BOOK REVIEW: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (Translated by Alice Menzies)

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Author: Katarina Bivald (Translated by Alice Menzies)
Publication: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 402

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. 

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.


I picked this book up a long time ago at a Barnes and Noble somewhere downstate (I live in Michigan) when I was home visiting my family.  Honestly, the title isn’t what drew me in.  It was the fact that there was a bookstore involved.  So when one of my book clubs switched up how they picked books, I knew I wanted to suggest it.  I was excited to read it and to be quite honest get my to-be-read pile down to a more manageable size.  (That will never happen, by the way.) 

Sara is pen pals with an older woman from Iowa.  Sara herself lives in Sweden and works at a bookstore.  They bond over their love of books.  Amy invites Sara to come and stay with her for as long as a tourist visa will allow, which is 3 months.  Sara gets abandoned at the bus stop in the next town over.  She manages to get a ride to Broken Wheel.  When she arrives she finds out that Amy way sick and she died before Sara visited.  What Sara didn’t expect was this town and its cast of crazy characters.  This book was an absolute joy to read.  It made me happy.  It is the type of book you can curl up with on a rainy day and lose yourself in.  I loved the character of Sara, I could see myself in her.  I think my favorite part was the impromptu party on the sidewalk outside of her “store” where people watched her read for 5 hours straight without her noticing the increasingly larger group gathering outside her storefront.  It was absolutely something I could see myself doing.  I totally zone out when I am reading.  

I loved the small-town vibe that the author created for this book.  It reminded me of my hometown although, I think my hometown is slightly larger.  Sara opening a bookstore in town with all of Amy’s books was absolute genius.  I thought it was the perfect way to remember her dear friend.  The fact that she had enough books to do it as well warmed my heart.  I like how as the story progressed she got more comfortable running the store and found ways to get the residents of Broken Wheel to actually read.  I loved the cast of characters.  You had the religious one who needed to loosen up, the town drunk who was on the straight and narrow now, the crotchety one who owned a restaurant, with so many more to name, I loved the all. I was a bit scared when I started this book about how it was going to read.  It is translated from Swedish and I know at times somethings are lost in translation along the way.  I can definitely say that if this author writes and translates another book I will certainly be reading it!


Pick up your copy of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (translated by Alice Menzies) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. Check out more from author Katarina Bivald on her website HERE.

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