Audio/Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

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Audiobook edition

I started The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend in audio. It was completely delightful in audio – the narration by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King was perfectly wonderful to bring this story to life. The feeling it gave me was like I was binge watching Hallmark Holiday movies. If you’re in the mood for a sweet rom-com style of book, I recommend reading about Broken Wheel. For some reason I had a strong sense of the movie Leap Year with Amy Adams and also of While you Were Sleeping and The Proposal both starring Sandra Bullock while listening. Once you read about Broken Wheel, perhaps you’ll get this sense as well?

Paperback edition

Although my audio borrow expired before I could finish the book, I did have a paper copy on hand thanks to Penguin Random House Canada, so I had no problem finishing it this way. I ended up reading the bulk of this story in the paper copy.

This is a lovely story about how the power and love of books can bring more happiness and meaning into everyone’s lives. Now, there was a slight touch of needing to suspend disbelief about how much power Sarah had on transforming this small and struggling town in Iowa from the lost and sad place to a more vibrant and happy one, but the overall journey here is special, sweet and perfectly enjoyable.

Sarah travels from Sweden following the closure of the bookshop she worked at to Broken Wheel, Iowa to finally meet in person the woman she’s been writing to for almost two years – Amy. They have been sharing books, and Amy has been giving her little glimpses into the life and people in Broken Wheel through her letters and now Sarah, feeling completely lost after the only thing giving her purpose in life closes, arrives in Broken Wheel with the intention of spending two months with Amy.

Unfortunately, when Sarah arrives, Amy has died (This is no spoiler folks, this happens at the very beginning of the book and is the set up for the rest of the story). Therefore, we really don’t get to have any time with Amy, or hear more of her voice in the present, we only get tiny moments with her through her letters. I found those letters weren’t overly frequent either. There also really isn’t a great deal of explanation about her illness, how long she’s been ill and truly, not much about Amy at all? I also found there wasn’t really that much talk or reminiscing done about Amy amongst the townspeople either. It’s a tiny quibble from me however, so don’t let that keep you from discovering the wonderful people in Broken Wheel.
Oh, and perhaps a second quibble…Bivald assumes that readers of her book have already read the books she mentions inside, because she gives out major spoilers! Be forewarned!

As a small aside…there was one day when I was listening where Sarah spoke about the prolific author, Joyce Carol Oates and at the same time, JCO posted on Twitter about her husband passing away. :-(

Since Sarah is at a loss on how to repay the people in Broken Wheel for welcoming her and including her so willingly into their lives, and really for Amy for extending the invitation to visit, she decides the only way she can show them her gratitude is through Amy’s books. With the help of everyone in town, Sarah opens a bookstore and fills it with Amy’s books. Slowly she changes the town’s perceptions on reading and the town itself slowly comes to life. Before, Broken Wheel was broken, lost and dwindling in size. Because of Sarah, hope floats in. Sarah finds love and realizes she belongs in Broken Wheel and that Sweden doesn’t hold anything for her or her future. Because of Sarah and what she’s done for Broken Wheel, everyone rallies around her and helps her to stay. They all realize that Broken Wheel just wouldn’t be what it’s become without Sarah.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend truly is a love story to the greatness of reading and the love of books. Here’s a part where Sarah is caught smelling books:

She had found her with her nose literally in a book….She was busy unpacking a box of new books which had just arrived, and had obviously been putting them to her nose, breathing them in. “Have you ever smelled a book?”…”Can you smell it? The scent of new books. Unread adventures. Friends you haven’t met yet, hours of magical escapism awaiting you.”

Hardback and paperback books smelled different, but there were also differences between English and Swedish paperback editions. Classics, for example, had a smell all of their own. Course books had their own unique aroma, and university set texts were different again from those used in schools. Interestingly, adult education books smelled just like school books: that familiar scent of classrooms, restlessness and stuffiness. New books always had the strongest aroma.

My good bookish friend Jennifer (@Booktrovert) compiled this list of all the books mentioned inside, and although maybe not every book or author might be mentioned, she did put together a rather large list!

“books and authors mentioned in TRoBWR

quite a mix of books and authors… and though a long list, i don’t even claim this to be all of the books or authors mentioned. yep. it was a lot.”

An Old-Fashioned Girl
To Kill a Mockingbird
Anne of Green Gables
Terry Pratchett
Rowing Without Oars: A Memoir of Living and Dying
Camilla Läckberg
The Help
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Fannie Flagg
Annie Proulx
Charlotte Brontë
Gone With the Wind
Pride and Prejudice
Holy Bible: King James Version
Little Women
Uncle Tom’s Cabin or, Life Among the Lowly
Jilly Cooper
Judith Krantz
Jane Austen
Jane Eyre
Paul Auster
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Joyce Carol Oates
Toni Morrison
The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The Shipping News
Philip Roth
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Eragon, Eldest & Brisingr
Dan Brown
John Grisham
Lee Child
Gone Tomorrow
Michael Connelly
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Brooklyn Follies
The New York Trilogy
The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway
André Maurois
Agatha Christie
The Edge of Reason
All Families are Psychotic
Jens Lapidus
Stieg Larsson
The Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
Erich Maria Remarque
Before I Fall
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
My Sister’s Keeper
Nicholas Sparks
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
A Redbird Christmas
Cause Celeb
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination
The Wedding Date
A Time to Kill
The Rainmaker
Dick Francis
Georgette Heyer
Marcel Proust
New York review of Books
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Swann’s Way
The General’s Daughter
Word of Honor
The Little World of Don Camillo
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The Original Edition
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Mikhail Bulgakov
The Sorrows of Young Werther
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
A Walk to Remember
Pudd’nhead Wilson
Geography and Plays
The Sea, the Sea
Barbara Cartland
84, Charing Cross Road
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Helene Hanff
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
The Taste of Sorrow
Mansfield Park
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
The Girl Who Played with Fire
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
The Bridges of Madison County
Marian Keyes

So, yeah, definitely a book for book lovers! Jennifer notes this is a nice palate-cleanser type of read, and I agree. So if you’re in the mood to Netflix and Chill* with a bunch of rom-coms – I highly recommend this book to achieve that feeling in book form!

*Okay, I’m editing this to state that I have just discovered the urban meaning behind Netflix and chill and oh boy! That is NOT what I thought it meant at all! My kids are having a field day laughing at me. Anyway – if you’re in the mood to watch rom-coms all day long — reading TRoBWR would give you that feeling in book form! ;-)