What I’ve Been Reading Lately (September 2023)

In September, my main focus was nonfiction, but I threw in some fun fiction genres outside my comfort zone as well. Last September I was introduced to a new reading challenge, #sakprosaseptember, a nonfiction reading challenge hosted by Norwegian bookstagrammer readygoread during the month of September  (“sakprosa” means nonfiction in Norwegian). I didn’t used to read a lot of nonfiction, but in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed I’ve been drawn to it more and more and welcome the opportunity to read more of it. So once again I participated in #sakprosaseptember (running through October 15) with its various nonfiction reading prompts.

#sakprosaseptember pairs well with another reading challenge I’m already participating in, #DiversityAcrossGenres, which challenges me to read various genres by diverse authors. One of those genres is nonfiction. Therefore, September’s focus was nonfiction and anything of interest that remains unread this month will be options for #NonfictionNovember.

What have you been reading lately?


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, narrated by the author (2013) 🎧

This book had been on my radar for a while. Thanks to reading challenges with nonfiction prompts, I finally read it. Sweetgrass has come up in various recent North American Indigenous-authored books I’ve read, and I haven’t really known what it is nor its significance. Not only did this book educate me about sweetgrass and its significance to Native Americans, but the book also delved into the vast differences and disconnect between Indigenous and modern day beliefs and practices in regards to the natural world. I greatly appreciated and enjoyed that aspect, even though it was sad and discouraging. Kimmerer’s language was very poetic and beautiful, but over time, it did become too much for me and additionally, the book began to feel too repetitive and long. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (The audiobook, which she narrated herself, I had to speed up to 1.5x because it was a very slow listen otherwise so I recommend reading it over listening to it.)


Min skyld: En historie om frigjøring (My Fault: A Story of Liberation) by Abid Raja (2021) 📖

This is a very honest and open memoir – he shares difficult things! – by a Norwegian lawyer, liberal party politician, and current Member of Parliament with a minority background. It’s about his “liberation from shame, guilt, and outsiderness” as the book jacket states. Born in Norway in 1975 to Pakistani immigrants and with a rare birth defect, he faced great challenges growing up. This is the story of how he overcame those challenges, which included a few years in the child welfare system, and went on to study law at the University of Oslo and found the love of his life, a fellow Norwegian Pakistani. I admired his honesty when revisiting his past and confronting his opposing cultures – the patriarchal Pakistani culture and Islamic religion in which he was born and the liberal Norwegian society in which he lived. It was an eye-opening look at a segment of Norwegian society which I am not familiar with and that I greatly appreciated. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The book won the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize in 2021. It went on to be the most sold nonfiction book in Norway in 2021 og 2022. It even sold more than all other books in Norway in 2021. Unfortunately, it is not available in English translation.


The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córcova (2021) 🎧
(Narrated by Frankie Corzo)

This was a fun ride. Fantasy is not a genre I’m normally drawn to, but I’ve read some magical realism that I’ve enjoyed and this one sounded intriguing for the #DiversityAcrossGenres challenge. Orquídea Divina, the matriarch of the Montoya family, is dying and sends out a summons for family members — grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from five marriages — to return home to collect their inheritance. But this is not a regular family, instead one with a mysterious history and unexplainable happenings. The story has a dual timeline jumping between contemporary times and Orquídea’s past. At one point the number of characters became a little overwhelming and the family tree was helpful, but that passed and the character focus became narrower and more manageable. I really enjoyed the characters and settings, especially the trip to Ecuador both in the past and present. Did the magical realism get a little too much for me at the end? Maybe, but overall a great story, and the audiobook was very well narrated. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1) by Helen Hoang (2018) 📖

This was another book that I wouldn’t necessarily have read if it hadn’t been for the #DiversityAcrossGenres challenge since I don’t generally pick up romance books. So glad I did because it was a very fun and heartwarming read. The story is about Stella, a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s who’s most comfortable in front of her computer using math and statistics to predict economic outcomes. However, she decides she needs help in the dating and romance areas of her life and hires Michael, a Swedish and Vietnamese escort, to teach her. I was so surprised by his understanding and respect of her and really enjoyed watching their relationship take its turns. I also really enjoyed the focus on Michael’s Vietnamese family life.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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 (September 2022)

