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Read Harder Challenge #10: A Translated Book and/or Translated by a Woman

Posted about 1 year ago by Jennifer Deuell
Posted in Book Reviews

Ok, first things first.  I am way behind on this challenge.  I believe we are in week 25 of the year and I’m only on book 10.  That’s terrible!  I feel terrible about it!  You would think that reading two books a month should be no problem…and it isn’t…it’s reading the two books I’ve selected for the Read Harder Challenge that seem to be, well, challenging!

The whole point of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is to get you out of our reading comfort zone.  Its asking readers to stretch and pick up books they might not normally be attracted to.  For some of the books in this challenge, this has been wonderful for me.  For example, I’ve learned that I like science fiction which I previously avoided.  For other books, it’s been a struggle to finish them because, honestly, they’re just not my jam.  Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam was one of those books.

I originally picked up Wonderful Feels Like This for a couple reasons the biggest being that I am a sucker for books about intergenerational friendship.  I just get all the feels when a young person befriends an elderly person.  Don’t know why.  Just do.  Another reason I picked out this book was because it was an international best seller.  I figured, if millions of people across the globe liked it, chances are good I will too.  Finally, the cover is GORGEOUS.  And let’s be honest, we are all guilty of judging books by their covers.  Don’t try to deny it.  You know you do it too.

Long story short, I went into this book with high hopes.  Wonderful Feels Like This is the story of Steffi, a young teen jazz musician who is struggling to deal with several major bullies at her school.  She’s an old soul who doesn’t quite fit in and other girls use that against her.  Steffi, as you can imagine, feels pretty down about her life.  Until one day, on her walk home from school, she hears jazz music coming from an open window in a retirement home.  She decides to follow the tune and fate brings her to meet Alvar, an elderly gentleman who found a bit of fame as a jazz musician in Sweden during World War II.

The book follows Steffi and Alvar’s friendship, using jazz music as their connection but also as their way of communicating.  Alvar shares with Steffi stories of his life as a young struggling musician, and Steffi, eventually, shares about her troubles at school.  As you can imagine, they both do a lot of growing in the process.  The author seems to be very knowledgeable about jazz as she uses specific music terminology and famous musicians to weave the story together.  I do not personally know much about jazz but I can imagine this would be very appealing to someone who does.

I think this book’s beauty literally was lost in translation for me.  The way the characters spoke, the language they used, and even the sentence structure of the author seemed off.  I’m sure it didn’t help that I read this book in many settings, as I kept putting it down and then pushing myself to pick it back up.  I just found it hard to become invested in the story.  But, as I always tell the readers that come into the library, don’t pass over a book just because one person wasn’t a fan.  It just might be your jam!

Here are some more suggestions for prompt #10:

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, translated by Mattias Ripa

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell 

Bronze and Sunflower by Wenxuan Cao, translated by Helen Wang

Bright by Duanwad Phimwana, translated by Mui Poopoksakul

The White Book by Kang Han, translated by Deborah Smith

Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes, translated by Emma Ramadan

The Plotters by Un-su Kim, translated by Sora Kim-Russell

The Summer of Ellen by Agnete Friis, translated by Sinead Quirke Kongerskov

Here are Book Riot’s suggestions:



About the Author

Jenn Deuell is the Young Adult Coordinator with Richmond Public Library. She is a native of Fredericksburg, VA but has lived in Richmond for long enough that she now considers it home. She loves all things YA and can usually be found curled up at home with a good book (rainy day or not). Her other hobbies include traveling and spending time with family, including her three rescued pit bulls.

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