Summer Readathon 2015: 12 books from authors coming from 12 different countries

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The summer of 2015, the greek website So little sleeping and so much reading created a summer reading marathon.

Rules: read 12 (or 4 or 8) books from authors that have different nationalities (Greece not included)

We were posting the photos in somuchreading’s facebook page this time.

I was already bored with trying to make my cat pose for photos and I decided to use each country’s flag for these photos.

These are the books I read for the summer readathon:

1. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

 2015-06-25 09.18.57

Author comes from: India

I was so excited to read this novel: India, a transgender main character, the dirty underworld of Bombay…

But as Goodreads’ note “Written in poetic and affecting prose…”…

Yeah, not my style at all. I had to skip through some parts, I really could not read it.

2. We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

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Author comes from: USA

Entertaining and educational, deals with animal experimentation and family problems.

I would suggest reading it.

3. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

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Author comes from: Japan

Two different stories, kind of including kitchens in them.

Although I love Japanese literature generally, this was not one of my favorites.

But it wasn’t bad, I just expected more.

If you want to try Japanese literature and you already have read Haruki Murakami, I would suggest to try Yoko Ogawa.

4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

2015-07-06 21.54.20

Author comes from: Russia

Feels like cheating, because this is such an american novel.

However the rules were about the author’s nationality and he is Russian (he also has a USA nationality, but I could choose the one that suited me most)

Very nice novel, more “sick” than I expected. I think it is a must-read rightfully.

I would like to read it again in English or with a better translation.

Note: I bought that from a second-hand bazaar because I liked the hard cover. The result: bad translation because it comes from an unknown publishing house, I was washing my hands every time I stopped reading it and my eyes shed tears if I read a long time (because of the dirt I assume). Be careful with second-hand books!

5. The Hen Who Dreamt She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang

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Author comes from: South Korea

A nice fairy tale about a hen that wanted to have a child and the dangers of trying to live outside of the hennery.

Nice story, very cute and everything…. BUT!

I really hate it when I see this book in the “Philosophy” or “Self-help” or similar sections in bookstores.

It is a children’s story adapted for grown-ups! Let’s not give extra deep meanings to books and just enjoy the story they are trying to say!

6. Melancholia de los Leones by Pedro Juan Gutierrez

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Author comes from: Cuba

I don’t see an english translation of this book in Goodreads.

Short stories from Cuba. I didn’t find any of them very good.

I liked the Dirty Havana Trilogy, but this one was nothing special.

7. A Thousand Years Good Prayers by Yiyun Li

2015-07-08 19.18.29

Author comes from: China

Short stories about modern China. I LOVED this book, I think it gives an insight into modern China in a very nice and personal way. I definitely recommend reading it!

(also it is banned in China, that must count for something!)

8. The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

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Author comes from: Sweden

Written in the same funny, casual and informative style as The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

Interesting at first, soon felt like it was too long. Too many chapters that didn’t progress the story much. I skipped through some of the chapters, time is precious!

I would recommend The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared over The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden for sure.

9. Vincent by Barbara Stok

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Author comes from: the Netherlands

A cute graphic novel about the life of Vincent van Gogh.

Nice drawing, the story was nothing special.

I read it in dutch (a language I am not good at), so although it is small, I felt I should include it in the summer readathon because it took me days to finish!

10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Author comes from: Great Britain

Ah, the big bestseller! The crime novel that sold millions of copies!

It was good, I enjoyed reading it.

BUT!

I have to comment on the “bestsellerness” of it. This book sold many copies. But not because it is a good crime novel. It is a mediocre crime novel. However, it is a very good “soap” book. The main character is an alcoholic woman, her life is ruined since her husband left her for another woman. The husband and the other woman are also a part of the “crime”.

That is the reason why this book sold so many copies. I could guess the solution of the crime 100 pages before the end and the final action scenes were nothing special.

However, if we consider that the previous world bestseller was 50 Shades of Grey (not even putting a link for it), this is a big step forward.

11. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

2015-08-18 22.20.21

Author comes from: Pakistan

The whole book is a story that a Pakistan man narrates to an american tourist he just met in a cafe in Lahore.

It is his life story, he studied in USA, worked at a big company and then… 9/11 happened.

His first reaction was to smile.

After that he started thinking about where he actually belongs.

It is a great book, I read it in one day. The book deals with personal identity and the feelings of immigrants, especially when their host country is against a country (or religion) similar to their own.

I recommend it. There is also a movie version, pretty good, but I of course suggest to read the book first.

12. The Rice Mother by Rani Manika

2015-07-08 19.17.03

Author comes from: Malaysia

The story of a woman born in the beginning of the 20th century, who at the age of 13-14 marries a much older but nice guy and has many children.

Then the Japanese Invasion comes. The Invasion ends, her children have children of their own and the story follows the whole family.

It was a really good book up to the end of the Japanese Invasion. The reader learns about Malaysia and how things were there in World War II.

After that it becomes a soap opera.

So I recommend reading half of it… according to you taste you can choose which half 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Summer Readathon 2015: 12 books from authors coming from 12 different countries

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