This was the kind of reading month I love. The genres, settings, characters, and overall take-aways were all so different. Although I didn’t love them all, I really appreciated and enjoyed the cumulative reading experience. The Diversity Across Genres reading challenge has been a fun addition to my reading life this year.
What have you been reading lately?
Stolen by Ann-Helén Laestadius, English translation by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Stjålet by Ann-Helén Laestadius, translated from the Swedish to the Norwegian by Gøril Eldøen and Magne Tørring 📖
I really enjoyed and appreciated this book, a window into a culture that I’m very intrigued by. I admired and cared for the characters, the story was very engaging, the setting of Arctic Sweden was unique, and the insight into contemporary Sámi culture and issues was fascinating as well as infuriating.
At 9 years old, Elsa, a Sámi girl from a reindeer herding family, witnesses her reindeer calf being killed and is threatened to silence by the perpetrator. The event has a deep and lingering effect on her. As time passes, the Sámi community continues to experience crimes against their reindeer. The police do nothing; the crimes are just marked as theft with no investigations. The story jumps ahead 10 years when Elsa returns to her Sámi community after high school in town. Nothing has changed in regards to discrimination and prejudice towards the Sámi, and Elsa becomes active in the fight for justice. So many issues facing the Sámi are touched upon in this book. In addition to the discrimination and prejudice they face, there’s the effect of climate change on reindeer herding, mental health of Sámi people, and expected gender roles within the Sámi communities. It was an engaging and powerful read that left impressions that will stay with me for a long time.
FYI, the novel is getting a Netflix adaptation directed by Ella Márjá Eira set to premiere in 2024.
- Nordic Literature Reading Challenge 2023: Sweden – By or about a marginalized group OR Sámi Lit
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Arctic & Antarctic (Arctic Sweden)
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: Indigenous, general fiction, translated
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 🎧
(Narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie)
I loved this book, such a heartwarming story! The story is told from the perspectives of three characters all with such unique personalities – Tova, a woman in her 70’s whose son died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 18 and whose husband recently died of cancer; Cameron, a young adult who never had a father and was raised by his aunt when his mother left him at an early age; and Marcellus, an octopus nearing the end of his life, who has a keen eye and is not a fan of humans. I cared and rooted for all the characters, including the octopus. I loved how the storylines intertwined over time. I chuckled throughout and even teared up at the end. And a little bonus for me, Tova’s family emigrated from Sweden when she was a young girl, so the occasional mentions of her Swedish heritage were fun for me. Also, I attended a panel at the recent LA Times Festival of Books where the author and three others spoke about their recent books, which was a real treat. Highly recommend it! The audiobook narration by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie was fabulous.
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali 📖
This book had been on my TBR list for a long time. I was intrigued by the historical setting – 1953 in Tehran, Iran, when the government was overthrown and the Shah reinstated. It’s about Roya, a teenager who falls in love and is engaged to be married, but the political upheaval disrupts those plans abruptly. She ends up moving to California and continues her life in the US. Sixty years later she is reunited with her lost love and learns what actually happened. I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the insight into Iranian history and culture (especially the food!). My favorite part of the book was when the story was set in Iran. However, I found the story of Roya in the US to be lack-luster. I had great hopes for her, but she just didn’t come off as a very strong character.
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: MENA/Arab, Romance
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng 📖
I started this book by listening to the audiobook but the narration wasn’t working for me. I didn’t want to give up on it; I was too intrigued by all the hype about it, so I switched to the ebook. There I found the writing to be without quotation marks which is normally not to my liking, but luckily, I quickly got used to it and it didn’t bother me. The story takes place in the near future. So much mirrors contemporary times — children taken from parents, book banning, Asian hate, lockdown due to a crisis. Ng’s writing is wonderful, poetic at times, but I found the whole book bleak with no joy. I did admire the non-violent protests using art and the role of libraries. I was hoping for a more hopeful or satisfying ending.
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: Asian, General Fiction
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.
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