October Reads and November Plans

Hi guys!

Well, this is awkward. I had all these great plans about my blogoversary (Dawn of books is now 2 years old!), blogging about this year’s Helsinki Book Fair and attending lots of author and blogger events. Also, I thought I could magically catch up with my male to female ratio within one month. It’s now safe to say that none of these things happened. I haven’t written or published a single post in the entire month and, looking back, I’m genuinely surprised I even had time to read any books. I finished 8 books in October, most of them in crazy reading bouts on weekends or during long train rides, but overall my life has lately been sorrowfully un-bookish. I was going to rant about exactly how un-bookish my life currently is, but then I realised that I’m reading exactly as many books as per usual. Sure, there are fewer moments when I could be reading, but now when I get that moment, I make use of it in order to read as much as I possibly can. At the moment, my time is pretty much divided between working, studying and writing my Master’s Thesis, but it doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading (or blogging).

To look on the bright side side of life, October did see some cool bookish events. I saw Aki Ollikainen (the author of White Hunger) speak about his books and his writing process. I haven’t yet read his latest, but I’m looking forward to it. The event was surprisingly low-key and fun, because the author invited the audience to ask questions, which presented some very interesting conversations. I also got to attend the annual Helsinki Book Fair on Saturday 24th and shortly on Sunday 25th, saw authors talk about their favourite books, listened to a fascinating panel on ebooks, and overspent on books. I bought five books during the first day; at first there was just one and then suddenly I was standing at the register holding my fifth purchase! I’ll try to write a post about my Book Fair weekend and the books that I bought in November soon-ish, so there should at least be one post coming up in this month!

Books read in October:

  • Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem by Harry Martinson
  • Juoppohullun päiväkirja by Juha Vuorinen
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
  • Saga, vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
  • Valomerkki (Northern Overexposure #5) by JP Ahonen
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

The one book in the list that I won’t be reviewing separately is Juoppohullun päiväkirja (eng. The Diary of a Drunkard/Sot) by Juha Vuorinen. To summarise my review: this book just wasn’t for me. Not one bit. The potential DNF-point came already within the first 30 pages, because there is no point in this novel – except to laugh at an alcoholic young man and his fellow drunks getting into all sorts of scrapes whilst intoxicated. It’s screwball humour mixed with toilet humour; not my cup of tea. The book is an interesting publishing phenomenon – having sold as much as it has and being first published online – but it most definitely isn’t a title I’d include in the Finnish “100 Books You Must Read”.1.5/5 stars

My current to-be-reviewed pile is at 21 books, so once I get the time, I’ll have to come up with a strategy to overcome my constantly growing pile of unreviewed books. However, if you’re interested in reading my immediate reactions to the books I’m reading, I suggest you check out my Goodreads feed. I tend to write quick summaries after finishing the book, so that I won’t forget them before typing up the review post. And now that my blogging hiatus/whatever is on, I need those to refresh my memory.

Books I’ll try to pick up in November:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (currently reading)
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  • Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Following the theme of Halloween, I started reading Frankenstein on the last day of October. I’ve heard interesting things about this classic Gothic horror novel, and it sounds very intriguing. It’s an epistolary novel, so the last few days I’ve read about one or two letters a night before my brain has shut down. Not to say it’s drowsy or anything, but I’m looking forward to the weekend to dive into the story. Moreover, Frankenstein fits perfectly in my plans to read more female writers! Also on my November TBR is Everything I Never Told You which I recently purchased for my Kindle. According to some reviews, it’s been one of the more challenging and diverse YA titles of late, so I’m interested to see how it plays out.

Next up are two books from my October library haul: Wide Sargasso Sea and Signature of All Things. My number one goal on this library haul was to get books by female authors, so I picked both short and long titles to suit different reading moods. Wide Sargasso Sea is a modern classic that tells the story of Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre. Based on the first sentence alone, I’m sure the book will be a new experience. When I reviewed the fantastic Mr Darwin’s Gardener, Naomi of Consumed by Ink recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s Signature of All Things as a book with similar themes. I’ve read Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love – which I wasn’t a fan of – but because the reviews on Signature of All Things have been more than positive, I’m giving Gilbert another go.

Lastly, I have Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind. This doesn’t fall into the category of “books by women authors”, but I’ve been looking forward to this book for so long that I couldn’t resist it any longer. In fact, I think the bookish themes and mysteries of this book will fit perfectly the dark and gloomy season ahead. It’s a book that will be enjoyed with big cups of tea (and maybe some fresh-from-the-oven treats). This month I’ve refrained from adding Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wilderfell Hall for the fifth month running to my TBR. I’m still interested in the book, but since it seems I’m never getting round to reading it, I’ll lay it aside for a while and get back to it maybe next month or in the beginning of next year. I can’t believe next year is less than two months away! As always, the TBR list is highly prone to change and the end result will very much depend on how much time I can set aside for reading.

