The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a delightfully interesting story about life in the frozen landmass of Spitsbergen, north of Sweden--one made all the more beguiling with the range of ethnicities--Scottish, Swedish, Russian, Finish, and Ukrainian--Miller includes. The narrative focuses on Sven, a solitary miner who, after suffering a disfiguring accident, pursues an isolated existence as a trapper. Though hoping to escape human relationships, Sven does encounter people and dogs--and some of these become unexpectedly important to his survival.
The first half of Julie Otsuka'sThe Swimmers focuses on the group of regulars at a local underground pool. Swimming is a huge part of these people's daily or weekly routine--but this comes to an end when the pool develops cracks and can no longer be used. At that point the novel becomes the story of one swimmer in particular: a woman named Alice, who has dementia. My mother also suffers from advanced dementia, and I found Otsuka's portrayal familiar and poignant, and the love Alice's daughter feels for her mother is palpable. This is a beautiful little book.
When ten-year-old Daniel comes across a book called Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax, he falls in love with the story. He'd like to read more by this author, but can't find anything--perhaps because someone else is on a mission to destroy all of Carax's books. But as Daniel sets out in search of information, his life starts to become just as exciting, and at times terrifying, as the book he loves so much. Whether you're after adventure, murder mystery, coming of age, or romance--this book has it.