Swede Lit: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

A very dear friend of mine is Swedish and is always trying to get me to improve on my Swedish language skills so that I can move there and be near her forever.

So far I can say “my name is Eva” and “trick or treat” so I’m really getting somewhere.

But she lets all this go if I just keep reading Swedish literature. This week I gained some more points reading Jonas Jonasson’s follow up to The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.


The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden combines some of my favourite things: royalty, Swedes and sarcasm. In it we meet Nombeko, born in the slums of Soweto in South Africa, who manages to learn how to read before being put in charge of a sanitation facility at the age of 12 until she runs away to Johannesburg where she is hit by a car driven by a drunk engineer. Since it was her fault he hit her (she was on the sidewalk after all) she is sentenced to 9 years of servitude at the engineer’s nuclear weapons facility. The engineer is a complete halfwit so it falls to Nombeko to undertake diplomatic relations, handle the Mossad and work out the nuclear calculations necessary to be in charge of a nuclear weapons facility.

Eventually she ends up in Sweden where her life becomes intertwined with twins, Holger One and Holger Two. One is obsessed with deposing the monarchy while Two doesn’t technically exist but was dealt all the brains in the family.

Once again Jonasson has created an unlikely cast of characters, deeply flawed but a total delight. This time most of them were idiots but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to spend time with them. He also comes up with a string of plans and plots, each more unlikely than the next, most doomed to fail.

I was personally delighted when His Majesty, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden himself made a completely ridiculous and charming appearance in the book. It left me wondering if he has read the book or is even aware of it and if so, what does he think? Can someone find out for me?

Jonasson has clearly perfected the art of the mad cap adventure, leading readers through a host of impossible scenarios before delivering a perfectly wrapped up ending. There are very few sarcastic authors out there – it’s not easy to convey sarcasm without tone of voice – but Jonasson is among the best.


Paperback Princess Loves New Paperbacks!

I really do. I’m not sure when I started holding out in favour of paperbacks (probably around the time when I realized that being an adult is expensive!) but that’s my general MO these days.

So it delights me to be able to bring you all a list of fabulous books that have recently been turned into ready-to-love paperbacks. You know, so that you can start filling up your beach bags and lake totes with great books. So that when you are planning a picnic, you will have a list of books that you can stash in your basket.

I’ve been tricked before by news that the paperback version of Gone Girl was going to be released shortly. But now I’ve seen it with my own two eyes so it’s official. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is finally in paperback. Just in time for those of you that still haven’t read it to get to it before the movie’s release this fall. Seriously though, read this book.

The follow up to the JK Rowling-as-Robert-Galbraith penned The Cuckoo’s Calling is coming out this June. For those of you that can’t read The Silkworm until you’ve been introduced to Cormoran Strike properly, get thee to a bookstore for a copy of the freshly printed paperback!

The other day I waxed poetic about the perfection of the Paris: The Novel paperback and mentioned that Edward Rutherfurd’s previous city novels didn’t share this flawlessness. But then I went to the bookstore and lo and behold! Perfect paperbacks of London, New York and Russka. So if you’re in the market for that most perfect paperback but didn’t think Paris was your style? Now you have no excuse.

Remember how I loved The Circle by Dave Eggers? I thought it was a most excellent imagining of what could happen to the world if we’re not careful with the direction that social media is taking. It was a big ol’ beast of a book though so I can’t blame you if you wanted to wait for a more portable edition. Your time has come.

Finally, Harper Collins has done us the massive favour of publishing Jonas Jonasson’s brand new book, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden in paperback right off the bat. I loved his debut novel The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (so did millions of others around the world) and I’m so very excited to crack this baby. Even though technically I’m on a book buying ban, my other half wasn’t there to see me so it totally doesn’t count.

There you go! A list of paperbacks to inspire some book cravings; you know you want to.


That Time I Read 100 Books

I did it. I don’t know how but I managed to read 100 books this year. So far.

One hundred books! Let’s be honest – this year was some kind of awesome book anomaly. I can’t imagine that I will ever hit this kind of reading number again so let’s just all take a moment to bask in this moment’s glory.

As I was approaching the milestone, I started to think about what book I should read for number 100. Should it be a short book that got me there faster? Should it be a book of massive cultural significance? I have a good memory – there is every chance that I will remember what book I chose that one time I read 100 books.

The answer was pretty obvious. It was staring me in the face but it took a friend pointing it out to me for me to realize that.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

100 books, 100 year old man. Obviously.

Jonas Jonasson’s book about a 100 year old man that’s had enough of life in an Old Folk’s home and just decides to up and leave has been sitting on my shelf for weeks – ever since I stole it from my father-in-law to be. He hasn’t even read it yet. I’m a bookish a**hole. Stealing might be putting it a bit harshly – he told me to take it. Not sure he realized how long it would be til he got it back though.

So it’s been sitting on my shelf for months and I just kept finding other things to read. I guess I was just saving it for a special occasion.

100year old man

This book is fantastic. I didn’t have any preconceived notions going in – this is one of those books that doesn’t tell you much on the cover. Just that Allan Karlsson is 100 and he hates living in the Old Folks’ home and he likes vodka. A character I can get behind. So Allan leaves the Home, walks to the bus station and gets on a bus. But not before he is asked to watch a suitcase so an agitated young man can go use the facilities. Allan knows that he only has so much time before the people at the Home realize he’s gone and come looking for him so when his bus shows up and the guy is still in the bathroom, he just takes the suitcase with him. He’s 100, he doesn’t care.

Turns out that the suitcase contains 50 million Swedish kroner. Suddenly Allan is in the middle of a manhunt but we soon find out that Allan is an extremely unique individual; over the course of his life he has matter-of-factly had dinner with Generalissimo Franco, Mao Tse Tung, Harry S. Truman, Stalin and Kim Il-Sung. He even comforted a 10-year-old Kim Jong-Il when “Uncle Stalin” died. He spends time in a Russian Gulag and an Iranian prison and collects an incredible amount of knowledge about nuclear arms.

I loved this book. Allan is so matter-of-fact and calm about everything. He is completely apolitical so has no opinions about the sorts of people he ends up getting mixed up with. The motley crew of people he bands with in the modern day are equally hilarious and odd. There’s the red-headed woman who lives with an elephant and a dog, the hot-dog stand vendor who has spent a life time almost qualifying for every profession you can think of and the criminal boss who discovers a kindred spirit in our Mr. Karlsson.

This book was an unexpected treat. I’m glad I saved it for now but it’s another one of those books that makes me sad to leave my book friends behind.