Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #2)

EBOOK; 455 P.
SPHERE, 2014
SOURCE: PURCHASED

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

I read the first book in the Cormoran Strike series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, two years ago during summer holidays. Although the book didn’t altogether blow my mind – with JK Rowling the expectations run higher than usual –, it turned out to be an exciting and fun summer read. However, continuing the series was pushed back as I was soon after slightly spoiled about the events in The Silkworm and needed some time to erase the information from my memory. In the end summer arrived once again with a short vacation at the summer cottage and upon choosing the books to take with me, I decided to purchase The Silkworm for my Kindle and see where the story would go (and whether it would improve).

Whereas The Cuckoo’s Calling centered around fame and celebrity culture, The Silkworm focuses on the publishing circles of London. Like many other readers I, too, am fascinated by stories – fiction or non-fiction – set in the world of books, which is why I was super intrigued to see how the story and the plot would plan out. The story begins when private detective Cormoran Strike is alerted about a missing author Owen Quine. Right before his disappearance Quine had sent several people a copy of his manuscript that throws strong accusations about several leading figures in the publishing world. The circumstances around the authors disappearance are murky and it seems no one has a nice word to say about the missing author.

The Silkworm is an enjoyable detective novel. It’s great in the sense that it makes you want to read until the end to find out who did it – a perfect read that will keep you entertained for a day or two – and it doesn’t give clues too easily. However, looking back at the reading experience it’s apparent that the book failed to leave a lasting impression – I had to look up several things while writing this blog post. The most exciting thing about this novel was the publishing world setting, but other than that, I found my interest slipping. I guess it might be just me, but I found neither the plot nor the characters particularly gripping. Aside from the mystery itself, the novel focuses a lot on Cormoran Strike’s assistant Robin and her struggles in balancing work and relationship. This could have been interesting in itself, but in the end it felt that the two plotlines of The Silkworm didn’t connect with each other – they were like two incomplete parts of two different books that had been sown together.

I don’t mean to say that The Silkworm is particularly bad novel, but it’s not exceptional either. All in all, the book left me a bit disappointed in the series as a whole. JK Rowling knows how to write and to craft realistic characters, so it’s always a pleasure to read her books, but I just don’t think she writes crime well. As a concept the Cormoran Strike series is an interesting one, but it just doesn’t seem like the one for me. Lucy from the Hard Book Habit struggled also with the first two books in the series, but based on her review things get more interesting in the third book. Hence I might try to read The Career of Evil over the summer (and continue to read the next books in the series for the sake of pop culture references). However, I’ll definitely stick to checking them out from the library instead of buying my own copies.

3/5

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Review: Aniara by Harry Martinson

PAPERBACK; 188 P.
ALBERT BONNIERS FÖRLAG, 2004/1956
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

The great Swedish writer Harry Martinson published his masterpiece, Aniara, during the height of the Cold War – right after the Soviet Union announced that it had exploded the hydrogen bomb. Aniara is the story of a luxurious space ship, loaded with 8,000 evacuees, fleeing an Earth made uninhabitable by Man’s technological arrogance. A malfunction knocks the craft off course, taking these would-be Mars colonists on an irreversible journey into deep space. Aniara is a book of prophecy, a panoramic view of humanity’s possible fate. It has been translated into seven languages and adapted into a popular avant-garde opera.

Once upon a time, in a far far corner of a nice Irish pub I asked my reader friend to recommend me a good science fiction book (he’s an expert, you see). The response was immediate – Aniara by Harry Martinson –, so much so that at first I thought he making a joke. However, the name stuck in my mind and about a month later I checked the book out from the library. The only copy available in my local library was in Swedish, but I decided that it would have to do. I mean, how hard can it be to read about space travel in Swedish? (Answer: Hard, but so bloody worth it.)

Aniara begins with the launch of one of the gigantic ships that are transporting people from the no longer inhabitable Earth to Mars to begin a new life there. Unfortunately the evacuation flight gets pushed off track by a collision with an asteroid, and due to a technical error it can’t return back to its original course: the ship is lost in space, floating around with no hope of ever reaching its target. However, the technology of the ship allows its 8,000 passengers to continue to live luxuriously for several decades within the spacecraft. With no immediate danger, the people try to return to their normal lives by building their own society within the spaceship. Aniara is an exploration of the psychological side of life in a closed community: the ship’s inhabitants form their own microcosm of class divisions, religion and morality.

