Helsinki Book Fair 2015: book talks, queens & zen

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The Helsinki Book Fair took place from Thursday the 22nd to Sunday the 25th of October, and I attended the event on Saturday and quickly on Sunday. The HBF is an annual book fair held in the Messukeskus Convention Centre that brings together readers, authors, booksellers and publishers. This year over 80,000 visitors gathered at the Convention Centre to celebrate books. Aside from promoting Finnish literature and reading in general, each year also features a guest of honour country. This year the guest of honour was Russia, which meant that a number of Russian authors – and their translators – held talks or took part in panel discussions at the event. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to catch up with any of these, so I cannot give you an up-to-date report on the contemporary Russian literature scene. I clearly need to up my blogging game. This was my third time attending the book fair, to which I was kindly sent a blogger’s pass by the fair organizers.

This year my calendar was too full to spend the entire book fair weekend in Helsinki, which meant I only got to experience the hustle and bustle of the Convention Centre for one and a half days. Still, it is wonderful how the time spent walking from stall to stall, chatting with friends and catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while can be so uplifting and fulfilling. Time flew by as I focused on taking in and participating in the book fair experience. I listened with rapt attention as one of my favourite Finnish authors recalled the books she enjoyed as a child; I leapt for joy when I found the Finnish edition of The Rabbit Back Literature Society underneath a big pile of second-hand books; and I admired together with my friend the details of the cover poster of the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Literally #book.

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Although I sometimes feel that I know more about what’s going on in the literary scene outside of Finland than within, it was hard not to spot the two “queens of literature” of this year’s Helsinki Book Fair: Katja Kettu and Sofi Oksanen. Katja Kettu is a contemporary Finnish female author whose books have captured the hearts of the public and projected their darkest secrets into the pages of her novels. Her bestseller Kätilö (eng. The Midwife) was recently made into a film and the rights for English translation have been sold to AmazonCrossing – expected publication date sometime in early 2016. Her latest novel came out weeks before the book fair and the reviews have all been extremely positive. Kettu is definitely high on my author TBR!

Sofi Oksanen, of Purge and When the Doves Disappeared fame, is already a household name in Finland and her latest novel, Norma, was possibly the most anticipated release of this year. Norma centres around the eponymous Norma Ross, a young woman with luscious and constantly growing hair that holds magical powers. The novel is said to intertwine reality with magical realism, crime, and sexual politics. From what I’ve heard of this novel, it sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it!

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Although events such as the Helsinki Book Fair focus mainly on promoting new books, my favourite parts of the fair are the second-hand book shops and the panel discussions. I adore going through piles and shelves filled with old books, looking for new titles that I haven’t yet read or titles that I’ve read through library and would like to get my own copy. I guess it’s the joy of discovery that makes second-hand book shopping so addicting; you never know what you’ll find. This year three of my four purchases were second-hand.

Aside from books and reading, I think it’s also fun to listen in on discussions. I sat in on a few panel discussions, ranging from the multitude of Finnish idioms to investigative journalism, but my favourite of this year’s HBF was the panel discussion on e-reading and ebooks. The  panel consisted of both online innovators, literary critics and editors plus the presenter of Fabula, a new ebook service that launched in Finland this autumn. In short, Fabula is the Finnish version of Oyster and the concept is already in use in Estonia and Latvia. The panel questions were constructed around the topic of reading versus online media, and all of the panelists had their own insights to give. The main question of the panel discussion, i.e. Will the subscription model help to boost the industry and lure in new readers?, was left unanswered, but the panelist all presented valid arguments and shared their ideas of ebooks. There were so many interesting points to this discussion, that I’ll probably write a separate post about it!

All in all, I had a wonderful time at the Helsinki Book Fair. In the midst of the craziness that is Master’s, the weekend served as the best type of relaxation. I’m holding fast to my opinion from last yearShould there ever be a heaven for book lovers, it might be a book fair of sorts.

Books that I brought home from HBF 2015:

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I haven’t read any Joyce, but I’ve heard this is a good place to start with him. The cover of this Oxford Classics edition is brilliant.

Kadonnut Pariisi by Markus Nummi. Markus Nummi is the author of Kiinalainen puutarha (eng. The Chinese Garden) which I read (and loved) earlier this autumn. The cover of this one is a bit … quirky, but the premise, that is, Paris has disappeared from the surface of the Earth, is exciting.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (the Finnish edition). I got this from the library earlier this year and loved it so much that I needed to get my own copy. So glad to add this to my collection!

