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The Book of Form and Emptiness
The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel | Ruth Ozeki
134 posts | 68 read | 2 reading | 78 to read
Heart-breaking and heart-healingThe Book of Form and Emptiness is a triumph. Matt Haig, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library A brilliantly inventive novel about loss, growing up, and our relationship with things One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his housea sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn't understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous. At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world. He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many. And he meets his very own Booka talking thingwho narrates Bennys life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter. With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozekibold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.
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monalyisha
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@Tkimsal generously offered up a copy of Ozeki‘s most recent novel and I jumped on the post so fast!

A Tale for the Time Being might be one of my favorite books ever. So, I‘ve got sky high expectations (and no hopes of tamping them down). Reviews have been favorable. Fingers crossed!

Color me surprised when the book showed up in the mail with a bonus mug, to boot! Tim, your gift made me smile. And a smile in the winter is priceless.

Thanks! 🥳

Singout Looking forward to hearing your review! I loved A Tale for the Time Being too. 2w
Tkimsal You‘re welcome! Hope you enjoy both! 2w
CBee Can‘t wait to see your review! I still have to get to this one 🤦‍♀️ 2w
lil1inblue Oooh! Instantly stacked. I also loved A Tale for the Time Being. 😍 2w
cariashley I loved this book, and was also a huge fan of A Tale for the Time Being. You‘re in for a treat! 2w
67 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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Tkimsal
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Book giveaway! I‘m happy to share my gently used copy of Ruth Ozeki‘s excellent novel, THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS with a reader in the United States. Please comment below if you are interested. #BookGiveaway #BookMail

monalyisha Oh hi! I‘ve been meaning to read this for a long time. A Tale for the Time Being is one of my faves. Definitely interested! 3w
Tkimsal @monalyisha Happy to send you my copy. If you would like you can email your name and mailing address to me at my email akimsal@comcast.net and I will send it out to you! 👍 3w
monalyisha What a boon! Thanks so much! 3w
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Tkimsal You‘re welcome! 3w
monalyisha I received a perfectly lovely package today! Will make a proper “Thank You” post this weekend. 💖 Very much appreciated! 2w
Tkimsal @monalyisha Glad to share such a good book with a fellow reader! 2w
11 likes6 comments
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jack777
Pickpick

Such an interesting narrative format, such a unique look at mental illness. Timely, set during the 2016 election, but works well. Not distracting. Made me cry so many times. Dark but still not depressing. Loved it. Made me want to read more.

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Booksandtea23
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itsjustme40something
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Bailedbailed

I really hate it when I book has an interesting story and a unique concept & I can't finish it. I wanted to like it, I tried to like it...but when it was still hard to get into at page 200 I had to bail. The book is over 500 pages & it was just too much. Overly descriptive & overly worded chapters just made it hard to connect.

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tsutrav
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“Every person is trapped in their own particular bubble of delusion, and it‘s every person‘s task in life to break free. Books can help. We can make the past into the present, take you back in time and help you remember. We can show you things, shift your realities and widen your world, but the work of waking up is up to you.”

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Tkimsal
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30 Books Recommendations in 30 Days — Day 12 “The Book of Form and Emptiness” by Ruth Ozeki. Each of us is the author of our own story.

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jackday
Pickpick

Such an interesting narrative format, such a unique look at mental illness. Timely, set during the 2016 election, but works well. Not distracting. Made me cry so many times. Dark but still not depressing. Loved it. Made me want to read more.

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Tea_and_Starstuff
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Pickpick

This is my second book by Ozeki, and she's risen to the level where I'll try a book just because she's the author. This story was human, painful in a lot of ways, but so deeply compassionate to struggling characters. It tackles grief and loss and mental health, how those things complicate our relationship with other people. Ozeki mixes despair and hope, and manages to leave the book in a place where things feel realistically optimistic. (1/2)

Tea_and_Starstuff (2/2) Audiobook note: I found the narrator on this one tough. He made the characters sound intolerable at times - stupid, whiny, babyish, sullen to the point of caricature. It's deliberate, I think - those moments were the points where the characters felt the worst about themselves. But even if it's an artistic choice, it conflicts with the compassion that shines in Ozeki's narrative, to the point I wouldn't recommend audio. 11mo
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ju.ca.no
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I bought this because of it‘s beautiful cover, but the inside is also beautiful but in a painful kind of way. Benny and his mom struggle after the death of Benny‘s dad- both in different ways. While his mom starts to clutter their home the boy starts hearing voices. The book follows their pain and their way through life. I hope to finish it tonight! It‘s really intriguing and I can definitely recommend it!