The epic of Aniara consist of 103 songs describing mostly the life and thoughts of an engineer running a machine called Mima that relieves the homesickness of the passengers by showing old images of the Earth. As Earth is the only main connection between the huge mass of people in the spacecraft, the machine is thought have mystic powers and its rooms in the ship come to serve as a church of some sort. Aniara show the human need to control fate as well as the horrors born from conflicts between different groups. As the flight of the ship progresses, the reader learns more about the reasons behind the destruction of Earth as well as the horrifying secrets behind the evacuation plan. Aniara is a tragedy and the heartbreakingly beautiful songs give the story a true feeling of a tale passed on from generation to generation.

I fell in love with Aniara from page one. Although the language made me jump through some hoops with the dictionary, the end result was fantastic and mind-blowing. The book’s themes of humanity, societies and international politics tick all the boxes for me and combined with the stunning poetry, it was clear that the book would become one of my favourite reads. Martinson won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1974 “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos” – although there were some controversy surrounding the process – and in my opinion he has definitely earned it. Unfortunately copies of the English translation are currently almost nonexistent (so I’m told). Some e-copies can, however, be found online, and then there’s always the library. I highly recommend this if you enjoy beautiful and tragic writing about societal issues and human psyche.

5/5

Protesting we were innocent, we sought
to reason without learned reference
and in the language most of them were taught
propound the barest modicum of sense.

But this same language, meant to clear up all,
grew murky for us too, a rigmarole
of words avoiding words and playing blind
amid the clarity of cosmic soul.

(trans. Stephen Klass & Leif Sjöberg)

World Book Day 2016

WBD2016

Happy World Book Day!

March 3rd 2016 is World Book Day which, according to the organisation running the event in the UK, is “a worldwide celebration of books and reading.” The aim is to share books and book recommendations, and to encourage especially children into reading. I’ve lately been too busy juggling with studies, internship and part-time work to update you about my most recent reads, but never too busy to steal a few moments with a good book. Simon from Savidge Reads came up with this great idea (which I’m blatantly copying here) of celebrating the day with some quick bite-sized book recommendations. Go check out his recommendations and share your own in the comments!

Your favourite book: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. On-point social commentary, a dab of romance and strong female characters – what more can you ask for from a 19th century novel?
A recent reading highlight: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s been almost two months since I finished this book and it’s still by far the best book I’ve read this year.
A book people might not have heard of or read but really should have: Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom. One of the best pieces of Finnish literature I’ve read recently; Compartment No. 6 is an excellent novel about a young woman’s journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway during the Soviet years. Need more convincing? Check out Sarah’s review.
A book which might get someone who doesn’t think they like reading back into books: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. If you think you don’t like science fiction-y novels about the end of the world, read this. For reading in general, Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader is quite alright.
A book you can’t wait to read by a favourite author: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (2016?). I’m generally quite bad at keeping up with the new releases, but after reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, I cannot wait to read her next novel!

Around the World in 80 Books

maps

I spotted this reading challenge from Hard Book Habit, a fabulous book blog written by two voracious – and hilarious – readers. The idea of the challenge is to read 80 books set in different countries with at least one book set on each continent, one set on sea and one centered around travelling. I’ve for a long time been intrigued by all the reading diversely/across the world/the continents challenges, but this one seems like a perfect fit for me – a low-key challenge with a chance of learning! Reading 80 books for a challenge is quite a hefty task, so luckily there is no time limit for the journey. I assume it will take me more than one year to complete the challenge, two if I put my mind into it.

I got so excited about the challenge that I instantly started to compile a list of books I would like to read and that are either set or written in countries other than Finland, UK or USA (the top three countries according to my reading statistics and ones that I’ll most likely read many books for). I’ve made a shelf on my Goodreads to keep track of the books I read, and I’ll try to review each of them here using the tag #AW80Books. This post will serve as my travelogue/master post for the reading journey which I’ll update my as I go along.

