The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

  • by Katarina Bivald
  • Narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Lorelei King
  • 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A debut novel to charm all listeners that shows beyond all doubt that it's books, along with love, that make the world go round.
It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters, and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life - has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time - bravely decides to accept her unknown friend's invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home....
Sara finds herself alone. And what choice do the inhabitants of Broken Wheel have but to take care of their bewildered tourist? And what choice does Sara have, faced with a town where nobody reads and her desire to honour her friend, but to set up the perfect bookshop with all the books she and Amy shared - from Yann Martel's Life of Pi to Iris Murdoch and Jo Nesbo, to Bridget Jones and Doug Coupland's All Families Are Psychotic to Little House on the Prairie? And then watch as the townsfolk are, one by one, transformed in unexpected ways....
In the glorious tradition of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club, Jane Austen, and movies such as You've Got Mail and Love Actually, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a big-hearted, witty book about books, friendship, love - and always being open to the unexpected.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Evidence of Things Not Seen

This book will remind any fans of The West Wing of that episode in which senior staffer Josh interviews a new lawyer for a position in the White House, only to become more and more confused about why the guy seems so alien, so "not one of us." This reads/sounds as if the author, who must be an alien who never set foot on planet Earth in this century, did her "research" for the book by walking into a bookstore at random, discovering what a "book" is, and spending one hour asking the owner for a list of their bestselling books, the names of main character(s) in each, and the general genre of each. Seriously, we have here a story about a shy, backward, boring Swede (who allegedly loves books and "prefers them to people" but seems to have gained nothing from all her reading), who moves to a town in Iowa that is actually so backward in 2015 that no one has ever read a book on paper, let alone seen an eBook or even a cell phone. The author and her heroine are Swedish but we learn nothing about that country, not even a tiny glimpse in a memory, and it's clear that neither she nor the main narrator (who is for some reason British, narrating in British English except for her Iowans, who speak mostly in Southern drawls except when they say "lore" instead of law about 22 times in the final chapter) have ever set foot in Iowa, or any other part of the midwest. These alleged Iowans call Sloppy Joes "mince," mock reading but have no alternative hobbies or interests, and are almost literally named Tom, Dick and Harry. They are as bored as the Swede and say so frequently. There's literally not one mention of a library. Or a smartphone. Or Amazon. Or Kindle. Or WHY bookstores (like the one themain character used to work in until it closed) are dying. IN A BOOK THAT PURPORTS TO BE ALL ABOUT BOOKS.

People of Iowa, unite! Rise up, organize, and protest this libelous characterization of yourselves as ignorant, backwards Dust Bowl-era luddites whose only computers are not "huge ancient gray monstrosities covered with dust " as described here, and who not only have heard of bookstores, and been inside them, but actually have whole LIBRARIES (a word not mentioned once)! And readers everywhere, rise up and protest this list of titles and main characters posing so convincingly as a good story that some of us were actually hoodwinked into pre-ordering it. If you were not one of those people, don't be fooled into wasting a credit now. I was forced after more than 95 chapters to admit to myself that this novel I'd just wasted one week on already was so boring I literally didn't care which "she" or "he" was talking at any given time. The 2 stars are for very occasional narrator Lorelei King, who, just like in Jane Smiley's "Some Luck," is excellent.

P.S. Did I mention the book LITERALLY ends with the words "happily ever after"??
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- Gretchen SLP "Avid listener on my daily commute!"

Charming--Suspend Your Disbelief!

Having never read the books that this one has been likened to, I can only judge it on its own merits, and I must say I found it to be immensely enjoyable. I had no problem accepting letters rather than email (the two women shared a love of writing after all); of course Sara didn't drive (her driver's license would be Swedish after all), etc. etc. and etc.
I most certainly, however, will give you that the ending had to go through many gyrations to get to where Bivald wanted it to go, but what the hell! It was charming! It was, as Sara pointed out as she labeled shelves in Broken Wheel's one bookstore: a place for long sought after Happy Endings, and what's wrong with that?
"The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" is about one woman falling in love with a town, one town falling in love with a woman, and life blossoming in the hearts of many (and even in the heart of said dying town). It's a feel-good read/listen. My only complaints are that what conflict it does have aren't delved into quite deeply enough and that the translation is quite simple: The prose here is spare, takes the easy way out. Not to mention, it's British English... for Iowa. Witness: "the boot" for the trunk of a car. You get my drift.
Still and all, this was a delightful cover to cover listen for me. Perhaps if you've read all the other books that have been listed you'll be disappointed? I dunno. I found the characters to be engaging, some of the concepts to be well-fleshed out, the dialogue to be fresh. I just enjoyed myself. It's been a long time since fiction has been so fun. If you don't mind a bit of a contrived ending, treat yourself to this bit of people learning about themselves and learning to accept each other. It's really quite endearing. And Fiona Hardingham does an excellent job with the narration!
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- Gillian "SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-19-2016
  • Publisher: Random House Audio