I hope you all had a wonderful October and that November will treat you well. Happy reading! x

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September Reads and October Plans

October’s here, which means it’s time for candles, big cups of tea, and bookish events! Autumn has never been my favourite season, but with so many exciting things planned ahead, I think October might turn out to be a fun month. However, let’s first look back at what I read in September.

September was a strange month because despite a busy schedule I still read 10 books. In the beginning of the month, I wrapped up my Summer Readings and also hauled a big pile of classics from the library. Nevertheless, this time I didn’t reach for the chunkier classics but chose books that were generally under 200 pages. Hence why I finished so many books. In September I also took part in a fun nationwide campaign where people gathered in public to form a “reading queue” and read their book for about 15 minutes. The event aimed to make reading a more visible activity and social activity. I’m glad I participated since I had some very interesting bookish conversations with the other participants!

Books read in September: 

  • Kiinalainen puutarha by Markus Nummi (Finnish)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • Pomes All Sizes by Jack Kerouac
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Matkalle: Kirjaviennin uusi aika by Markku Kaskela & Jukka Koskelainen (Finnish)
  • The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Kolmen metrin pino. Sivuja kääntäjän työpöydältä by Thomas Warburton (Finnish)

In September I read two Finnish books that had more of an informational value than purely entertainment: Matkalle (On a journey) and Kolmen metrin pino (A three metre pile). Both are also titles that have not been translated into English, so I will only give a quick review of them here instead of writing full length posts.

Firstly, Matkalle is a non-fiction book about literature exchange business in Finland and it consists of interviews and small pieces written by different professionals. For some time now, I’ve wanted to know more about the process of selling and buying translation rights and the entire process behind translated books. I’m actually planning on doing my thesis on the role of translator in this process, so I read this book partly for research and partly for general interest. It’s a nice introduction to the different roles of authors, agents, foreign rights officers and support organisations, but overall, I think the book lacked a solid conclusion. 3.5/5 stars

The second book, Kolmen metrin pino is a small memoir of a literary translator Thomas Warburton. The name of the translator was unfamiliar to me before I picked up this book, mainly because Warburton is a Swedish translator and originally also wrote his memoir in Swedish. However, what makes him interesting is the fact that Warburton has translated many Finnish classics that are considered to be very difficult and also in his 50 years of translation also tackled classics such as Joyce’s Ulysses and Sterne’s Tristram Sandy. Warburton keeps the focus of his memoir primarily on his career and marks time through the book that he was translating. For someone interested in literary translation, the book offers insights as well as some good tips for what to consider when starting out. 4/5 stars

Autumn often puts me in the mood to read classics, which is wonderful because I love classics! However, the downside of reading many classics is that they are mostly written by men and this pushes against my female to male ratio challenge. Out of the ten books that I read in September, only one was by a female author and, what’s more, my nightstand is also filled with mostly books by male authors. So to reach that 50/50 balance by the end of the year, I really need to get some more female authors on my reading list – might need to do a special women-only library haul in October since my most recent book haul also consists mostly of male authors!

Books on my October TBR:

  • Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem by Harry Martinson (currently reading)
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Lithium-6 by Risto Isomäki
  • The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare
  • The Tenant of Wilderfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Having said that, I’m not fully giving up on reading male authors either. There are so many exciting books that it would be a shame to ignore them simply because I want to win at some silly self-imposed challenge. For example, I’m currently reading Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem by the Nobel Prize winning Harry Martinson, and it’s bloody brilliant. Like mind-blowingly good. I also want to read Risto Isomäki’s (author of The Sands of Sarasvati) book Lithium-6, because the English translation is coming out in the beginning of October. In addition, I have The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg, a Shakespearean drama set in 1809 Finland (published by the lovely Peirene Press), as well as Shakespeare’s King Lear on loan from the library.

In order to balance my male-heavy TBR for October, I went through my unread books and picked up three that I think I would love to read this month. First is The Tenant of Wilderfell Hall by Anne Brontë, which I’ve been meaning to get to since July. Nevertheless, I think autumn evenings might be the perfect atmosphere to enjoy this story. Next I have Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, which I’m finally going to read. I bought an ebook copy of this very loved book in early August and I’ve been itching to start it. And finally, because October is also the month of Halloween, I have Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Having read another scary classic, Dracula, during the summer, I think it’s finally time to also tick this one off the TBR 274. I’ve also heard some wonderful things about the structure of the novel, so I look forward to reading and experiencing it myself.

As is the fate of TBRs, this one might also change as the month progresses. In the end, it all depends on how much time I’ll be able to devote to reading. For the end of this post, I’d like to thank everyone who has been commenting and liking my post during the past few weeks. I’m sorry that I have been late in answering you comments, but I hope to improve on that in October. Happy reading! x