Here’s a short list of some of the first destinations I hope to travel to:

AFRICA
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
Set in South Africa, the book follows an English professor in the post-Apartheid Cape Town. The lovely Kainzow recommended this one to me ages ago, so I think it’s the perfect starting point for a challenge like this.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – READ
Set in Congo. A classic tale of the “white man’s burden” and an exploration of the deep human psyche. Perhaps not the right fit for this challenge. Although it highlights the racism in the Western perspective, it still falls to the pits of western blindness.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – READ
Set in Nigeria. Almost a direct response to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Achebe’s tale of a Nigerian village life and the struggles of a successful fighter in the changing climate of colonization – both the good and the bad.

ASIA

In the Orchard, the Swallows by Peter Hobbs – READ
Set in Pakistan. A beautiful and poetic story of love, innocence, kindness and war. Hobbs has beautifully captured the sense of how the Afghan war has disturbed the life in the peaceful small communities.

The Corpse Exhibition And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim – READ
Set in Iraq. Hassan Blasim began his writing career only few years after arriving to Finland, but he has already been named as one of the most exciting Arabic fiction writers alive (according to The Guardian). Considering he’s a bit of a local celebrity where I live, I think it apt to begin exploring the Middle East through his short stories.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami – READ
Set in Japan. A curious exploration of libraries, knowledge, education and the surreal magical realism of Murakami

The Vegetarian by Hang Kang – READ
Set in South Korea. The winner of Man Booker International Prize 2016. The Vegetarian follows one woman’s decision to give up meat and the reaction that this causes in her family. It’s a deeply upsetting and raw tale of a woman’s fight against oppression and patriarchal norms.

EUROPE
A Constellation of a Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Set in Chechnya. This one I actually don’t know much about except that it is a blogger favourite and adored by many of the readers whose tastes often go hand in hand with mine.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Set in Russia. This is one that I really really want to get to this year. Everyone who has read it loves it, so I cannot wait to tackle this and (hopefully) adore it as well.

A Man Called Ove by Peter Backman – READ
Set in Sweden. A heart-warming tale of an old grumpy man who hates the world and modern society, but is pulled out of his shell by his neighbours.

Estonian haiku poetry by Asko Künnap, Karl Martin Sinijärv, Jürgen Rooste – READ
Set in Estonia. A tiny collection of haiku poetry written in Estonian – which I read in Finnish translation. In few words: fascinating and very post-modern.

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg
Set in Denmark/Greenland, this book follows a woman investigating the mysterious suicide of a young boy from her neighbourhood. It’s one that remember reading an extract from ages ago and buying a copy a few years back with the intention of reading it soon. It’s high time to get on this.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – READ
Set in Italy. This is the first novel in the Neapolitan Quartet that follows two girls growing up in 1950s Naples, their friendship and aspirations as well as the society surrounding them.

Silent House by Orhan Pamuk – READ
Set in Turkey. Understated beauty of a family in the society at the brink of civil war. Aspirations for Western affluence, civilisation, love and acceptance, and terrible miscommunication between sisters and brothers.

AMERICAS
Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos – READ
Set in Mexico, the book follows the young son of a drug cartel mafioso. Said to be quirky and Alice in Wonderland like, I’m looking forward to this foray into Mexican literature.

MISCELLANOUS
Compartment no. 6 by Rosa Liksom – READ
Set on the Trans Siberian Express. This book won the prestigious Finlandia prize in 2011. It’s by the Finnish author Rosa Liksom, who’ve I’ve been meaning to read for a looong time, and it’s also one that has been translated into English.

Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne – READ
This one’s a re-read for me, because I read it the first time when I was twelve and then maybe again the next year. So it’s been over 10 years since I last read it! I haven’t touched any of Verne’s books as an adult, so I’m both interested and scared to see how I feel about them now. Might count this one as the one set on sea.

Let me know if you have any suggestions as to books/countries that I should check out – I’m especially curious about South America, since my knowledge of the literature from the continent is almost nonexistent. Also, if you’d like to participate, please do so! More details can be found from HardBookHabit. Happy reading! x

Bout of Books 15.0 – Updates

Bout of Books

Let’s get Bout of Book-ing! This readathon is week long feast for reading. Each participant can make their own rules, which means you can either try to really challenge yourself or just to see how much you can read in a week. I tend to prefer the latter, so my goal for this challenge is only to read every day – simple, but effective. Going into the challenge, I’m currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which I’ve been reading since the end of December. I’m not sure if I can finish the entire 800+ book during the week (I hope so), but I’ll probably intersperse A Little Life with a couple shorter books from my January TBR. However, last year I read most of The Name of the Rose during Bout of Books without any problems, so I don’t think it’ll be any different this year.

