. In my second year of uni, I was so focused on my studies and my fear of failure that I basically stopped having hobbies other than studying 24 hours a day. So while I’ve been, and will be, at home, from 6th June – 10th July, I’ve been doing some crazy catching up. Other than the three books I’ll be discussing, I’ve been absorbing gems from Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist all the way to Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge. Doing everything I essentially forbade myself from doing is, to be honest, something that has made me the most comfortable and happy I’ve been in a while. That’s important because I’ll be confronting a certain something for the first time in 9 months when I leave England in July, and I think I’m reaching the stage in which I’ll feel prepared for it.
But in any case; onto the three lovely books.
This is a book I’ve been sleeping on, and a massive reminder of how much I love mystery novels. I first began reading it in the Summer of 2016, but clearly I got distracted by something or another and left a bookmark half way through – when I reopened it a few days ago, I’d completely forgotten what the book was even about. It takes place in the time period after The Final Problem, but before The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and is told from the perspective of American detective Frederick Chase who comes to London following the events of the Reichenbach Falls.
If you know nothing about the Sherlock Holmes series, don’t bother, but if you do, Moriarty will definitely not disappoint you. I’ve never once finished one of Conan Doyle’s stories to the very end because I find 19th century literature incredibly heavy to read, but I absolutely love BBC’s Sherlock
minus the 4th Series and that was enough for me to enjoy Moriarty. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I even believed Athelney Jones was a character Horowitz created for this novel. That’s how little you need to know of Conan Doyle’s canon.
This book has one of the biggest and most satisfying reveals I’ve read in a mystery novel. You’ll most definitely find yourself rereading the entire thing, asking yourself how you could’ve possibly missed the clues.
I’m not generally a fan of science fiction – the only genres of fiction I really enjoy are mystery, thriller, comedy. The fourth genre I enjoy is social commentary, which I suppose only exists in fiction as a sub-genre of another (Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and John Green’s Looking for Alaska stand side by side as my favourite novels and I’d classify them both as Bildungsroman/Social-Commentary, albeit on opposite sides of the spectrum).
Cat’s Cradle switches that formula around. It sits on a Science Fiction base, but truthfully it’s more of a commentary on the potential disastrous consequences of humans having the power to create and destroy on a massive scale, using America’s nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as a backdrop to discuss Vonnegut’s creation of Ice-Nine, a substance that turns room-temperature liquid into ice. (Put that into the ocean.) Vonnegut manages to perfectly balance the above with commentary on Religion and the purpose of life.
It’s incredibly easy to read, written in the style of sub-chapters, with an ending that can only be described as simple yet powerful. I just sat there for maybe 10 minutes after finishing the final page, letting myself just… absorb everything. An incredibly haunting read, more so because it is potentially prophetic.
Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Pretty sure I was asked to read this for AS Economics. Pretty sure not remembering whether or not I was asked to read it has some kind of a correlation with why I did badly at AS Economics. I suppose, at the end of the day, I’ve gotten around to reading it and that’s good, never mind that it’s 4 years on.
To tell you the truth I’ve only just begun reading Freakonomics, but I know it’ll have me in a trance right until I’ve finished it and there are other things I’d like to be doing. Levitt and Dubner (to quote the blurb) “[use] information about the world around us to get to the heart of what’s really happening under the surface of everyday life.” It’s this kind of stuff that really, really interests me, so I know for a fact that I’ll be loving this book start to end. I touched upon it, but I much prefer non-fiction to fiction; the big two are autobiographies and books that explain exactly why certain things occur, with Freakonomics fitting neatly under the latter.
So what now?
I carry on reading, and I carry on cooking, and I carry on watching, and I carry on living the status quo right up until I leave for Japan and everything changes. Perhaps I will update a few more times before I go, while we’re in the “before” phase. Maybe a post about a recipe I utilised? I’ve had that on my mind for a while but figuring out how best to execute it is difficult. I have the determination, but just maybe not the inspiration.
This is going to be a crazy experience. No more running away.