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Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

BOOK review
Started on: 7.June.2015
Finished on: 7.June.2015

Title : The Strange Library
Author : Haruki Murakami
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Pages :  77 pages
Year of Publication : 2014
Price : $ 14.59 (

Rating: 3/5
"Why do I act like this, agreeing when I really disagree, letting people force me to do things I don’t want to do?"
This short tale is about a boy who visited the library because he wanted to return some books and was curious about the tax system in the Ottoman Empire. Inside the library, he was directed to a room where he met a strange old man. The old man provided him the books he wanted; but unfortunately those books have to be read in the library—well, in the 'reading room', to be exact. The boy followed the old man through a long and windy path to the so-called reading room. It was too late when the boy realized that the reading room is actually a jail cell.

"At the same time, my anxiety had turned into an anxiety quite lacking in anxiousness. And any anxiety that is not especially anxious is, in the end, an anxiety hardly worth mentioning."
While he was imprisoned, he met a sheep man who makes delicious donuts and also a pretty girl who talks with her hands. The sheep man then told the boy the reason why the old man kept him in the room to read thick books. It was because the old man enjoys eating small boy's brains; and brains full of information are nice and creamy. Later on, the boy planned on escaping with the help of the sheep man and the girl. But will he be able to?
"All I did was go to the library to borrow some books."
"I am totally alone. No mother. No pet starling. No sheep man. No girl. I lie here by myself in the dark at two o’clock in the morning and think about the cell in the library basement. About how it feels to be alone, and the depth of the darkness surrounding me. Darkness as pitch black as the night of the new moon."  
As this was my first experience reading a Haruki Murakami book, I thought it wasn't so bad—because I heard a lot weirder things about his writing. Don't get me wrong, this book is still weird and very strange, like the title stated. But I find myself enjoying Murakami's writing despite the strangeness of it all. The book is written from the perspective of the boy, whose name we do not know. In fact, none of the characters in this book has name; they're just called according to what they appear to be. The old man, sheep man, and the girl. I don't really have much to say about the plot because the book is only 77-pages long, and most of it I already wrote in my summary above.

I'm not sure if I fully understood the meaning behind the story or not. This book made me question whether what happened throughout the story is real or just the boy's imagination. And somehow I think there's some kind of connection between what happened to the boy in that strange library and what happened afterwards. Anyways, the story is very vague—and I guess it's up to the readers' imagination to interpret the story. I'm actually the type of reader who doesn't think too deeply about a book; and from what I can see this book emphasizes a lot on the narrator's fear of many things. Maybe the whole story wanted to depict the narrator's fear of what's going to happen at the end of the story. Of course I won't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't read it, but that's just my personal thought.
"The tricky thing about mazes is that you don’t know if you’ve chosen the right path until the very end. If it turns out you were wrong, it’s usually too late to go back and start again."
The best part about this book—and what encouraged me to rate this book 3/5—is the beautiful layout and illustrations that completes the story. I've got the UK edition of this book and I love how it's so beautifully designed. Some of the pages looks a bit old and decayed, just like some old books we see in libraries. Several times the text are blended into the illustration; one of them is where the text reads "But it's pitch black" is printed on a completely black page. I think the eerie illustrations fit perfectly with the tone of the story: strange and haunting. Here are some pictures to show you a little bit of what's inside the book :))


Even though I wasn't particularly loving this book, I still enjoyed it and felt that it was quite a nice introduction to Murakami's writing—at least it didn't put me off too much. I can definitely sense his peculiar writing style; especially through several similes in the book that I cannot seem to understand; For example: "I can read the two of you as easily as I can a watermelon patch in broad daylight". Well, for those of you who're planning to read this book, prepare yourself for something really weird. Although plot-wise, I still think Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane is a lot weirder and even more difficult to comprehend. If you like absurd stories or a fan of Neil Gaiman's writing, this book might be right up your alley. So don't judge this book according to my personal opinion because I'm not very used to surreal stories. This might not be my last time reading a Murakami book, but I really don't know where to start. Feel free to recommend me some other books by Murakami, or share your thoughts about this book if you've read it :))

by.stefaniesugia♥ .


  1. seriously? gambar ulat? tepar ... aku baca norwegian wood sama 1q84, setuju, aku dapetnya juga murakami sering menyerahkan pada pembaca mau gimana pembaca mengintrepetasikan ceritanya, selalu vague. blm bc ini...

    1. Aku belum baca novelnya Haruki Murakami yang lain; bingung mau mulai dari mana xD

  2. I just put it to my TBR list :)
    l love Murakami, he has his special way to say things
    I recommend his book Kafka on the shore❤.

    PS, I love ur blog ❤
    + can I know which Camera do u use?

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll keep that in mind ;)
      I use a Sony A5100 to take pictures ;)


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