Book Reviews

A man called OVE by Fredrik Backman

“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

I picked up this book due to a Twitter thread of GoodReads asking readers what their favourite book for 2018 was and A Man called OVE appearing in most of the comments. Yeah, I know, majority rules! And I can say with my hand on my heart that this book has made me cry, made me laugh, and made me feel wholesome again.

OVE is your typical grumpy old man but underneath the surface, he is kind, determined and has a big heart (literally). His thoughts are that actions weigh more than words and he is true to his thoughts – doing more than talking.

“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”

And when his thoughts drift towards suicide, it’s a question of principle.

Book Reviews

Suicide Forest (World’s Scariest Places #1) by Jeremy Bates

figure.jpgSUICIDE forest is real. the Japanese call it Aokigahara Jukai, which means “Sea of Trees.” Each year local authorities remove from it more than one hundred bodies, most found hanging from tree branches and in various states of decay. Abandoned tents, moldy sleeping bags, dirty daypacks, and miles of ribbon litter the forest floor. It is said the area is haunted by the ghosts of the suicides, and local often report hearing unexplained screams during the night. Signs warn visitors not to leave the hiking trails. These are routinely ignored by thrill seekers hoping to catch a glimpse of the macabre. Most find their way out again. Some never do.

Remnants: Shoes for a man, a woman and a child left in the Aokigahara Jukai forest on the flank of Mount Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Book Reviews

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” sold more than one million copies in its first month of publication in Japan in April 2013. I can totally see why! While going through my growing Murakami book collection, I decided to read this interestingly titled story next.

One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds.


Book Reviews

Jade – V. C. Andrews (Wildflowers 03)

“People who are always sticking their noses into other people’s business are too helpful,” she countered. “I don’t agree. I’m not sticking my nose into anyone’s business. I’m giving her the benefit of my experience and my knowledge.”

I’ve done something bad. I’ve picked up another book from V.C. Andrews, but it’s not the start or the end of a trilogy, it’s the middle. The mistake I made was thinking I could probably hop onto a moving train and still see where it’s been, who’s on it already and tell where it’s going. I was wrong. The book was a mess to a newcomer.


How to find happiness in nature (Mental Health Awareness Week 2017)

As we are currently towards the end of the 2017 Mental Health Awareness Week, I will tackle suicide and depression.

Last year in Japan, more than 25,000 people took their own lives. That’s 70 every day. The vast majority were men.
Those figures do not make Japan’s the highest suicide rate in the world in a developed nation.
That dubious title belongs to South Korea. But it is still far, far higher than virtually all other wealthy countries.
It is three times the suicide rate in the United Kingdom.

“Isolation is the number one precursor for depression and suicide,” says Wataru Nishida, a psychologist at Tokyo’s Temple University.

Talk therapy (psychotherapy), antidepressant medication, and lifestyle changes are often essential tools for managing major depression. But sometimes just soaking up some sunshine, breathing a little fresh air, and feeling your toes in the grass can provide relief from depression symptoms too.


Deep blue sea * Theatre

Sometimes I like taking advantage of the perks of having a Cineworld Unlimited card – it means I can go and see a theatre play, in the cinema, with only £8 (or abouts). I saw “The deep blue sea” a few weeks ago and it’s only now I managed to put aside some time and talk about it.


A flat in Ladbroke Grove, West London. 1952.

When Hester Collyer is found by her neighbours in the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, the story of her tempestuous affair with a former RAF pilot and the breakdown of her marriage to a High Court judge begins to emerge.

With it comes a portrait of need, loneliness and long-repressed passion. Behind the fragile veneer of post-war civility burns a brutal sense of loss and longing.

Book Reviews

Keiko’s suicide – A pale view from the hills * Kazuo Ishiguro

At the beginning of the novel, Etsuko explains that she does not want to be reminded of her past. She rejects everything that is attached to Japan and does not even want to give her second daughter a Japanese name (names her Nikki). It is not clear at this point of the story why she refuses to talk about the past, but it soon becomes obvious that she has not yet overcome the suicide of her daughter, Keiko. She feels responsible as she has left Japan and her husband, even though she has assumed that Keiko would not be happy in England.

But such things are long in the past now and I have no wish to ponder them yet again. My motives for leaving Japan were justifiable, and I know I always kept Keiko’s interests very much at heart. There is nothing to be gained in going over such matters again.

Book Reviews

A pale view of the hills * Kazuo Ishiguro

I’ve only read The Buried Giant and The Remains of the Day and when I looked on my book wish-list, I saw Kazuo Ishiguro’s dazzling debut novel called “A pale view of the hills” and I closed my eyes and made the purchase. When I saw the tiny book (181 pages which to my accounts is TINY!) that came back, I started wondering whether it’s going to have enough time to unfurl into a well-written piece.

It’s only when I hit the 70% mark I realized this was going to be a VERY, VERY well written-book with a good twist. As we’re still on the Mental Disability Awareness Month, I shall add this book to that list at number 11. All the characters are mentally disturbed to a point, we have two suicides and characters on the bridge between autistic and suffering from schizophrenia. Or both. I loved it.