Monday January 4th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 81
Pages read in total: 81
Today’s book in six words: I’m horrified, torn and in love.

Tuesday January 5th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 66
Pages read in total: 147
Today in six words: Not the quantity but the quality ❤

Wednesday January 6th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 169
Pages read in total: 316
Today’s reading in six words: Should I start another book? Nah.

Thursday January 7th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 103
Pages read in total: 419
Today’s reading in six words: Happily monogamous with this book.

Friday January 8th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 120
Pages read in total: 539
Today’s reading in six words: I don’t want this to end.

Saturday January 9th
Currently reading: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Pages read today: 211
Pages read in total: 750
Today’s reading in six words: Finished. Too numb to read more.

Sunday January 10th
Currently reading: Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos & Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich
Pages read today: 161
Pages read in total: 911
Today’s reading in six words: Two short and rather curious books.

Reading goals for 2016

New year, new challenges! I for one love to make plans and plan out small projects, goals or challenges for myself, and reading is no exception. Last year I made a total of eight goals and had great success with most of the challenges. However, because there were so many different goals, some went completely haywire, which is why this year I’m shifting down a gear and setting myself only six reading related goals. For the past month I’ve been toying with many challenge ideas, such as rereading the entire Harry Potter series, The Continental Challenge etc, but I’ve nevertheless decided to go with goals and challenges that go with my current interests and that I know I could meet with just a bit more dedication. Aside from these six goals, I’ve set my Goodreads reading challenge to 52 books in 2016 (ideally one book a week) and I might also sign up to other challenges as the year progresses just to keep things interesting. However, 2016 will be a busy year for me as I will be graduating and starting the job hunt, so I expect there’ll also be a lot of other things to keep me occupied. We’ll just have to see how that affects my reading.

1. Read 20 books I already own. (And buy less books.)
2015 was a year of big book hauls. So much so that we had to buy a third bookshelf to our apartment. (Not that I’m complaining; I’m very much partial to the library esthetic.) Many of the new purchases, however, went directly to the shelves instead of lingering on my nightstand along with my TBR. In 2015 alone I increased my physical TBR with 30 unread books and read only about 10 books that I’d bought in previous years. If the trend continues, I’ll soon have a full shelf of unread books and a half empty bank account. Part of the problem is that I find myself too often prioritising the library books over my own, which is why I want to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in 2016. 20 might seem like a small number, but if I can focus on reading the books I already own for the first half of the year, it should give me more freedom to catch up with the new releases and shortlisters on the latter half of the year. To stop buying books would also be ideal but unrealistic considering that I received for Christmas not one but two gift vouchers to my favourite bookstores. So there’ll be some book hauls in 2016, but I plan to overall cut back on book buying.

2. Read 20 books from my TBR 274 list
Ever since starting this blog, I’ve read yearly around 20 books from my massive TBR 274. I’m currently at 92/274, so with this pace it should take me around nine years (?!) to read the entire list. Last year I managed to read 18 books, so this year I want to repeat the challenge but aim a bit higher. As my reading has begun to shift more towards fiction published in the 21st century, it’s good to have something to inspire me to pick up also the classics. There are still so many that I want to read!

3. Read at least 4 of the following :
2016kollaasi

  • Anna Karenina by Fjodor Dostoyevski
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Illiad/The Odyssey/Medea/Metamorphoses or other classic text
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • A book by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A book by Charles Dickens
  • A book by Haruki Murakami

I don’t know about you guys, but there are many classics or authors that I keep meaning to read but never do. This is mostly because the books are either big or sound very challenging. Thus I decided to write down a list of five classics that I would like to read soon and challenge myself to prioritise them this year. In true bookworm style I, however, ended up with six books and three authors. To read all of them might be a bit of a stretch, so I’m setting the bar to four books and aiming higher. Some of the books in this list might also count for my TBR 274 goal and some would classify to the translations goal, so I hope to tick off many of these in the coming year.

