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Stranger Things Book Tag (Strange Reads Indeed)

As usual, I am about a year late to a tag (that’s better than average, actually), but Keiko, I do hope you get to read this when you’re back! If it wasn’t for the fact that you were the one tagging me, I would have gotten lazy and turned this tag into one about anime/manga, but I’ll stick to strictly textual works this time so as not to let a fellow literature student down.

It’s embarrassing, but despite my major and occupation, I am not that well-read at all, and don’t even have a favourite author (I’ve decided that I can’t call anyone a favourite unless I’ve read 50% of their works). I didn’t read enough during high school, and read little besides course materials throughout university. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading…except I love it just as much as I love anime and baking and tree-climbing and a hundred other things in the world. Starting to pick up books regularly again (finished 15 so far this year, yay), but it’ll be a while before I catch up on all the beloved classics and recent favourites.

Okay, that preamble was long enough. One last thing: I haven’t seen an episode of Stranger Things, so I will just follow whatever instruction I was given to the best of my abilities.

This tag was created by Sarah Elise and you can watch a video they created about it here.

1. EPIC INTROThe opening sequence of Stranger Things is amazing and really grabs your attention. Name a book that grabbed your attention from the first page.

stranger book 1

This is my seventeenth straight day without sleep.

I’m not talking about insomnia. I know what insomnia is. I had something like it in college―something like it because I’m not sure that what I had then was exactly the same as what people refer to as insomnia. I suppose a doctor could have told me. But I didn’t see a doctor. I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Not that I had any reason to think so. ” (Excerpt from here)

Murakami’s Sleep was one of few books in recent years that I was instantly sold on. Instead of explaining, I’ve put the excerpt here, and will just say that I related to it in an uncanny way, despite never having been awake for an entire night. I kept expecting the same feeling from other Murakami works over the years, but those that I’ve read only granted lukewarm satisfaction. What might have added to the experience that time were the facts that it was a random library shelf find, that it had stunning illustrations, and that it was untranslated, which meant that I had to savour the words slowly to understand them.

2. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Name a fantasy world you would like to experience yourself.

stranger book 2

I’ve only read two of Koutarou Tsunekawa’s fantasy works, which are practically impossible to find in English, but both really delivered. Night Market is divided into two stories – “Night Market” and “The Ancient Trail of the Wind” (*unofficial translation). The first is about a man revisiting a dimension-merging night market full of demons and overpriced magical items, where he permanently traded something invaluable, and the second is about a boy stumbling into a dimension-warping trail and embarking on a quest to resurrect a friend. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t want to be in either protagonist’s shoes, but I especially want to experience the Ancient Trail that inexplicably connects random coordinates in Japan.

3. SQUAD GOALS: When Eleven met Mike, Dustin, and Lucas it was a mostly perfect team. Name your favourite bookish group of friends.

stranger book 3

The Pickwick Club in Little Women. Technically, 4/5 members are siblings, but who says siblings can’t be best friends? (I’m best friends with mine, at least!) Until the recent Little Women movie, I had almost forgotten about what a wholesome bundle the March sisters + Laurie was. While I thought the newspaper thing was the least interesting part of the story, I really adore the members that it gathered.

4. ABC’s & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Joyce Byers goes mad with grief after Will goes missing. Name your favourite mentally unhinged character.

stranger book 4

Hysteria is a play about Sigmund Freud in the final days of his life, and the circumstances that led him to hide a naked woman in his closet while receiving two important guests. Saying any more would spoil the plot, but what makes the “mentally unhinged” aspect of the play so remarkable is, of course, the irony that this all happens to Freud himself.

5. THE UPDISDE DOWN: Name a book that was the opposite of what you expected.

stranger book 5

You see, I picked it up thinking it was going to be a guide on overcoming social anxiety, or maybe a collection of random stories from strangers, but it turned out to be about how bad we are at talking to strangers. Gladwell provides a well-researched account of the biases and false hopes that prevent us from seeing strangers for who they are (but also argues that a default to trust isn’t all that bad). A relevant read that directly addresses issues pertaining to #BLM one year ahead of 2020.

6. MAD SCIENTISTS: Dr Brenner likes to get freaky with humanity. Name the freakiest dystopian government you can think of.

stranger book 6

It was a choice between this and A Handmaid’s Tale, and this won because it’s non-fiction. Still Alive is a Holocaust memoir, and what makes it so dystopian is the fact that only half of it describes the concentration camps. The rest is about the camps’ pervasive effects on the individual and the deadly legacy they left. Ruth Kluger contextualizes her experiences with lyrical and piercing language, and posits questions about authoritarian systems, compliance, and hypocrisy. Kluger never aims to scare or moralize, but has a way of implicating you as a reader by making you reflect on your own engagement in this non-fictional, not-so-distant narrative.

