A new year is here and with it comes new goals and challenges. Before I tell you about my favorite books in January, I’d like to share a few of my reading goals for 2021.
- Complete the Helmet Reading Challenge
- Read 100 books
- Dive into the fascinating world of non-fiction.
- In 2021, I want to read in other languages than the usual suspects (English, Swedish and Finnish)
- Read more classics
Do you have any reading goals for 2021?
Now, let’s continue with some recommendations. I have read ten books in January and I especially enjoyed two novels. These are The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Even though these books are very different, I did find a common denominator, the role of language.
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa is a dystopian novel about what happens when people start forgetting the meaning of words. The book was published in Japanese already in 1994, but it seems that it took a couple of decades before it was made available to the wider non-Japanese speaking audience. The novel has been nominated for several international awards.
On an island somewhere objects suddenly start disappearing and with those disappearances, people also start forgetting the meaning of the objects. The Memory Police make sure that what is forgotten stays forgotten. It all seems very innocent at first. After all, who would miss hats, roses, birds? However, it’s not only objects that disappear, soon the police take away people too.
The protagonists are a writer and her editor. The writer realizes that her editor is one of few people who remember everything and in silent resistance, she sets on a mission to save him from the draconian Memory Police. As the situation deteriorates, the question that remains is who is actually saving whom?
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
I’m a sucker for books with beautiful titles and covers, and perhaps that’s what drew me Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. An epistolary novel, the book tells the stories of young Vietnamese American Little Dog, his mother, and his grandmother in the form of a letter from the author to his illiterate mother. The writer is a poet and that really shines through in the language of the book. However, dealing with such issues as identity, immigration, war, and poverty, it’s not in any way a cheerful story. As a matter of fact, it is very raw. It is the combination of and the interaction between this very rawness and the lovely use of the English language that is the most compelling part of this book.
Books in January: Complete List (with Stars)
- 🇬🇧 The Memory Police (Yōko Ogawa) – 5/5
- 🇬🇧 Ten Rules for Faking It (Sophie Sullivan) – 4/5
- 🇬🇧 The Last Goodbye (Fiona Lucas) – 4/5
- 🇬🇧 Someday in Paris (Olivia Lara) – 3/5
- 🇬🇧 You Deserve Each Other (Sarah Hoggle) – 1/5
- 🇬🇧 You Had Me at Hello (Mhairi McFarlane) – 5/5
- 🇬🇧 Stuck on You (Portia MacIntosh) – 3/5
- 🇬🇧 The First Time We Met (Jo Lovett) – 3/5
- 🇫🇮 Suljettujen ovien takana, original title Behind Closed Doors (B.A. Paris) – 3/5
- 🇬🇧 On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong) – 5/5
And what does this list tell us? Well, bring on the classics and non-fiction.
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