The Book of Summer
By: Tove Jansson
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
In The Summer Book Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.
I had been eyeing this book for ages (I’ve been saying that a lot with some of these books, but it’s true!). Her Moomin comics are popular but I wanted to read her fiction as the premise of her books sounded quite interesting. Well, I finally got my hands on this book and thought it would make a perfect summer read.
On the Point of Erupting
By: Einar Már Guðmundsson
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Einar Már Guðmundsson has achieved international renown as a novelist, with his books being translated into over 30 languages. But when he first burst onto the Icelandic scene in 1980, it was as a poet.
Guðmundsson’s poetry is bold and moving, sharp, sarcastic and funny. The 50 poems collected in this volume have been interpreted by some of Iceland’s best translators.
I picked this book up whilst I was in Iceland. I was looking for something written by an Icelandic author to pick up just because I was there (I try to do this whenever I’m in another country) and thankfully this was one poetry that was translated into English.
Einar Már Guðmundsson’s poetry in a way reminded me of Leonard Cohen with some of the phrases, the infusion of the popular culture he was in, some of his approaches to the subjects he was writing about. What struck me especially was how that sort of punk 80s popular culture he was writing in is very much present in many of his poems. But the ones I like more were the poems about the countryside and about Iceland’s culture and atmosphere; through those poems I have a greater sense of how an Icelandic person views his or her country, and indeed just the country he lives in.
Overall I’m glad to have read On the Point of Erupting which I should mention is a collection of selected poetry from Einar Már Guðmundsson over the course of his career. Indeed it can be witty and there’s a sense of irony in many of the poems he’s written, but I especially enjoyed the poems about the country he lives in, I just had a greater sense of the country through those poems. Definitely a collection to check out if you’re looking to check out something different.
Visit the author’s official website
Strange Shores (Inspector Erlendur #11)
By: Arnaldur Indriðason, Victoria Cribb (Translator)
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge. Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers. Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realises that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.
I posted about this book on Instagram but I bought this book whilst I was waiting at Keflavik Airport in Iceland for my connecting flight. I think I’ve seen his books in passing before but I never read them so I decided to pick one up. Of course, doing things backwards as I do, I started with the last book in the series, lmao. But the premise of this book interested me the most from the others available so there you have it 😛
So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
For this month’s “So You Want to Read…” I’m going to be featuring books by Arturo Perez-Reverte . Now granted I haven’t read his Adventures of Captain Alatriste series, but I think I’ve read enough from his standalone that have been translated to English to put together a list like this. Plus, I’ve enjoyed his novels to date; he brings different periods of Spanish history to life through his novels, which are also chock-full of intrigue, suspense, and mystery.
So without further ado, here’s some books by him to check out from him if you’re interested in reading his books for the first time:
- The Flanders Panel (review) — Hands down my favourite novel by this author and one I recommend the most from the titles I’ve read thus far. It was such a riveting read; if you’re a fan of really thoughtful suspenseful mysteries, this book is definitely worth checking out. The mystery, the piecing together and guessing who the culprit is, the fascinating cast of characters…Yeah, I don’t know what else to say about this novel except to check it out!
- The Club Dumas (review) — This is probably Arturo Perez-Reverte’s most popular title, and with good reason. Mystery, suspense, secret societies and good ol’ literature–I definitely understand why they recommend this book if you’ve enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind (review) (I myself picked up this novel because of it). I need to re-read it myself as the book refers a lot of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (review) and I only got around to that title a few years afterwards but it’s a thrilling and fascinating read even if you haven’t read the classic. It’s also a lot darker in tone, as I recall, but definitely worth checking out.
- The Fencing Master (review) — Perhaps a bit of an odd choice as I even admitted in my review that it took me a second reading to really appreciate what this novel was about and what it was trying to get at. If you’re not familiar with 19th century Spanish history, this book is certainly an eye opener because Spain was a bit…stuck, for lack of a better word, torn between values and practices that considered arcane at this point and the tumultuous ideas and developments of present-day Europe and beyond. There’s a lot of ideas floating around in this book but also plenty of mystery and intrigue.
I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Arturo Perez-Reverte for the first time! If you’ve read his books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
By: Soren Kierkegaard
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Harper Perennial Modern Classics presents the rediscovered spiritual writings of Søren Kierkegaard, edited and translated by Oxford theologian George Pattison. Called “the first modernist” by The Guardian and “the father of existentialism” by the New York Times, Kierkegaard left an indelible imprint on existential writers from Sartre and Camus to Kafka and Derrida. In works like Fear and Trembling, Sickness unto Death, and Either/Or, he by famously articulated that all meaning is rooted in subjective experience—but the devotional essays that Patterson reveals in Spiritual Writings will forever change our understanding of the great philosopher, uncovering the spiritual foundations beneath his secularist philosophy.
I think I mentioned it before in a previous review but I don’t normally review non-fiction religious and philosophy books here. It just never seemed to be a thing for me even though I do write in the margins of these books and have plenty of thoughts about it *shrugs* But I decided to write a review for this book, partly because I did review another book from the series, The Present Age (review), not to mention because I had read this over the first half of Lent. Plus, I love Kierkegaard and he should get more attention here on the blog 🙂