Favorite Books I read in 2016 – PART I

I’ve joyfully gotten more into reading lately and figured I’d share some of the books I enjoyed this year. My taste in books tend to lean towards non-fiction or fiction with a sense of reality. I always favor a thriller, often by Scandinavian authors, will share a few in my follow up post despite reading them in Swedish (my first language along Finnish). Here are the first three in no particular order!

Let’s start with one most of you may be familiar with:

‘The Girl on the Train’- Paula Hawkins 

It was causing a lot of attention in the media and a family friend had just finished the book and offered me her copy. Within a few days I had finished the book simply by bringing it along for my commute, a quick read in other words. It progresses in an interesting way, the gloomy British setting perfectly allows you to imagine Rachel’s surroundings and observations. Personally my favorite asset to this story was how your conception of the characters change and you can’t help but look back at all the details that formed clues of what were to come. It perfectly portrays how we often judge people based on what we see meanwhile dismissing their possibly painful background. Available here among other websites and many bookstores!

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The one that made me shiver:

People Who Eat Darkness’ – Richard Lloyd Parry

A non-fiction thriller which is based in the early 2000’s and portrays the chilling search of Lucie Blackman, a tall, blonde, British woman who goes missing in Tokyo. It shines light on hostess clubs and sex work in the surrounding scenes of Roppongi. Lucie isn’t an escort but a former flight attendant working as a hostess who’s job was to entertain men by spending time with them in the club, lighting their cigarettes, laughing at their jokes, pouring their drinks the whole “girlfriend experience” essentially. As a girl living on her own since 18 in a big city I’ve seen my fair share of seamy settings so I wasn’t as shocked as many may be reading this book but even more so disgusted. It’s quite chilling to read this while I was 21 and was heavily considering moving to Japan (and no this book didn’t affect my decision making). I respect the way author Richard Lloyd Parry personally followed the investigation while it was on-going and made sure to point out every single clue that did exist without exaggerating the facts despite there being a lot of missing pieces until the very end. What makes each chapter interesting is the focus on other characters and how they were perceived by the media throughout the investigation (the Blackman family especially) along with background stories of what led Lucie to change the course of her life by moving to Japan. You can buy the book here.

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The one that introduced me to one of my current favorite authors:

‘1Q84’ – Haruki Murakami

This book was a back and forth for me. I first bought it in 2015 while stuck in Oslo at the airport for 6h (!), a thick Murakami book seemed like a great way to kill time. I ended up putting it down over that summer and didn’t fully finish it until 2016 hence it making this list.

Based in Tokyo in 1984 but named 1Q84 for the alternative reality the characters start to experience. The unfolding of a love story between a fitness instructor and assassin named Aomame (‘green peas’ in Japanese) and Tengo; a math teacher and novelist who takes on ghostwriting. A dyslexic girl called Fuka-Eri, a cult among other things/occurrences affect their journey over the course of the year which also re-unites them in this bizarre love tale of sorts. Symbolism, surrealism and magical realism play a big role and in traditional Murakami style references to classical music and composers are made through out. I would personally have enjoyed it more had I been more familiar with the Tokyo surroundings. My partner Alex is half Japanese and despite being born in America he’s spent time living in Japan (Tokyo to be more exact) as an young adult and is familiar with the locations Tengo and Aomame visit. I remember trying so hard to imagine these places without actually being familiar with them. If I ever get to spend a greater amount of time in Japan I’d go back and read this book hence feeling I lost out on a significant focus. Its also available on amazon like the two above and in bookstores around the world.

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Will be featuring a few more in the next few days to come!

XX- Yeni

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