Readerann I really loved this. 13mo
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gossamerchild
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Pickpick

I took the dust jacket off a while ago and now I can't find it. Naturally 🤣🤣.

Anyway, I mostly enjoyed this. Dragged a bit in the middle and the ending wrapped things up a bit too quickly, but Ozeki is a beautiful writer.

#theunreadshelfproject2023

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CBee
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Since I‘m loving A Tale for the Time Being so very much, I couldn‘t pass this up! #auldlangspine @Sapphire @monalyisha (I‘m reading Tale partly because you said it‘s one of your favorites, Alyisha!) 😊😊

monalyisha Oh, YAY! I have a gift certificate to a bookstore. I should use it to buy this one. It‘s been on my TBR *forever.* 14mo
CBee @monalyisha you should! I am enjoying A Tale SO much - thanks for giving me more incentive (along with @Sapphire) to read it ♥️😊 14mo
64 likes2 comments
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jenniferw88
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#wws #winterwonderlandswap @AbigailJaneBlog

Thank you for everything Abi - I seriously love everything. I really enjoyed my first Ozeki last year so looking forward to trying another - I think she may become an auto-buy author for me.

And as you can see, I've put the decoration on the tree!

@Chrissyreadit @TheBookHippie

Chrissyreadit 🤍🎉❄️Happy New Year! 14mo
TheBookHippie Happy new year!!!! 💙💙💙 14mo
Avanders Happy New Year! 🎇❄️💙 14mo
59 likes3 comments
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Chittavrtti
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Tkimsal
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Pickpick

Best book I‘ve read this year. #FirstSaturdayReaders #BooksWithBeth

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Addison_Reads
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#adventrecommends @emilyrose_x

It's only fitting that I post this book today since the #ToB23 shortlist just came out. Without the #ToB last year, I wouldn't have read this and it ended up being a favorite of mine.

Megabooks Same! Nice choice! 1y
Ruthiella I love it when favorites come to me that way! The TOB is great for discovery. 1y
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HettyG
Pickpick

I was just chatting with a friend about this book and realized I hadn‘t put it in Litsy! I LOVED this book. It can be a challenging read! Highly recommend reading it with others. I have not stopped thinking about this book, it‘s one I feel will be with me for a long time. 💜

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Robotswithpersonality
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Mehso-so

That was...messy. Which I THINK was the point - Ozeki was trying to make A LOT of points, too many to summarize here. Not sure how the mental health community received this book; would not recommend for anybody with anxiety around hoarding/clutter/claustrophobia. Sadly, not the enchanting tale of a book which converses, and objects that can talk, that I thought it would be. Perhaps useful as an in-depth look at grief/trauma manifestation.

BarbaraBB I completely agree! 1y
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Robotswithpersonality
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🤨

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Suet624
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A terrible photo even though I was 3 rows back. Ozeki was wonderful. Of course she did a reading but she also talked quite a bit about how meditation allowed her to get to her characters, hearing voices, how Tale for the Time Being was a cousin to this book, and how much she disliked the audio version of this book. She hopes to re-record it herself. Her responses to questions were warm and generous, taking the time to have a bit of a conversation.

Penny_LiteraryHoarders She narrated A Tale for the Time Being and it was phenomenal! It truly made that big the big fat awesome one it was because of her narration. 1y
Suet624 @Penny_LiteraryHoarders that‘s how the discussion came about. An audience member commented on how beautiful a Tale for the Time Being audiobook was. Ozeki agreed and said she had had no real authority at the time to request that her latest book (Form) be read by her, but she was now trying to make changes and record all of her books herself. 1y
BarbaraBB So interesting! Great you could meet her! 1y
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Suet624 @BarbaraBB me too! I‘m so glad I did. 1y
jlhammar That does sound wonderful! I love her and she did such a wonderful job narrating A Tale for the Time Being. I was kind of disappointed that she didn't also read her latest so that is very interesting. 1y
Suet624 @jlhammar Right? She became very animated about it. 😀 1y
DivineDiana How interesting! I did a combination read( audio + book) of a Tale for the Time Being. Agree that it was her beautiful narration that I remember most. I hope she is successful in reissuing it with her voice! 1y
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vlwelser
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Pickpick

Any thoughts I had that this shouldn't have won the Women's Prize have totally evaporated. This book is next level. And good luck carting this chunkster around. Might I suggest the ebook?

