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”).

Imane HALIB”

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

“Hi, Katarina! I would love to recommend you to read The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender”

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. 

“Hi Katarina!

I’m Atikah, a book blogger from Malaysia and I would love to recommend you to read THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslye Walton.

It’s a young adult fantasy book, with an element of magical realism. This book is EVERYTHING to me. You would think that this book is all about Ava Lavender and Ava Lavender herself, given the title. However, it also tells about her family; her great-grandparents, her grandparents, and her mother. It’s about life, love, obsession, and desire and it’s so magically beautiful.

Leslye’s writing is absolutely beautiful and addictive. This book is one of a kind where it just opens the door and it lures you to step into it, once you start reading it. I couldn’t stop saying how magical is this book! Warning, this book will break your heart into pieces, and then into tiny pieces, because that was what happened to me!

Strange. Magical. Beautifully written. Haunting. Addictive.

I totally recommend this book to you!

By the way, this is my mailing address and I’d like to have your book in English (UK).”

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

Books for book recommendations

One of the lovely things about having your books translated is that you get lots of copies of them from the publishers. One of the challenges is that you get lots of copies from the publishers. It feels like a waste to have your own book take up so much bookshelf-space. I mean, I have already read it.

So I came up with this brilliant idea to keep myself with book recommendations: send me a book recommendation, something about what you loved about the book and why you think everyone, meaning me, should read it, and I’ll send you a signed copy of my book. Email me at, include your adress and don’t forget to tell me what language you want my book in.

With a bit of luck, this will keep me in lovely book recommendations until I run out of copies of my books.

Richard and Judy Book Club

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend have been selected by Richard and Judy’s Book Club for their autumn 2016 list.

Richard about the book:

Sometimes when you read a debut novel you feel as if you’ve come home. You know you’re listening to a voice speaking inside your head that’s a very welcome new visitor.

Katarina Bivald’s quirky, charming story is one of those. This is a book about books, and it doesn’t so much grab you from the start as slip a warm hand gently into yours and lead you insistently into the world she has created. And that’s doubly remarkable because not only is this a first novel, it’s a translation from the original Swedish.

And Judy:

It’s a wonderful tale and if you don’t fall for Bivald’s storytelling charm, I’ll eat the paperback.

Although I can’t help noticing that she didn’t offer to eat the hardcover.

You can read more about the book club and the other amazing books selected here

Inspiration. Of a sort.

It is a sad fact in life that in order to write a book, you have to sit down and, well, write it.

Normally I don’t really mind it, but there are so many things that can distract you from it. There’s the paralyzing self doubt, the voice in your head that whispers that it doesn’t really matter whether you write because naturally your idea is trivial and the characters clichés, and besides, you know full well that you can’t write. Or the opposite, the kind of inspiration that borders on and then crosses the line to full blown hybris and makes you want to walk around, laugh to yourself, marvel at the sheer brilliance of what you’re doing but not exactly sitting down and doing it, not right now anyway, because besides you need more coffee and oh no, you’ve thought of another scene, and then another, and you definitely need more coffee now and then you can’t really sit still because you’re high on madness and caffeine.

For those times I have two photos to remind be to get back to business. One is a photo of Agatha Christie, sitting behind a typewriter and looking up at two enormous piles of books on both sides of her. For all I know it might not even be all the book she ever wrote, perhaps just a selection of them, looming high over her.

I keep that photo as a sort of taunt to myself. You think you’re a writer, that’s what the photo is telling me, mocking me. You can’t even write two books and one play a year. Get over yourself.

And then I have a photo of Patricia Highsmit of the later years, after the women and the booze and the difficult relationshop with her mother had turned her from a beautiful tomboy to what mostly resembles a lesbian axe murderer. She’s glowering at me in a slightly menacing way, and smiling, terrifyingly enough. She’s wearing a lumberjack shirt, of course, and I’m quite sure that there actually is an axe in the background.

That photo tells me to get back to writing, “or else…”

Hopefully it’s not also telling me to hit the whisky.