What international books have you read lately?

So, we’ve had a dear friend visiting us from Belgium this week – which would be why I haven’t had time to post. (Sorry.) Our friend, Charlotte, is a sixteen-year-old from Belgium who enjoys reading, so of course many of our conversations have revolved around books! Mostly of Anglo-Saxon origin, which makes sense, since, ya know, I speak English and all. 😉 However, I did feel like a bit of slacker when she began asking about some internationally written books that I’d never heard of.

In an effort to be a bit more cultured – and basically just to try something new – I’ve decided to make a list of some books written by international authors! No, I haven’t read these, so I can’t speak into their content, how well they’re written, etc. But each of these has been either recommended by Charlotte, or received quite high ratings from other book reviewers.

Be sure to let me know if you read one of these and what you thought of it! And feel free to recommend your own international literature, down below in the comments.

Enjoy!

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Marked (House of Night #1) – After a Vampire Tracker marks her with a crescent moon on her forehead, 16-year-old Zoey Redbird enters the House of Night and learns that she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is mis-using her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny – with a little help from her new vampyre friends (or Nerd Herd, as Aphrodite calls them).

Ok, so this first one is written by an American! (Fail on my part!) But Charlotte discovered this book in her native French and loved it, so this is her top recommendation!

 

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Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) 

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

Another book highly recommended by Charlotte. This might be next on my list to read! 😉

 

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The Appointment – From the winner of the IMPAC Award and the Nobel Prize, a fierce novel about a young Romanian woman’s discovery of betrayal in the most intimate reaches of her life.

“I’ve been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp.” Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu’s totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men’s suits bound for Italy. “Marry me,” the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country.

As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.

Herta Müller pitilessly renders the humiliating terrors of a crushing regime. Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment confirms her standing as one of Europe’s greatest writers. 

This one I found on my own, and it sounds good! What are your thoughts?

 

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Shadow of the Wind – Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. 

Another I found on my own and just might add to my ‘To-Read’ list, later this year!

 

Happen to be fluent in French? Here are two more of Charlotte’s favorite series, which haven’t been translated into English yet! Bummer for us non-French speakers, but Hooray if you can jump into one of these right now!

Les comédiennes de monsieur Racine (Les Colombes du Roi-Soleil #1)

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L’Espionne du Roi-Soleil 

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Happy reading, friends!

 

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One thought on “What international books have you read lately?

  1. Ralph W Hueske says:

    Thanks for the recommendations, Laura. These are some great suggestions and I only heard of one of them before.

    I loved Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books, of which “Shadow of the Wind” is the first in the series. I read “The Angel’s Game” first, then Shadow, and then his 3rd in the series, “Prisoner of Heaven.”

    The original language is Spanish, but the series was recommended by a friend from Italy that had read them in Italian. I love Zafón’s use of language, particularly in Angel’s Game. Some of this may be due to the translator, although, my friend said the same was true in Italian.

    The first two books in the series can be read in either order without any problem; in fact, the second comes chronologically before the first. The third ties the two together and rumor has it that Zafón is working on a fourth. Although all three books are good, I loved “The Angel’s Game” best of all.

    I truly enjoyed all of the books and also recommend them. The writing is fresh and I think the international setting (Barcelona of the early to mid-twentieth century) drew me in. I also love the romantic notion that there’s a place for all those forgotten books, with someone watching over them.

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