This week’s topic is Rainy Day Reads. Though it hardly rains in Southern California, I love rainy days. It’s the perfect weather for tea, comfort food, and books. Here are my picks for my favorite rainy day reads. And yes, all the synopsis are from Goodreads.
After Dark by Haruki Murakami: A short, sleek novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn, and every bit as gripping as Haruki Murakami’s masterworks The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore.
At its center are two sisters—Eri, a fashion model slumbering her way into oblivion, and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s toward people whose lives are radically alien to her own: a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before, a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maid staff, and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart, and it soon becomes clear that Eri’s slumber—mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime—will either restore or annihilate her.
After Dark moves from mesmerizing drama to metaphysical speculation, interweaving time and space as well as memory and perspective into a seamless exploration of human agency—the interplay between self-expression and empathy, between the power of observation and the scope of compassion and love. Murakami’s trademark humor, psychological insight, and grasp of spirit and morality are here distilled with an extraordinary, harmonious mastery.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.
Annarasumanara by Ha Il Kwon: A rumor goes around school about an abandoned amusement park and a magician who lives there that can make someone disappear for good. Yoon Ah-ee, a girl struggling to feed her sister and herself everyday will experience her life change as she meets a mysterious magician.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, & then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life & stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.” A summer evening’s ghost stories, lonely insomnia in a moonlit Alpine’s room & a runaway imagination–fired by philosophical discussions with Lord Byron & Percy Bysshe Shelley about science, galvanism & the origins of life–conspired to produce for Mary Shelley this haunting night specter. By morning, it had become the germ of her Romantic masterpiece,Frankenstein.
Written in 1816 when she was only 19, Shelley’s novel of “The Modern Prometheus” chillingly dramatized the dangerous potential of life begotten upon a laboratory table. A frightening creation myth for our own time, Frankenstein remains one of the greatest horror stories ever written & is an undisputed classic of its kind.
Sakamichi No Apollon (Kids On The Slope) by Yuki Kodama:
Nishimi Kaoru has moved from city to city and school to school because of his father’s job, so the first day at his new school was just routine for him. Being intellectual and the new transfer student, he has always been seen as an outcast, and all Kaoru had to do was bear it until the next time he moved. But things were slightly different this time. First, he started to get close to the class president, Mukae Ritsuko, and, secondly, unlikely as it seemed, grew closer to Kawabuchi Sentaro. Sentaro was infamous for getting into fights, skipping class and was an overall bad boy. Strangely enough, the three of them find common ground in music, namely jazz, and Kaoru finds himself actually enjoying the new town. (Synopsis from MangaHelpers)
I finished Annarasumanra today and I feel really sad, and it was definitely underrated. I really enjoyed this series, it was a fun quick read. It’s just three volumes, 27 chapters long. It’s easy to find since it’s posted on manga sites. I read the story on Mangapark.com.
Vol 3: Na Il-Deung and Yoon Ah-ee are now believers in magic, but others view them as foolish. The final volume was really sad. The magician’s past is revealed and he is blamed for a robbery that he did not commit. The magician is blamed for the crime and is seen as criminal. Na Il-Deung and Yoon Ah-ee are the only ones to believe in the magician and try to prove that he is innocent. Before the final chapter, Yoon Ah-ee performs a magic trick to help the magician escape and it starts to snow in the summer. The final chapter takes place three years later, Yoon Ah-ee is now working as a magician and Na Il-Deung finally gets a date with her. The magician is still gone, Yoon Ah-ee wonders where he has gone off to, but her magic has gotten better. She still writes letters to her mother, Minyeo, and to the magician himself. The final line of the manhwa is “Do you believe in magic?”.