#BookSpinBingo @TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 1y
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Cazxxx
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Pickpick

This was a wonderful audiobook with such well written characters and an interesting storyline. Both sad and heartwarming at the same time, it was an excellent listen

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bekakins
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Pickpick

What a beautifully written book. Simultaneously heart breaking and uplifting, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Rissreads
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Pickpick

I read this whilst glamping down south. The weather was cold and rainy, perfect for reading! This book held my attention and contained some great characters but I anticipated more form the Women‘s prize for fiction winner 2022. It didn‘t have the ‘Wow‘ factor I was expecting.

Aims42 That view 😍🤩 2y
BittersweetBooks This looks like the perfect setting for reading all day long! 2y
34 likes2 comments
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Kristin_Reads
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Pickpick

📖 8-23-22 || This chunkster is my #DoubleSpin pick for the month. Loved it! A mother and son experience grief and mental illness and ultimately finding healing through stories and friendship. There are several unique and loveable, relatable characters along the way, too!
#BookSpin

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 2y
46 likes1 comment
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Leniverse
Pickpick

Not my favourite from the Women's Prize shortlist, but I guess I can see why it won. I dunno. I liked it, but I found a bit... cute and trite rather than gripping and profound. A tiny bit overbearing with the whole zen thing. It's still a pick. I really enjoyed the library and the Marxist poet hobo and the Borgesian performance artist. I think it was just... the tone? Or I expected something more? Yeah, super helpful and clear review. 🙄🤦🏻‍♀️😂

TrishB 😂😂 2y
LeeRHarry 😂 not a hit for me unfortunately- although I loved Annabelle (edited) 2y
32 likes3 comments
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Leniverse
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Two down 2/3 of one to go. Will have to take the 10p per day fine for this one and keep it an extra day or three to finish it. (Two not being an option, since the library is closed on Wednesdays.)
Also, the publisher is being a bit sneaky here. Or am I the only one who assumed at first glance that this particular book is Booker prize shortlisted (as opposed to some previous book of the author's)?

BarbaraBB You are probably right. We‘ll find out today! 2y
Cathythoughts Sounds really good. I love the David Mitchell quote on the cover. Stacking 👍🏻♥️ 2y
Leniverse @Cathythoughts It did win the Women's Prize, so definitely worth reading! 2y
Leniverse @BarbaraBB Yes, longlist today! Maybe the cover/I am presentient. 😄 2y
34 likes4 comments
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perfectlywinged
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Pickpick

This years women‘s prize for fiction winner! I absolutely loved this; it is definitely a book for book lovers. The tone felt playful and whimsical and was giving me Neil Gaiman vibes.

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ChaoticMissAdventures
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Pickpick

Oh goodness this came up on my reading list at the wrong time.
This was the winner of the 2022 #WomensPrizeForFiction and it is well deserved. Complex but interesting and easy to follow storyline, deep creative characters, a look at mental illness that doesn't demonize. This is an excellent book. I am going to recommend it to many.
Unfortunately for me it hit me right in a sci/fi mood and it took me ages to get through.

Kristin_Reads This is next up for me… can‘t wait! 2y
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Sapphire
Pickpick

This May be the best book I have read in a long time, and it‘s been a year of pretty good books. I get how it might not be for everyone and Ozeki is already one of my top 10 fav authors. But explaining what mental illness looks like from the inside by using a book as the narrator is ingenious. Plus I totally got sucked into the is she/he real or not twists without feeling duped. So so good! Ozeki tackles hard topics in fresh and inventive ways.

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indiaro
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This is my stack of all the books I read in June (except The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer which I read as an ebook). I‘ve really enjoyed reading more than usual this month and I‘m glad I read so many great books.

I especially enjoyed The Book of Form and Emptiness, and the getting to meet Ruth Ozeki at the Women‘s Prize event. I‘ve got a couple more books to read from the Women‘s Prize shortlist to kick off my July reading.

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JillR
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Pickpick

I‘ve got mixed feelings. Whilst I liked and sympathised with the main characters, to me their story was one of a spiral into grief and mental ill health and for much of it I struggled to understand the talking inanimate objects and just felt frustrated I wasn‘t getting it. The last 100 pages turned it around and left me feeling surprisingly teary and nostalgic for a book I just finished and hadn‘t really enjoyed! The great weirdness of reading!

