This Book is everywhere!!! Someone high up on book Olympus has decided that this should be one of the books of the summer. Every book shop I’ve walked past has been proudly displaying it in their windows and as I’ve never walked past a book shop without going in, this novel ended up in my most recent purchase pile. Yes, it’s a pile. I don’t think I’ve ever bought one book in a shop. It’s a three novel minimum for me.
The idea behind the book is strangely beautiful. A man who spends his days operating a machine that recycles books by mashing them to a pulp saves random pages each day from the machine floor. Each morning on the train he reads them out loud to the other passengers who all love him for it. There’s no set programme, he goes from recipes to mysteries to romances. As soon as one page is ended he moves on. In his mind it’s a way to pay homage to the books that have been destroyed. This continues until he finds a memory stick on the train one day. On the drive is a diary of a toilet attendant. The next day, instead of reading his random pages he starts to read the diary out loud to the passengers. He then realises he is in love with her and sets out to find the toilet attendant of his dreams and return the memory stick to her.
I can see why this is going to be the book of the summer. At only 200 pages it’s a quick and easy read that many people will like. Its light hearted but still has enough emotion to keep you engaged and the characters are eccentric enough to be diverting. It’s the kind of book that people will take on holiday with them to read by the pool, or they’ll spend a bank holiday buried in it. For people who don’t read regularly it will be an appealing choice due to its length and lack of serious themes.
For me the book didn’t leave an impression. It was good, but that’s all I can really use to describe it. One of the main problems with this story is its length. Whilst this will endear it to many readers I found that the plot lacked true resolution. Lots of sub plots and different characters are introduced through the first 100 pages but once the diary is found we seem to lose them all together. It’s rare that I will think a book needs to be longer. Usually it’s quite the opposite and I want to know why the author decided to waffle on quite so much about nothing Cough Moby Dick Cough. This book could have been 100 pages longer and I would have been quite happy. The 200 pages are very good and even though it’s a translation there’s a wonderful flow to the language. Perhaps that’s why I was left feeling a touch empty at the end. I had discovered a great narrative voice and then lost it very suddenly.
I would recommend this book to people but I wouldn’t give it the excited, manic and slightly crazed recommendation that I have for others. If people want quick reads that aren’t overly strenuous then there are better choices available. Look out for my upcoming post on Books to enjoy this summer.
Who should read this book? If you want light hearted literature with decent characters and a bit of feel good romance then read this book. If you’re looking for anything more than that, I’d stay away. You’ll probably end up feeling slight disgruntled and a little let down. If someone asked me to sum up this book in one word then nice, good and pleasant would be some that come to mind. Not exactly a wowing review. Then again considering some I’ve done in the past, it’s pretty good!