What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update (December 2022)

I didn’t quite finish the year as I would have liked to reading-wise. Ideally, I would be more or less done with my 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge (I have one book left, a book spanning multiple decades or places) and I would have planned the next year’s challenge. However, unexpected family circumstances and an unplanned trip to Norway in December left me with little energy or opportunity to read, listen, or plan ahead. While in Norway, though, I did acquire some Norwegian books for later reading which was a bonus!

I did, however, complete my trip around the world for The Book Girls’ reading challenge, Book Voyage: Read Around the World. And my last selection was an unread Book of the Month pick; it’s always satisfying when I can check off another read for my forever ongoing #unreadBOTMchallenge. I’ll certainly do another round of Book Voyage in 2023, but this year also, I’ll be skipping around and not following their order.

Once again, I join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately. What have you been reading lately?

Tante Ulrikkes vei by Zeshan Shakar 🎧
(Narrated by Martin Lange, Tohid Akhtar and Ivar Nergaard)

I had the physical copy of this book on my shelf, but I decided I would listen to the audiobook as well, which I believe turned out to be the optimal way to read this book for me since it is in standard Norwegian as well as “kebabnorsk” (Kebab Norwegian), a spoken dialect mixing Norwegian with foreign words, mainly Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages. It is a modern epistolary novel, emails and transcripts of audio recordings from Mo and Jamal, two teenage, second generation immigrant boys who live in the same low-income neighborhood of Oslo. They are part of a study about the daily lives of teenagers with minority backgrounds during the time period 2001-2006. Their parents’ country is never specified but they are both Muslim. The author himself grew up in this neighborhood which lends great authenticity to the novel. It was a unique perspective on contemporary life in Oslo, very engaging and eye-opening. So glad I finally got around to reading it.

This was Zeshan Shakar’s debut novel. He won the Norwegian Tarjei Vesaas’ Award for it in 2017. There was news about four years ago that the book would be released in English translation by the independent British publisher Wrecking Ball Press, but I have not been able to find any update on that. Since this debut, he has written two more novels, Gul bok (Yellow Book, 2020) and De kaller meg ulven (They Call Me the Wolf, 2022), the last of which won the Booksellers’ Prize in 2022, both of which are on my TBR list.

The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles  📖

An unread Book of the Month selection corresponded nicely with the Book Voyage prompt of South America! Most of the story takes place in Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s, a place and history I know very little about and enjoyed exploring. It’s the story of Dora and Graça, told from Dora’s perspective late in life. Dora was a poor, orphaned servant girl on a sugar plantation in northern Brazil and Graça the spoiled daughter of the owner. Together they developed a love for music, in particular samba, which they pursued with passion in Rio de Janeiro. They had a lifelong, very complicated friendship being partners and rivals at the same time. Dora, Graça, and their band made it to Hollywood in the 1940s, and unbeknownst to me, there were direct connections to family history at Twentieth Century-Fox which was very fun to come across. The book is written in a very lyrical style, even including lyrics between chapters. For me, the style was a bit over the top, but I became too engaged with the diverse and eclectic cast of characters to give it up.

What have you been reading lately?

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update (December 2022)

  1. I’ve still not been able to “add comments” to the map! I’ve not had as much time to read in December as my daughter was here from Sweden. I did get in A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova. I liked parts of it and wasn’t crazy about parts…that said, her life was certainly interesting! The Lincoln Highway was a little disappointing. I guess because I really, really liked A Gentleman in Moscow! However, there were parts when I did have trouble putting down the book.

    • How great that your daughter was able to visit! Visits to and by family can certainly disrupt reading routines, but so worth it. I really liked A Gentleman in Moscow as well. I have The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility on my shelf but haven’t gotten to either yet. I’m not sure what you mean by being unable to add comments to the map… you’re not supposed to be able to! I look forward to hearing your next reading update!

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