I have always been an avid reader. Growing up I would spend hours upon hours sitting in my room reading book after book. On average I could get through an entire book in one to two days, just getting lost in the stories.
I attribute much of my wanderlust and need for traveling to all of those books I read when I was younger. The stories of adventure and excitement and exploration picked my curiosity to find my own adventures in life.
It is not always common to find regional literature translated into English when traveling to non-native English speaking countries but when it happens I jump at the opportunity. Estonia was one of these countries that gave me the opportunity to explore its literature.
My hostel happened to be right down the street from a bookstore that had translated books, which was dangerously too close. I spent a few minutes almost everyday admiring all of the gorgeous titles and covers, wishing I could buy them all and take them home with me, books being one of the few things I tend to hold onto when traveling. Unfortunately, space and money can be an issue when the books are all around 30 euros each.
Alas, I splurged for one book that picked my curiosity. The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. A classic literature that apparently most Estonians have read or heard of.
The book is about a boy living in the Estonian forest who learns the tongue Snakish and becomes one of the last people to do so. It is a tale of conflicts of living in civil towns or living out in the wild with the animals and nature. Of working together with animals and respect, or living in a village with God and drifting away from the barbarisms of being alone in the woods.
The book is brutal and much different than I anticipated. It is not so much a book for children, as I expected, but one for young adults and up.
I honestly fell in love with this book and all that it represented. How it spoke of religion, of nature and how humans interact with it, and just society in general. It does get gruesome, it doesn’t have a very happy ending, but it is a gripping tale and easy to read. All in all, a great introduction into Estonian literature and certainly not my last.
So what’s next on the book list? Tell me your favorite international books and give me some recommendations!
As always, happy travels!