Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Best New Books of 2014: Janet L’s Picks

December 8, 2014

Winter is coming, with its cold days and long nights.  In other words, perfect reading weather.  It’s also the traditional time to look back and choose favorite reads of the past year.  If you are a fan of humor, mystery, travel, or food (not to mention good writing) I can highly recommend the following five books:

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Neighborhood curmudgeon Ove is not amused when a lively young family moves in next door.  Imagine everyone’s surprise, especially Ove’s, when instead of the expected disaster, something wonderful results.  Fredrik Backman’s debut is an amazing mixture of comedy, pathos and social commentary.  Will appeal to almost everyone, especially fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and The No. 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith.

The Bone OrchardThe Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron
Life would be much easier for Mike Bowditch if he could just keep his mouth shut, but then reading about him wouldn’t be so much fun.  No longer a game warden for the state of Maine, Mike finds himself drawn into a case when good friend and former mentor, Kathy Frost, is gunned down and critically injured.  One of my favorite mystery series; if you haven’t had the pleasure, begin with The Poacher’s Son.  Especially recommended for readers of the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton, the Conway Sax series by Steve Ulfelder and the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr.

Smoke Gets in Your EyesSmoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Caitlin Doughty, founder of The Order of the Good Death, is a Los Angeles mortician.  She wrote this book to give people a behind the scenes look at funeral home. Death is a somber and scary subject, but Doughty handles it with humor and compassion. If she hoped this book would demystify death and make it more comfortable to contemplate, she succeeded with this reader.  Recommended for fans of Mary Roach and Sarah Vowell.

The Age of LicenseThe Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
Graphic artist Knisley shares the ups and downs of her book tour to Europe and Scandinavia.   Honest, charming, yet serious, this graphic novel will appeal to fans of travelogues and mouthwatering descriptions of food—and isn’t that almost everyone?

The Black HourThe Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
Sociology professor Amelia Emmet has made violence the focus of her academic research.  When a student she has never seen before appears outside her office and shoots her, theory becomes all too horribly real.  Back on campus, Amelia attempts to resume her life.  Relying on painkillers, a cane, and her sardonic sense of humor, Amelia struggles to find the answer to the questions that haunts her:  Why?

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The Great Enigma by Tomas Tranströmer

May 16, 2012

Haiku is one of the best-known poetic forms on earth. The Japanese seventeen syllable haiku has been around since the 1600s, today there are about 780 haiku magazines in Japan, and Japanese schoolchildren learn early on how to use as few words as possible when describing events – the task of minimizing a narrative to just a few keywords becomes a game with signs that captivates the young.

In 2011, the society that is in charge of the Nobel Prize in literature – for the first time ever – brought up the presence of haiku in an author’s output when announcing the winner of the award. Unsurprisingly, the poet, Tomas Tranströmer, was not Japanese but Swedish, for haiku poems are today written all over the world.

Tomas Tranströmer was attracted to haiku early on in his career, but it wasn’t until after his stroke in 1990 that he once again embraced the form. And the majority of Tranströmer’s work is not haiku – in the world of poetry he is known as a master of metaphor, and metaphor has no place in traditional haiku. However, Tranströmer’s poetry has always been bare, elegant, precise, and serene, and when he returned to haiku it was as if the poet had come home again.

And just like in the poetry of the Japanese haiku masters, nature plays a major part in Tranströmer’s poetry. Nature, of course, uses many different dresses, but to Tranströmer it is always holy and divine: “The darkening leaves/ in autumn are as precious/ as the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

The Japanese term “mono no aware” is often (lamely) translated as “sadness,” but it is more correct to understand it as an awareness of impermanence, or the transient nature of all things. This is a recurring theme in Tranströmer’s verse. In “Snow Is Falling,” he says, “The funerals keep coming/ more and more of them/ like the traffic signs/ as we approach a town./ Thousands of people gazing/ in the land of long shadows.” Which may seem bleak, but Tranströmer is too sophisticated to be categorized as either gloomy or bright, and the poem reaches this conclusion, “A bridge builds itself/ slowly/ straight out into space.”

Death itself may be the end. Then again, it may not. In the prose poem “Answers to Letters,” the poet speaks of a place, possibly New York City, which is beyond death, “One day I will answer. One day when I am dead and can finally concentrate. Or at least as far away from here that I can find myself again. When I’m walking, newly arrived, in the big city, on 125th Street, in the wind on the street of dancing garbage. I who love to stray off and vanish in the crowd, a letter T in the endless mass of text.”

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Cell 8 by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

February 20, 2012

Cell 8 is the latest novel by Swedish writing duo, Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom.  Set in both Ohio and Sweden, cell 8 is on death row in an Ohio penitentiary.  Its occupant, John Meyer Frey, is awaiting his execution. Although a young man, he dies in his cell of heart disease. Six years later a man named John Schwarz is arrested by Stockholm police for aggravated assault.

At this point, the plot begins to move forward quickly.   The writers’ elegant, suspenseful style will keep the reader engaged until the last page.  Although the death penalty is ultimately the main character, readers can easily omit execution scenes.

Fans of Henning Mankell and Michael Connelly will enjoy this book.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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