Ah, the long awaited Helsinki Book Fair. Ever since I started blogging about reading and posting reviews, I also started to think about attending a book fair. I’ve only been to a few book fairs which have all been quite small and indie. Whereas I do love to discover books, I usually skip the latest releases and go browse in the stacks behind them. But as a friend of mine was also going to the book fair, I decided to tag along and see it for myself. Now, Helsinki Book Fair is (I believe) the biggest book fair in Finland. It is an annual festival that features all the biggest publishing houses and a dozen smaller ones. This year’s theme was Germany and German literature – just as next year Finland will be the theme in the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The book fair was open from Thursday to Sunday, with interviews, book signings, and panel discussions scheduled for every day. I attended the book fair on Saturday and the place was jam-packed! It was actually hard to move from one place to another without accidentally bumping into someone. And as there was so much going on, moving from one place to another had to be done quickly. I managed to hear the interviews of Kjell Westö and Eoin Colfer – both talking about their new book. I very much enjoyed listening to the authors being interviewed on stage: it is always fascinating to hear what they had thought while writing the book.
But most of my time in the book fair I spent browsing through the sections of books. There were just so many! I can’t believe I didn’t buy more books as the temptation was constantly present. However, I did enjoy browsing the second-hand section more interesting than the new releases. There was more excitement as I didn’t know what I would find. Also, the second-hand books are much cheaper than the new releases which to a poor student such as myself is a relief. At the end of the day, my feet were hurting from hours of constantly standing and walking, and my arms were hurting from carrying all the books. But I was happy.
And then to the interesting part: the actual books! I bought a total of 6 books (2 new, 4 second-hand) and got one as a loan from my friend. All the books – except the one I borrowed – are written/translated to Finnish but as most of them can also be found in English, I’ll refer to them with their English titles. And the books are:
- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
- Not before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo
- Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi
- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
- Salo by Turkka Hautala
- You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane (borrowed)