Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go
Title Never Let Me Go
Author:  Kazuo Ishiguro
Length:  288 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
My Rating:  3.5 Stars


I finished this book a few days ago and have been struggling to know how to write about it. I’m not doing this review in the format I normally do. To talk much about this book would be taking a chance on giving the plot away. It’s hard to talk about it without discussing what issue the book is dealing with – which is only really revealed towards the end of the book. So I’m going to first give you the publisher’s description then just share a few brief comments.

From the Publisher’s Description:

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special-and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.


In my opinion, the style of Ishiguro’s writing in The Remains of the Day feels very much the same in Never Let Me Go. It is slower paced and has some ambiguity. The only word that comes to my mind for describing this novel is haunting. Once again, Ishiguro writes an atmospheric novel. He slowly lays out the story and little by little reveals hints to what might be going on; yet you don’t find out with certainty until the next to last chapter.

I once again give this Ishiguro title a 3 ½ star rating. It earns that rating because whether I liked it or not (I haven’t been able to decide yet…..), it is very well-written and makes the reader think. It presents a scenario and does a good job showing the reader what it might be like.

After having read two of Ishiguro’s novels, I’m intrigued enough with this author’s writing style to want to read another title. Any recommendations of which novel to read next?

You Know You’re a Bibliophile When….

Vintage Open Book

You Know You’re a Bibliophile When….

…Your ideal date night with your significant other includes a trip to the bookstore.

…You just want to go buy a book. You may not know what that book is; you just know you want to buy a book.

…You may not use a flashlight to read under the covers now, but you have a Kindle with a backlight.

…You keep your book with you when you’re watching television so that you can read during the commercials.

…You don’t like to leave the house without a book in your purse/bag.

 

 

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Title The Book of Tea
Author:  Kakuzo Okakura
Length:  72 pages
Genre:  Non-fiction, Essays


About This Book

As the title suggests, this non-fiction book of essays is about tea; but it’s also about much more. While it takes a look at the history of tea, philosophic and religious influences and beliefs surrounding tea and the drinking of tea, the tea-room and tea ceremony, it also delves into other topics such as art and art appreciation, flowers, arranging flowers, Teism, and the differences between Western and Eastern approaches.


My Thoughts

While I did find this book of essays to be a bit dry at times; that didn’t put me off from reading it. I learned quite a bit actually. For instance, I knew that the tea ceremony was important in Japanese culture, but didn’t know just *how* important.

My favorite chapter by far was the one on the tea-room. I learned that great care and consideration are put into how the tea-room looks. You will see that reflected in one of the quotes below. It is my understanding, also, that the tea-room is like a haven; a place of peace and tranquility.

I also found the discussion of art appreciation thought provoking. My husband and I had a great discussion regarding some of Okakura’s comments regarding art and art appreciation. Teism is also discussed at length. But what really stood out to me was how Teaism taught simplicity.

My family loves to drink hot tea; and that is what drew me to read The Book of Tea. I’ve walked away from reading these essays with not only more understanding about tea, but also more knowledge about the Japanese culture. Not to mention the fact that now I want to go through various things in our home and simplify more. 🙂


Quotes

The use of the steeped tea of the later China is comparatively recent among us, being only known since the middle of the seventeenth century. It has replaced the powdered tea in ordinary consumption, though the latter still continues to hold its place as the tea of teas.

Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane.

A good tea-room is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires immense care and precision.

True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete. The virility of life and art lay in its possibilities for growth. In the tea-room it is left for each guest in imagination to complete the total effect in relation to himself.

The simplicity of the tea-room and its freedom from vulgarity make it truly a sanctuary from the vexations of the outer world. There and there alone one can consecrate himself to undisturbed adoration of the beautiful.

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. We eat, drink, sing, dance, and flirt with them. We wed and christen with flowers. We dare not die without them. We have worshipped with the lilly, we have meditated with the lotus, we have charged in battle array with the rose and the chrysanthemum. We have even attempted to speak in the language of flowers. How could we live without them?

A Look Back at January 2020 ~ A Monthly Review

I kicked off the year with participating in Cleo’s The Iliad read-along and the Japanese Literature Challenge 13. I also started a couple of year-long projects:  Nick’s War and Peace Read-along and the Deal Me In Short Stories project.

Also, I am trying to write more reviews about the books I read. And so I am happy to say that I wrote reviews for all the books I read in January except for one. For the most part, I typically don’t write reviews of children’s books I read. Mainly because I just read a lot of children’s books between pre-reading and reading aloud. However, every now and then, you might find me writing about them. 🙂 Anyway….I am excited that I did write 3 book reviews this month! Okay….now on to my January reading recap.


The Iliad Read-Along

The Iliad Read-Along

Welllll…… I guess this is going okay. I posted my thoughts on that so far HERE. I admit that things are running together at this point. But I am determined to keep reading and trying to work through this epic poetry work. I’m almost to the halfway mark!


War and Peace Read-Along

War and Peace Read-Along

This is a year-long project. It is a chapter-a-day read-along and my translation has exactly 365 days. I am on track so far with reading a chapter a day. So far, I am actually liking this novel more this time around. However, I am just now beginning to come across some of the war chapters. So……we shall see how it goes.


Deal Me In Challenge 2020

Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Project

I read four short stories in January. The one picked for this past week I actually read yesterday (Feb. 1st). So I’m counting it in February. 🙂 Here are the four short stories I read for January:

  • “Sieur George” by George Washington Cable – A man disappears then reappears. His landlord sees him initially carry in a trunk before his mysterious disappearance. When the man reappears, the landlord obsesses over what could be in that trunk. There’s a turn of events and then the story ends kind of abruptly. I thought the writing quality was good; the story was somewhat odd though.
  • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving – The classic story of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. I thought the writing was very descriptive and I wanted to keep reading it. This was my favorite of all the short stories I read this month.
  • “The Wife of His Youth” by Charles W. Chestnutt – A man is preparing to marry when another woman comes to him seeking her husband whom she hasn’t seen for many years. There’s a turn of events and it has an ambiguous ending. This story was just okay. But I really think another read of it would be beneficial. I read that this is Chestnutt’s most anthologized work.
  • “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry – Two men decide to kidnap a boy in order to get the ransom for money that they need. I didn’t care for this story at all. I thought the plot line was thin and it just wasn’t that good.

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge 13

I kicked off the Japanese Literature Challenge by reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was a re-read for me. You can read my review HERE.

I am currently reading The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura and have just started reading Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro.


Other Things I Read

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan – Review HERE

Still Life by Louise Penny – Review HERE

Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty


Books In Progress

The Iliad by Homer

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt


January Stats

4 Books Read
4 Short Stories Read
6 Books In Progress
Favorite Book Read in January:  Still Life by Louise Penny
Most Visited Blog Post:  The Evolution of My Reading Journal


2020 Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Graphic

This is my first time joining in on this monthly wrap-up round-up. Nicole hosts the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up, which is a Month In Review Round-Up where you can link your monthly recap posts.