What I’ve Been Reading Lately (February 2023)

Welcome to another round of “What I’ve Been Reading Lately”. Last month, I finally completed my 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge with a book that spanned several decades, and it was a very satisfying way to wrap up the read-through-the-decades challenge. Now I’m fully immersed in researching and planning what I’ll read for this year’s 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge. (My final book for the 2022 SRC is actually a good one for the 2023 NLRC if you’re interested.)

Once again, I join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.

What have you been reading lately?

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 🎧
(Narrated by Kinsale Hueston)

I wrapped up my school’s winter reading challenge with this one (see Reading Lately, January 2023 for the other reads). Although there were certainly aspects of this middle grade fantasy book that I appreciated, overall, it wasn’t for me. It started fine. At first, it actually reminded me of Firekeeper’s Daughter (a YA book I loved). It featured an independent female Indigenous character from a special lineage on a mission to save her community. Coincidentally, they were both also missing a parent/parent figure under suspicious circumstances. But then there were too many quests and fantasy elements and fantastical creatures for my liking. The insight into the Navajo belief system and hearing the Navajo words in the narration were definitely a plus.

Leksikon om lys og mørke by Simon Stranger 📖
Keep Saying Their Names translated from the Norwegian by Matt Bagguley

This novel had been on my TBR list since it won the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize in 2018. The book is what one might call a documentary novel (though the author just calls it a novel) and has a very unique structure. It blends real Norwegian World War II history with the author’s wife’s family history into a fictionalized story told through chapters following the alphabet (the Norwegian title translates to “Dictionary of light and darkness”). I read it in Norwegian and am so curious how the translation is completed due to this structure.

This multi-generational story generally takes place in Trondheim, Norway, and begins with the author and his young son at the memory stone (“snublestein”) of the son’s great-great grandfather. He was a Norwegian Jew arrested, imprisoned, and killed by the Nazis during World War II. The author then learns that after the war, his mother-in-law (the granddaughter of this great-great grandfather) grew up in a house which used to be the headquarters of a gang of Norwegian Nazi collaborators who questioned, tortured, and killed resistance members and others. From there, the author takes the reader on a journey jumping back and forth between the 1920s, the war years, and the post war years. He delves into the origins, actions, and fate of Henry Oliver Rinnan, the Norwegian leader of the Nazi collaborators, as well as his wife’s family history, in particular how they ended up living in Rinnan’s headquarters and the effect it had on them. The book was always eye-opening, often disturbing, at times brutal (not for sensitive readers), but it was also somewhat hopeful in that it was also a story of survival and how to live on – hence the reference to light and darkness in the Norwegian title. A very powerful book that will stay with me for a long time.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick 📖

I was surprised by how quickly I read this one. It grabbed my attention right away, and with the short chapters hopping between characters, I was fully engaged until the end. The story takes place in a world just like ours, but one day every person 22 years and older receives a mysterious box with a string that shows how long they have left to live. The book revolves around a cast of eight diverse characters and their decisions to open the box or not and what to do with the new information. Over time, the lives of these people intertwine in unexpected ways, a type of story I really enjoy. This is a thought-provoking book. The arrival of these strings has repercussions far and wide. I look forward to discussing this one with fellow readers at a book club meeting!

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (July 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

July was a fun reading month! I had time to read and each book was so different from the others. I caught up on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge which I had fallen behind on, and a reading challenge happening at work gave me the incentive I needed to read some middle grade and YA that had been on my TBR list for a while.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: In July, I finally completed June’s 1960s prompt with the Norwegian book Bare en mor, the fourth book in The Barrøy Chronicles by Roy Jacobsen, which takes place along the coast in northern Norway. This reading experience was even more meaningful since I was on vacation in the same area at the time of reading it. For July’s 1970s prompt, I read Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø which took place in Oslo. Details on both books can be found below.

I am unsure what to read for August’s 1980s prompt. Ideally, I would love to find a book by a Norwegian female author that takes place in the 1980s, but I’m having trouble finding titles. For details on the reading challenge and insight into the past, current, and next decades, along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

TBR List for WITMonth 2022

August is Women in Translation Month so this month I’m enjoying just that, women in translation, and I have many titles on my TBR list for the month. Normally, I focus on female authors outside of Scandinavia for WITmonth since I usually read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, but that has not been the case this year. I’m off to a great start with Reptile Memoirs: A Novel by Silje Ulstein translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough (listening to audiobook narrated by Julie Maisey) and The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley, which I’m alternating with the Norwegian version, Przewalskis hest.

