Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
400 pages; Random House
I bought this novel in Berlin and lost it on a train in Italy. I was devastated. I'd gotten halfway through it, and I searched all over for an English translation but had to wait until I got home to finish it. I was frustrated by the first few chapters—the way they flip back and forth between the protagonist's dream life and his waking life—but once I realized that it was sort of a sci-fi mystery, I enjoyed the nonlinear writing. The dream world initially seems beautiful; then it becomes purgatory because nothing good or bad happens. You get the sense that the character would prefer reality, that he'd rather bleed when he gets cut and experience life no matter how traumatic it can be. The book raises such an interesting question: If you had the same choice, where would you want to spend your time?
— Rachel McAdams