The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom

Lágrima (Spanish: Teardrop) – by Spanish guitarist Francisco Tárrega – is the main music piece of this very heart-aching and touching tale of a boy born during wartime. I travelled through parts of his journey with tears rolling down my cheeks. A story remains unreal as a story but the emotions are real.

At certain junctions i felt like kicking Music or Life (or the author) for playing cruel jokes on the boy. But if life is always smooth, then it isn’t life. I cannot recall the exact words but Shakespeare wrote something along the line of “to be alive is to feel pain”. I could not agree more.

The boy suffers greatly for his art (and fame). “You cannot write if you do not read, you cannot eat if you do not chew, you cannot play if you do not listen”, how many people truly understand this basic concept and still embrace the idea of delayed gratification? Recently i learnt from a video that it takes a toddler a year of listening to a language before he/she starts to speak the language. Not sure how true that study is but it makes sense.

In reality, some things are left unexplained. Not everything gets a closure. The best we can do, is just to move on. This point is well illustrated in the story in which the situation takes a turn for the worse whenever “truth” is revealed. Is truth really necessary? I guess that is subjective. Personally i feel some things are better left unsaid and unknown. But of course one should always know your roots and never pretend to be of a different origin. That should not change because it cannot change.

This book is a somewhat emotionally-draining read for me but i like it very much, not as much as i like Tuesdays with Morrie but enough to recommend it as a book worth reading. It makes many of the issues we face today look small and silly.

Art, existing in various forms (words, paintings, music, films…) will always connect people at heart, regardless of distance and era. It will always be a reliable source of solace to all. Always.

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The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

I know this belongs to bestseller category. One friend commented it felt like the novel was trying too hard to create suspense. Another friend gave up after finishing 1/3 of it, as she had Crime and Punishment (by Fyodor Dostoyevsky) in mind. I had to read it for myself.

I struggled to feel the suspense in the book. The only reason for clearing it is i did not wish to leave it half done. A far cry from my recent experience with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, i would say.

Most of the time i was reading the mind of a drunkard, trying to recall what she had done the previous night. Nothing much. Just a broken person trying hard to be part of a mystery, which was not even a mystery in the first place, if she wasn’t a drunkard.

And the association with trains? Sigh…

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Animal Farm – George Orwell

A friend said one can finish this book in 5 minutes. An exaggeration of course but i did cleared it very fast. One thing about not having to deal with exams is that i can actually enjoy my textbook at face level. Evil pigs these are, i tell you, much worse than those in Angry Birds. I shall have pork chop for dinner later.

This read is like a comic relief for me before i dive into the next not-so-thin book. Despite the cuteness of it all, there is a sad moment when blind faith is rewarded with murder. That is truly how the world is, not so much as the fittest survive, but rather, the most cunning thrive.

Politics is well played with conditioning and constant re-conditioning of the minds. The mind is, after all, extremely forgetful. If a lie is repeated every day, the mind will soon accept it to be the truth. This is especially so when the mainstream media – that horrible Squealer – has the ability to turn black into white. Or is it white into black. Whichever way.

My favourite is the cat who mysteriously seems to have vanished mid-way through the book ……….

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

I found such great solace in this read that it is hard for me to express in words. “Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language”.

The never-ending debate about whether a book is writerly or readerly will always be there. Did the book happen to suit my situation or did i interpret the book accordingly in my situation? Just like many questions in life, there is no answer. And just like many past events in life, it doesnt really matter.

Life, sometimes, needs victims. Whether or not, one is indeed a victim, is simply a perspective. This perspective may or may not change as time passes by.

The good thing is, “not everything was lost in the flow of time.” Each of us definitely retains something precious and continues to hold on to it close at heart. For the living, just do your best to keep on living, even if your lives arent perfect.

The sun will still rise tomorrow … life continues … it is Monday again. Damn.

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Birthday Stories – Haruki Murakami

As the number in age gets greater, the list of reasons (excuses) for not reading gets longer. So now i will continue with a collection of short stories, some of which i like, and some i don’t. Which is my favourite? Read my thoughts below and make a guess …

“The Moor” (by Russell Banks)
Perhaps a trivial truth revealed is what makes the day great.

“Dundun” (by Denis Johnson)
A cycle of life and death as the death of one marks the birthday of another.

“Timothy’s Birthday” (by William Trevor)
A deliberate absence could be the most cruel present ever.

“The Birthday Cake” (by Daniel Lyons)
Is a cake really so important on a birthday?

“Turning” (by Lynda Sexson)
Not every riddle has an answer.

“Forever Overhead” (by David Foster Wallace)
Time comes to a standstill when one is in fear.

“Angel of Mercy, Angel of Death” (by Ethan Canin)
An obvious consistency in the overall inconsistency, be it subconsciously or purposely.

“The Birthday Present” (by Andrea Lee)
A mini escape from routine life under the disguise of an erotic present.

“The Bath” (by Raymond Carver)
Disconnection. Fragments. Questions.

“A Game of Dice” (by Paul Theroux)
For people who cannot be alone.

“Close to the Water’s Edge” (by Claire Keegan)
Close to water, close to grandma.

“The Ride” (by Lewis Robinson)
Side by side, but worlds apart.

“Birthday Girl” (by Haruki Murakami)
What is the (your) birthday wish?

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Lemonade Revealed – Will Chluho

The pretty yellow cover caught her attention. She bought the book and mailed it to me as a Christmas present. This was how it began.

Life is sometimes strange. Things happen for a reason, or perhaps for no reason, or maybe for reasons unknown to us, yet. She got the book purely out of aesthetic value; I read the book simply out of curiosity (obligation too, perhaps?). This is how I fell in love with the book.

Definitely a literature book – this was what I had on my mind while reading the first few pages. A part of my mind was wondering where or how she found this book. This would have been a lovely corpse for me to dissect during my study; I can imagine the fun of tearing out the pages and rearranging them for different perspectives – not to be taken literally of course.

This book offers everything but confirms nothing (a line I picked up from my lecturer previously). Duality is the main theme in this book as everything has two sides to it. It all depends how you want to see it. The choice is yours, as it always has been.

I love this book, for the fact that it does paint a realistic picture, by emphasizing on aspects that are beyond our control, unlike many other inspirational books that offer the notion of “if you think you can, you can”. (Wake up.)

But rather, it encourages people to do their best, and leave the rest (to the wind). Patience and foresight are very much needed then, as immediate results may not always be as desired but could very well be the best outcome at present.

This book has plenty of rereading value as it provides endless insights (but only if you have an open mind). The main takeaway for me in this first read is that “being good is not the same as being nice”; achievable only by people with a strong heart and a firm mind.

A big thank you to her, for placing the book in my path, somehow. I will be reading it again but I can lend it to you first …

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