What have you been reading lately?

“Bare en mor” (The Barrøy Chronicles, 4) by Roy Jacobsen

I loved the fourth and final book in Roy Jacobsen’s The Barrøy Chronicles series. I was sad to leave Ingrid’s world behind when it ended. Ingrid is a smart, independent, admirable woman born, raised, and living on a fictional remote island in northern Norway (south of Lofoten which is where we were visiting at the time of this reading). This final installment takes place when Ingrid is in her 50s and covers a time period of about 15 years. It’s been five years since she returned from her trip at the end of WWII seeking the father of her child in vain (book #3). The island is now alive with people, all ages, both immediate family and found family. The book chronicles their lives which includes the men leaving for winter fishing in Lofoten, a dangerous and risky endeavor, while the women stay home tending to the household. This may have been my favorite book of the series. (The English translation, Just a Mother translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, will be released in the US on March 7, 2023.)

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

I really enjoyed this reading experience. This is a middle grade book written in verse about Jude, a 12-year-old Muslim girl, who leaves Syria with her mother as unrest and violence escalate around the country and encroach upon their town by the sea. Leaving her father and older brother behind, they travel to Cincinnati to stay with family until it’s safe to return home again. Jude has to learn how to get along with her American cousin, navigate her new American school, make new friends, improve her English, and make sense of her place in this new world. It’s a moving and hopeful story of a brave, strong girl.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book from my school’s reading list; A book that won a Newbery award (Medal or Honor book)

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This graphic novel has been on my shelf for a while and this summer’s book bingo was the just the right nudge to finally read it. It’s an eye-opening look at Japanese internment in the US during World War II. George Takei recounts his childhood when he and his family were forced to leave their home in Los Angeles and spent the next few years in “relocation centers” around the country only due to their Japanese ancestry. I learned quite a bit from this book: the process of how it was carried out, what living conditions were like, and how Japanese-Americans had to make difficult choices along the way that made the experience even worse.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A graphic novel; A book from my school’s reading list

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

This is a young adult novel that’s been on my TBR list for a while. It’s the story of Julia, daughter of Mexican immigrants, who has other plans than being the perfect Mexican daughter. She wants to leave town after graduation and go to college. At the same time, she’s dealing with the sudden death of her older sister who had been the perfect Mexican daughter, staying close to home once she was done with high school. It’s written in the first person perspective of Julia. Julia has a strong, at times brusque and confrontational personality, which I wasn’t a fan of. However, at the same time, she’s a voracious reader and a writer, so her language was at times very impressive. It was an interesting combination.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book with a Hispanic or Latina main character

Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon by Tucker Malarkey (Narrated by Cassandra Campbell)

I wasn’t thrilled when this nonfiction book was picked as our book club read, but I knew it would be good for me to read beyond my comfort zone. It turned out to be a five-star read for me. It was a surprisingly fascinating and engaging read about Guido Rahr and his passionate, lifelong mission to save the world’s wild salmon by protecting their rivers. In particular, I really enjoyed learning about his childhood and young adulthood, his travels all over the world to explore the natural world, and his passion and persistence for his work. A bonus was learning so much about salmon, a fascinating fish. I have a totally new understanding of and respect for wild salmon.

Blood on Snow (Blood on Snow, #1) by Jo Nesbø
(Translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith)

Norwegian author Jo Nesbø is best known for his Harry Hole crime fiction series, of which I’ve read two. One, The Snowman, I really enjoyed, but the other, The Bat, not so much, so I was curious about some of his other non-Harry Hole work. Blood on Snow is a standalone book and not a typical crime fiction novel but more of a “crime fiction adjacent” one. It is Nordic Noir in the sense that it takes place in a bleak setting (dark, cold days during wintertime in Oslo), the plot includes brutal crimes, and the protagonist is troubled. However, the protagonist is not a police detective but instead the fixer of a crime boss and the story is from his perspective. Even though he kills for a living, he has a conscience, in particular with regards to the treatment of women. Despite having dyslexia, he enjoys reading and writing. It’s an interesting take on crime fiction which I enjoyed and I would consider reading the companion book in the series, Midnight Sun (mostly because it takes place in northern Norway which intrigues me).

What have you been reading lately?

If you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a 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.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.