7. DEMOGORGON: Name a scary bookish creature that you would not want to come through your walls.

stranger book 7

…a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman—a howl—a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation

The black cat, from the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name. It’s a short story, not a book, but that cat is certainly a thing I wouldn’t want to see anywhere, especially not if it comes through the walls. The story is short and here’s a pdf of it, if you haven’t read it before. Obviously, the narrator deserved everything he got, but I wouldn’t like anything like that in…any part of the architecture.

8. CLIFFHANGER ENDING: Name a book that left you wanting more.

stranger book 8

Most of my favourite works of fiction have purposeful and satisfying endings, or earned themselves sequels. Let’s just say that I might be too shallow for Beckett. The fact that *spoilers* nothing happens and Godot doesn’t appear in the end is kind of the point, but I lack the mental fortitude to appreciate the absurdity of life without having my memories erased every act. Hand Godot over already…argh. This agony is part of the point too. Wow, Beckett, you’re really the worst.

Spreading the Tag

This is an old tag, so I don’t really know who has and hasn’t done it already. Feel free to pick it up if you haven’t; you’re more than welcome as long as you see this post! As usual, feel free to ignore if you’re not really feeling it.

Also, if you don’t read books all that much (like me), feel free to do it on manga, anime, TV shows, or whatever fits your blog better!

Read any of the books I picked? Want to talk about the books or recommend me something similar? Comments make me happy!

18 thoughts on “Stranger Things Book Tag (Strange Reads Indeed)

  1. Hello Moya,

    I like this tag post idea, it made me want to make a post about this, I also have not read many books. 😉

    Here would be my picks for each question:

    1. God Emperor Of Dune.
    The chase scene at the beginning had me hooked.

    2. Maybe the world of The Elder Scrolls video games because of magic and the Daedra / Aedra and / or the world of Frank Herbert’s Dune series.

    3. I am not sure.

    4. Maybe Alia Atreides from Children Of Dune.

    5. I can not think of any that were the opposite of what I had expected at this time.

    6. The Honored Matres from the books Heretics Of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune with their militarized system of intimidation, violence, destruction, domination, and sexual enslavement / sexual binding / sexual mind control / sexual subservience / sexual addiction.

    7. Maybe Sandworms from the Dune books.

    8. Chapterhouse: Dune

    -John Jr

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for participating (feel free to write a post about it if you want too)!

      I see that you’re a big fantasy fan! Haven’t read any of those books, but some sound interesting. #6 in particular sounds like a nightmare.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome and thank you.

        Back in college I decided to read Dune after maybe seeing the miniseries and hearing good thinks about it being one of the greatest science fiction books of all-time, and I ended up reading the entire series.

        The Honored Matres are an interesting group that I find to be scary, dangerous, sexy, unbalanced, interesting, and more.

        Thank you for responding,
        -John Jr

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am ashamed to say that I have not yet read a Murakami book despite knowing that I will absolutely love them. The wind-up bird chronicle is one of the few books (I read the first chapter, borrowing it briefly from a friend during a course) and I was in absolute awe. And yet I still haven’t picked up a Murakami book even though I have Norwegian Wood on my shelf!

    I’m laughing at the fact that you thought talking to strangers was about social anxiety! I’m assuming you have social anxiety yourself? If so, I’m slightly surprised, you come across as if you’d be very calm, composed and sophisticated in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have ambivalent feelings toward Murakami. I love his ideas, especially the magic realism, but I can’t really stand how he writes most of his women. It’s not something that dissuades me from reading his books, and this novella is an interesting exception, but it makes me roll my eyes sometimes.

      I get anxious in some social situations, but it’s nothing extreme. It’s not necessarily “shyness” – I get anxious much more easily in English-speaking contexts, especially when I’m the only Asian in the room. But it doesn’t interfere enough with my life for it to be a significant problem. I’d like to be able to hold better conversations with strangers though!


      1. Of all the reviews I’ve read on Murakami’s books, I haven’t seen (yet anyway) any commentary on how he explores women. I’ll have to keep an eye out on that one. It’s rare to find a male author be able to accurately explore female characters, I’d say the exception so far is George R. R. Martin. Which, by the way, if you ever read about Daenerys, I’m sure we could all benefit from your character analysis of her.

        Oh, wow. I actually had no idea that this could be the case for you. I’m guessing this might be a common feeling amongst many who have to operate in that context.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mm, I definitely still have to get to Song of Ice and Fire.

        And maybe! I feel like I know a lot of “shy” Asian women. Still working on overcoming that!


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