Books ‘n’ Breakfast: Kafka and Avo-toast

Mortar & Pestle – Lake View: I’m backtracking a bit with a Chicago post going, but this was one of my favorites, so I felt it was worth backtracking. My friend and I discovered it while in search of avocado toast that we were too lazy to make ourselves. In the early days there was no wait, but no good brunch spot stays hidden for long. The wait now is typically 30-45 on busy brunch days (aka the weekends). The inside is small and quaint, mostly high-tops, big open windows, speckled flatware and good coffee. While I’ve been here more numerous times, I’ve pretty much always ordered the same two things, I would happily alternate those two for breakfast for the rest of my life. The avocado toast and bircher muesli. Both are technically starters, but usually satisfied me, and only run $7 each. The avo-toast is incredibly fresh and just a little spicy, while the muesli is sweet, but not too sweet, with a great array of berries and toppings. I personally didn’t know what muesli was before I had it, it’s simply rolled oats with nuts and berries (if you’ve never had it before). They have a little something for everyone, so if you’re in town, or local, definitely stop by.


Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: I’d been recommended this book by four different people before I gave it a go. Likely received so many because of my liking for the strange, post-modern, and cats. I was reading it during our cross-country road trip (see:Road Trip Tips), and it haunted me. Not because it was scary necessarily, although there are some violent bits, but because Murakami’s writing seems to just sit in your brain. I would wonder why certain things were going on, where they were leading too, analyzing specific dialogue – and even after I finished, I still didn’t fully understand what happened, but maybe that’s the point.

The story primarily follows two characters: Kafka, a 15-year-old runaway escaping a volatile home lifeand  Oedipal prophecy put upon him by his malevolent father (look at all those big words i just used). And Nakata, an elderly man who survives a strange accident as a child from which he lost his memory, ability to read and write, and most of his intelligence – but gained the ability to talk to cats. The two character’s lives intersect in unpredictable ways without ever actually crossing paths. There’s a mission to save a cat, journeys into the subconscious, murder, ghosts, love, and raining leeches. Laura Miller said it best in an early NYT Book Review: “…while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it’s the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves”. Not a beach read, but if you’re looking for something that will turn you upside down, here it is.

Stay Strange – AtA