Long time no see! My blogging game has been quite poor for the past two to three months, but now that summer holiday’s right around the corner I’m once again feeling more motivated to blog. And one post that has been long waiting in the reserve is my spring book haul.
Back in January I went a bit crazy with book buying and vowed to hold back for the next few months. And well, I did and I didn’t. Over the past four months, I’ve bought and received a total of 16 books – 8 physical copies and 8 ebooks. Some of them I’ve already read and blogged about (or will blog soon), but for the most part they have just increased my ever-growing TBR pile. I’ve been frequenting my local library very actively in 2015 which means that I’ve been reading mostly library books. Hopefully summer will be a turning point and I’ll be able to find a balance between reading my own books as well as books from the library.
This is going to be a loooong post so I suggest that you make yourself a cup of tea (or ice tea!) so that you’ll have something to keep you refreshed. Now let’s jump into the fun part – books! Here’s an overview of all the physical copies that I’ve acquired in the months of February, March, April and May: (excuse the lighting issues)
One of the bookish highlights of my year so far has been attending the book launch for Unknown Soldiers, a new translation of the Finnish classic Tuntematon Sotilas by Väinö Linna. The previous English translation of the novel was highly contested as it had removed several parts of the book and simplified the narration in many points. The book follows a military troop in the Finnish Continuation War during the WWII and it focuses on the personal and mental effects of war to this eclectic collection of men in war. I read the Finnish original two summers ago and was surprised how much this I was moved by a book that I’d considered to be “just a book about war”. The new translations by Liesl Yamaguchi and it was published in the Penguin Classics series. I probably won’t have time to read this during the summer, but I hope to get to it later this year.
Another positive surprise was discovering that Ian Doescher was also adapting the rest of Star Wars into Shakespearean style and receiving a copy of the newest book from the publisher Quirk Books. In the midst all the hustle and bustle of university, I found Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Phantom of Menace to be just what I needed to relax and enjoy. It has just the right mix of laugh-out-loud moments and intricate Shakespeare references, so if you haven’t yet tried out the series, I’d highly recommend that you do.
One of the 2015 goals is to read more poetry. Although I’ve been slacking a bit on that front – especially in this month – it has inspired me to look for poetry collections. Aika Sattuu is definitely one of the most interesting collections that I’ve encountered during these searches because it is a Finnish translation of Estonian haiku poetry. That’s right, Estonian haiku poetry. I haven’t read it yet, despite the fact that it’s a tiny thing, because I’m saving it up for the more “zen like” moments (if that makes any sense). But once I do, I do plan on reviewing it. Plus I like the fact that it is a flip-back!
Ever since picking up the fourth volume in last year’s Helsinki Book Fair I’ve been gushing to my friends about the Villimpi Pohjola (eng. Northern Overexposure) comic series. I received a bind-up of the first two books for Christmas and in March I was over the moon when I discovered the third book, Kypsyystesti (eng. Maturity Test) from a second-hand bookshop. I read it on the same day and absolutely loved it. The fifth installment should be coming out in August and I’m feeling super excited for it!
Because of my goal to read read more Finnish fiction in 2015, I’ve also found myself purchasing more Finnish books. However, neither White Hunger nor Hägring 38 are in Finnish. White Hunger is the English translation of Aki Ollikainen’s novel that I read last year and absolutely fell in love with. I gushed about the release of the translation in my blog earlier this year and even shared a link to a giveaway of the book. The English translation is by a mother-daughter duo Fleur and Emily Jeremiah and the translation has been receiving some great reviews. Because the Finnish book is still fresh in my mind, I probably won’t be in a hurry to read this, but we’ll see… As for Kjell Westö’s Hägring 38 (eng. Vision 38), the book is in Swedish. Westö is a famous Finnish-Swedish author who writes his novels in Swedish and most of his books are set in Helsinki in different time periods. Hägring 38 is his latest novel and although I had heard some very positive reviews of the book, this one was definitely a cover buy. I just could not resist the art deco font and the colour scheme!
The last two books in the picture were both bought from second-hand bookshops. First was The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov which I came across in March for 2 euros. The cover of the book has a slight crack but I was really drawn in by the design. Bulgakov is one of the famous Russian authors that I’ve been meaning to read and I thought I might as well choose a copy that has an interesting looking cover – little did I know that the Finnish translation of The Master and Margarita with the same cover design would hit the shops about a month later! In contrast to cover buys, I bought Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad based on the blurb at the back and the fact that it was listed on BBC’s Greatest Novels of 21st century list. I found my copy from the Arkadia International Bookshop when visiting Helsinki and because the owner was such a pleasant person, I just knew I had to buy something. So if you ever do visit Helsinki, I’d highly suggest that you visit the shop – it has the perfect cosy atmosphere!