September introduced a new reading challenge to me, #sakprosaseptember, a nonfiction reading challenge (“sakprosa” means nonfiction in Norwegian) hosted by Norwegian bookstagrammer readygoread. I finally read a book she has long recommended, Invisible Women, and checked off two which have been on my TBR list for a while, Fearless Females and We Should All Be Feminists. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but on the rare occasions that I do, I usually end up really enjoying it, and this was no exception. And then I wonder why I don’t read more of it. Good thing #NonfictionNovember is around the corner!

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update

For September’s 1990s prompt, I initially chose Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Present Tense Machine: A Novel translated by Kari Dickson. After reading Gunnar Staalesen’s Fallen Angels for the 1980s, which took place in Bergen, I thought it would be interesting to stay in Bergen for the 1990s. Unfortunately, I had to lay Present Tense Machine aside for the time being. The premise was intriguing and I was open to reading a non-traditional novel, but the writing style (long sentences, stream of consciousness) with the narrator occasionally speaking directly to the reader was not for me. I really enjoyed the author’s eclectic short story collection Knots: Stories a few years ago (Reading Lately, June 2018) so I have not given up on her, but I need to be in a different headspace for this one. Instead I am reading the crime fiction novel Blind Goddess (Hanne Wilhelmsen #1) by Anne Holt translated by Tom Geddes for the 1990s. My pick for October’s 2000s prompt is undetermined at the moment.

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.

What have you been reading lately?


Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez
(Narrated by Caroline Criado Pérez)

I listened to this book read by the author herself which was a wonderful listening experience. The book was an eye-opening, thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, and oftentimes infuriating exploration of how women, their bodies, and their experiences have not been considered in planning, design, and decision-making around the world due to the fact that data fails to take gender into account. This book should be recommended reading for all and required reading in data science and statistics classes. I am seeing the world in a whole new way.

 


Fearless Females: The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood by Marta Breen, Illustrated by Jenny Jordahl

This graphic novel, written and illustrated by a Norwegian duo, presents an international history of women who have fought for the rights of women. There were many familiar names and events, but also some less well known ones. The contemporary, ongoing battles of female bodily integrity, with topics of contraception and abortion, as well as same sex relationships and gay marriage are also included. The text is accompanied by bold, monochromatic illustrations. It was a quick, entertaining, and educational read. In particular, I appreciated the occasional use of direct quotes from women’s papers and speeches, and I loved the sudden use of rainbow colors in the “Love Is Love” panels. It’s a great little intro to the history of American and European feminism, though I do not recommend it for young readers due to some of the mature content related to women’s bodies and violence towards women.


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Way back in 2017 I vowed to read this book as part of my resolution to “make a conscious effort to read books outside my normal tendency and comfort zone – more books by diverse authors and about issues or experiences new or unfamiliar to me” (My First Presidential Election as a U.S. Citizen & How I’m Moving Forward). I have certainly done that in general, but I never got around to reading that book in particular. It’s actually a short and relatable essay. I like Adichie’s voice and tone. I used to feel feminism was a somewhat extreme belief, not for me, but instead only for extreme, activist women. But over time, I’ve come to realize that it’s actually something we should all believe in. As Adichie writes herself, “a feminist is a man or woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”


Fallen Angels (Varg Veum Series) by Gunnar Staalesen
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)

This was a great pick for the 1980s decade in the Scandinavian Reading Challenge. The protagonist, private investigator Varg Veum, is all over Bergen, Norway, while working the case, and the author’s descriptions of the city and its surroundings (fjords and mountains) are very vivid. It all starts with the funeral of an old classmate of Varg’s at which he is reunited with other friends and this takes him down memory lane, especially when he’s asked to track down a friend’s wife who happened to be an old crush of Varg’s. There is a murder mystery involved, actually a series of murders, but be warned that the resolution of this mystery is quite unsettling.


What have you been reading lately?

If you’re interested in purchasing some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit 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.