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Valomerkki by JP Ahonen. It’s the fifth volume in the Villimpi Pohjola (Northern Overexposure) comic series that I love and adore. I’ve blogged about the series in here, here and here. This one came out in August and I’m glad to finally own all of the volumes published so far ❤IMG_20151122_170428

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July–September Book Haul

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New books equal new adventures. During the past summer I read a lot of books (30 to be precise) and, consequently, also acquired a ton of new books. A total of nineteen books is definitely more than I had planned for, but as fellow bloggers and avid readers, you probably recognise the telling signs of a book junkie. Nevertheless, it’s hard to feel truly guilty about the new and exciting stories that now habit my shelves. Here are the new tenants of my bookshelves, moved in between June and September.

IMG_7778Firstly, I’m extremely happy to finally possess a copy of perhaps my favourite book, Animal Farm by George Orwell. The lovely kainzow from Eye of Lynx was so kind to gift me this stunning Folio Society edition. I’ve only seen pictures of these editions and they all look wonderful, but now that I also have the chance to hold one in my hands, I can vouch that they are truly crafted with love. All of the Folio Society editions are illustrated by a different artist, and what better combination that George Orwell and Quentin Blake! This, ladies and gentlemen, is true love.

Aside from writing Animal Farm, George Orwell was also a brilliant essayist, and one of his most known essays is Politics and the English Language. Having read that last year, I was left with a longing to explore more of his essays. Hence when I saw this handy Penguin edition of George Orwell’s Essays in Shakespeare & Sons in Berlin, I knew it would be coming home with me. During my four day trip to Berlin, I did actually visit Shakespeare & Sons twice, because from the moment I stepped into the shop, it became one of my favourite bookshops. I could easily spend hours upon hours just browsing through their collection, then order coffee and lose myself in my choice of a book. And each visit to the shop naturally had to be christened with a new purchase; the second time around I brought home a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’ve heard great things about The Road and my boyfriend remembered that the film adaptation was very good, so I’m curious to see the secrets that this book holds.

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Contrary to my two book purchases in Berlin, the third book I bought during that trip was in German. I’ve been meaning to read more Kafka and thus when presented a chance, I decided to challenge myself to read Kafka’s The Trial in German. My German friends told me they had to study the novel in school from these school print editions, so I naturally went and bought one in the same edition. I’ve only read Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, but I’ve heard some rumours about The Trial and its absurdity. I will report back on how my language skills faired with this one.

The next three books I purchased all within one day. Firstly, there was a big bookshop sale that had a lot of interesting titles sold for the price of a big cup of coffee. I picked up two books from that sale: Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Down the Rabbit Hole is translated from Spanish and it follows the Mexican drug cartel through the eyes of a small boy. Jean from Jean BookishThoughts recommended this a long time ago, and because I can’t remember when was the last time I read some Spanish literature, I decided to give this a go. The other title, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is a big blogger favourite and I’ve seen this book receive lots of love from some of the bloggers I follow. Anthony Marra’s newest novel is coming out in October (I believe), so I’m really looking forward to discovering Marra’s writing style.

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After the book shop sale, I went to visit my favourite second hand bookshop, Arkadia International Bookshop, where I came across Simon Rich’s Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations. Simon Rich is an American humorist who launched to fame with this particular collection when he was still an undergraduate. Rich is to date the youngest person to have been hired by Saturday Night Live and has also worked for Pixar. I heard about Rich through Veronica from Ron Lit and having later read a couple of short stories and columns written by him, I was excited to find his debut collection at the shop.

At the end of August, I realised that I had gone from reading four Tove Jansson novels and a biography in one year (aka. my Tove100 project) to reading none – and that was depressing. Perhaps it was the slow onset of autumn, but I began to desperately crave for Jansson’s writing. So I did what I usually do and picked up a library copy of The Winter Book. However, about three days later I was visiting my local bookshop and they were selling a boxset of four Tove Jansson novels for five euros – an offer which I most definitely could not pass. The boxset includes Sculptor’s Daughter and The Summer Book (both of which I read last year) but also two new-to-me novels: The True Deceiver and The Winter Book. It should come as no surprise that I returned the book to the library in record time. Moreover, I adore these colourful cover illustrations!IMG_7780

IMG_7800The Winter Book was not, however, the only acquisition somehow foreseen by a library haul. I picked up a copy of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne during my latest library haul thinking that I should probably try to read this classic during the autumn time. Then the next day I came across a wild copy of the same book when I was running past the Free Little Library shelf at my university campus. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I picked it up out of curiosity, and only remembered later that I already had a library copy at home. My book collection is slowly reaching the point in which I soon begin to buy second copies of books because I forget that I already own one. Help!

