I like to think that I'm a fast reader or at the very least a "decently quick" reader. Since the beginning of April, I've read about 11 books (give or take). I'm often asked for advice on books and honestly, I'm terrible at recommendations. I know what genres and styles work for me (read: all) but I'm genuinely awful at judging someone else's. For those of you seeking book recommendations, I've decided to compile a list of my top 3 from my recently read and let you decide. My (short) list comprises books from young adult to existentialism.
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Sendusia's Top Three (for April, that is...)
1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick
4 out of 5 STARS (****)
Oh, Bladerunner.... Oops, my bad! I discovered Philip K. Dick by watching the Ridley Scott (loose) adaption of his book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Like most readers, I was interested to see what parts of the book made it into the movie and which were deemed too complicated, too silly or too much.
I like to think of the book and movie as two separate entities that are trying to tell a similar premise: what it means to be human. Empathy is what separates humans from androids, empathy towards any living creature and at times, even towards the androids. The androids long to be human while humans appear android-like with their empathy machines (that instruct how they should feel). What is it that makes us human? Try answering that in two sentences or less.
That is what makes this novel or Bladerunner such a modern classic and chills you to your bones. I find myself constantly reviewing what Dick brought up during the book. I found myself having to re-read certain sentences, passages or chapters over and over again just to understand what Dick was actually trying to say. What was he trying to insinuate between the words? Behind the story? Who is Deckard? Are the androids really "evil," so to say? What is Mercerism?
Ah, so many questions brought up. This will definitely require a reread and a proper examination. When I first finished the novel, I was confused and wasn't sure what I thought of it. Upon giving myself the morning to reflect upon the story and message, I began to uncover the questions raised and try to answer them. When a novel leaves such a lasting effect, it has to be praised. Philip K. Dick, you, sir, are a genius (for lack of a better description). I look forward to examining this more in the future reread and possibly adding more this particular review.
2. Norwegian Wood | Haruki Murakami
4 out of 5 STARS (****)
I'm still recovering from being inside Watanabe's head. Once I found myself in the right atmosphere and mindset, this book just flowed smoothly. I was deeply invested in his world and ways that it always took me too long to get readjusted to my own reality. It's quite rare for a book to engulf me in its story so deeply that I'm almost sad that I finished it so quickly. Almost.
Focuses solely on the thoughts and experiences of one Toru Watanabe, a Holden Caulfield-esque character. Definitely not an easy book to absorb but one that I recommend that everyone attempt at least once. Watanabe falls in love with his best friend's girlfriend, Naoko, an equally strange and introspective character. That is where I'll end my reflections of the book as if I continued I would continue until the entire plot of the novel was written. I will say it is a wonderful book about the tragedies and hardships most go through. Be aware, the book is very descriptive and erotic (har har). The eroticism adds to Watanabe's character and rarely makes it seem awkwardly included.
This being my first Haruki Murakami novel, I can better understand the praise and love for his work. His way of writing and establishing his characters seemed as natural as they were strange. This will definitely be one I will mark for a reread when I'm a few years older and have experienced more.
Now, I think I need to nap for a while and return to my own world for a little bit.
3. Thirteen Reasons Why | Jay Asher
3 out of 5 STARS (***)
What? You mean the Netflix Original Series was based off a book? Obviously. And this may be one of those times where I loved the TV show more than the book. (And yes I am using the poster for the TV show rather than the book because... I just like it better.)
The story occurs over the course of a night. Clay Jensen listens to his high school crush give thirteen reasons why she committed suicide. Throughout reading the story, I felt a disconnect from the characters. The whole premise relies upon you, as the reader, to have sympathy for Hannah. Hannah is the girl who commits suicide, btw. And no, this book does not glamorize suicide as I read in previous reviews nor does it explain the devastation that it brings to those connected to it. Sure, we hear Clay's reactions but I just wanted more. But it does make you realize one thing, how the tiniest things can mean the world to someone else and drive them to the conclusion of suicide. And the lack of support (err lack of trained or experienced instructors). If this book sends a message, I hope it sends the message that we need trained professionals working in our high schools and helping the students. With bullying (and now cyber bullying), these kids need it more than ever.
As for the show, it showed the after effects of the tapes and how it changes everyone's life. It may have been slow to get to the point, but you felt more for Hannah and the circumstances that happened to her were more devasting. How everything just kept piling on. How even a nice guy like Clay couldn't help her.
The book is a short read but should be read. The TV show is short and should be watched. Chose your poison and do it. Understand it, and learn from it.
You may notice a common three links these three works: they've all been adapted to the screen (whether that screen is small or big). I'm a big believe in reading the original material to understand the story. Due to time restraints, essential materials tends to be left over that add to the overall story (i.e. "Mercerism" and "kipple" in Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep? vs Bladerunner). I'll add my top two honorable mentions below. Be sure to comment below and let me know what you think!