4. Read 16 books in translation (either in Finnish or English translation)
As a Translation Studies major I’ve always known that I read an appalling low number of books in translation. Last year only 10% of the books I read were translated, which is why I want to put more emphasis on reading translated fiction. In 2016 I want to read more books in translation, whether it be English books in Finnish translation or Russian books in English translation. Reading one book a month would be be good, but considering that I finished 15 books in translation in 2014, I decided to aim for 16 titles.

5. Read at least one book in Swedish and in German
This one’s a repeat from the previous years. I want to continue reading literature in other languages that I know and to keep up my reading comprehension in languages that I don’t use on a daily or weekly basis. Especially with German I know that I’m beginning to forget more and more, which is why in order to keep my language skills active I should keep reading texts in German. The Swedish side of this goal should be easier to meet as I will be taking a Swedish literature course in the spring.

6. Read 16 books by Finnish authors
The year 2015 was “The Year of Book” in Finland and to celebrate Finnish literature I vowed to read 15 books written by Finnish authors. Overall it was an amazing year and I soared through the challenge with a total of 21 books. Although meeting the goal was easier than expected, the challenge nevertheless inspired me to seek out new authors and helped me to discover new and interesting voices. This year my goal is to read at least 16 books by Finnish authors. I already have a few titles in mind, but for the most part I plan to target especially books that have been translated into English.

Lastly I have one goal that I’m not going to give a number for because it is simply this: Be more active in commenting. I am sometimes embarassingly slow when it comes to replying to your lovely comments and also guilty of just clicking the Like button after reading a blog post. Clicking on the button is, however, not as fruitful as commenting because it means that I often miss the insightful discussions. In 2016 I want to give more to other people. Most of the bloggers I follow are writing such intelligent and thoughtful posts, that I want to let them know that I appreciate what they are doing. After all, it’s the social element of blogging that makes this such a lovely hobby!

So there you have it! These are my six reading related goals for 2016. Let me know in the comments what are your reading resolutions for 2016 or which Murakami/Ishiguro novel I should start with. I’ve heard Norwegian Wood is a good place to start with Murakami, but for Ishiguro I have no clue. I hope you had a lovely weekend! x

Looking back at 2015 – statistics and reading goals

In the beginning of 2015 I set myself eight goals which I hoped would inspire me to switch up my reading habits and to inspire me to pick up different types of books. This is exactly what it did and, for the most part, I was very successful in meeting these goals. Some of them even led me to discover new favourites. In honor of the new year, it’s time to look back on those goals and how I did in 2015. But first, here’s some numbers:

In 2015, my Goodreads challenge was to read 50 books – and I read 98 books. That’s 21 books more than in 2014. According to Goodreads that’s a total of 26,246 pages.
In 2015, I read 18 books out of my 274 TBR, which means I now stand at 92/274. That’s one book less than in 2014.
In 2015, I read 53 books by male authors and 45 books by female authors.
In 2015, I read 73 books in English, 22 books in Finnish, 1 books in German and 3 book in Swedish. Out of these, 10 were translations.
In 2015, I read 38 books by North American authors and also 30 books by authors from the UK. The third largest nationality was Finnish with 25 books. In 2014, the number of UK and US was both 26. The number of Finnish authors was 22.
In 2015, I read 73 physical books and 25 ebooks. Out of the physical books, 46 were paperback and 24 hardcover.
In 2015, I read even greater variety of genres. Compared to 2014, the greatest changes are the increase of historical fiction (almost tripled), the arrival of new genres such as horror, comedy and poetry, the decrease of mystery (one fourth of 2014), and the joint increase of science fiction and fantasy (4 and 2 respectively in 2014).

lukudata15

Now let’s look at each challenge more closely.

1. Being more conscious about the gender balance in authors

SUCCESS. In 2015, I wanted to be more conscious of the gender divide. Due to reading classics my reading tends to be dominated by male authors. In 2014, 59% of the authors I read were men, which is why I wanted to try and get the balance close to 50/50 in 2015. And I did surprisingly well. I’m my July reading update report I was in fact almost exactly at the 50/50 mark without much effort. My situation stayed rather stable all the way up to September–October when I read 10 male authors in succession. Despite my efforts of catching up, the men kept dominating the last quarter of my reading year and, in the end, my percentages were 54% men, 46% women. It’s not really 50/50, but it is close enough for me.