And then there were the ebooks. Compared to the amount of physical books I’ve hauled in during these three months, my ebook selection has stayed relatively within the limits of normal. In fact, four of the seven ebooks were review copies, one I’ve been highly anticipating, one was a spur of the moment purchase and one… well, let’s just say that I’m still trying to get into this author’s work.kesäkirjat15

First off are Half Bad by Sally Green and A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan. Both were provided me for review through Netgalley and you can find my reviews of them through the links. I’m generally more of a backlist reader, but I do sometimes get curious about the up-and-coming titles. In the case of Half Bad, the book has been out for a while now, but it is still making the rounds in translation. Overall, I enjoyed Half Bad, although not as much as I had hoped for, and was very pleasantly surprised by A Window Opens.

Evelina by Frances Burney is yet another recommendation from the lovely Veronica from Ron Lit – she blurbed it as “one of the books that influenced Jane Austen”. That alone makes the book interesting in my eyes, but considering that it is 18th century literature (something that I’m completely unfamiliar with) and with a fascinating premise – uncultured country girl colliding with the rules of high society. I hope Evelina turns out to be as wonderful as it sounds!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel took the blogosphere by storm last year (or was it the year before that?). The story of post-apocalyptic world with touring theatre group performing Shakespeare and the infamous “Survival is insufficient” quote pulled me in, but due to many circumstances, it took me until August to actually purchase a copy. I am aware that my expectation for this novel are soon about to hit the roof, so I should just get to reading this instead of thinking about it!

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Many adore everything that Neil Gaiman writes (it’s almost like the legend of Midas touch). However, Ocean at the End of the Lane seems to be one of the few books that divides Gaiman fans. I’ve so far read three books by him and, with the exception of The Sandman, I’ve mostly found them to be ‘okay’, but not earth-shattering by any means. Thus I’m interested to see how this book compares to the other books that I’ve read by him.

Lastly I picked up two books for the upcoming dark and chilly autumn evenings. Both The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala and Lithium-6 by Risto Isomäki are upcoming titles that have been translated from Finnish.Both translations are published by AmazonCrossing and I’ve received them from the publisher (via Netgalley) for review. The Black Tongue (pub. September 22nd) is promised to be a dark psychological thriller about an urban legend of a hatchet granny, and it has received raving reviews from other Finnish book bloggers. Horror isn’t one of my go-to genres, so I hope that The Black Tongue will enrich my reading experiences. Lithium-6 (pub. October 6th) on the other hand is a science fiction mystery featuring nuclear terrorism from the same author who wrote one of my favourite books of last year, Risto Isomäki. I was super impressed by The Sands of Sarasvati, so I cannot wait to read this one!

I think my shelves are now fully stocked for the upcoming months, and my bank account could definitely use a bit of a break from book shopping. My goal is to hold off from book buying until the end of October when I’ll be attending the Helsinki Book Fair 2016!

Spring book haul

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)

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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!

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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!

EBOOKS GALORE

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.

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 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

January Book Extragavanca

Hello readers!

First I’d like to apologise for the fact that I haven’t been posting or commenting as frequently as I used to. The current hiatus is only because the past weeks have been super busy and I’ve barely had time to even sit down and read. In fact, my reading and blogging have currently taken a backseat due to school and work commitments. However, I do hope to get back to reading (and blogging) soon because I miss positive effect it has on my stress levels. In the meanwhile, here’s the book haul I promised in my January wrap-up!

Post-Chrismas sales are the best – and the worst. I don’t know if I should be ashamed of myself for giving into the temptation or proud that I was able to get so many books so cheaply. My original plan was to do a January-March book haul, but since I already I had a big pile of books in the end of January, I decided to post this whilst they are still fresh in my mind.

