Laura Karlsson from the Finnish Bookstore Association compiled an compelling reading list for us for the summer.
A book is a friend – even in the summer. A friend to take along onto the hammock, an entertainer in the park, a lifesaver for a night spent on the balcony, a handy entertaining essential for guests – whatever you wish it to be. What is certain, is that from the wide selection available, you will surely find a book buddy that works for you. One that provides knowledge, feelings, adventure, calms you down, relaxes, or even teaches you new skills. According to research, reading increases well-being – and you do not have to read alone. Various book clubs, virtual or live sessions, are now popular. Page by page, new perspectives are gained, maybe even on those friends that share your literary passion.
My summer reading list always includes Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book. It is wonderful to return to a classic at regular intervals, to see how the text has a different effect at different times – as we age, when our life situation changes, even depending on our state of mind. The atmosphere of archipelago in the Gulf of Finland, the friendship between an old woman and a young girl, the description of the summer that can only be experienced in the North, enchants with its positive attitude to life, over and over again.
Axel Schulman’s books, Burn These Letters and Forget Me that I read in the early summer, were impressive, ravishing books that get under your skin. The Swedish author describes an unforgettable love story, its painful effects on the chain of generations; hidden secrets and growing up in the shadows of those secrets. The novel, more or less based on true events, keeps calling me back and the characters live my mind for days. His other novel, Forget me, explores a boy’s life, growing up with an alcoholic mother, illuminating painful experiences, finding love and acceptance, and what it holds true, when nothing holds true.
Biographies are also well suited for summer reading. The Greatest of These is Love, a Kirsti Paakkanen biography, written by Ulla-Maija Paavilainen, draws you in immediately. A bildungsroman of a persistent poor girl growing up to be a brave entrepreneur who has driven Marimekko’s success, empowers, amazes and opens up new perspectives on a well-known strong woman.
Helena Sinervo’s A Girl’s Room paints a beautifully poetic image of the day that the daughter moves away from the home she grew up in, leaving her mother’s care to see what the world has to offer. Over the course of the day, the mother examines her life path as well as her daughter’s. How to trust that the daughter will find her wings, and at the same time heed a warning that she may come across people who can cut your wings as well.
Under my reading glasses, in the summer reading stack, awaits much-lauded Rachel Cusk’s Outlines Trilogy, among others. Cusk has been working on a new narrative form that could describe a personal experience without the traditional means of storytelling. Her sentences are said to vibrate with intelligence, akin to neural pathways. I can hardly wait for that summer day when I finally get my hands on this trilogy.
No summer would be complete without a detective story. Awaiting rainy days are, among others, Niklas Natt och Dag ‘s novel 1793, set in the 16th century Stockholm, and Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky. 1793 takes the reader to the dark side of Stockholm at a time when the effects of the French Revolution were beginning to show up even in the north. From Big Sky I expect a well-narrated story and a skillfully woven plot.
Whether you choose a detective story, an autobiography or a classic for summer reading – or something else – it is a good idea to ensure your reading pleasure by making sure you can see well. Reading can be as much a pleasure when read outside with good sunglasses, or at your summer cottage next to the glow of a fireplace with clear spectacles. Your local bookstore offers a wide selection of summer reading to suit all tastes and plenty more reading tips.