2. Read 50 books for Goodreads reading challenge

SUCCESS? I set up the Goodreads challenge to 50 despite reaching almost 80 books last year. Back in January I already knew that I would succeed in the challenge, but to have almost doubled the amount seems unreal to me. This year the counter didn’t create any pressure to read more or encourage to pick up shorter books – that I did all by myself. Statistically I read shorter books in 2015 which is most likely because of a combination of reading more graphic novels, poetry and essays. Which leads me to my next challenge…

3. Read big books: 1 Dickens novel, 1 A Song of Ice and Fire novel, and 2 novels over 600+ pages

ALMOST THERE. I wanted to read more big books in 2015 and, to be honest, I can’t really say I read a lot of those. I did read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – which is surprisingly short for a Dickens novel – as well as two novels over 600 pages: Night Film by Marisha Pessl and The Egyptian by Mika Waltari. I did also read a few books over the 500+ mark, so I can’t really say there were no bigger books other than those. However, I didn’t even try to pick up the over 1,000 paged Storm of Swords – maybe next year, then? There are rumours that Winds of Winter would be coming out in 2016, so I need to really start reading if I want to catch up by then.

4. Read at least one book in each language that I know (Finnish, English, Swedish, German)

SUCCESS. This challenge came quite naturally for me, and what’s more, it’s fun to see how the numbers are divided between the languages. In 2014, I read 3 books in German and 1 book in Swedish; in 2015, the numbers were exactly the same, only the other way around – 3 in Swedish, 1 in German. As to English and Finnish I read a great deal more books in English than in Finnish. Almost 75% of the books I read in 2015 were in English, so in this year I hope to read more books in Finnish.

5. Read four poetry collections

SUCCESS. It took me quite a while to get around to this goal because the first collection that I started took me several months to finish. However, in challenging myself to read poetry I naturally had to do some research and thus discovered many new poets to check out. The four collections were a complete collection of Edith Södergran’s poetry, The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem by Harry Martinson, and Rakkaus on ruma sana (eng. Love is a Dirty Word) by Ismo Alanko. Of these four, both The Bees and Aniara made it to my Top Reads of 2015 list, so I’m more than pleased by the end result!

6. Complete Reading England 2015 challenge

FAILED. Sooo… This should act as a warning example of “How Not To Do It”. I signed up to this challenge already in November, setting myself a goal that was slightly higher than my comfort zone. The first three months of the year went well, but after that none of the books on the list of potential books to read for the challenge just didn’t appeal to me. As spring transitioned to summer I quite honestly forgot about the challenge, until the moment I started writing my reading update in June and realised the sorry state of affairs. Instead of immediate plan of action I, however, let the thing slip hoping that the autumn would inspired me to get back to classics and thus to read books for the challenge. No such luck. The classics that I read were either not set in England at all, or if they were, the setting was always London. In the end, I managed to read 2 counties in classics: London and Yorkshire, and 5 counties in my “Modern Detours” – Channel Islands, Cambridgeshire, Kent, London and Surrey. You can find the exact books for each county HERE. If you count the two together, I’d have barely reached my goal, but because my intention was to read especially English classics, I must admit my defeat. Nevertheless, had I had more enthusiasm for the challenge, this could have been great fun!

7. Read 15 books by Finnish authors

SUCCESS. 2015 was “The Year of Book” here in Finland, and thus readers were challenged to read 15 Finnish books in the course of the year. As I had read 22 books by Finnish authors in 2014, it seemed like a doable challenge. However, what surprised me the most was the fact how quickly my list of interesting Finnish books began to grow once I started to look into the challenge. Although in the end I read only one book more than in 2014, I became more conscious of Finnish literature in 2015 – especially Finnish literature that’s been translated into English. Out of the 23 books, 8 have been translated into English: The Rabbit Back Literature Society, When the Doves Disappeared, Mr Darwin’s Gardener, The Beggar and the Hare, The Egyptian, The Summer Book, The Black Tongue, and The Brothers. In 2016, I hope to read more contemporary Finnish fiction as well as some of the classics that I haven’t read yet.

