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BOOKS

Ten essential summer reads according to the Swedish bookstore voted world’s best

Recently chosen as the best bookstore in the world by the London Book Fair, The English Bookshop in Uppsala knows a thing or two about the written word. The Local asked owner Jan Smedh to hand-pick ten must-read titles for the summer.

Ten essential summer reads according to the Swedish bookstore voted world's best
The English Bookshop in Uppsala. Photo: The English Bookshops in Stockholm and Uppsala.

Fiction

“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer

“This great, funny, empathic book about a middle-aged writer and his insecurities won the Pulitzer this year.”

Read more about the book here.

Classics

“The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield

“The perfect time to reacquaint yourselves with this 1922 New Zealand summer classic.”

Read more about the book here.

READ MOREThis is the world's best bookstore and it's in Uppsala, Sweden

Short Stories

“That Was A Shiver – and Other Stories” by James Kelman

“The Booker Prize winning Scottish author is back with a collection of compelling characters.”

Read more about the book here.

Mystery

“Plaid & Plagiarism” by Molly MacRae

“A cozy crime with a murder in a Scottish bookshop – what more can you ask for?”

Read more about the book here.

Noir

“The Smack” by Richard Lange

“Lange is one of the very best writers of SoCal/Border Noir and this new book about a failing con artist going for the big score is another great read.”

Read more about the book here.

Science Fiction

“Illuminae” by Amie Kaufmann/Jay Kristoff

“The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war. Heart-stopping adventure.”

Read more about the book here.

Four best summer reads. Photo: The English Bookshops in Stockholm and Uppsala

Fantasy

“The Summer Dragon” by Todd Lockwood

“High fantasy adventure with dragons and politics – perfect immersive read about two siblings and their dragons.”

Read more about the book here.

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

“White Silence” by Jodi Taylor

“A gripping supernatural thriller with lots of twist by this English writer.”

Read more about the book here.

Young Adult

“Who Runs the World?” by Virginia Bergin

“Welcome to the matriarchy. Set 60 years after almost all men have been wiped out by a virus. 14-year old River thought men were extinct – then she meets Mason…”

Read more about the book here.



 

Hey look- it’s the kiddo! I’ve been down and out with a cold/flu for last few days, ran out of photos, and have exactly zero energy to take any more today, so I went waaaaay back in my phones to see if I had anything to use well I get my energy back and came across this nugget ? Rory helped me set up a bunch of photos to use while we were in America, and decided that she should really be IN the photos so here we are- she’s giving her best “girls rule” pose which I love ? I picked this book up awhile ago because I LOVE the cover- I really need to get around to reading it now ? . . QOTD: Rory would like to know what your Hogwarts house is- she’s a Gryffindor (because she wants to be Hermione- we spent about 6 weeks straight having to refer to her as Hermione- she wouldn’t answer to Rory ?) and I’m a Ravenclaw ? . . #whorunstheworld #girlpower #welcometothematriarchy #virginiabergin #littlefeminist #rainbowbooks #rainbowshelves #bookrainbow #shelfie #coverbuy #bookstagram #bookishpeepsies #bookishphotography #yareads #yabooks #yareader #yalit #ireadbooks #booksofinstagram #readersofinstagram #littlebookworm

A post shared by Samantha Hunt (@she_who_reads_) on Jun 26, 2018 at 7:26pm PDT

Non-fiction

“I Found My Tribe” by Ruth Fitzmaurice

“A moving tale about an Irish writer who recovers from family trauma by swimming in the Irish Sea.”

Read more about the book here.

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IMMIGRATION

Reader’s view: Why is it so hard for Sweden to accept English in public life?

A reader of The Local shares her story of trying to enter the Swedish job market after completing her doctoral studies.

Reader's view: Why is it so hard for Sweden to accept English in public life?
File photo of two women, not related to the article, having a conversation. Photo: mentatdgt/Pexels

Under the Swedish public eye, those put into the category of “undesirable” or “wrong-typed” migrants such as asylum seekers, refugees, and unskilled workers from poorer countries in the global South have often become the target of heated debates on governmental spending, neoliberalised administration, and moral public sentiments.

