Friday, December 5, 2014

Libraries have basements?

The Strange Library

By Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Knopf 

Pub. Date: December 2, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


 The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami is both different and very typical for the author. First written in 1982 but first published in 2006, this newly released version is made so much more unusual being presented in its odd paperback design with quirky illustrations by Chip Kidd. I can see this being instantly picked up by the Murakami completist and those wanting a different literary Christmas present. I am sure the December 2014 release was not coincidental. It reads a bit like a children's tale yet you may not want it for your child especially if you are encouraging them to read! The idea of a man who forces a boy to read so he can suck out his information filled brain may not go well with some. Yet it is the kind of strangeness we expect from the author most unjustly ignored by the Nobel committee. As the story starts, the young protagonist goes to the library and is sent to the basement to find more books. "Libraries have basement?" was pretty much my response as well as the boy's yet he diligently goes down the stairs. When he arrives he is trapped by an old man and forced to read books about Ottoman tax collectors. In typical Murakami style, he meets a sheep man and a mysterious girl who also are trapped. There is not much more of the story except for them to attempt to escape but it fits right into the author's world borrowing a little from his other works yet being its own kind of fable without a moral. Overall, it is a fun romp made even more mysterious by the aforementioned illustrations and book design. Mandatory reading for the Murakami fan and just a wild little ride for everyone else.


  1. The Carnegie Libraries were usually built with a lecture/meeting room in the basement. It's actually quite common, at least in places old enough to have a Carnegie Library or three.

  2. I sure they do. But I'm pretty sure there are no prison cells in the Carnegie Library basement. Besides, I'm on the West Coast. What do I know about basements?