Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Atomic Weight of Love

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church (Algonquin Books, 2016)

The cover of this book shows a periodic table of the elements, with birds instead of elements. I wouldn’t call this a great novel, but it was interesting and thought-provoking. Plus you can learn a lot about birds by reading it, since each chapter is prefaced by a set of facts about a particular bird species. The main character is a woman who wants to be an ornithologist, but sadly never achieves this ambition due to the sexist culture of mid-twentieth century America. Meridian does earn a bachelor’s degree and gets accepted to Cornell for graduate school, which has a top ornithology program. But then, she falls in love, gets married, and follows her husband to Los Alamos. She doesn’t even have children, yet she gives up on further education and a career. I thought she was going to publish her many years of bird observation journals, but she doesn’t even do that.


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Filed under Historical fiction, Romance, Science

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (Chatto and Windus, 2013)

Oddly this is the second novel by a Swedish author I’ve read recently. I assume it showed up now on the New books shelf because it took a while to get translated and show up in the U.S. The plot starts out similarly, with a single woman moving to a new town by herself, but in this book the small town is in Iowa, not Sweden. This woman, Sara, was pen pals with a woman in Broken Wheel, Iowa, and came for a visit only to find that her friend had died. Since the woman left behind a large book collection and Sara had worked in a bookshop in Sweden, she starts a bookshop with her friend’s books and quickly becomes embedded in the small community, which has very few willing readers. This is an enjoyable novel with quirky characters, unexpected romances, and lots of conversation about books.

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Filed under Fiction