If On a Winter's Night a Traveler #Weirdathon

Thoughts on If On a Winter's Night a Traveler

This book melted my brain.

The book opens :
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.
And so on until the book begins in earnest. The story is an intriguing one. An unknown narrator disembarks a train with a suitcase. He is supposed to meet someone but that person doesn't show. The narrator waits at a bar for further instructions. He meets a mysterious woman, but their conversation is interrupted by a messenger. The narrator must leave immediately. And then...


The rest of the book is misprinted and is garbage. You (The Reader, and male) must buy a new copy. You return to the bookstore and buy another copy. There is another Reader, a woman named Ludmilla, with the same issue. You exchange personal info in case this book is also misprinted. This is a good idea because this book isn't If On a Winter's Night a Traveler but another story set in another country. After the first chapter, the rest of the book is blank.

The book I (Chris) am reading continues on like this. Every time a new book is found it is the beginning of a different novel and something prevents The Reader from getting past the first chapter. In every story, there is a man, a mystery, and a woman or two the protagonist encounters. Alternating these first chapters are the adventures of You and Ludmilla who attempt to track down the complete books. More and more obstacles and convoluted circumstances occur, keeping You from finding any finished books.

And then the last line of the book. Brain. melted.

This is a reader's book. It's a book about reading and the pleasure of books. What if every time you picked up a book some odd thing would happen to keep you from reading beyond the first chapter? How frustrating that would be! It's a nightmarish scenario. No wonder You becomes so determined to find the rest of these books.

If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is twisty and weird. It messed with my head. There is a section which is a diary of the translator for the publisher of the books and I have no idea what is happening there. Either he's having a psychotic episode or he's on drugs... or he's an Extreme Liar. Weirder and weirder things continue to happen to The Reader. Meanwhile, he reads the first chapters of these books. Some I really wanted to keep reading and some I could do without.

If you want to totally different and weird reading experience, give If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is try.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler


  1. That does sound weird. I think I'd need to be less distracted than I am right now to really get it.

  2. This has been on my list for about a year, after another blogger raved about it. It does sound interesting. I almost pitched it to my book club but then decided I didn't know enough about it. Would it be good for a club to discuss?

    1. I'm not sure if it's a good book club book. It gets pretty weird at times. It would depend on how adventurous your group members are.

  3. I have heard good things about this and wanted to read it... Still haven't managed that. Hopefully soon!

  4. You are braver than me, but maybe someday...

  5. This sounds so weird - but did you like it?


Thanks for visiting! Please leave a comment. I've disabled Anonymous comments since I've had a barrage of Anon spam lately. Sorry about that.
Also, if you leave a legit comment but it contains a spammy link, it will not be published.