Book Review // The Strange Library

The Strange Library*- Haruki Murakami
Can you believe it's been 5 months since my last Murakami review? That's crazy! By coincidence, I checked out the Waterstones website to find there was a brand new Murakami on sale. Of course, I snapped it right up without reading anything about it. So when it turned up, I was very surprised to find a tiny, 77-page illustrated hardback book. It's essentially a grown-up picture book with quirky illustrations on each page and an amazing three-dimensional library sleeve on the front cover.

The Strange Library tells the tale of an unnamed young boy who visits a library on his way home from school in order to find out how Ottomans collected taxes. Once there, he is led into a labyrinthine system below the library by a strange old man who holds him captive. While imprisoned, the young boy meets a kindly sheep man and a girl who speaks with her hands (whether this is sign language, or some form of hand-based telepathy is unclear), both of whom are unaware of the other's existence. Together, the three of them hatch a plan to escape from the clutches of the old man and free themselves from the prison of the library. 
I blooming loved this book! It would be a really great introduction to Murakami as it has all his trademark elements of surrealism and dreamlike parallel worlds but in a short, accessible text. This unusual style really appealed to me but, by looking on Goodreads, it seems some people were confused by it. For me, the illustrations added to the disorientating, surreal story which was still easy to understand. Unlike some of Murakami's work, there was nothing overly confusing or complicated which made the focus more on his beautiful storytelling. I also appreciated the hint of Dance Dance Dance and the other books in The Rat series, which I am yet to delve into. 

To be honest, I'm giving bonus points for the design. I'm such a sucker for visual elements that these really make a difference for me. However, the ease of the story and the beautiful language made it a really engaging read so I would rate it 8 out of 10.

I've read a huge amount of Murakami, so I won't list them all here. However, this book for me was particularly reminiscent of Dance Dance Dance, as mentioned above. If you're after some more subtle Japanese fiction, Kawakami's Strange Weather in Tokyo is beautiful!

*Affiliate links have been used in this post


  1. I think the Sheep man is one of my favourite characters. I'm always really pleased if I'm reading a Murakami book and he turns up! :) I'll have to get hold of this one soon (I'm half way through 1Q84 at the moment though - have you read it yet?) -x-

  2. This sounds interesting. I'm going to look for this novel the next time I stop at a bookshop. I've never read Murakami's and have always wanted to try. Maybe this is a good start. Thank you for the review :)

    Love, Dara
    Hola Darla

  3. I must get this- I've been thinking about it for a while and I also need to get Dance Dance Dance! Thank you for the review :D

  4. Hey there :) I'm glad you reviewed this book. I absolutely adore Murakami's writing and wanted to know more about this particular book before getting a copy for myself. Following you on Bloglovin'! If you want you can visit my blog and maybe also return the favor :)


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