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My book haul began innocently as my intention in entering the bookstore was only to purchase a calendar for the new year. However, I’d completely forgotten about the post-Chrismas sales and wasinstantly sucked into the tables with “-40% off” tags. I kept picking up new books and walking to the next table and pick up new books and … you get the gist. However, in the end I was able to narrow my purchases into four books. However, later in the month I somehow ended up browsing the -60% shelves, and picked up one more book. Combining that with the five ebooks I bought, it’s safe to say my book buying was off charts in January.

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The first table I gravitated to in the midst of the sales was naturally the classics shelf. From there I picked up two classics, first of which is How to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is one of those classic that almost every American high school student has to read, but I’ve never read it. I’ve been lately reading a lot of American classics, such as Of Mice and Men and The Catcher in the Rye, so I thought this would be a great continuation to those. And you can imagine my surprise when the sequel Go Set a Watchman was announced to be published in July 2015. Now I kind of have to read it before the sequel comes out!

The other classic that I picked up was George Orwell’s 1984 in this wonderful Penguin classics edition. I think the cover design for this dystopian classic is very clever and I can’t wait to read another one of Orwell’s best loved works. I must say that my expectations are really, really high because Animal Farm was one of the best books I read in 2014.

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Next I picked up Atonement by Ian McEwan. BBC recently listed it on the Greatest Novels of 21st Century and the film adaptation is a favourite among many of my friends. Atonement tells the story of a thirteen-year-old Briony who in the summer of 1934 witnesses something that changes the lives of everyone around her. It is said to involve family relationships, war drama, and beautiful writing, so I’m very intrigued to see where the story goes.

I saw this collection of Edith Södergran’s poetry – Edith Södergran – dikter och aforismer (eng. Poetry and Aforisms) – for the first time at last year’s Helsinki Book Fair, but didn’t buy it then. However, the cover design really stuck with me and also reminded me that I should try to read some more poetry in 2015. Edith Södergran is a Finnish-Swedish poet who was one of the first modernists in Finland and, despite her early death in 1923, a very prolific writer. This book is a collection of all of her works, and it is in Swedish. So in terms of my challenges for this year, this book ticks the boxes for poetry, Swedish, and Finnish author.

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In January I was also approached by an author about reviewing her book that will be republished as an ebook in March. The book in question is Never Trust a Happy Song by Natalie Bina and it depicts a young protagonist, Cassidy, who attends a summer program in Stanford. However, instead of her dream of intellectual prestige, she is placed in a host family that takes very different approach to education. The premise of the book sounds very interesting, and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. Plus the cover of the paperback is really stunning.

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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a beast of a book, especially in this Vintage edition that has all the three parts printed together. I’ve only heard great things about Murakami and about this book, so I can’t wait to experience it on my own. However, because this book has some kind of a connection to Orwell’s 1984, I will most likely read that first before so that I will have a better understanding of the references.

And lastly, a book that circled around the Finnish blogosphere in 2013 and won the prestigious Finlandia Prize – Jokapäiväinen elämämme (eng. Our Everyday Life) by Riikka Pelo. I’ve been meaning to pick this up and so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the price tag on this beautiful hardcover, because this book was only 1 euro. What?! The story of Our Everyday Life is about a Russian poet who escapes to Europe in the time of Soviet revolution. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful reviews of this book, so my plan is to read it as soon as possible – and maybe even incorporate it as a part of my 15 in 2015 challenge.

Ebooks ahoy!
And finally, because I have no restraint, here are five ebooks that I bought in January plus one that I received for review. Most of these are thanks to recommendations from other bloggers who wrote wonderful reviews that made me want to experience them myself.

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I bought the first book in the Flavia De Lucie series, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, which I’ve seen many bloggers reading. Alexandra from Diverses et avarieés is a fan, and has made me really curious as to what it is that makes this book series so loved. Another first book in a series, I purchased Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s part of the Lunar Chronicles series that blends together fairy tale retellings with cyborgs and other science fiction elements. The hype around the series has been very tangible these past years, so I think it’s time that I give it a go.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This one was rather popular in the past year because the film adaptation came out towards the end of the year. However, before that I’d read many positive reviews of it, especially from Emma at Turning Pages and Tea. In the end I wasn’t as enthralled or touched by the story as I had hoped, but it still an enjoyable read.

