Do you have any good hymns for me?

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve been terribly quiet lately. So quiet, in fact, that an friend of mine got in touch and carefully asked me if everything was all right. And it is. I’ll just have you know that I have been writing this summer!

And speaking of which, my American friends out there, do you have any good hymns for me?

(Yes, I did return to my blog only to beg for help. I’ll return again and actually, eh, write something. But you will have my eternal gratitude etc etc. and one day I will share with you a very cute story about some postcards and, perhaps, a pirate ship. But not now. Now I’m off to write!)

Memoirs of an imaginary friend

was recommended to be my Caryn in Illinois, and I loved the amazing idea of telling a book through the voice of an imaginary friend:

I absolutely love Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.  It is narrated by a young boy’s imaginary friend.  What a creative way to set up a story.  This friend goes above and beyond for this boy as he navigates his school year.  I just loved how the author came up with this idea

It seemed like such a great idea at the time

It was a brilliant plan in all its simplicity: get book recommendations, send out own books, and get more shelf space for new ones.

So for the past month or so I’ve happily treaded back and forth to the post office, sending out books, clearing out space, all going very well according to plan. Or so I thought. Of course, I hadn’ really though about all the new books I would be ordering based on the recommendations. More trips to the post office. Definitely less shelf space.

On the other hand – the books! I knew I did promise to blog about all the recommendations I’ve received, but honestly, you should have known I would be too busy reading them to blog about them.

Still, I have started to feel sort of bad about it. It just seems so selfish to keep them all to myself. So here are just a few of the many brilliant recommendations I’ve received. Warning: may cause ordering of books and many, many trips to the post office.

Alberta, New Jersey wrote:

One book that I really love is…The Captive Heart by Mitchell Griep
This book filled me with all kinds of emotions . As I read thru the chapters -some times I just had to shut the book for a moments and breathe, absorb the words , digest the chapter, it’s words and emotions that it filled me with.
Full of surprises, frightful happenings, entwined with laughs, raw emotions, teases of love starting to grow,pains and tears.So, you see this book is wonderful and christian so you don’t have to deal with profanity and such, don’t hesitate to read this.

Marie, from France, wrote:

Initially, I had the idea to write to you to complain, I confess! I’ve just spent a part of my morning looking for one of the books you suggested: “un lieu béni” (Fannie Flagg) and it’s just impossible in France to find it!!! (but “Beignets de tomates vertes” is available).

The problem with a very good book, is that you’re so sad to leave it when you arrive at the end of the travel, and you think “what am I going to read now???”. So thanks again for all the books you indicated. But what can you do for French readers with that incredible news?

If your deal is still OK, I recommend you “Regain” from Jean GIONO. It’s an old french author, who survived to first world war as he was 21,  and became a writer as he was initially working in a bank (but may be, I hope, you know him already?). It’s my favourite book, and may be I’ve read it 5 or 6 time…specially when I feel depressed with how the world is running. When I’m “inside”, I feel it’s my place, and I can imagine I would have done the things exactly as the people did in this book. And I can say I felt the same with your book! The subject is about the same as the one of your book, even if the place is very different: how do people to create new things in a place where nobody wants to live anymore…
Another good tittle from the same author is “Le hussard sur le toit” (but I’ve just read it 3 times…too many new good books to read!!!).

And from Elizabeth, in California:

I recently re-read Julian Rubinstein’s BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER, and was amazed all over again by it. It has everything: a compellingly flawed (yet strangely likeable) protagonist, eccentric side characters, interesting sociological analysis of post-Communist Hungary, bad romances, heists, crazy chase sequences, heart-stopping escapes, and (a big draw for me!) hockey. (Plus, it’s a completely true story.) I also love Samantha Ellis’ HOW TO BE A HEROINE, which is a brilliant book recommendation vehicle in itself (like a one-woman book club). She reads everything, from scholarly tomes to classics to bodice rippers, and discusses the female characters in each with great care and enthusiasm. (It could be argued that there are lots of book spoilers in it, but it’s not really done in a way that wrecks books. Also, if you really don’t want to know, the synopses are long enough that you can stop partway through and move on to another chapter.)

