It’s time for the monthly Read Around the Rainbow post! If you haven’t read one before, we’re a group of authors who blog on the same topic once a month. You’ll find links to everyone’s post at the bottom.
What are your top three non-romance reads?
This month, we’re doing a list post with our top three non-romance reads. I have a problem. When I sat down to think about what to write for this post, I realised I only read romance – not only. I might read a few mysteries without any romance in them or urban fantasy without any romantic subplot. But 99% of everything I read is romance.
I read some non-fiction too. Mostly relating to writing craft or book marketing, but also about chickens and gardening.
And being a teacher, even though I haven’t taught a class in almost thirteen years, has the importance of reading ingrained in me, so we read to our kids every weekday. At weekends they don’t have a set bedtime, so we don’t read then, but every weekday hubby or I read a chapter or two aloud. And kids’ books aren’t romance, so maybe 99% is an exaggeration, but not by much.
I don’t have a top three, but I’ll mention three books/stories that I come back to.
En hjältes död by Pär Lagerkvist
I googled and I can’t find a translation for this story, but it’s one of those I read when in school, then again when I studied to become a teacher, and then I had my students read it. En hjätes död is directly translated as A Hero’s Death. It was released in 1924, and it’s 638 words long.
638 words, five paragraphs, about a town where to entertain the inhabitants, they pay a young man to balance on the church spire and fall to his death. The whole town is excited and even a little proud of the event. Then the day arrives, people gather around the church, and the young, healthy man falls to his death. He gets paid, of course, since it was the deal, but the inhabitants’ mood changes quickly. The excitement dies as soon as the man does, and they’re all a little disappointed, and some question if it wasn’t just a waste of a life.
It’s so brilliantly written, and I often refer to it in my everyday life.
Pär Lagerkvist got The Nobel Prize in 1951.
My Mother Never Dies by Claire Castillon
I’ve read this in Swedish several times, but the original is in French. It’s a short story collection of 19 stories. One is more disturbing than the other. These stories turn me inside out. They’re grotesque, anxiety-inducing, and thought-provoking. They’re all about a mother-daughter relationship, and the title lies (though the Swedish and French title is Insect). Some of the mothers die.
I have a physical reaction to some of these stories, mostly revulsion, and yet the book is dedicated to Castillon’s mother. And she might have a completely sane and loving relationship with her mother but seeing it there makes me laugh.
Nineteen stunning, disturbing short stories delve into the complex relationship between mothers and daughters.
In My Mother Never Dies, the literary provocateur Claire Castillon dissects the darkest aspects of the relationship between mothers and daughters. A woman tries so hard to be friends with her daughter that she begins to revert to her own adolescence; another woman finds her mother engaged in an illicit affair with a man they both know too well; a daughter rattles off all the reasons why she’s disgusted with her invalid mother but realizes through her haze of teenage hatred that she is losing the only person who tells her the truth.
Stunning, shocking, unflinching, and ultimately tender, My Mother Never Dies forces us to look at the worst and best of mothers and daughters. Like the work of Miranda July and A.M.Homes, Castillon won’t let us avert our gaze from the terrible and true any more than from the beautiful and true— because it all reveals the depth of our need for each other.
Handbok för köksträdgården by Lena Israelsson
So, this is a gardening book that has just about everything, and I’ve read it from cover to cover, and I look up things in it all the time. Directly translated the title is Handbook for the Kitchen Garden, so pretty straightforward. I don’t expect anyone of you to have much use for it. It’s in Swedish, and all planting dates etc are with a Nordic climate in mind, but it’s one of the books I’ve read the most times, so…