Planning Ahead!

Last week on Twitter I posed a question. I asked:

Hi my bookish Twitter friends. Just wondering… There are reading months for French, German, Spanish/Portuguese lit in translation. Does anyone host an Italian or Nordic/Scandi one. If not, I’d be willing, which would you prefer?

I got a good response, but predictably, it was divided! Some wanted Nordic, some wanted Italian, some wanted either, or even both!

This year, I’ve been reading and enjoying more in translation than ever before. Next year, I’d like to read even more. I tend to default to French, Japanese and Scandi writers. I also love Italian literature but don’t read as much translated from Italian, so I’d sort of hoped that Italian would come out on top. I thought about how I’d like to stretch my Scandi reading to become more Nordic, including Iceland and Finland. Then I had an idea related to Nordic lit – dangerous!

The result is that I’m going to go do BOTH! Going forward, I’ll only run a Nordic reading project the once, I may repeat the Italian one in subsequent years. Read on for some more details.


NORDIC FINDS – Jan 3 – Feb 6, 2022

I’m calling the Nordic project – Nordic FINDS – for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, the five Nordic countries. The ideal timing for Nordic reading is during the darker months of the year, the polar night of the higher latitudes.

For me, reading Nordic literature really began in the 1990s, when a few modern novels began to appear in translation in English and became bestsellers. I’m going to pick one such influential novel for each of the countries from that time onwards.

So we’ll begin on the first Monday in January, taking one week to focus on each country, and each week I’ll pick one particularly influential novel for anyone who wants to join in reading it.

  • Jan 3-9 – DENMARKSophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (1991, 1994 in Eng.)
  • Jan 10-16 – NORWAYMiss Smila’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg (1992, 1993 in Eng)
  • Jan 17-23 – SWEDEN ?
  • Jan 24-30 – FINLAND ?
  • Jan 31- Feb 6 – ICELAND?

As you’ll see, I’ve not picked books yet for Sweden, Finland or Iceland (although I’m very tempted to include my favourite vampire novel Let the Right One In for Sweden). I’m looking forward to your suggestions and am going to examine my shelves for more inspiration!

Please do leave your suggestions for the gaps – authors or novels – in the comments.

Watch this space for more on the focus titles for each country later in the autumn.


‘QUINDICINA ITALIANA’ – Italian Fortnight

Trying to think of a name for a shorter Italian reading project, I came up with ‘Italian Fortnight’, which I feels just right! As for timing, I feel it needs sunshine, hence I’d like to suggest July 25 to August 7 – which overlaps with the end of Spanish/Portuguese Month (if Stu hosts again), and the beginning of #WITMonth – which gives plenty of scope for Ferrante fans – but let’s find some more female Italian authors in translation too.

Once again, do let me know what you think and are the dates suitable? Do you have any suggestions for a readalong title for the fortnight.


I do hope you’ll consider joining me in one of these projects next year!

37 thoughts on “Planning Ahead!

  1. Laura says:

    Oh this sounds great! I loved Sophie’s World as a teenager but am even more of a fan of some of Gaarder’s lesser known works in translation, especially The Ringmaster’s Daughter.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks Stu. I may be overstretching myself a little, but need some targets to aim for in my reading.

  2. Janakay | YouMightAsWellRead says:

    What a great idea (both of them)! Like you, I’ve been reading more translated literature than ever this year and really enjoying it.
    I’m not familiar with many Scandinavian writers but some obvious choices might be Linn Ullmann (but you already have someone from Norway!); Tove Jansson (I believe she’s ethnically Swedish but grew up in Finland so — you get to choose!) and Audur Ava Olafsdóttir from Iceland (just finished one of her novels, Miss Iceland, which I enjoyed a great deal).
    I haven’t read Let the Right One In but — it would be fun! And it made (IMO) a tremendous film.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Yay! Thanks for your suggestions. Jansson might be a good fit for Finland – thanks for the nod. For Iceland, I’ve not read Olafsdóttir, I’ve read a couple of Sigurðardóttir, and there are several notable male authors like Sjon. I don’t necessarily want to focus mostly on crime. (However Haldor Laxness is one Icelandic author I doubt I’ll read again).

  3. Leslie B. Lambert says:

    Might have to join in – I have only seen the film of the Høeg novel, and Let the Right One In is due for a reread. That film was terrific and terrifying!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      With several votes for Lindqvist, Sweden looks like the readalong book is chosen… But you won’t be limited to just the those focus titles though. Thanks for your support.

  4. JacquiWine says:

    I’m definitely interested in the Italian fortnight, and the timing in summer seems ideally suited to the region. (PS Natalia Ginzburg would be another great option for anyone looking at the overlap between your event and #WITMonth.)

    Nordic FINDS is a great name for your Nordic/Scandi one. I’ll have to see if there’s anything suitable in my TBR – possibly not, although there’s plenty of time between now and Jan!

  5. lizzysiddal says:

    I usually start my reading year up in Scandinavia, but I was going to do something different next year. *** was *** now being the inoperative word! I’m in for the Italian fortnight as well.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’m not a Ferrante fan, but there is loads of superb Italian Noir, and so much more to explore. Glad to have you on board, even if it’s not until next summer!

  6. Liz says:

    Hooray! This is such a happy coincidence for me. I hope to be visiting Norway next year and was starting to think about reading more scandi literature beforehand. And I have just recently started learning Italian, and have been wondering about books BF (beyond Ferrante)! So definitely count me in. Thanks so much for taking on both projects. 👏🏻😀

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      So glad you’re on board Liz. Good timing on my part for both of your plans! (I love your term ‘BF’ – I hope to find plenty to fit).

  7. Rebecca Foster says:

    I am always looking for an excuse to fit more translated books into my reading stacks, so count me in! I’m especially excited about the Nordic month, and I love your graphic. I’ll join you for Sophie’s World. I loved Miss Smilla a few years back. I also have Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, and would like to read more by Lars Mytting, so those are my Norwegian options.

  8. lovebooksreadbooks says:

    This is great, Annabel, hopefully would join both in some way. I read Sophie’s World years ago and Miss Smila’s Feeling for Snow is a favourite.
    I’m a big crime fiction lover and have also enjoyed Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Iceland), Johana Gustawsson (French), Simone Buchholz (German), Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (Iceland), Jørn Lier Horst (Norway) – but male! – so perhaps Agnes Ravatn (Norway). I’m not necessarily expecting to see these (they don’t all meet the criteria anyway) on your list but just giving them a mention. I’d love to find some Italian women authors in translation to read. Those dates also coincide with the #20booksofsummer challenge (Cathy at 746books) which I normally join so it would be good to enjoy both.
    I think it’s great that you have done this, hope you enjoy and have lot’s of participants.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thank you. Lovely to have you on board. I’m still working on finding a gateway book for my Iceland focus. The first one I remember making an impact is Jar City by Arnuldar Indridason. I’m keen to find the books that helped to open the doors for more to come afterwards.

  9. Liz Dexter says:

    I second Audur Ava Olafsdóttir but I’m intrigued to know which Laxness you read and why you don’t feel you’ll return to him! I loved Ordinary People but not so much the others I’ve read. Have fun with these!

  10. stargazer says:

    How clever to call it Nordic FINDS! I grew up with books such as Smilla and Sophie’s World. I loved both of them and the latter sparked my lifelong interest in philosophy and metaphysics. For Finland, you could try Sofi Oksanen’s Purge? I will try to join in with Nordic Finds if I can, but may not be able to read books from all the Nordic countries.

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