Summer Reading Round-Up

Back from holidays and sooo much work to catch up on (as well as reviews). Needless to say, I did not get quite as much writing and reading done this past week of ‘real holiday’, because I did not spend all my time on the beaches below (more’s the pity!).


Luckily for my reading/writing projects, I only had one week ‘off’. This summary represents two months’ worth of reading, because the school holidays here spread over July and August.

Women in Translation Month

In August I spent most of my time reading women in translation, trying to rely on books that I already had. I grouped some of them together for reviewing purposes (lack of time or because I thought they were made for each other), but here they are in the order I read them.

Kati Hiekkapelto: The Defenceless and an interview with the author here

Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd

Therese Bohmann: Drowned

Virginie Despentes: Apocalypse Baby

Karin Fossum: The Drowned Boy

Alice Quinn: Queen of the Trailer Park

Judith Schalansky: The Neck of the Giraffe

Adina Rosetti: Ten Times on the Lips

Renate Dorrestein: The Darkness that Divides Us

Gøhril Gabrielsen: The Looking-Glass Sisters

Tove Janssen: The True Deceiver (and other assorted Moomin books) – to catch up on later

Rodica Ojog-Braşoveanu: The Man at the End of the Line (to be reviewed)

Veronika Peters: Was in zwei Koffer passt (All that Fits in 2 Suitcases)


Other Women Writers

Following the WIT reading, I was in the mood to read more women authors in English as well. Some of them were for CFL reviews, but many were just escapism.

Lucy Atkins: The Other Child

Sophie Hannah: A Game for All the Family

Sarah Ward: In Bitter Chill

Rosamond Lehmann: The Echoing Grove

Anya Lipska: A Devil Under the Skin

Susan M. Tiberghien: Footsteps

Jenny Lawson: Furiously Happy


And Other Reads:

Review copy: Sebastian Fitzek: The Child

Library book: Emmanuel Carrere: The Adversary

Rereading: F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender Is the Night



24 books, 15 in or from other languages, 9 in English, 8 crime fiction.

My best proportion of translated fiction ever, so the WIT initiative clearly works well even for those of us who believe we read a lot of women writers and a lot of translated fiction. I made many wonderful discoveries, and feel I have learnt something from each book, even though I may not have loved them all.

My crime pick of the month/holidays is Hiekkapelto’s The Defenceless, because it is such a timely topic (about the way we treat asylum-seekers). My overall favourite read is also Finnish (with a Swedish twist): Tove Jansson. Well, she sets a very high bar… But honourable mentions go to Valeria Luiselli and Gøhril Gabrielsen. (I exclude F. Scott Fitzgerald from the competition.) My disappointment was the Veronika Peters book, which I thought was going to be a more in-depth account of a woman’s search for herself, for God, for inner peace or spirituality. Instead, it was an (entertaining enough) account of everyday life in a convent, with all its rivalries, good and bad bits, but a lot more shallow than I expected – both the book and the narrator.






25 thoughts on “Summer Reading Round-Up”

  1. My goodness, Maria Sofia, you got lots of wonderful reading done! My TBR will not be grateful to you 😉 . but I am. As ever, I am impressed by the variety of books you’ve read. They cover several different topics, and are from a variety of different places. Nicely done!

  2. That’s an impressive amount of reading! I’ll be interested in your thoughts on True Deceiver as that’s one of the Tove’s I haven’t read yet.

  3. Nice to see you back – hope the holiday was good! That’s quite a pile of books you got through, v impressive! Fancy the Lehmann& Lipska… the latter had her short story read on R4′ can you get BBC radio player?

    1. Would have loved to hear that – can get some programmes on BBC but not all. I suppose it depends what they have available for the international audience.

  4. I’ve been out of the loop for a bit so I missed the WIT initiative. However, the list you’ve compiled for me here is wonderful and I suppose there is no need to confine my reading of women in translation to a particular time of the year.

    1. Absolutely – any time of year is good for a WIT stint! Look forward to hearing your thoughts about these or any other women authors in translation.

  5. Hope back to reality not too much of a shock to the system ! I read Apocolyose Baby as part of my summer reads , thanks to you . Really enjoyed it …maybe the ‘mystery ‘ plot is a little thin but entry of pithy comment on French society and a real challenge for my language skills . Parisien argot …aie aie aie !!!!

    1. Problems with Despentes’s argot? Now someone understands why I struggle with Martin Amis in the original 🙂
      Loved Apocalypse Bébé.

    2. Ha, thanks Emma for the comment below – jargon and slang is really difficult for non-native speakers. I have problems with some American fiction, I have to admit! And yes, that’s exactly why I liked Apocalypse Bebe – such a merciless dissection of contemporary French society! (I think I’m more forgiving than the French.)

  6. Welcome back and bon courage for the coming week.
    I’m impressed by the number of books you managed to read in two small months.
    The list is fantastic, thanks for the recap.

    1. I have the week from hell coming up, so thank you for your good wishes! And your country is soooo beautiful! I find beauty pretty much everywhere we go…

  7. Welcome back! Some great picks there. I should re-read Tender Is The Night, as I read it for A level English Lit and that was a long time ago – I enjoyed it then! Looking forward to The Defenceless too.

    1. It’s so difficult to find time to reread books, what with all the other new books (or new to me at any rate) jostling for attention. But I seldom regret rereading a book – they scarcely ever disappoint, and if they do, it reveals so much about how I’ve evolved as a person and a reader.

  8. Looking forward to Karin Fossum’s book. It’s been awhile since I read her last. I’m always impressed at the output of voracious readers such as yourself. Right now I wish I could take a trip for about a month, take all of those books you’ve mentioned as your favorite reads and read without interruptions. Take care.

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