Happy Tuesday everyone! It is the second day of the week already but I hope everyone is doing well and is safe. Tuesdays also mean one thing, a Top Ten Tuesday update! Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s given topic is Hilarious Book Titles
Going through the list of books I have read, unfortunately, I cannot find that many titles I would find hilarious or witty even. As such, I have decided to tweak this week’s topic a bit. Rather than “hilarious” book titles, I am featuring unusual book titles that caught my attention. They are not necessarily hilarious or witty but there was something about these titles that immediately piqued my interest, that made me want to immerse myself in them despite having little to no iota on what they were about.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Synopsis: Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn’t want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But as it turns out, Allan will not…
Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan’s earlier life is revealed. A life in which – remarkably – he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Synopsis: Hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is Haruki Murakami’s deep dive into the very nature of consciousness.
Across two parallel narratives, Murakami draws readers into a mind-bending universe in which Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is a novel that is at once hilariously funny and a deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Synopsis: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born – a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam and spans to Hartford, Connecticut – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, it is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Synopsis: Carson McCullers’ prodigious first novel was published to instant acclaim when she was just twenty-three. Set in a small town in the middle of the deep South, it is the story of John Singer, a lonely deaf-mute, and a disparate group of people who are drawn towards his kind, sympathetic nature. The owner of the café where Singer eats every day, a young girl desperate to grow up, an angry drunkard, a frustrated black doctor: each pours their heart out to Singer, their silent confidant, and he in turn changes their disenchanted lives in ways they could never imagine.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Synopsis: The setting for these defeated lives is a mental institution. The teller of the story, a half-Indian and a long-time inmate, has made the most complete retreat from life of all of them; he will not talk, and he has fooled the staff into thinking he is deaf and dumb. But through his self-imposed protective fog he is an acute observer. His vision of the life around him seems to have a truth which is beyond the definitions of sanity or insanity. To him the world is run by an all-powerful “Combine.” The heart of the war, the “Big Nurse,” is the chief instrument of evil. She wields her insidious power over the men to destroy their wills and freeze them into mindless obedience.
Into this gray world comes McMurphy, a brawling, gambling man, full of spirit and a glorious lust for life. He is horrified by the docility with which the other men accept the rule of the Big Nurse and decides to fight her on her own terms. The battle begins, for him, as a lark – a way of winning the bets he has made with the men. And then, as he becomes more aware of the terrible dangers in it, and more committed to the others who have come to count on him for their own survival, his decision to go on is a heroic act of sacrifice and compassion. (Source: Goodreads)
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones
Synopsis: In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister. It’s a cautionary tale, about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers and go into Baxter’s Tunnels.
When she’s grown, Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma, whose thwarted burglary of one of the beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences: A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven into the Tunnels, by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom – and their lives.
How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intimate and visceral portrayal of interconnected lives, across race and class, told by an astonishing new author of literary fiction.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Synopsis: One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published – perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
Synopsis: In 2007, TIME magazine named him one of the most influential people in the world. He has been a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. The New York Times Book Review called him simply “a genius.” Now David Mitchell lends fresh credence to the Guardian‘s claim that “each of his books seems entirely different from which preceded it.” The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a stunning departure for this brilliant, restless, and wildly ambitious author, a giant leap forward by even his own high standards. A bold and epic novel of a rarely visited point in history, it is a work as exquisitely rendered as it is irresistibly readable.
The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancee back in Holland.
But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”
A magnificent mix of luminous writing, prodigious research, and heedless imagination, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the most impressive achievement of its eminent author.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Synopsis: Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Perfect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together, this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars.
Setting: Outer Space
Wouldn’t it be cool to explore the world beyond us?
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburō Ōe
Synopsis: The first novel by Japan’s most celebrated living writer, Nip The Buds, Shoot the Kids recounts the exploits of fifteen teenage reformatory boys evacuated to a remote mountain village in wartime. The narrator who acts as nominal leader of the small band, his younger brother and their comrades are all delinquent outcasts, feared and detested by the local peasants. When plague breaks out, their hosts abandon them and flee, then blockade them inside the empty village, together with a young Korean, an army deserter and a girl evacuee. However, the boys’ brief, doomed attempt to build autonomous lives of self-respect, love and tribal valour inevitably fails with the reflux of death and the adult nightmare of war.
Nip The Buds, Shoot the Kids encapsulates all the qualities that distinguish Oe’s writing: his radical anger; his evocation of myth and archetype and his extraordinary poetic style. Distilling a vast range of influences from Twain and Golding to Mailer and Camus, it burns with the agony of the existential hero in a time and place where any deviancy meets with savage retribution.
Indisputably the greatest post-war Japanese novelist, Kenzaburo Oe has won every major national literary prize, many international awards, including the 1989 Prix Europalia, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994. He is also revered as the conscience of Japan’s modern left. His translated works include Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, A Personal Matter, and The Silent Cry.