[488]: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami


murakamiGOODREADS SUMMARY | Knopf Canada | Paperback, 96 pages | December 2nd, 2014 | Young Adult Fiction | Rating 3 out of 5 Stars

Murakami is another author whose work I’ve yet to experience. I’m told he’s brilliant. I’m told he pulls his readers into fantastic realms believable enough for them to consider it their versions of reality. This one is an oddity of a book. One whose purpose and intention remain a mystery to me. I read this book a couple of weeks ago. And at 96 pages – Β half of which, are illustrations – I am at least afforded the luxury of a multiple re-reads. But man, I’m still scratching my head on this one.

first strangeThe Strange Library is a short novel about a boy whose thirst for knowledge landed him in a prison-like stint in the basement of his local library. As he returns the books he borrowed previously, the voracious reader decides to read up on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire. His mother always taught him that “If you don’t know something, go to the library and look it up.”Β The librarian directs him to Β Room 107, where an old man guards the door like Hades guards the gates of hell. He then gives him three books upon which he’ll learn that he’d need to memorize in order to leave the premises.

In the jail cell, the boy will meet the sheep-clad man in charge of feeding him, and a pretty shape-shifting girl in charge of bringing him the food. Throughout the course of his imprisonment, he is sadden with thoughts about his mother and his pet starling. He befriends the sheep man and the girl, and convinces them to help him break out.

This book is wildly imaginative. I’ll give it that. It reads more for the younger audience. It reminds me Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane; a short tome meant to put the readers’ mind in a series of light calisthenics. In the end I walked away with the knowledge that my imagination does not have the capacity to handle certain authors, and I have a feeling Murakami and I will not get along. I’ll give him another go, though.


  • Murakami, Coelho, Gaiman. I’ve heard nothing but praises for these men but I have yet to experience their greatness. Oh, I did try reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood but I didn’t finish it because I couldn’t understand what it was trying to say. I was intimidated, to be honest. But I am willing to give him another try and since The Strange Library is short, I think it’ll be the best choice.

  • Huh. Somehow I completely passed this one by. I’m dying to read some Murakami, but I don’t know what book I’d start with. Apparently small doesn’t mean simple, eh? πŸ™‚ I hope you like whatever you read from him next more!

    • This one’s pretty tiny. I’m sure you can read it in like, 20 minutes, tops.

  • This books seems a bit.. weird, lol πŸ˜€ But I’m glad you managed to like it Joy. <3 And I do think that cover is pretty interesting πŸ˜€ Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this book sweetie. <3

  • The cover for this one is really weird to be honest. And is this just a short story or children’s? I really like Murakami’s writing, but then again, I only read one book by him, and it was mostly because I wanted to feel intellectual, and not because I wanted to. So maybe I’ll try another book by him one day, but I don’t know.

    Awesome review Joy. I think the story itself is cool, and random, and kind of weird. hahaha

    • This one is a good intro, I think. Because it’s such a short novel, it gives non-readers a brief taste.

  • I know Murakami is brilliant, but his writing is not really for me. πŸ™

    • I think I’ll give him another go. We’ll see how I make out after.

  • This sounds very… um strange. I’ve been considering reading this book. Thanks for reviewing it, because I will now skip it. It just doesn’t sound like this book and I will gel up well together. πŸ˜€

    • It was a little odd. I think I’ll try another one of his, though. πŸ™‚

  • I have actually never tried a book by him

    • Before this one? You and me both. πŸ™‚

  • I don’t think I’ve heard about this author but it’s interesting to have such an imaginative world like that. But well I confess it’s not a book I would have considered. Now? Maybe I should try one day to see how his books are. thanks for the review!

    • Well, if you’d like a taste, then this one is probably recommended because it’s such a tiny book. πŸ™‚

  • I’ve heard many a good things about Murakami, but never really read anything by him, and this is my first time hearing about this book. I admit I love the sound of it, and would love to get lost in such an imaginative world. But it also does seem somewhat strange, haha. Anyhow, great review, Joe!

    • OH GOSH, Joy* I meant Joy. I swear these typos are gonna be the cause of my humiliating death.

    • πŸ™‚ I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. If wildly imaginative world is what you’re after.

  • I haven’t read any Murakami but I did enjoy Gaiman’s OCEAN so I might give this a go. It’s a beautiful book, that’s for sure! And I love imaginative narratives and really have been meaning to get into this author’s work so I hope I enjoy this. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Joy! πŸ™‚

    • You’ll probably fare better than I did, K. It was all lost on me.

  • Sounds like a trip! Is this adapted into anime or something? I think the story would be entertaining to watch on screen! Happy weekend!

    • You’re so right. It would look absolutely great on the small or big screen. πŸ™‚

  • I love to escape to strange, creative, vivid books that almost are sensory overload (sometimes) and this sounds like a great choice with its strange library setting. I’ll keep this one in mind, and I’ve never heard of the author (maybe I’m under a rock, lol) so thanks for the discovery, Joy!

    Have a wonderful weekend!! πŸ™‚

    • This takes the strange into a whole another level. πŸ˜‰

  • This does sound way interesting and very creative for sure! A library jail stint? I love it! You have to love those books that stay with you, even when the feelings left behind are slightly strange and have you all mixed up.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    • Thank you, Ali! I hope you’ll have a fantastic weekend as well. πŸ™‚

  • I’ve never heard of this one, but that does sound wildly imaginative. My sister likes reading books like these, so I’ll have to recommend this one to her! Great review, Joy!

    • Thanks, Nick! Definitely for a much younger audience, I thought.

  • I actually have that one on my TBR list. It sounds awesome.

    I did nominate you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! I really, really love your blog and yours is one I visit on a regular basis. πŸ™‚ Here is the link: http://bookbinges.blogspot.it/2015/01/sisterhood-of-world-bloggers-award.html

    • Thanks, Cyn! I’ll have to write my post sometime this weekend. I hope. *fingers crossed*

  • My sister is a huge Murakami fan but I find his books to be slightly intimidating. Here’s a little tidbit I heard/read somewhere: he is extremely regimented. He wakes up every morning at 4 am and writes for exactly 6 hours. He is also a runner, and a successful/competitive one at that. Highly motivated people like that scare the living daylights out of me. πŸ™‚

    • Wow. I can just imagine how organize his thoughts are. No wonder he can create something like this in such short pages.

  • Finally, a kindred Murakami spirit. I have tried SO hard to get into his books, but I just don’t ‘get’ it. Kafka on the Shore left me confused, bemused and even a little bit annoyed. Norwegian Wood was less weird, but also a bit of a nothing. So…I got nothing. I’ll be interested to read your reviews of whatever of his you read next.

    • I thought I’d start small since it’s my first Murakami. I would love to see what the big deal is, so I still want to continue. πŸ˜‰