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Next up is one of the Finnish titles coming out in English this spring, When the Doves Disappered by Sofi Oksanen. Oksanen rose to global fame with Purge and this is her second novel published in English. I’ve previously read Purge (also in English translation) so when found out that When the Doves Disappeared was coming out in February, I immediately requested an eARC. The book is part of Oksanen’s Estonia Quartet and it features the lives of two cousins and their loved ones in Estonia in the 1940s and 1960s. Oksanen’s style is best described as dark and harrowing, and this book is no exception. Plus the cover is fabulous!

I also purchased a couple non-fiction titles for my Kindle: Quiet by Susan Cain and The Entrepreneurial Linguist by Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in the World that cannot stop Talking is about introverts and as I do consider myself more of an introvert than extrovert, I’ve been interested in reading this book ever since it came out. The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation on the other hand is quite the niche book about a niche topic. It has been recommended to me a few times by various people and although I’m not yet in the position to build my own translation business, it’s always good to know more.

In short I acquired a total of 13 books in January – madness!. Luckily I was able to break the habit for February, so the next book haul shouldn’t come around until April (I hope). Let me know if you’ve read any of the books mentioned or if you have any recommendations as to which ones I should read first!

Cheers! x

September-December book haul

Hello lovely readers,

2014 is quickly coming to an end and I still have a few books that I’ve acquired but haven’t yet had the chance to show. These books have found their way into my shelves between the months of September and December. I did, however, post a small Helsinki Book Fair haul in October; you can find the books I bought at the event here. In contrast to my previous book hauls in which I’ve mostly shown books that I haven’t read yet, I’ve actually read and reviewed most of these (I will link the reviews so you can also go and read my thoughts). Nevertheless, my buying versus reading ratio seems to stand as usual, with the exception of review copies that tend to get read faster than other books. This book haul will also for the first time contain ebooks, because I got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas and naturally had to buy a few books for “testing purposes”.

Physical books:

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I received a review copy of DJ-kirja (The DJ Book) in September and read it soon after. DJ-kirja is a non-fiction book about the Finnish DJing culture, how it came into Finland and where it currently stands. The book gave me an abundance of music recommendations but also sparked an interest to read more non-fiction. Another book that I received around the same time, this time from a Goodreads giveaway, was The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The Iron Trial was an entertaining middle grade fantasy, but not really my cup of tea. Soon after finishing it I donated my copy to the local library, which is why it isn’t included in the picture.

Another book not included in the picture is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I’d been trying to find the book from bookshops ever since it was published, but in October I finally gave in and ordered it online. Despite all the hype, the book did not disappoint and I’ve already lent it out to a friend.

The last two books pictured were both spur of the moment purchases. George Orwell’s famous essay Politics and the English language was a piece that I’d been meaning to read for a long time, but never thought that I would buy it. However, in November I was working on a paper on intention in language and a friend of mine suggested that I should read Orwell’s essay for the paper. I looked online, and discovered that the tiny booklet cost only a few euros, so I decided to treat myself. However, due to unknown circumstances, the order was pushed back a couple of weeks and the booklet arrived a few days after I’d turned in my paper. What a shame! The essay is very Orwellian and though I do not agree with everything he says, I very much appreciate how he says it. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh I found from the library sale and paid only 20 cents for it! True, the spine is quite worn, but I’m very much excited to read more from the author of Brideshead Revisited.

Ebooks:

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My boyfriend and I exchange our Christmas gifts already at the beginning of December, and my present contained a Kindle Paperwhite. I’d previously read ebooks either on my computer or on my phone, but the ereader definitely makes the reading easier and more enjoyable. I quickly downloaded a few public domain titles, such as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but also some PDFs and Word files for uni projects that I was still working on. The first book I “purchased” for the Kindle was Cry of the Peacock, which is a historical fiction novel – and free. Unfortunately it turned out that the story focused more around the romantic love interests of the female protagonist than the time period itself. After turning in my last assignments, I traveled to my parents for Christmas and to ease my load of books to carry, I bought both Gone Girl and Throne of Glass for my Kindle. Both novels have had a lot of hype surrounding them, and though Gone Girl did not quite live up to it, I’m still interested to see what I think about Throne of Glass.

Christmas presents:
17611595Because getting an ereader for Christmas is almost the equivalent of 10-20 books, it makes sense that I only got two books for Christmas: one graphic novel and one crime mystery. Pelinavaus (eng. The Opening) by JP Ahonen is the collective edition of the first two Villimpi Pohjola volumes. Both were originally self-published (and translated!), but are now out of print, so I’m glad that the publishing house decided to release this bind-up. As I had bought the fourth volume at the Helsinki Book Fair, I wished to own also the earlier volumes. The Villimpi Pohjola series narrates the lives of a group of student friends who are on their last years of university studies, juggling between studentlife and the imminent graduation.