squirrelbrain Great review Jill! Kind of how I felt too…it was my least favourite from the #womensprize shortlist (and of course it won!) but it almost redeemed itself at the end. 2y
JillR @squirrelbrain thank you 😊. I didn‘t fancy this one from first seeing it, but when it won I felt I owed it a read! My least favourite from the shortlist so far too. I‘ve just got The Bread the Devil Knead left from the list to read now, what did you think of it? 2y
JillR @squirrelbrain *the shortlist, I don‘t think I‘ll make it through the longlist! 2y
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squirrelbrain I loved The Bread! I had Sorrow and Bliss at the top of my list, but Bread came a close second and, actually, has stayed with me for longer. 2y
JillR @squirrelbrain I‘m out book shopping tomorrow so it‘s going on the list! Great Circle is top for me so far, followed by Sorrow & Bliss 2y
Kristin_Reads Just finished this and I got teary, too! 2y
JillR @kristin_reads how did you find the book generally? 2y
39 likes7 comments
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Sapphire
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I have been sick with a virus (Covid neg) for a week now. With all the rest and fluids, I had hoped to read more. But alas a stuffy head does not cooperate. First actual full day off work and am finally making progress. Ozeki is profound but reads easy. She remains one of my favorite authors, yet each of her books is so different from the rest.

17 likes1 stack add
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Sapphire
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Not a bad way to pass airport time.

Tamra No indeed! 2y
tokorowilliamwallace I prefer a glass of whiskey or a pint at the airport pub with some themed food. Charlotte airport has a lot of great venues. I saw one sandwich cafe which has a full wall of books to read (I can't remember if they were just to read or available for purchase or not). 2y
19 likes2 comments
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Lindy
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I‘m pleased to see Ruth Ozeki win the Women‘s Prize! 🇨🇦

Prairiegirl_reading I don‘t know why but I‘m surprised by this. 2y
TheKidUpstairs I planned to read the short list before the announcement. I managed to read all but one - and of course this is the one I didn't get to! 🤣🤣🤣 2y
Lindy @TheKidUpstairs Of course! 😂 Hope you have a chance to get to it soon. 2y
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Lindy @Prairiegirl_reading I‘m surprised too… and also very pleased. 2y
Hooked_on_books Oh that‘s great! I loved this book! 2y
Lindy @Hooked_on_books Me too 😊 2y
46 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Sapphire

Music or madness. It‘s totally up to you.

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Cinfhen
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Mehso-so

This is a hard book to review. I liked parts of it but overall it landed on more of a miss for me. I think the author tried to tackle too many topics, it was wayyyyy too long, it veered into whacky territory at times and it was VERY depressing, although there were moments of levity. Im glad I gave it a try but #MoreMehThanYeah and Im so happy it was a #BorrowNotBuy

BarbaraBB I think I‘ll wait a bit longer! 2y
Cinfhen Yeah, I wouldn‘t rush to buy/read @BarbaraBB 2y
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AnneCecilie This didn‘t exactly push it up the tbr, maybe even further down 2y
Cinfhen It‘s really out of my reading comfort @AnneCecilie I don‘t usually like magical realism so maybe take my review with a grain of salt ☺️ 2y
Megabooks I loved this, but I was very unsure whether it would work for you, but still, I‘m glad you tried. 2y
Megabooks @BarbaraBB I think you‘d like this more if you haven‘t read Ozeki yet. One of the narrators/MC is a Japanese teen so it has that feel, which I think would resonate with what you enjoy. 2y
BarbaraBB @Megabooks I listened to that one on audio and that didn‘t really work. I think print would have been better. 2y
Megabooks @BarbaraBB I bailed on this on audio. I don‘t think her books work in that format. 2y
Cinfhen Yeah @BarbaraBB @Megabooks audio wasn‘t great , but I‘m not sure I would have liked this book better in print🙁 2y
Chelsea.Poole Thanks for tagging me. I suspect it wouldn‘t work for me, which was my initial impression. Also, I would probably do the audio and since @Megabooks says they don‘t work in that format, I will pass. 2y
69 likes11 comments
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Cinfhen
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Now I remember why I was so reluctant to pick up this book…it‘s a #Chunkster 😝audio is 18+ hours & while im enjoying…. its really LOOOOOONG!!! I‘m at the 50% mark and I still have another 9 hours to go😅

Simona I just quit my 42 hours long audiobook … 15 hours was enough. From now on I‘m going to avoid audiobooks longer than 12 hours. Lesson learned 🤗 2y
Cinfhen Congrats for making it that long!!! I wish I would have noticed the length of this one before I started @Simona it‘s good but really TOO long!!! 2y
Simona I have ebook, but I have to be in the right mood for magical realism. 2y
Cinfhen It ended up being a so-so for me @Simona 🤷🏼‍♀️it was too long - and I didn‘t care for all the quirkiness 2y
63 likes4 comments
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Cinfhen
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I can‘t believe I didn‘t want to read this book, it‘s amazing. I‘ve been avoiding it for so long. And the magical realism, which I normally detest , completely works in this story 🥰 Audio narration is fantastic 🎧🎉🧡

