Focus: Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Speculative.
This book opened my mind as a teen. I learned about infinity and time and building layers into a work so that every reading becomes richer.
A Goddess gives life to a lapis lazuli beetle, who gets set onto a royal ring and falls in love with an Egyptian princess. I read it as a teenager and it blew me away.
The night upside down. A great story that blends reality and fantasy until the reader doubts both. Cortazar lived in Belgium for a while, like me. There is a description in one of his stories about a cafe-- Is it possible I might know which one he meant?
Anne was my best friend when I was 9. That's it. All I'm going to say.
I had this edition growing up. This book spooked me and enthralled me. It didn't want to let me go. I remember wishing she was wrong and not seeing the future.
This one made me fall in love with Alice Munro. The way that she interwove these short stories was magical to me. I was excited when I discovered the connection in each.
Sweden, Finnland & Denmark
Astrid Lindgren's fantasy was a go-to as a kid. After rereading I was struck by just how adult the subject matter is at times. I remember it was a bit controversial and now I see why. Full of adventures and commentary. A bittersweet ending.
This book is hilarious from its very premise. A jaded journalist abandons everything after he saves a hare and embarks on an adventure across the Finnish countryside. I laughed and laughed and had to go to Finland after.
A second-hand bookshop, a secret society with connections to the Library of Alexandria, and people who can manipulate you and ensnare you by reading aloud. All the elements to make a bookworm swoon. Plus, a backdrop of Copenhagen.
Focus: Fantasy and Speculative.
The Colour of Magic was my gateway drug to Discworld. His inept protagonist is as endearing as he is funny. It still makes me wish I were British and witty. Follow that walking trunk everyone!
I liked the Golden Compass. I like the rest of the series even more. To this day whenever I sit on a bench at the park, I think there might be someone next to me in a parallel universe.
Need I say anything? I was older, but JK Rowling made me wish I could be 11 again just to wait for my letter. I'm a huge fan.
Uganda, Nigeria & Ghana
I love coming of age stories so this intertwining tales about several Ugandan teenagers was right up my alley. This is not a book about race or a political statement, even though those realities lurk in the background. It is an intimate story about adolescence and people connecting with each other.
This is a love story that starts in Lagos, moves to the United States and London, and back. It explores race and identity and inequality from a very modern, Nigerian perspective. It is witty and sad and bitter and hopeful all at the same time.
This book was a breath of fresh air. It tells the story of a young girl who moves to Europe. Her impressions are spot on: sometimes fun, sometimes bitter, always poignant. The women are lovely. So alive you want to meet them for coffee.
I loved everything about this book: The cemetery of forgotten books, the idea of the special relationship between book and reader, and the mixing of reality and fiction with the backdrop of the post-war Barcelona. This book kept surprising me and enchanting me.
This book wowed me. It tells the story of Arnau, as his life unfolds between his forbidden love for a Jew, his brother's role as an inquisitor, all during the construction of the great Cathedral of the Sea in Barcelona. Beautiful and impossible to put down.
This book takes you on a veritable journey from Spain to Morocco. Sira's transformation from a naive young girl, to successful couturier, and to ally spy, is impossible to resist. One of those stories you have to read in one go, and when you look up after the last page you feel you're floating, as if the world around you had changed while you were gone.
More to come...