Saturday, November 11, 2017

Never Let Me Go

A single question led me to read a 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, who was awarded the 2017 Swedish Academy Nobel Prize in Literature.

How about a read-along for Kazuo Ishiguro?  

The title of Dolce Bellezza's October 7 post was my impetus to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, a British novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer.  Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, the author's family moved to England in 1960.  On his Wikipedia page, Ishiguro says that growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was essential to his writing in that it gave him a different perspective from that of his British peers.

In order to participate in this read-along, I ordered a print copy of the book, which took a bit longer than usual to arrive, but not too long, luckily.  (I also needed to get new reading glasses, as I got super glue on one of the lenses, and so could only read with one eye for a few nights; this is not recommended.)  I used a lovely wooden Japanese bookmark that my daughter, Jasmine, gave to me as a gift, pictured, which enhanced my nightly reading.

Driving around the country now, I still see things that will remind me of Hailsham.
~ Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

I started reading Never Let Me Go without preconceived notions about it.  The book is an "alternative history" set in England in the late 1990s, narrated in the first person by Kathy H., a 31-year-old clone, who has been a "carer" helping "donors" for over eleven years.  This story is told through the filter of her memory.  Kathy's memories focus on Hailsham, an English boarding school, and her two best childhood friends, Ruth and Tommy, who are also clones.  Over the course of the story we learn that clone lifespans are brief, and so they fit a lot of living into a short period of time.
Never Let Me Go centers around an "ordinary" sort of love triangle that develops between the three main characters, Kathy ("Kath"), Ruth, and Tommy.  At Hailsham, their teachers, called "guardians", tell them they're special, and emphasize the importance of creative work, such as art.  During childhood, Tommy has various struggles, and is not very artistic, but eventually he starts to draw elaborate pictures of animals, which he thinks may be helpful later on.  Kathy is a "carer" for Tommy near the end of the book, but she has always looked after and cared for Tommy.

Tender and beautifully written, Never Let Me Go is a reflective novel about the importance of friendship, love, caring, and memory.  Kathy's memories are a source of comfort and consolation to her throughout the book. The title of this novel refers to a song that Kathy loved, and it may also refer to her desire to hold onto her memories of Ruth, Tommy, and Hailsham. This novel reminds us to make the most of our time here, whether it's short or long, to live with hope, and to value the little things, such as a gentle touch on the shoulder.

"What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood.  He knew he was close to completing and so that's what he was doing: getting me to describe things to him, so they'd really sink in, so that maybe during those sleepless nights with the drugs and the pain and the exhaustion, the line would blur between what were my memories and what were his. That was when I first understood, really understood, just how lucky we'd been--Tommy, Ruth, me, all the rest of us."
~ Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Warm thanks to Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza for hosting this read-along,  as well as the delectable Japanese Reading Challenge 11.  It is this continued reading challenge that initially enticed me to read novels by Japanese authors over the past few years--and I've enjoyed reading them very much!

Your comments are welcomed. Have you read this, or other works, by Kazuo Ishiguro? 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hygge for Readers (and for Wondrous Words Wednesday)


Have you heard of hygge?  Pronounced "hoo-ga", this Danish word can be used as a verb or as a noun. This term has become popular in America over the past year or so.  Although there's no direct translation of the word in English, here's the description of hygge from Wikipedia:

"Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)."    

Wikipedia states that hygge might originate from the word 'hug', and in both Danish and Norwegian, it refers to a form of everyday togetherness.  To me, hygge means something that brings a feeling of warmth, that contributes to "the cozy factor".  If, like me, you're interested in exploring this concept further, there's a book called The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute.  It sounds like a book I need to get!

I think dogs contribute to hygge as well.  Dogs are cute, dogs are snuggly, and their charming presence may increase hygge (cats, may, too, though currently we are catless). I've noticed more dogs appearing in ads, especially for home furnishings and decor, over the past year.  One of the places I like to read is on this loveseat.  It's firm yet comfortable, and there's a lamp on the side table, if I need extra light.  My dog, Daisy, has her special corner of the loveseat, unless I join her with a book. Then, she'll usually sit on me.

One of my favorite spots to read

I enjoy decorating, and I look at furniture online sometimes.  Occasionally I even order something for the house, like the loveseat in the photo, which is also a futon.  Recently, I was asked the question: How do I envision the perfect reading nook?  While I thought about this, the term hygge quickly came to mind.  I found some great living room furniture on the Arhaus website that would complement my decor, and add more hygge to the house.  Arhaus has elegant, modern yet "vintage-y" home furnishings that look appealing and well-made.

This wall sconce would provide light and style to a reading area.

Arhaus Wall Sconce
To readers, a cozier-than-thou chair is an invitation to read.

Arhaus Chair and Throws

I like the look and feel of this living room bench, which could "multitask" and come in handy. :)

Arhaus Living Room Bench

Ideally, there are several places for reading in your home.  How do you envision your reading nook, or nooks?  Is hygge important to you?


Hosted each week by Kathy from BermudaOnion's Weblog, Wondrous Words Wednesday is a wonderful way to celebrate words.  Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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