Addison_Reads Love this one! I'm so glad you decided to give it a chance. 2y
Sapphire I bought this the weekend it was released but haven‘t gotten to it yet. It is my June Goal! 2y
Sapphire Ruth Ozeki is one of my favorite authors 2y
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Cinfhen I‘m so glad I finally picked it up too @Addison_Reads @Sapphire ❣️❣️❣️ 2y
Cinfhen I started it once, a long time ago but it wasn‘t jiving with me @AnneCecilie but I think it might be time to try again 😄 2y
BarbaraBB I need to pick this up too!! 2y
Cinfhen It‘s better than I expected @BarbaraBB but it‘s starting to veer into “quirky” territory, which I don‘t necessarily enjoy too much😬however, I‘m really glad I picked it up and im looking forward to reading/ listening to more tomorrow. Thinking of you xx 2y
Chelsea.Poole I‘ve also been avoiding this 🫣 but so many great reviews make me question my decision…as does this post! 2y
BarbaraBB Thanks 🤍 2y
Cinfhen I think we have similar reading taste @Chelsea.Poole so the things that are bothering me about this book may bother you as well, however it‘s definitely worth a borrow!!! And the parts that I‘m loving, I think you will too 🤞🏽 2y
Megabooks So glad you‘re loving it!! 💜💜 2y
69 likes1 stack add12 comments
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Cinfhen
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Woohoo 🥳 my library hold came in before the #WomansPrizeForFiction22 has been awarded 📚🍾 🥇 This is my last read from the shortlist.

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Tonton
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For once in my life managed to get to Kinokuniya on the first day of their foreign foreign book sale (20% off!) Can‘t wait for the weekend🌟❣️🌟

BarbaraBB Wow! 2y
erzascarletbookgasm 👏Happy reading! 2y
batsy Nice! 😍 2y
Tonton @BarbaraBB @erzascarletbookgasm @batsy thank you, still awed myself at the budget splurge🌟 2y
34 likes4 comments
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rachaich
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Pickpick

What a whirlwind of a book.
Very different to what I expected, in a good way!
Sad at times, about expectations and families and assumptions. But also warming about friends and unexpectedness.
Her books always provide such a different outlook.

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rachaich
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Oooh, managed to get a copy of this from the Libby app 😊😊😍😍.

A talking book, a grieving family and excellent prose.

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KristiAhlers
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Pickpick

I belong to 4 different book clubs and this is a book choice for one of them. I found this to be an emotional and amazing read. I truly enjoy how this author crafts her characters and her storylines in such a way you honestly don‘t want to put the book down. This is the second of her titles I‘ve read in two weeks. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ easy #bookclubread #readingchallenge2022

EmilyM Currently reading and enjoying! 2y
Addison_Reads I get so excited when I see others who loved this book too. It's a favorite of mine. 💚 2y
charl08 4 book clubs? Wow. I am in two, one online and one at work, and they *always* seem to clash, leading me to scrabble to finish on time! 2y
KristiAhlers @charl08 I find if I dedicate myself to one book at a time I can normally get them all in. But, if a book doesn‘t speak to me I opt out for the month. That‘s happened a couple of times. 2y
39 likes4 comments
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Penny_LiteraryHoarders
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Pickpick

While I wasn‘t reaching for it every chance I got, I always love how Ozeki tells a story. So inventive.

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charl08
Pickpick

I really liked this one. For me, the magical realism was the perfect way to express psychotic episodes, and I liked the library setting and the Book as narrator.

#WomensPrize #Longlist (Six down!)

Addison_Reads One of my favorite reads this year. 2y
charl08 @Addison_Reads that's a vote of confidence! I wonder if it will make the shortlist. 2y
56 likes1 stack add2 comments
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charl08
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Oops.

This kind of deadline presses all my "Don't tell me what to read" rebellion buttons.
(Even though I really want to read it.)

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Penny_LiteraryHoarders
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I started this one just as the library hold for ‘Listening Still‘ came in. I was already completely enjoying it so I‘m happy to be able to get back to it!

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charl08
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Among the young trainee monks were a number of artists and writers and musicians and political activists... a young monk named Daikan... got the idea of starting a jazz band.

To their surprise, the abbot agreed. Buddhist temples in Japan were struggling to survive ... The abbot thought jazz playing monks might garner media attention and attract more young people to the temple.

They called the band Thelonius.
🤣

#womensprize

bnp You've made this sound more intriguing. 2y
56 likes1 comment
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mjdowens
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“When you read these words on a page, what happens to them, when they become you?” 😳🤯😳🤯