Saturday, 6 August 2022

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From The Book of Form & Emptiness to The Pillars of the Earth

The Book of Form & Emptiness
Ozeki, Ruth "The Book of Form & Emptiness" - 2021

I used the covers of the original titles because I like them more than the translated ones and I read them in the original languages (except for "The Name of the Rose" which I read in German)

#6Degrees of Separation:

from The Book of Form & Emptiness to The Pillars of the Earth

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.

This month's prompt starts with The Book of Form & Emptiness (Goodreads) by Ruth Ozeki.

I haven't read this book. Or heard of it. And first, I thought I'll go with the ideas I get from the title, a book about emptiness, for example. But then I read the description of the book:

"After the tragic death of his beloved musician father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house - a 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 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, where 'things happen'. He falls in love with a mesmerising 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 Book - a talking thing - who narrates Benny's 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 Ozeki - bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.

This made me thing about a book by a German author that has made it around the world. It's also about a boy who interacts with a book, he actually enters it in order to save a fictitious world with a princess in a tower.

Ende, Michael "The Never Ending Story" (GE: Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979
This story reminded me of another German author who was very successful abroad and wrote a book where people come out of a book into the world of a little girl.

Funke, Cornelia "Inkheart" (GE: Tintenherz) - 2003   
I was reminded of another little boy who lives in a world of his own.

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine "The Little Prince" (F: Le Petit Prince) - 1953
The first three books were all more or less children's books that take place in a fantasy world. There are few books that I read from that genre but here is one that I really enjoyed, taking place on a different (non-existing) planet.

Stephenson, Neal "Anathem" - 2008
The protagonists in this novel all live in a monastery kind of world and that made me think of one of the most famous books about the inhabitants of a monastery.

Eco, Umberto "The Name of the Rose" (I: Il Nome de la Rosa) - 1980  
Coming to my final book, one of favourites, I think about it every time I hear about monasteries and cathedrals which I highly recommend, together with its sequels/prequels.

Follett, Ken "The Pillars of the Earth" (Kingsbridge #1) - 1989
So, I ended with a book that does describe a form, that of a cathedral. Whether there is emptiness inside, everyone must decide that for themselves.

Look for further monthly separation posts here


  1. Great links, particularly the monastery and cathedral ones. I loved both The Name of the Rose and The Pillars of the Earth!

    1. Thanks, Helen. I love all the monastery and cathedral books a lot. They are great reads with a lot of information about the past.

  2. Hi there Marianne!

    Lovely list you have today and I like how they all link up. Inkheart was such a great read and it's the second time today I see The Never Ending Story!

    Have a wonderful August!

    Elza Reads

    1. Thanks, Elza and Mareli. I am always happy if I find books that connect. This was quite an easy one but I'm glad you liked it. Maybe I'll stumble across the chain that has The Never Ending Story, it's always nice to see how others make the connection.

  3. Lovely chain. The Little Prince is a wonderful book and I enjoyed The Name of the Rose too, though its been really long since I read it and I must revisit at some point

    1. Thanks, Mallika. I'm glad I included so many books that others have read and liked.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Davida. I also enjoyed yours but lately, I have a problem with your site, I just cannot comment. I just checked again and found that nobody else has commented, either, so the problem might be with your page. I hope it's just a glitch and will solve itself soon.
      Until then, have a good time. I will carry on reading your posts and try to comment.

  5. How lucky you are! You get to start with Pillars of the Earth next time. I love that book. Thanks for another great chain.

    1. I know, Mary. I was delighted. And I knew immediately which book I would go to next. It will be fun. Thanks for your visit.

  6. This reminds me that I started reading The Little Prince in French but never finished it. I must find the book and try again...

    1. You might have the same problems with French literature as I do, Lisa. I love the language and would really like to read more in French but I don't often find books that really interest me. This one was different, though, and I hope you will find it and read it soon. Good luck.

  7. awesome connections!
    I read Stephenson's latest, Termination Shock, and definitely want to read more. I also need to reread The Name of the Rose!!

    1. As you know, Emma, I'm usually not a big fan of sci-fi but this was different, I really liked it. Thanks.

  8. Really enjoyed your chain, particularly the German and French links!

    Well done.

    1. Thanks, Marg. I'm always happy if I can contribute to the internationality of the world of blogging.