July was vacation month for me with lots of air travel to, from, and within Europe and down time to read. As I always do when traveling, I try to read a book that takes place where I’m going. It provides insight that I would otherwise not get and sometimes I feel like I get to know some locals while I’m at it.
This summer that destination was Italy. One book I planned in advance, The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani, and the other, In Sardinia: An Expected Journey in Italy by Jeff Biggers, was a last minute addition to my summer reading. Just by chance, I came across this newly published book (May 23, 2023) at the airport bookstore. It was an instant purchase, despite carry-on being at capacity, since we were going exactly there and I knew next to nothing about the island.
August is Women in Translation Month (#WITmonth). Every year I normally set aside August to read women in translation from outside Scandinavia since I normally read a few during the year. However, this year I haven’t read as many Scandinavian books as I normally do, so I’m prioritizing that. I have Norwegian Vigdis Hjorth’s Long Live the Post Horn! (a prolific author I’ve been wanting to read for a long time), Dane Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen’s Island (takes place on Danish Faroe Islands), and Swede Kerstin Ekman’s Blackwater (for the 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge) on my TBR pile for August and going into the fall.
How is your summer reading going?
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
(Narrated by Adjoa Andoh)
A fascinating but also disturbing look into contemporary Nigerian society! Adunni is a 14-year old village girl whose biggest wish in life is to get an education. Her mother believed in this and worked hard to pay her school fees, but when the mother died, the father sold her as a third wife to an older man because he needed the money. She was soon forced to flee her husband’s household and became a domestic servant in a wealthy Nigerian household in Lagos. Life was tough for Adunni, but she persevered and had unexpected people along the way who helped her. I highly recommend the audiobook. Adunni’s voice and personality really shined. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: Black, General Fiction
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Africa (Nigeria)
- Work Book Bingo: A book chosen based on the cover
- #unreadBOTMselection: February 2020
The Cipher (Nina Guerrera Book 1) by Isabella Maldonado
This is about FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera who escaped a serial killer at age sixteen, and now eleven years later, she is brought back to his universe through a series of murders of vulnerable girls. While she and her team travel cross-country investigating, the perpetrator uses the internet and social media posting complex codes and riddles to invite the public to play along. I enjoyed the fresh and updated aspects of the book, including the strong Latina protagonist and inclusion of social media. Jennifer Lopez is going to star in a Netflix adaptation of the book (dates TBD). I would see it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- #DiversityAcrossGenres: Latin/x, Thriller
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: North America (USA)
- Work Book Bingo: Go in blind & a book with a screen adaption
A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk and Robot #1) by Becky Chambers
This novella takes place far in the future when robots have long since gained self awareness and wandered off into the wilderness. A nonbinary monk who has dedicated their life to serving tea and listening to humans in times of need suddenly meets a robot who has come back to fulfill a longstanding promise of checking in on the humans. The robot is there to find the answer to the question “What do people need?”. I loved the world building and really enjoyed the relationship between the monk and the robot, but overall it was too philosophical for me. ⭐⭐⭐
- Work Book Bingo: A book with a protagonist that isn’t human & a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist
Beach Read by Emily Henry
This was my first Emily Henry book, and I really enjoyed it. It was a fun summer romance. I had no expectations of anything going in, and for me it was actually deeper than I thought it would be. It’s about a disillusioned romance writer and a literary fiction writer with writer’s block who find themselves living next door to each other on a lake in Michigan one summer. They make a deal to swap genres for the summer and go on field trips to learn about the other genre. I was confused by the title until the very end when it made total sense. I’ll read another Emily Henry. Book Lovers is up next but not until next summer. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Work Book Bingo: A book set in summer & a book borrowed from a friend
The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani
This book features the women of the Cabrelli family, a jewelry making family that lives in Viareggio, a seaside town in Tuscany, not far from Florence where we visited this summer. It’s a dual timeline story that jumps between “now” when Matelda, the matriarch, is nearing the end of her life and revealing a life-long family secret, and “then” when her mother Domenica is growing up and World War II arrives. I haven’t read a WWII novel from the perspective of Italians before and certainly was not familiar with “Britalians” and their history in the UK, especially during WWII. I greatly enjoyed that insight. I got to know five generations of the Cabrelli family, at times a little hard to keep track of without a family tree (made one myself), and they’re a vibrant lot with a very interesting past. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Europe (Italy, France, Scotland)
- Work Book Bingo: Free Choice
- #unreadBOTMselection: April 2022
In Sardinia: An Expected Journey in Italy by Jeff Biggers
I knew nothing about Sardinia other than it being an Italian island with beautiful beaches and having harbors full of luxury yachts. In this book, an American author and his family (Italian wife) are based in Sardinia for a year (2017) and travel the whole island exploring its history, culture, and people. I gained a much greater appreciation for the island, especially in regards to its prehistoric beginnings and the Nuragic civilization from 4,000 years ago. We made it a priority to visit one of the 7,000 nuraghe ruins that are on the island. My one big issue with the book, however, was its very frequent reference to the many authors of the past who had written about the island. I much preferred the contemporary stories of past and present.
- Book Voyage: Read Around the World: Island
- Work Book Bingo: A book that takes place in another country
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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