This idea of re-reading a book at least once a year really paid off, and I plan to do it again with another book I felt needed a second look. This first time I have ever re-read anything, choosing Haruki Murakami’s second longest novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; it brought out new ideas and thoughts that didn’t really click with me when I read it back in 2010. I recall I breezed through it, not affording it the time it deserved and needed to be full digested. Now, without the burden of school, I put a lot more focus and energy into taking my time with it. And I’m glad to say that is one of the three pillars that hold up his reputation, the other two being Kafka on the Shore, and his masterpiece, 1Q84. Granted, this is a little more political than I am really comfortable with any writer getting, but no other book Murakami has written so creatively and eloquently addresses the ideas of loneliness, books like South of the Border, West of the Sun and Sputnik Sweetheart have similar themes, but here they are fully formed over the course of 600 pages. And I don’t know why nor can I explain it, but I found the structure this time around, the letters, computer text and newspaper articles, to offer a lot more than just mere fancy wallpaper. At best, they offer some of the books most memorable scenes (more on that), and at worst, they are harmless diversions that don’t cause too much of a headache. The story concerns Toru Okada, who has recently lost his job, as well as his wife’s beloved cat. His complacency is interrupted by the discovery of a well in the alleyway behind his house, and the sudden disappearance of his wife, leaving him alone to traverse a series of odd, sometimes violent occurrence that may not add up, but still act as important guideposts to the answers Toru wants. While it is frustrating at times, leaving these loose threads dangling out in the open even as the ending closes in, in a way he is showing us what is really important; not trying to solve life’s grand mysteries, but instead dwelling on said mysteries which offers up time and energy to make yourself the best kind of person you can be. To give up a certain amount of control and let things be. The same thing can be said about his other two great books, each filled with cool scenes where it doesn’t seem to matter that they don’t link up nicely, because that isn’t what is important. And in re-reading it, I had forgotten some of the things that happened, like the lounge singer whose obsessed with pain, the story of the Japanese Army trying to kill all the animals in the zoo, and the disquieting specter of Noboru Wataya, Toru’s wife’s brother, whose banal evil seems almost supernatural (because it is). But nothing compares to Boris and the scene where he skins a man alive, easily the most violent scene I have ever read. After a closer inspection as an older, wiser reader, I appreciate this novel a lot more, and will hold it more dearly to my heart from now on.