Now on to the 8 ebooks that I’ve acquired during these months. Owning a Kindle has definitely doubled my book buying, but due to various offers and the generally less expensive price tag the dent to my wallet hasn’t been as bad as it could be. They also don’t take as much space on the shelves as physical copies do. All this being said, reading an ebook isn’t quite the same as reading a physical book. The sense of the length of the book is only visible in per cents and given estimations of how long it should take for you to read and it is sometimes easy to forget that you own a certain book unless you specifically browse through your e-library. To avoid that I’ve been trying to read the ebooks that I buy relatively soon after I’ve bought them.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith is a sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling which I read last summer. Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling and although I didn’t love the first book in the Cormoran Strike series as much as Harry Potter or The Casual Vacancy, I’ll still keep reading whatever she publishes. Plus I’ve found that her crime series is a perfect light reading for the beach or weekend at the summer cottage. I think the rumours suggest that the third book in the series would be published this summer, so I’ll try to catch up with the series before that.
Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern is a chick-lit novel about a friendship between a girl and a boy growing up in Ireland, moving away, and maintaining a connection over several decades, marriages, divorces, heartbreaks, et cetera. Not really what I generally read, I bought the book mainly because the film trailer looked interesting and I needed some change in my reading. The book was originally named Rosie Dunne (the name of the main character), but due to the film release, the name has also changed. Fun fact: it is written in an epistolary style (a clear trend in my reading in 2015!). More of my thoughts in May Reads!
I went through a historical fiction spree in the beginning of the year and as part of that I read Winter Siege by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman. The book is set in medieval England during the throne war between the deceased King’s daughter and his nephew – and that is only the backdrop. The story has many levels as it is narrated by an old monk on his deathbed and it follows two female characters who have two very differing social positions in the warring land. I received a copy of the book from the publisher Bantam as part of the paperback release and having read the ebook, I was surprised to find the paperback in one of the local bookshops here in Finland. After all, it is quite a small world.
Early in March I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay We Should All Be Feminists which I adored. Reading the essay and listening to the TEDx talk that it was based on I realised how little I actually knew about something that I felt a part of. I have studied some of the early feminists text, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, in university but not specifically from the feministic point of view. So I did what every bookworm does when encountering a topic that they want to know more about – I got books. I read both early texts, such as Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and contemporary ones, such as Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman and Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays – both of which I will review later! The story of The Awakening is one that sets forth powerful questions about freedom and choices to make them and I really enjoyed how it.
After the January book extravaganza I was trying to hold tight to my goal of not buying books, but when presented with a few very tempting offers I eventually caved in. First of them was Us by David Nicholls. It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and as I had read One Day years ago, I thought I might see if his style had somehow changed and refined. However, due to strange meetings in the library and other oddities, I ended up reading Nicholls’ Starter for Ten instead. I think Us could also work out as a light beach reading during the summer, but at the moment I’m in no hurry to read it.
Having broken the goal once, it was too easy to break it again. The Princess Bride by William Goldman has been on my TBR list ever since watching the film and discovering that it was based on a book. Moreover, the book isn’t one that can be found in any of the local bookshops and even the library didn’t own a copy. My intention was to read The Princess Bride very soon after I’d bought the copy but here I am, four months later, and I still haven’t read it. Shame on me.
The final book on my list is a Finnish one – Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s Sielut kulkevat sateessa (eng. The Souls Travel in the Rain). Jääskeläinen found international fame with his translated novel The Rabbit Back Literature Society which I read earlier this year and loved its strangeness and the elements of magical realism. Sielut kulkevat sateessa is his latest novel and it follows a woman named Judit who, in the want of a change to her monotonous and dull life, takes up an slightly strange and unexpected job offer. The book is set to be a mixture of mystery and a psychological thriller, so I’ll probably save this one for the beginning of autumn.
And that’s it! Those were all the books that I acquired during the spring months. Next time I’ll to write a post as soon as I hit five, so that the posts will be a bit shorter than this monstrosity. Let me know in the comments which books you’d love to hear about more and which you’ve read yourself! Cheers x