8. Read approx. 20 books from the TBR 274 list

ALMOST THERE. The year 2015 began with a new addition to my opulently large TBR when BBC published its critics’ Greatest Novels of 21st Century (so far). The list included many interesting titles of good variety, so I decided to add them to my list – transforming the TBR 254 into TBR 274. In 2015, I read slightly more classics and modern classics than in the previous year, most of them listed in the TBR. My year included amazing novels such as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Red Line by Ilmari Kianto, as well as a bunch of William Shakespeare’s fantastic plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, King Lear). From the more modern end of the list, I really enjoyed The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. There were, naturally, also ones that didn’t quite live up to the rest, such as Maa on syntinen laulu by Timo K. Mukka and Juoppohullun päiväkirja by Juha Vuorinen. In total I checked off 18 books off the list, so I’m not going to beat myself up for not reading two more books.

There! That’s a lot of figures and links to take in, so I’m going to leave it at that for today. I will post my 2016 reading goals tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Let me know in the comments if you keep a record of the books you read in a year and what are the things that you track!

December Reads and January Plans

Hello lovely readers!


I hope your New Year’s Eve was wonderful, whether you were partying together or spending a lovely evening with a good book. I can’t believe it’s already 2016! December was been delightfully bookish because of the Christmas break. I’ve squeezed in 7 books and 3 graphic novels, bringing my yearly total to 98 books. My favourite of series of the month is definitely The Sandman graphic novel series, volume 2 perhaps my favourite of the three. As for novels, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You touched me deeply and made me reflect on race and prejudice. Hopefully the new year will also bring tons of similarly thought-provoking books to explore!

Books read in December:

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • The Sandman, vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman
  • The Sandman, vol. 3 by Neil Gaiman
  • The Sandman, vol. 4 by Neil Gaiman
  • The Signature of Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Obituary Society by Jessica L. Randall
  • The Blue Room by Hanne Orstavik
  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I will review the rest of the books – eventually – but not this one: The Obituary Society by Jessica L. Randall is a fluffy romance mystery novel with paranormal elements. I was browsing my Kindle in preparation for the holiday travelling and discovered it from my collection of unread ebooks. I honestly can’t even remember the reason why I’ve purchased it, but I believe it must be down to the intriguing title. It follows a 23-year-old young woman moving to a small town where her recently departed grandfather originated from and quickly becoming entangled with the local affairs and mysteries behind her grandfather. Despite the intriguing name, the novel left much to to be desired. The romance part was lacklustre, the mystery underdeveloped and the paranormal just plain weird. There are some clear inconsistencies in the writing, and the story overall would have needed a wee bit of more editing. All in all the book is OK, but not something I would recommend to anyone. 2/5

In January I want to kickstart my year of reading the books I already own. I acquired over 50 books in 2015 and about 30 of them are still unread. I’ve discovered that dedicating one month to reading the TBR usually helps in getting started in cutting the omniously large TBR. Moreover, it’s too easy to forget the treasures stored on the shelves and the reasons why I felt the urge to read that particular book. I don’t want to buy books for the sake of buying, but for the stories that they bring. Hence I’ve listed bellow 15 books I’ve acquired in 2015 but didn’t get round to reading.

Books to read in January:

  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (currently reading)
  • Jokapäiväinen elämämme by Riikka Pelo (Finnish)
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Aika sattuu – Vironhaikuja by Asko Künnap, Karl Martin Sinijärv & Jürgen Rooste (Estonian haiku poetry)
  • Us by David Nicholls
  • The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Sielut kulkevat sateessa by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Finnish)
  • Hägring 38 by Kjell Westö (Swedish)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka (German)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Essays by George Orwell
  • Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos
  • Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simo Rich
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Bout of BooksThe list features a mixture of languages, genres, time periods and formats (some of these are ebooks), so it should be an interesting month. Some of these I’m more eager to start with than the others, but only time will tell which books will end up in my January wrap-up. In addition, I hope to focus more on writing blog posts in January – both reviews and 2015 recaps. I still have last year’s stats and goals to go over as well as the goals for 2016. The annual Bout of Books will also take place from January 4th to January 11th, and I’m determined to participate once again! I don’t have big goals, just to read a bit every day, but I will try to write some short daily updates here. Lots to do, so hang tight! x

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team