The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, tr. Alice Menzies

Readers of Broken WheelSometimes, these are the only books that will do. That rare breed of literature that entertains, uplifts and demands little in return, the books we read when we are fed up with thinking and wondering why certain things are the way they are.

Sara has always been seen by her family as wanting, harbouring a mild disapproval of her predilection for staying in and reading, her acceptance of a job in a quiet bookstore. Now that she is doing something out of the ordinary, leaving their sleepy Swedish town to travel to small town Iowa, they’re still not happy.

“It wasn’t clear which was worse, the tediousness or the risk of bumping into one of the many serial killers hiding in every nook and cranny… Honestly though, what do you know about people? If you didn’t have your nose in a book all the time…”

The bookshop Sara worked in has closed down and her world seems to have diminished to books and the lives within them. 

“Her little sister Josefin worked as a trainee lawyer for the district court on Södertälje. Eventually, she would be a solicitor, a socially viable profession carried out in suitability expensive suits. Sara, on the other hand… A bookshop. In a suburban shopping centre. That was only marginally better than being an unemployed former bookshop assistant like she was now. And now that she had finally gone abroad? She had chosen to go to a little backwater in the American countryside, to stay with an elderly lady.”

Broken Wheel SierraSara has been writing letters to Amy for the last two years, they are bookish pen pals who share a love of literature and enjoy the uninterrupted conversation of a letter. Amy invites Sara to visit, she arrives in the small, dilapidated town of Broken Wheel, most-likely it first and only ever tourist, only to find that the person who invited her didn’t tell her something VERY important that will affect her two month stay.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend takes a melancholic bunch of characters from a declining town in Iowa and puts the introverted, bookish Sara into its midst.

Though it is a small town, with not much going for it, it is an adventure for Sara to leave Sweden and travel to meet her bookish friend.

She discovers the important thing that Amy left out of her letters on her very first day and it will have an effect on the rest of her 2 month stay, where we meet a cast of fabulous, quirky characters and observe the transformation of a depressing little town.

The residents of Broken Wheel are not avid readers, they are not readers at all and don’t see things the way Sara sees them.

‘People are better in books,’ she muttered. She said it so quietly she didn’t think he could have heard her, but when she stole a glance at him, she thought she could see one of his eyebrows twitch. ‘Don’t you agree?’ she asked defensively?

‘No,’ he said.

Sara decides to convert Amy’s empty shop in the deserted town of Broken Wheel despite the fact the residents claim not to be readers. Slowly the wheel begins to turn…

Broken WheelA light-hearted, uplifting story that should be in the section of the bookstore or library entitled “guaranteed to lift or lighten your mood”.

It reminded me of that same feeling created by the author Antoine Laurain in The Red Notebook and was an absolute delight, just what I needed, a literary, bookish pick me up!

Note: This book was an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) kindly provided by the publisher.

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26 thoughts on “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, tr. Alice Menzies

    • It’s true Susan, I had this conversation some time ago with a friend who went into a bookstore asking for something of that genre, only to be told that was quite a difficult request, as many of the books that were on offer at the time were a great read, but tragic, depressing, sad or any one of the other adjectives that describe something that isn’t exactly “feel-good”. I like these books to have them to pass on as well, we all know what a good feeling that can be too!

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  1. I’m so glad to hear you liked this book. I have it on my shelf, but have been afraid that it will disappoint me. Now, I will know what to pick up when I need to feel uplifted. 🙂

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  2. Lovely review, Claire 🙂 I also read this book earlier this year, and even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as you did, I also found it quite a pleasant read 🙂

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  3. I’m always down for a mood-lightener! But what intrigues me even more is that its going to come by way of “bookish pen pals who share a love of literature and…;” travel to declining “small town, with not much going for it,” and its cast of non-bookish “fabulous, quirky” characters. Who knew that would be a recipe for upliftment? Its going on my TBR.

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    • And that it would be written by a Sedish author, translated into English, I am a little wary of the European writers who try to depict small town America by resorting to cliché, and although it may be inclined towards that in places, it was still a joy for me, wheras last year I read Joël Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert affair (a Swiss author writing about America and it was a complete failure in my opinion).

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  4. Pingback: You’ll Like What the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend | My Book Strings

    • I did too Rosie, it had so many great references and I loved her categories of books, in her aim to try and entice people to read, appealing to their emotions.

      I almost wish there was a prequel, where we got to know more about Amy and experienced more of their letter writing and reading journeys.

      In this vein of story, I also really enjoyed Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook, translated from the French, narrated by a Parisian bookshop owner, which I’ve also reviewed here.

      Thanks for stopping by, commenting and for following, I enjoyed perusing your blog and reading about your festival, and will be in the loop now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald | Book Around The Corner

  6. Pingback: Katarina Bivald – The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend | Fyrefly's Book Blog

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