Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami | Review

Pages: 480

Genre: fiction, magical realism, japan


Do I pretend like I know what this book was about? 

Rating out of five:


This book was great *looks nervously around*. No, it was actually good, the main guy Kafka ends up living in a library, so of course it’s great. But this book is intricate and has so many hidden meanings that I haven’t yet deciphered. It deserves a second read through, at least. I’m almost angry at this book, at how confusing and well written it is.

Murakami’s might explain it better himself; “Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write”.

Let’s just say it’s one magical and fantastic story. And also magical realism, which I love. Would absoloutly recommend it.   

It’s following different storylines, some I cared less about than others, but all are important and make sense in the end. There’s Kafka who’s fifteen and have run away from home, the main plotline. There’s Nakata, an old man that during world war 2 was a part of a group of schoolchildren who all suddenly lost consciousness in the woods. He lost his memories and became mentally challenged, but gained the ability to talk to cats. He uses his time to search for lost cats. He’s great. 

There’s a lot more characters, lots of mysteries in this book and lots of surprises. I adore this book, and perhaps I’ll figure out what it all means someday. I heard reading Murakami’s other books might help, so I’ll start there. “Kafka on the shore” doesn’t have one clear plot and it’s one of the things I love most about it.

My Favourite Podcasts: Books and mythology

Could I have a book blog and not post my book podcast recommendations? I’ve already given my favourite general two-dudes-talking type here and science and productivity podcasts here.

– books and mythology –

The Legendarium

  • They read and discuss fantasy series. The biggest book series they’ve covered is Brandon Sanderson’s books, Wheel of Time, Lord of the Rings and they’ve recently started Narnia. In between there’s discussions on movies and tv series, like Black Panther.

Unattended Consequences

  • Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles) and Max Temkin from the podcast Do By Friday and the game Cards Against Humanity.
  • Currently inactive, but it’s perfect for fans and book lovers

Reading Glasses

  • Discusses books, book items and interview authors


  • Mythology, legends and lore from all cultures told by two hosts with a drink in hand. The themes varies widly, which I appreciate and along with the discussions it keeps it interesting. Personal favourites are nr. 55 Yuki-Onna, nr 43 Javanese Mermaid Queen, nr 40 Laumes and nr 32 The Butterfly Lovers.

Poetry Off the Shelf

  • About poetry, obviously. Each episode seems to have a theme, The Wilderness is the first episode of series called A Change of World, and was amazing as it included women’s place in poetry from the 1800th century to now. They read poems out loud, and it’s wonderful, thought-provoking and calming.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Pages: 559
Genre: fiction, contemporary


Lessons I learned from this book:

  • The characters are pretentious fucks and very lovable
  • Do not study greek; way too dramatic, too many dead people
  • To be like Richard – always do your homework, no matter how many life-changing secrets was revealed that week
  • The line between romanticizing and actual love is difficult. Both can kill
  • If they strike you as a cult and people talk about them as a cult, you probably should be on guard at least
  • Being the drug-selling jock is better than the rich and self-aware snob because at least you’ve learned how to run a business
  • Twins in books are always freaky, even if I love these ones dearly


Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

My thoughts 


First reaction when finishing this book was simply; no. This book was depressing and overwhelming, making me question every action the characters had taken throughout the book as well as everything else in life (wow it’s turned me dramatic), but it was fucking great. I would recommend it to everyone. Maybe not everyone, I can think of a couple persons who would look at me in horror afterwards. Don’t know what that says about me, but there’s something so special about it; even past the brilliant writing, the murder and the fabulous bonding and group dynamic.

You can read this book two ways, the way I see it. Either as the murder mystery it is, in similar fashion (although this book is older) as “How to get away with murder”, the tv series. It has elements in common when it comes to both structure, it’s a murder mystery in reverse in the sense of it starting with the murder and backtracking from there, as well as both revolves around a group of college kids. The other way too read it would be to dive into it head first AKA seeing it from the character’s perspective, interested in the big philosophy the ancient greek’s are known for for varying reasons. You quickly realize it’s not as much about who killed someone, but why. It’s certainly a question that affects everyone lives, making or breaking their destinies.

