Close Enough to the Arctic for Me

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Anyone who knows me as a reader generally knows that a majority of my time spent reading can be separated into one of two loves, depending on the particular season: Hungarian literature and Finnish literature (why to either is sort of incomprehensible, even to me). This summer appears to fall in the realm of the latter, the motherland of the Finns, as not only have I been working on rereading many of Bo Carplean’s novels but finishing the Moomin series, because, apparently, I am still five years old. Out of all the Finnish writers whose work I could find translated into English, I must admit that I found Arto Paasilinna’s 1975 novel The Year of the Hare, translated from the Finnish Janiksen vuosi, quite disappointing not only as an internationally well-loved story but as a beach read (yes, I am the only individual outside of Finland who probably reads such novels at the beach).

The Year of the Hare tells the story of Kaarlo Vanaten, a young journalist who is frustrated by the people and the responsibilities that tie him to the metropolis. After rescuing an injured hare while in the woods on assignment, the journalist gives up his career, his wealth, and his life to travel across Finland and into the Arctic Circle with the hare by his side, having marvelous life experiences and adventures as he goes. How heartwarming and pleasant is that?

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Moominsummer Madness

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So I’m likely to be one of the only adults outside of Finland who will actually admit to reading the Moomin series on summer vacation, but I love those little guys so much that I have no shame and will admit to my actions. Besides, if I continued to reread Master and Margarita or my latest acquisition, Ernst Pawel’s biography of Kafka, The Nightmare of Reason, I’d probably consider just wafting out into the waves and never returning, Edna Ponteiller style. Something light and fun is necessary for the beach!

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