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This edition of Nerding is brought to you entirely by my iPad. Seriously, that thing has taken over our lives. In a good way. It makes me feel like we’re living in the future and until I had one of my own, I had a limited view of its sheer usefulness. Granted a lot of the things I do on my iPad, I could have been doing on my iPhone for years – but the larger screen does indeed make a hell of a lot of things a hell of a lot easier.

One thing that I’ve been doing a super ton more of on the iPad that I never would have guessed is reading. Yep. Reading. Sure, I already had an eReader (much as I love paper books and never thought I’d turn my back on them – while breastfeeding, the Kindle was just so much easier to hold one handed and I could buy new books from bed!) – so, why did I suddenly up my reading quotient by a thousand percent with the iPad?

Part of it is that I’m reading a lot more variety. Not just books – but magazines and blogs are both easier to read on the iPad than they are on either my phone OR my laptop. The other part is that on the iPad I can read AND listen to music at the same time on the same device, so I can very easily click over and change things if the soundtrack isn’t fitting the mood of the book.

Which brings me to 1Q84. Which I started reading eons ago and had to put down because Murakami requires brain cells and then I picked it back up again and started a silly project with it that made the reading ZOOM by.

Murakami loves music. He references music quite frequently, and in this book especially, music is a theme – specifically Sinfonietta by Leoš Janáček. I’d never heard the piece before and when I started reading on my iPad, I fired up Spotify and put it on while reading. And then it got a little out of hand. I created a playlist and added every piece referenced in the book. When I couldn’t find a specific piece, I went with whatever I could find by the same composer that was comparable or that I simply felt like listening to – so, the playlist became a little flute-heavy since I’m a former flautist and have actually played works by quite a few of the composers mentioned. (As for my thoughts on Sinfonietta – I’m afraid the book colored my expectations quite a bit and I was totally expecting to be blown away or at least wanting to listen to the piece repeatedly and I was seriously underwhelmed and honestly didn’t like it all that much.)

Other things that Murakami mentions a lot: The ears of adolescent girls. Breasts, and how they swell under sweaters. Someone will inevitably make a stir-fry out of basic ingredients left in the fridge. Someone will drink a beer while waiting for the phone to ring.

One thing that I’ve noticed in a lot of Murakami that really stuck out a lot in 1Q84 is a very flat conversational affect. I’m not sure if this is his style or if this is a larger trend in Japanese culture – but conversations, even ones about emotional subjects, read very flat. There’s a hell of a lot of “I think I understand” and “I see”  and “I know what you mean” or “Hmmm, I’m not sure I understand” and not much indicating changes in tone or raising one’s voice or any other more emotional responses that one would expect in some of these scenarios. Given the subject matter of a lot of the book, this really struck me as odd and made the whole thing feel more surreal – though not necessarily in a bad way so much as “Yes, this is quite obviously not the universe that I am used to” which in a book about a parallel universe…

If you like Murakami, I’d recommend 1Q84. If you don’t like Murakami, well, this isn’t going to convert you. If you haven’t read Murakami, I would not recommend starting here. (I would recommend starting with Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which is my favorite book in the history of books, though this is itself a controversial recommendation and I’ve nearly come to blows with other Murakami fans for even daring to suggest this, but I stand by it.)

Also: I feel I need to put it out there that while there are no graphic scenes describing actual incidents, child rape is talked about as a central theme to the book and if this bothers you, best skip it.

As for Paulo – he’s been reading on my iPad too. He loves The Monster at the End of This book, so I downloaded the Another Monster At the End of This Book app and holy cow, greatest thing ever. It’s the perfect blend of story and interaction for a kiddo his age – he happily watches the story unfold and there’s just enough for him to “do” to make it interesting. His favorite page is the one where he can tap on the screen to knock over a pile of blocks. And oh yes, he’s figured out quickly which pages do fun things when you tap and which ones don’t. In general, we have to “read” this one at least twice in a row – meaning we get a whole ten minutes of Paulo staying in one place.

DID YOU HEAR THAT? TEN CONSECUTIVE MINUTES WHERE THE WHUFF IS IN THE SAME SPOT. That in and of itself makes the iPad the greatest birthday present I’ve ever received.