Sunday, September 21, 2014

intimus and other swedish books

books

Since I am now a happy owner of a returned reading mojo I thought it appropriate to write a few words on some recent and not so recent read books. This time from Swedish authors only. Most of them I loved, one I certainly didn't (good I picked than one up at a thrift store then). One author being one of my favourite writers, others are great and one not so great at all. Let's begin with the best one, possibly not the book of the six I enjoyed reading most, but definitely the most ingenious and well written one. I rate them from 5 to 1, 5 being the best, 1 being the worst.

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Intimus by Jan Arnald 4/5

I finished this book last year. One of very few I've read since my lack of reading mojo begun nearly four years ago. But this one I was drawn in to immediately, it's incredibly well-written, ingenious and like nothing else I've read.

Jan Arnald usually writes under his nome de plume Arne Dahl, the man behind some of Sweden's most well written, clever crime fiction ever. One of my favourite writers, brainy and layered crime fiction which is pure joy to read. And amidst the crime stories you actually learn something about the world, politics, human interaction and Sweden, educational books in smart crime suits. His books about the so called A-group, a special force within the Swedish police is great pieces of literature and not only for its genre. (Too bad the screen adaption is crap.)

But this isn't about his crime novels, this is about a dizzying novel that takes you from South America, to England, to Australia to Sweden. It's about astronomy, explorers and their discoveries, nazi genetic experiments, about love and hate, violence, life and forgiveness. The book takes you on a journey through the centuries, from the 18th century to this day. It's a difficult to describe the book, but very well worth reading, obviously. His crime fiction is translated into many other languages, I suppose this one will have been too.

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Döden på en blek häst (Death on a pale horse) and
Tistelblomman (The Thistle flower) by Amanda Hellberg - 4/5


Swedish writer and illustrator Amanda Hellberg lives in Oxford with husband and kids. "Death on a pale horse" was her debut novel about Maja Grå (Grey), suspense novels with supernatural elements. It was a book I picked up as travel literature in 2011 - and it was impossible to put down. I finished it straight away. Well written with a clever plot and suggestive.

She's written more books about Maja Grå, but for some reason all haven't been published as pocket books (my book of choice), so "The Thistle flower" is the third book in the series. But it's possible to read it without feeling there's a piece missing. Read it last year and enjoyed it very much, the setting is in the Scottish Highlands and a ghostly house called The Thistle flower. It's a book that will send chills down your spine. Very much worth a read! Not sure it's translated, yet.

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Kinesen (The Man from Beijing) by Henning Mankell - 4,5/5

Henning Mankell is a well-known and internationally acclaimed crime fiction author already, his character chief inspector Wallander in Ystad have been translated into many languages and also turned into several more or less well-made movies (in the English adaption he's played by Kenneth Branagh). To be honest I've only read two of his books, not because he's a bad writer, quite the opposite, but mainly because the screen adaptions is constantly shown on TV so you know all the stories too well...

This book is not about Wallander though, it's a very intelligent and gripping crime novel that takes you from China to America to Sweden. It's a story about history, sins of the sins of the father, the present, the future, world politics and a mass murder in a remote Swedish village in the north. When it was published I remember reading about the Dutch Olympic team getting the book to read and learn about China and Chinese history in order to understand China of today when competing in the Olympics that year. Not sure that's a true story, but yes it could be because it's certainly an enlightening, well-researched and smart novel.

Read it if you haven't, it'll teach you a lot of things, about how everything is connected, how all of us are connected on different sides of the world, through history. I wish we could become better in being taught by history though.

books

En man som heter Ove by Fredrik Backman - 4/5

When it was published in 2012 everyone raved about it. I was obviously in my non-reading state and didn't read it then. I finished it last weekend. In tears. Because yes, it's a very moving debut novel, from the then 30 year old blogger and former truck driver Backman, where laughter and tears go hand in hand. The main character Ove is a bitter and sad man, but also a very caring, no-nonsense man with a very high sense of justice. There is deep sorrow, love, laughter and a cat, a very human book. Well-written in a non complicated style than will appeal to most I think, easy read but also very emotional in a restrained way, like its main character.

I know this one has been translated into several languages. You should read it too.

books

Bara vanligt vatten (It's only water) by Kajsa Ingemarsson 1/5

To sum this books up in one sentence: his is really badly written chic-lit. Many years ago I quite enjoyed her first book "Små citroner gula" (Little lemons yellow), have read a few of her books since but for every book I've found them to become more stupid and superficial. The genre calls for stupidity and simplicity I guess. Not my cup of tea.

The main character is a best selling author of Swedish crime fiction, she's around 40 years old, obsessed with the surface, from clothes - the constant brand dropping is nauseating - to being skinny, to plastic surgery, make-up, hairstyle. She's mostly a stuck up bitch through out the book, even when she's haunted by the tabloids over a personal love life incident. The book is almost 600 pages long and yes, badly written and annoying yet I couldn't stop reading it. I have no idea why. I also vowed I will never read another book by Ingemarsson, journalist and TV-personality before she became a writer, again. Too many great books out there to be spending time with the lousy ones.

Currently reading three books and I've finished a couple of others recently. Guess I'm making up for lost reading mojo. So before you know it, there'll be more book reviews in this blog!

4 comments:

Sienna Smythe said...

I am glad to hear you have revived your interest in reading. I thought I was the only one that got into that not reading mode. I always enjoyed reading for pleasure, but now it seems I read only for information.
I hope I can get my mojo back, as I have a stack of good possibilities!

Sienna Smythe said...

I am glad to hear you have revived your interest in reading. I thought I was the only one that got into that not reading mode. I always enjoyed reading for pleasure, but now it seems I read only for information.
I hope I can get my mojo back, as I have a stack of good possibilities!

Sienna Smythe said...

I am glad to hear you have revived your interest in reading. I thought I was the only one that got into that not reading mode. I always enjoyed reading for pleasure, but now it seems I read only for information.
I hope I can get my mojo back, as I have a stack of good possibilities!

Elephant's Child said...

Yay for the return of your reading mojo.

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