Commentary: At first I thought this manhwa was going to be about a magical love relationship between Yoon Ah-ee and the magician, but it is more than that. It’s a story about being pure, innocent, and childlike. It’s about never letting go of your dream and becoming a conformist like the rest of society. Lee Eul, whose actual name is Ryu Min Hyuk, was exactly like Na Il-Deung, when he was in high school. Everyone expected him to be number one, to become successful, and be like everyone else a conformist. As soon as he kept trying to break out of the norm, people around him kept seeing him as mentally ill or stressed out, but in reality, he was enjoying his new found freedom. If you can compare the magician to any other ficitonal character, it would be Peter Pan. He never wanted to grow up. He showed up at the right time for both Yoon Ah-ee and Na Il-Deung because he guided them in the right path. Yoon Ah-ee desperately wanted to become an adult in order to solve her problems, but lost gave up her dreams in the process. Yoon Ah-ee realizes that she is more scared of becoming an adult than she thought. I also liked how Na Il-Deung was also important to this short story because his old life was identical to the magician. Na Il-Deung was able to find his freedom as well. In the previous volumes, he was portrayed with a very long neck and big head, and on the final volume, when he discovers that he is free from his “curse”, he is portrayed as differently
I really enjoyed the story, it is very memorable. The ending was bittersweet, but I really liked the ending. I would recommend this manhwa because it is realistic. When you’re an adult, people expect you to be so many things that you start losing part of your childlike innocence. It was refreshing and I would reread this manhwa again. The animation is also beautiful!
Volume 2: I did not mention this in my previous review, but the protagonist Yoon Ah-ee keeps writing letters to her mother in most of the chapters. I thought her mother was dead the whole time, but it was revealed on the last chapter of the volume that her mother had abandoned her and her family when Yoon Ah-ee’s father went bankrupt. Yoon Ah-ee still felt unsure about he magician. It is in this volume where the reader finally learns the magician’s name which is Lee Eul and he is thirty years old. He moved into town about a year before the story takes place. He is lonely and likes Yoon Ah-ee, he declares it to her when she wants to give up learning magic. At this point, I am not sure that he likes her romantically, but Yoon Ah-ee does seem to have a small crush on him. Though she doesn’t want to be involved with Lee Eul, she is drawn to him. Na Il-Deung is the comedic relief in this manhwa. He stalks Yoon Ah-ee went she goes to her magic lessons, although she has no clue, and slowly becomes interested in learning magic himself. The best moment from this volume was when he finally met Lee Eul and he declared himself to be the magician’s rival for the love of Yoon Ah-ee. Lee Eul does not take him seriously.
First Impressions: I really like the direction this manhwa is going. I am liking the characters, Na Il-Deung is my favorite character. I really like his character development because in the first volume he cared about his status at being the number one student at school to now being a boy seeking to find his own path in life. I thought it was really cute to see him become fascinated with magic that he slowly stopped caring about his status. He wanted to learn magic at first to impress the girl, but then started to become passionate about it. I really like this volume because Lee Eul finally convinces Yoon Ah-ee that he is a real magician when he takes her back to her past, the specific moment after her mother abandoned her. I felt really sad for Lee Eul when his parrot, Minyeo, died. It was sad seeing his world start to crumble and it turned worst when Hana, a girl that goes to school with Yoon Ah-ee and Na Il-Deung, showed up and caused him to become angry. Though this volume gave a little bit information on the magician, I am hoping for the last volume to reveal more about his past.
I was browsing for new manga to read since I’ve finished Hirunaka No Ryuusei (it was amazing, I was sad that it ended, but it was a great love story). I’ve never read any Korean webtoons, and it got my interest. So far, I really like it 🙂
Volume #1: We are introduced to Yoon Ah-ee, a high school student living in poverty with her sister. Her father has left her and her sister to live on their on. She is hardworking, shy, and one of the smartest students in her school. Yoon Ah-ee is financially struggling and tries to provide what little she has to her younger sister. There is a rumor going around in the school about an insane magician who lives alone in an abandoned amusement park. One day, Yoon Ah-ee stumbles onto the amusement park and is introduced to the magician. When she was younger, she loved magic and wanted to become a magician, but as she grew older, she stopped believing in her dream and magic. The magician tries to prove to her that magic exists by helping her out whenever she asks for her. Though, Yoon Ah-ee keeps telling the magician that magic is not real, he tells her that he’ll continue to wait for her until she is ready to believe. Then there is her rival, Na Il-Deung, sits next to her and slowly becomes infatuated with her. He eventually asks her out, but she rejects him. He doesn’t why she rejected him since he is used to having his way because he lives in a life of luxury. On the last chapter, he pays Yoon Ah-ee money for her to get a score lower than him because she needs the money. She accepts his proposal, but she does it in order to survive her poverty.
First Impressions: I like the characters so far and the artwork is amazing. I can’t wait to continue reading to find out what happens. I really hope that Yoon Ah-ee and the magician get together. My favorite character is Na Il-Deung and I love the way he is drawn.