There’s lots of characters introduced throughout the book, but the story mainly revolves around the five greek students and their peculiar and charming professor Julian Morrow. He refuses to teach bigger classes, keeps the program closed off from the rest of the school and gets away with it – because that’s how good he is at the subject. No wonder there are rumors about the group, strange and nerdy as they are where they wander around together, occasionally speaking greek or other strange languages, discussing philosophy or other matters of great importance in their world. Mostly they just get drunk off their asses and travels to their mansion of a hideaway out in the country. It’s a good mix.

We hear the story from Richard Papen’s point of view as his poor, pretentious self manages to half-trick half-impress his way into this class and group. He’s the most relatable thing about the book as he struggles with loneliness and distance; it’s just the way he sees the world, constantly watching and thinking, but at least he’s found others like him. The distance he tells the story with terrifies me, even with considering if it’s something he’s picked up after the incidents that shaped his life (I think not). But certainly it makes an interesting fit when it comes to how this story is told, through the eyes of someone so in love with them all, but also more self-aware.

Beauty is terror, according to this book, but it’s also a thing of quite the obsession. At least to Richard Papen. As all of them, he’s messed up, but the aesthetic beauty he values so highly really colors the story and how the characters are perceived. Not that they’re all glorified, more described as the greek gods they study, above everyone else, but certainly with human flaws and a mundane realness as we see them study and frustrate over homework. Just look at how Richard describes his first meeting with the group that would become his friends;

“I was confused by this sudden glare of attention; it was as if the characters in a favorite painting, absorbed in their own concerns, had looked up out of the canvas and spoken to me.”

He wants to figure the world out through studying the greek philisophers as much as he wants to figure out people by studying them. Meeting people who are as guarded and secretive as himself intrigues him, being what creates this story.

I laughed out loud multiple times throughout this book, which is weird because it’s not meant to be humoring. Still, in the way it takes surreal events and makes them real and genuine, there’s something so surprising when you snap out of it and realize what just happened. What you just accepted without questioning because it sounded so natural when told by Richard Papen. What a peculiar mind these guys have, and it was lovely to live through it for a while, even if I’ll stay the hell out of ancient greek studies. I wondered how the book would end, and I still can’t really say formulate what I think about it. If you’ve read the book, please let me know your thoughts.


– favourite quotes – 

“I liked the idea of living in a city—any city, especially a strange one—liked the thought of traffic and crowds, of working in a bookstore, waiting tables in a coffee shop, who knew what kind of odd, solitary life I might slip into? Meals alone, walking the dogs in the evenings; and nobody knowing who I was.”

Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”

“In short: I felt my existence was tainted, in some subtle but essential way.”

“He refused to see anything about any of us except our most engaging qualities, which he cultivated and magnified to the exclusion of all our tedious and less desirable ones.”

“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell. “

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu


A collection of short stories by a brilliant, bestselling chinese author. It’s a great mix of fantasy, magical realism, fiction and science fiction here, along with chinese elements and culture being central in many stories.


“Time’s arrow if the loss of fidelity in compression. A sketch, not a photograph. A memory is a re-creation, precious because it is both more and less than the original.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Each story is like its own universe and it takes some time to get into it, but it’s very worth it when you’re rereading each story three times in a row and marvel at the nuances, writing and genuine brilliance.

I wondered whether to make small reviews of each story, but I feel like it would give too much away. The best way to get into this book is by knowing it’s incredible and go pick it up right away with little extra info. Still, if you’re not convinced, here’s what you can expect from this collection; stories about “The bookmaking habit of select species”, an AI utopia that you might actually want to live in, hujing; beings who are both fox and human, chinese calligraphy and deadly fear of communism / plain racism, being chinese in america, simulacrums; illusions of people stuck in time, aliens, Guan Yu the chinese god of war visiting America (American Gods vibes from that one, it was awesome), immense sacrifices and a few that will make you teary eyed including about unit 731 and the biological warfare and experimentation in China during WW2.


Some of the stories are incredibly important and heartfelt, like the one about unit 371, based on horrible historical events I’d never heard before. Others are a good mix of that social commentary and entertainment, while some are simply, but not simple, fun fantasies. Everything has layers, so much creativity and originality, I love this book and it’s one of my favourite reads, at least this year. I have to go read more Ken Liu books now.