bookish lists | recommendations

EUROS 2024 | Books For Group C: England, Slovenia, Serbia, Denmark

28/06/2024

Hoohoo, friends of the blade!

I haven’t really watched football (or soccer, as they say in the US) since the World Championships 2006. Yeah, 2010 a bit but ever since then I completely lost interest in football and thought it was stupid. I’m not sure what happened, maybe because it’s in Germany or because thanks to the 24 hours of Le Mans race I’m on a sport high (or maybe it was all the soccer romance I’m reading??), but I’m actively following the Euros and watching a lot of the games. And it’s actually fun. Like, the sport itself isn’t that stupid. I still don’t like the fan culture or money business surrounding it but the sport itself is enjoyable to watch. I think I might even watch football after the European Championships ? Who am I and what have I done to my old self?
Of course, I need to pair this new found obsession with books and since I haven’t really done anything towards reading around the world in the past few years, I thought now would be the perfect time to start that again and look up books set all around Europe. I’m really excited for this series of posts because I mostly read books set in the US or UK, sometimes Germany and it’s always good to broaden your own horizon once in a while.
And since the Euros helpfully sorts the countries into groups, what would be better to do one post per group? I’ll try to only put books that were written in or translated into English.

In case you missed them, you can check out my posts for Group A here and for Group B here.



ENGLAND

he's a 10He’s a 10 by Jessica Yale
contemporary romance

Genie Edwards, head of player care at Covenly FC, loves her job. Even if she does have to work with the club doctor who happens to be her ex-husband . . .
When Covenly qualify for the Champions League, they’re determined to stay there and smash their record transfer fee to bring in renowned ‘Number 10’ Tony Garrett, who urgently needs a career boost after recently being snapped falling out of nightclubs during a very public break up. When Tony is late to his first ever press conference, it looks like some things never change . . .
But soon Genie begins to suspect there may be more to this rough diamond than meets the eye – will she put her career on the line and take a second chance at love?
Or was everyone right about Tony all along?

never fall for your fianceeNever Fall for Your Fiancée by Virginia Heath
historical romance

The last thing Hugh Standish, Earl of Fareham, ever wants is a wife. Unfortunately for him, his mother is determined to find him one, even from across the other side of the ocean. So, Hugh invents a fake fiancée to keep his mother’s matchmaking ways at bay. But when Hugh learns his interfering mother is on a ship bound for England, he realizes his complicated, convoluted but convenient ruse is about to implode. Until he collides with a beautiful woman, who might just be the miracle he needs.
Minerva Merriwell has had to struggle to support herself and her two younger sisters ever since their feckless father abandoned them. Work as a woodcut engraver is few and far between, and the Merriwell sisters are nearly penniless. So, when Hugh asks Minerva to pose as his fiancée while his mother is visiting, she knows that while the scheme sounds ludicrous, the offer is too good to pass up.
Once Minerva and her sisters arrive at Hugh’s estate, of course, nothing goes according to his meticulous plan. As hilarity and miscommunication ensue, while everyone tries to keep their tangled stories straight, Hugh and Minerva’s fake engagement starts to turn into a real romance. But can they trust each other, when their relationship started with a lie?

babelBabel by R.F. Kuang
historical fantasy

Oxford, 1836.
The city of dreaming spires.
It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world.
And at its centre is Babel, the Royal Institute of Translation. The tower from which all the power of the Empire flows.
Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift.
Until it became a prison…
But can a student stand against an empire?

am i normal yetAm I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
contemporary YA

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?



DENMARK

the boy in the suitcaseThe Boy in the Suitcase by Lena Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis
crime

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can’t say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old naked and drugged, but alive.
Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy’s are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

the library of shadowsThe Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard
(translated by Tiina Nunnally)
fiction, mystery

When Luca Campelli dies a sudden and violent death, his son Jon inherits his second-hand bookshop, Libri di Luca, in Copenhagen. Jon had not seen his father for 20 years—since the mysterious death of his mother. After Luca’s death is followed by an arson attempt on the shop, Jon is forced to explore his family’s past. Unbeknownst to him, the bookshop has for years been hiding a remarkable secret. It is the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers who have maintained a tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria. Now someone is trying to destroy them, and Jon finds he must fight to save himself and his new friends.

echolandEcholand by Per Pettersen
(translated by Don Bartlett)
fiction

Twelve-year-old Arvid and his family are on holiday, staying with his grandparents in Denmark. Confused by the underlying tension between his mother and grandmother, Arvid is grappling with his own sense of self. He’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager, feeling awkward in his own skin.
As Arvid cycles around town, down to the beach with its view of the lighthouse, his new-found freedom fuels his desire to experience life.



SLOVENIA

who by waterWho by Water by Victoria Raschke
urban fantasy

Jo Wiley thinks she has everything she needs in her quirky but tidy life in Ljubljana. Her teahouse is thriving. She’s surrounded herself with chosen family and her friends, well… several of them come with benefits.
When a body is discovered at a glitzy party, Jo’s carefully constructed reality starts to unravel. Her lover’s murder lifts a veil on a hidden world of ghosts, demons, and forgotten gods where Jo is the link between this reality and the next. She may also be the reason her friends are turning up dead.
Jo has to use her new gift to find the killer, and fast, because there are much worse things than dying.

i saw her that nightI Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar
(translated by Michael Biggins)
historical fiction

I Saw Her That Night, a love story in time of war, is a novel about a few years in the life and mysterious disappearance of Veronika Zarnik, a young bourgeois woman from Ljubljana, sucked into the whirlwind of a turbulent period in history. We follow her story from the perspective of five different characters, who also talk about themselves, as well as the troubled Slovenian times before and during World War II; times that swallowed, like a Moloch, not only the people of various beliefs involved in historical events, but also those who lived on the fringes of tumultuous events, which they did not even fully comprehend—they only wanted to live. But “only” to live was an illusion: it was a time when, even under the seemingly safe and idyllic shelter of a manor house in Slovenia, it was impossible to avoid the rushing train of violence.

veronika decides to dieVeronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
fiction

Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, pleny of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up. Naturally Veronika is stunned when she does wake up at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn’t kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live. The story follows Veronika through the intense week of self-discovery that ensues. To her surprise, Veronika finds herself drawn to the confinement of Villete and its patients, who, each in his or her individual way, reflect the heart of human experience. In the heightened state of life’s final moments, Veronika discovers things she has never really allowed herself to feel before: hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening. She finds that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying, and at the eleventh hour emerges more open to life than ever before.



SERBIA

a tomb for boris davidovichA Tomb for Boris Davidović by Danilo Kiš
fiction, short stories

Kiš is one of the handful of incontestably major writers of the second half of the century . . . Danilo Kis preserves the honor of literature.”— Partisan Review Composed of seven dark tales, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich presents variations on the theme of political and social self-destruction throughout Eastern Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. The characters in these stories are caught in a world of political hypocrisy, which ultimately leads to death, their common fate. Although the stories Kis tells are based on historical events, the beauty and precision of his prose elevates these ostensibly true stories into works of literary art that transcend the politics of their time.

housesHouses by Borislav Pekić
(translated by Bernard Johnson)
historical fiction

Bon vivant, Francophile, visionary, Negovan spent the first half of his life building houses he loved and even named—Juliana, Christina, Agatha—while making his hometown of Belgrade into a modern city to be proud of. The second half of his life, after World War II and the Nazi occupation, he has spent in one of those houses, looked after by his wife and a nurse, in hiding.



Have you read any of the novels on this list? What books from the Balkans can you recommend? Do you like football?



Until next time,

KAT

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