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Kolmikulma (eng. Triangular) by Karo Hämäläinen is a Finnish thriller that involves three people: a marketing executive, a scheming politician, and a German assassin named Irene Adler. According to the blurb at the back, Kolmikulma is a sharp finance thriller set at the  break of the euro crisis. I haven’t read Hämäläinen’s work before, so I have no idea what to expect. However, I hope that this book will be a good introduction to his writing and the Finnish thriller genre. Fun fact: Karo Hämäläinen is actually the spouse of YA author Salla Simukka, who wrote the Snow White trilogy.

Helsinki Book Fair 2014

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Should there ever be a heaven for book lovers, it might be a book fair of sorts. One gigantic hall with dozens upon dozens of stands displaying beautiful books, books that you have never heard of, and books that you’ve been looking for a long while. Add into the mix authors talking about writing and their books; publishers talking about their work; translators talking about language and the feeling that what you are about to do seems impossible – and then overcoming it.

I was granted a blogger’s pass to this year’s Helsinki Book Fair and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. This encouraged me to attend the event on two days, Friday and Saturday, and enjoy the general love for reading that oozed in the air. As I arrived to the event hall and walked towards the first stand of books, it was almost like falling into a trance. I “woke up” four hours later only to realise that I hadn’t eaten anything in the last six hours and that my feet and shoulders were killing me. But I felt happy. Not only because I’d bought a few books, but because I felt that I was among people who read and who understood what it was to look, feel and smell books.

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To be fair, I did end up spending a lot more time in the second-hand book stands than among the new releases, but I guess it has something to do with my limited budget as well as the joy of discovery that comes when looking through a miscellaneous pile of books. I didn’t find Tove Jansson’s biography by Boel Werstin, but instead I stumbled upon Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces which I blew my mind the first time I read it in 2012. In terms of discussion panels, I listened to a few very enlightening and inspiring talks on literary translation as well as a very heartwarming talk on Tove Jansson where her niece was one of the panelists. In addition, I learnt a lot about another Finnish-Swedish poet, Edith Södergran, whom I now want to read more. One of my regrets is that I could have picked up a beautiful paperback collection of her poetry had I not completely forgotten to come back to it before leaving the event hall. Hopefully my local bookshops will have a copy 🙂

But now, let’s look at the books that I bought from the Helsinki Book Fair.

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I already mentioned Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which is a non-fiction book about the hero myth that keeps repeating itself in storytelling. Rest of the books are in Finnish and by Finnish authors: Lapsus by JP Ahonen is a graphic novel about a group of students who are on the brink of graduating from university. It is the fourth part in the Villimpi Pohjola series, which follows the characters through their university studies. I’ve read the some of the comic strips published in the newspapers and am planning on collecting the published ones. Moreover, you just can’t go wrong with a cover reference to Nirvana’s Nevermind. Moby Doll by Saara Henriksson is a modern re-telling of Moby-Dick where a young woman and her somewhat on-off boyfriend travel to Norway to find a whale. Having read Melville’s Moby-Dick this summer, I’m very much looking forward to this one. Lastly I got Kreisland by Rosa Liksom. It is her first novel and was originally published in 1996. I’ve read some of Liksom’s later columns, but other than that I have no clue on what to expect from this book. Surprises perhaps?

And that was it. My second time at the Helsinki Book Fair was just as enjoyable – if not even more so – than the first one, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year. However, now it’s time to get back to reality and studying. Cheers!

August-September Book Haul

Hello, dear friends!
It’s time to share some pictures and stories about the new books on my nightstand. Before we get to the books themselves, I would like to apologize for the wrinkled sheets, as I did not have time to pull out new ones for the shoot 😀

Most of these books have been acquired in September as a result of getting back to university and being exposed to so many great books. Here’s the overview of the four books that I’ve acquired these past months. I know there are still two review copies coming in the mail, but they will be mentioned in later book hauls.

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Visiting a few charity shops back in August, I picked up Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in May and fell in love with the way Wilde writes. Thus when I saw this edition for 1 euro, it didn’t take much time before I had gone to the register to pay for it. I’m really interested to read his plays and see if he really is as snarky and ironic as everyone praises him to be.

