Reading continues to bring me to other parts of the world while our international travels are on hold. This month I visited the Middle East (1960s-2010s), USA (various places during World War II), and Norway (early 1900s). And to make up for my current inability to visit Norway, I’m reading more books in Norwegian to feel like I’m closer (and to maintain my language skills).
We are now half way through the year, and I’m happy to say I’m on track to complete this year’s Scandinavian Reading Challenge by the end of the year. I have already completed seven prompts and have ideas for the rest. Not surprisingly, I am extremely heavy on the Norwegian books and may reconsider some of my remaining possible reads.
What have you been reading lately?
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan 🇵🇸 🎧📖
(Narrated by Leila Buck)
This was an eye-opening and engaging look at a part of the world and history I am not very familiar with. It’s a multigenerational story of an Arab family in the Middle East. Opening in 1963 in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank, 15 years after the family had to flee Jaffa along the coast, matriarch Salma is reading the coffee grinds of her daughter Alia on the eve of her wedding and foresees an unsettled life. After that, the story moves forward in chucks and readers get a glimpse of life from alternating perspectives of various family members as they move around the Middle East and beyond. Readers witness the Six-Day War (1967), Invasion of Kuwait (1990), and Lebanon War (2006) through their eyes. Despite being displaced around the world, this family of bold personalities and oftentimes strained relationships stays connected and strong. This family will stay with me for a long time.
Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Middle East
The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar 🇺🇸🎧
(Narrated by Xe Sands)
This is the fictional story of Audrey Coltrane, a female pilot from Texas during World War II. She tells her story (in the first person) beginning with being a military flight instructor in Hawaii (at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor) and then joining the WASP program, or Women Airforce Service Pilots, to test and ferry planes during the war. It’s an inspiring story of female friendship and strength that once again gave me a glimpse of a piece of history I had little familiarity with. I was a bit surprised by the love interest that ran through the story and couldn’t quite decide if I liked it or not, but in the end I enjoyed the story.
Hekneveven (Hekne, #2) by Lars Mytting 🇳🇴 📖
This is the second book in a planned Norwegian trilogy, the first of which, The Bell in the Lake, has already been translated into English. Despite my mixed feelings about the first book, I was very eager to read the next in the series. I was not let down and thoroughly enjoyed this one. It continues the story of a small, isolated village in Gudbrandsdalen (20 years later in the early 1900s), in particular the story of a young man (whose mother died in childbirth) and a priest who joined the community in the first book. I really connected with the characters, enjoyed the author’s descriptions of local life and the modern changes happening, and appreciated the inclusion of bigger events happening in the background (immigration to America, dissolution of the union with Sweden, World War I, and Spanish Flu Pandemic). There was even some mystery relating to an old tapestry introduced in the first book and circumstances surrounding the birth of the young man. I’m looking forward to book #3!
Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2021: Bonus 2: A book by a Nordic author you’ve enjoyed before
What have you been reading lately?
By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.
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Salt Houses is on my list. I take it you thought it was worth reading? I must admit I have been lax on my Scandinavian reading. I did read The Queen’s Fortune which is historical fiction and about Desiree Clary whose husband, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte became King Charles XIV John of Sweden. So that’s “kind of” Scandinavian! The book Desiree was one of my Mom’s favorite books, years before I met my Swedish husband.
The Around the World Reading Challenge sounds interesting! I am way behind on my reading challenge this year! Spending a lot of time with the kids next door…which is also good for the soul!
I am currently reading Familjen (which is also Scandinavian reading) a documentary by a Swedish author/journalist who has followed a “mafia-type family” in a northern suburb of Gothenburg. I’m only on page 58 and it is a mixture of interesting, sadness, irritation, anger and frustration.
Killers of the Flower Moon was heartbreaking and maddening (and perhaps a bit long in my mind). This book was on my Native American reading list. I recommend it. I also recommend The Forgotten Daughter. Yet another book which filled me with anger, frustration and heartbreaking moments.
Salt Houses is definitely worth reading! Killers of the Flower Moon in on my list, actually already on my kindle. I just need to make time for it but other books keep sneaking in line! Thanks for sharing what you’ve been reading. It’s always interesting to get a glimpse of your reading life.