Yet, another group of migrants, those seen as a more “right” type of migrants that Sweden wants to attract – the high-skilled international researchers – remains invisible and overlooked while this group continues facing everyday exclusionary barriers and bureaucratic administrative obstacles.

In addition to the Swedish linguistic barrier that excludes foreign academics in their everyday workplace at Swedish universities, it appears as though the whole Swedish administrative system is not welcoming any foreigner, including high-skilled foreign academics, despite the government's avowed promises of hospitality.

My recent experience could be seen as an example of this bureaucratic and xenophobic logic of the New Public Management in Sweden – in which I believe that many other international researchers could have shared a similar experience.

My employment contract as a doctoral candidate at a Swedish university ended in June 2020. I was told by my union that it was imperative to register my unemployment at the Swedish Employment Agency, Arbetsförmedlingen, which I did. Yet, the whole registration process has alienated me, a non-Swedish speaker, because all the instructions were written in Swedish only.

I navigated by using Google Translate from Swedish to English, though I was not certain whether the translation was accurate. Towards the end of the online registration process at Arbetsförmedlingen, I was asked to book a mandatory interview by phone with Arbetsförmedlingen, which I complied with.

Yet, my first meeting with Arbetsförmedlingen turned out to be a failure, which irritated both me and the Arbetsförmedlingen officers.

The phone meeting abruptly ended just after a few minutes instead of a 30-minute interview as proposed. The first officer I met on phone only spoke Swedish. When I told him that I could not speak Swedish, he passed the phone to another officer who spoke English but demanded that I must speak Swedish to him. It was obvious that he could speak English but he refused to continue speaking English to me, putting me at a disadvantage.

He asked me (in English): “How long have you been living in Sweden?” I tried to explain to him that I was very keen on learning Swedish but I had not had any sufficient time and resources due to the nature of my over-stressful PhD work, which was conducted entirely in English. But the Arbetsförmedlingen officer did not seem to understand or did not want to understand, and he blamed me personally:

“It's your responsibility to learn Swedish!” he said.

I proposed that we could hold our conversation in English since he was capable of speaking English. To my surprise, he said (in English), “No, I don't understand your English. I don't speak English. You must speak Swedish. Because you don't speak Swedish, we need an authorised translator of your mother tongue.”

Then he insisted (in English) that he would book another meeting with an authorised translator of my mother tongue. I was required to speak either Swedish or my mother tongue despite the fact that my mother tongue has not been a part of my work life, daily life, and family life for over ten years – since I have been living in English-speaking countries, working in Sweden, and am married to an English-speaking partner.

This bureaucracy, this inflexibility, and insufficiency of public administration, together with its hostility against non-Swedish speakers, shocks me. In a country like Sweden where English is widely spoken, why is it so difficult to accept English as a second working language?

Seen from the cost-and-effect calculation, it is obvious that it would be more costly for the government to hire authorised translators for some far-away mother tongue languages of those who already live in English-speaking countries, obtain a Swedish PhD degree, and speak English.

If language is simply a means of communication between the government and its citizens, could it be wiser to accept English as a second official means of communication and administration so that administrative tasks could run smoothly? In terms of administrative efficiency, could it be more reasonable to accept English when the country at the current moment cannot even provide enough resources for Swedish learning?

At my workplace, for instance, there are also very limited resources and incentives for international researchers to learn Swedish (for instance, we do not get employment prolongation to learn Swedish while all the tasks carried out in English already occupy more than our full-time working hours).

Is the systematic demand on Swedish speaking while not providing enough support and resources an administrative strategy to drive out high-skilled foreigners who do not speak Swedish for some reason?

The conservative, neoliberal, nationalist and xenophobic mindset “In Sweden, we speak Swedish” and threatening proposals from opposition politicians to cut funding and restrict the rights to interpreters do not solve the Swedish problems at their root. The only thing they succeed in is creating a public fear of attack from foreigners and foreign languages, including English.

This reader's story was written by a former PhD researcher in Uppsala currently a permanent resident of Sweden, whose identity is known to The Local but who wished to remain anonymous. Do you have a story you would like to share with The Local about the highs and lows of life in Sweden? Email [email protected]
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