Ps. I was especially glad to see How to be a heroine recommended, since it is a splendid book. I once read a quite that said something like this: “When someone likes the same book as you do, it’s like seeing the book recommending another person.”


From Denmark to Sweden and Morrocco: “I remember falling in love with the universe of Amin Maalouf”

A few days ago I asked for book recommendations in exchange for a signed copy of my book in any language I have at home. Over the following weeks I plan to publish some of the beutiful emails I got in response to it. All the emails are published with the sender’s permission. 

Imane first wrote to me to tell me about how she found my book, thanks to a bee, a broken down bicycle and a B&B in Nyborg, Denmark. Later, she wrote to introduce me to the universe of Amin Maalouf:

From Denmark to Sweden… and Morrocco

“Saturday, September 17th, 2016:

Dear Katarina,

My name is Imane, I am 36 years old. I’m Moroccan (and became French 10 years ago after 7 years living in France). I am writing to you from Odense in Denmark, a very nice city in the Funnen Island (West-South of Denmark). I am travelling around in Denmark and I’ll come back tomorrow to Casablanca (in Morocco).

Prior to my arrival to Odense, I was enjoying a 3 days-staying in a very nice and isolated B&B in the countryside of the city of Nyborg. I had 4 books (2 novels – one from Latin-America and the other from Europe, 1 academic book on neurolinguistic programmation and 1 essay on the Danish happiness). I was happy just running between the corn fields, reading under old trees, walking in the humid grass, witnessing huge rabbits and smelling this unique essence of the symbiosis between Nature and Human being.

The day before my departure to Odense (Thursday), I wanted to spend the day in Nyborg. I found a bike in the garage to go to town (30 minutes biking)… but the bike didn’t work. I then decided to go walking (1 hour walking)… but I got bitten by a bee right beneath my left foot and could not make it. I was a bit pissed of, but not too long thanks to a warm cup of rooibos tea I prepared in the kitchen. While contemplating the ways I could schedule back my last day, my eyes (or my soul) got attracted by the shelves behind, where there were few books. Between “The tales of Amsterdam” and the “Copenhagen city guide”, I found the only one written in French: “La bibliothèque des coeurs cabossés” (Broken Wheel).

I started it at 11.30am… and could not get off my eyes until the next day (with some sleeping hours though, as I had to be well up for the next travelling day). I finished it at 11.30am the next day (right before my departure scheduled at 12.00am… I was actually begging a nice lady who offered me a drive to Odense to wait until I finish it). I left a short note on it, for the next lucky reader of the B&B. I put it back on the shelves and I promised to myself to order it on Amazon so as to have my own hard copy.

I did want to write to you and express my gratitude for the joyful and oniric moment I spent on Thursday and Friday morning reading your novel (and I should thank also the Bee and the Broken bike, otherwise I would have missed “our moment”!). I wish one day I could give the same joy, plenitude and nourishing moment to a person who may read my words and fall in love with my stories. Maybe, one day, I could open my own library in some “Broken Wheel” city in some part of Morocco.”

(Thursday, September 22, 2016)

“Dear Katarina,

What a good idea you had! I would love to receive a signed copy of your book (in French language, as I already bought the e-book in English… I did not find the French copy in my Kobo library).

Not that easy to spontaneously recommend a book, as I assume you may have read a bunch of them, making the probability to choose one you have not read very thin… adding in the equation that you would like it, that makes it harder :) BUT I take the challenge, as you have asked us to recommend a book WE do love!

When I was in my early 20’s years old, I remember falling in love with the universe of Amin Maalouf’s books (Samarkand, Leo Africanus, the Gardens of light, the rock of Tanios, etc.). Samarkand is one of my favourite (nourrished with the poetry of Omar Khayyam, “The Rubbayat”).


I still have copies left, so don’t hesitate to send me your book recommendation. Read more about it here

A memory from a B&B in Denmark