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As I have mentioned in a previous book haul, our university department has a book exchange shelf where you can donate your books and take others in exchange. I stopped by in the first week of September and picked up two very interesting books. First one is another Penguin edition with the orange spine – Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildefell Hall. My knowledge of the Brontë sisters is bare, to say the least. I’ve only read Jane Eyre, though Wuthering Heights has been part of my collection for almost 4 years now. However, a lot of bloggers and booktubers were talking about this book in the summer, so my interest was piqued.

The other book that I picked up from the exchange shelf is The Hours by Michael Cunningham. The book tells the story of three women in three time periods: Virginia Woolf in 1920s, a young wife reading Mrs. Dalloway in 1940s, and Clarissa Vaughan in 1990s’ New York. This books is also one that has recently been talked about, but more than that, the premise sounds very intriguing. I read Mrs. Dalloway in March and because it left me a bit confused, I hope The Hours might help me to get a better sense of the original.

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And finally, Swedish crime fiction. Mord på 31:a våningen by Per Wahlöö is the first book in the Inspector Jensen series, and has also been translated into English under the title Murder on the Thirty-first Floor. The author is actually better known as the co-writer of Detective Martin Beck series. As I began my minor studies in Swedish this semester, I’ve been meaning to read more fiction in Swedish. I came upon this book in the library sales shelf, and because the description sounded interesting, I decided to go with it. My reading of Swedish crime fiction – and Nordic noir in general – is limited to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, so I thought I might as well start with this one. However, if you’re interested to know more about Scandinavian crime fiction, you should check out this amazing blog called Nordic Noir Book Club.

Anyways, that was all the books! I cannot wait to get into these once I finished the ones that I’m currently reading – that is, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. Let me know  if you’ve read any of the books mentioned in this post and what you thought of them! x

May-July Book Haul

Hello, dear readers!

It has been a while since my last book haul. Life’s been busy and thus there has not been a lot of time or money for book shopping. However, I’ve managed to collect 7 books in the span of about 2 months which, to be fair, is quite a number. This means I have been buying 1.14 books per week – and with this pace I would buy 59.4 books a year. Yikes. Luckily for me (and my bank account), my book buying tends to happen in small spurts. Below you’ll see a small overview of the books I’m going to show in this post.

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The first three books were bought during my trip to Berlin. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Tess of d’Urbervilles were found from a quaint little English bookshop/library called Another Country. I also saw Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go on the shelves, but unfortunately it was for library use only. Soul Kitchen I picked up from a used books street vendor – of which there were a lot of – because one of my goals in Berlin was to get some modern German literature . Most of the books that I’ve read in German have all been translations so I thought it’s time that I read something that has originally been written in German. I’ve actually seen the movie a few years back, so I hope that the book is as good – if not better – as the movie.

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Also in the end of May I received a review copy of The Jedi Doth Return from Quirk Books. I’ve already read and reviewed the series and I can truly say that though science fiction isn’t really my genre, I am happy that I read these books. Simply the inclusion of different references to Shakespeare’s works makes it worth the read. The covers for this series are beautiful as well as the books themselves – the surface of the hardcover books have been made to resemble worn leather and the endpapers have lovely colours.

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After Berlin, I decided to focus more on reading books I already own as well as getting some library books read. The last three books have in fact all been acquired in the short period of two weeks. I received Silent House from my mother who had picked it up for travel reading for her trip to Czech Republic. After a few chapteres, she decided it wasn’t her cup of tea and asked if I would like to have it – of course I said yes. I don’t know much about the book itself but the author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. Kiinalainen puutarha (eng. The Chinese Garden) I picked up from my summer cottage because I have read some praising reviews, and have wanted to get my hands on a copy.

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And finally, A Tale of Two Cities. I seem to accumulate more Dickens than I can read, but I’m staying positive that reading one Dickens a year will get help me conquer all of them – eventually. I actually spotted this book in a charity shop already in the beginning of May, but left it there because I knew I wouldn’t get to it anytime soon. Nevertheless, the fact that it was only 2 euros stayed in the back of my head. So imagine my surprise when I visit the same shop two months later and the book is still there – now only 1 euro. I’m a sucker for bargain classics.

That was it. Hopefully there won’t be another haul until September. Let me know in the comments which of the books you own or have read, and what you thought of them. Cheers!