The Summer Book
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The Summer Book

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  4,015 ratings  ·  623 reviews
An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while a way a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other's fears, whims and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges - one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the island itself, with its mossy rocks, windswept fi...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published 2003 by Sort of Books (first published 1972)
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Jul 19, 2013 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beach readers of all ages
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Kirsty
Shelves: nature, europe
The forest was full of signs and portents, its own secret written language.

Tove Jansson, the world-renowned creator of the Moomintroll characters, succinctly harnesses the power and glory of a seaside summer season in the twenty-two elegant vignettes contained within The Summer Book. Here is a book in no need of magic or any other fantastical adornments as she reminds us that we can discover pure, beautiful magic in the natural world all around us if only we quiet our lives and open our eyes t...more
A gorgeous and sumptuously told tale where you as a reader are immersed in a world of nature and simplicity. Six year old Sophia spends a summer with her grumpy and wise grandmother on a tiny island away from civilization. This gives the sassy and outspoken Sophia an opportunity to know her grandmother in an intimate way where together they embark on an adventure of sorts for there is much to explore in the way of beaches and forest. Investing their energies in getting to know the ins and outs o...more
This is the quietest great book I've ever read.

Every once in a while I read a book that makes me jealous, that makes me wish I could write and do what the book did. Like this one. It's a wisp of a book - brief, with no plot to speak of and only two real characters, no compelling crisis to drive the action, no suspense.

I almost cried when it ended.

It's like a watercolor of only four or five easy strokes, that you can't help but stare at for hours.


So, this girl Sophia and her grandmother, and...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 25, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
Swedish-speaking Finnish Tove Jansson (1914-2001), author of Moomin books, was a lesbian. Coming from highly artistic family, she wrote and illustrated the famous "Moomin" children's book that came out after WWII when she felt like creating something "innocent." That children's book became the most popular series in Europe in the 40's and 50's.

Then came the death of her mother in 1972. Sad and grieving, she wrote The Summer Book which is now considered as a Scandinavian classic and has never bee...more
"The summer book" is a wise,warm and beautiful novel in which old age meets with youth and practical wisdom with curiosity about the life.And no one comes out the same of that encounter.

Sophie,her father and grandmother used to spend their summer months on tiny island in the gulf of Finland.Let’s say it clear:father is loved and important,but somewhat overshadowed.He’s fishing,working,is an object of Sophie’s worry but he’s rather an emotion than real person.So we won’t be bothering ourselves wi...more
Every year, the bright Scandinavian summer nights fade away without anyone’s noticing. One evening in August you have an errand outdoors, and all of a sudden it’s pitch-black. A great warm, dark silence surrounds the house. It is still summer, but the summer is no longer alive. It has come to a standstill; nothing withers, and fall is not ready to begin. There are no stars yet, just darkness.

The Summer Book is one of Tove Jansonn's few novels for adult readers - I don't think many children would...more
This is a wonderfully subtle book which allows us to intuit much that is never stated. I was quite struck, for example, by the way Sophia wanted to use the term "Mama" when she was "Playing Venice". It seemed to me that she still needed to use that special word - see how it felt in her mouth now - and the game was a way of introducing it into the conversation. More generally I was impressed very much by the time given to observations: "It was just the same long summer, always, and everything liv...more
A wonderful book about all of the things that are probably important in the world.
I feel I have been overusing the word wonderful lately but The Summer Book is just such a reading experience. A grandmother and child and nature, all three somewhat wild and uncontrollable, live along with their son/father, during the summer, on a barren island they all love. This was written 40 years ago but is really timeless in its story of a child's unrelenting thirst for knowledge and stubborn daily brawls with the world at large. Most of her time is spent alternately loving, hating and hik...more
Ben Winch
’Twas good! Sweet, short, subtle. So episodic it was like linked short stories, but the episodes taken together were far more than the sum of their parts. Really, this defies my critical abilities. I don’t want to criticise it. It sticks in my mind. I can see it. But it went down so smoothly it barely touched the sides. I take this to be a haiku-like ‘deceptive simplicity’, but until I read it again I won’t know what it hides. Maybe then I’ll love it. For now, liking it a lot will have to do.
I am a sucker for crabby but kind old people and I'm equally a sucker for imaginative children who have no idea they are funny. Here i had one of each. The relationship between Sophia and her grandmother was some kind of wonderful...two mischievous souls together on an island keeping themselves busy and sometimes becoming cross with one another. This was my first Tove Jansson book and I dare say I'm hooked.
Feb 04, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone whose heart is in the sea
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
This is not the sort of book I'd normally pick up - I think that's part of the joy of the 1001 books challenge - it has introduced me to so many books that I would normally walk straight passed in a book shop. It forces me to re-examine my all too fixed ideas about what I like, what I read and why I read it. Also reading from a list has clear appeal when it comes to my literary OCD.

Jansson is most universally famous for giving the world the gift of the Moomin Troll, those tiny pastel coloured h...more
You have to applaud simplicity in writing. It is the hardest thing for a writer to achieve. That sense of keeping the book ‘small’ for lack of a better term, honing the story down to the barest strokes on the canvas. I always thought Hemingway did it beautifully with The Old Man and the Sea. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson is another great ‘small’ book that draws you in with its perfectly simple prose and contstruction.

In many ways, Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book is closer to the latter. It...more
The Summer Book is a quietly beautiful, engrossing book, filled with serenity but also very funny. I loved the atmosphere, the sense of a very particular landscape, and the focus on the relationship between Sophia and her grandmother (I think Sophia's father only has one line of dialogue in the whole book). I've looked through others' reviews and I find it hard to say anything new about the book, which has been examined so eloquently by so many, but I will echo some of the things other reviewers...more
Ivonne Rovira
May 18, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in a great childhood tale
Recommended to Ivonne by: Louisa
Sophia and her father and her 85-year-old grandmother move from their home elsewhere every summer to an island in Eastern Nyland in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland. In the book’s second chapter we learn that young Sophia’s mother has died, which is why they’re living with the grandmother, her father’s mother. The Summer Book consists of chapters on different vignettes that occurred over a series of summers.

I never knew my own grandparents, but I hazard that they were nothing like this contr...more
The lingering memories of The Summer Book are of having dwelt for a while in a dreamlike idyll. Yet as with other similarly-affecting books, Brideshead and Le Grand Meaulnes , there is darkness too, deeper within the reverie.

The exquisitely-described landscapes of a small Finnish island are remoter and rockier and mossier and harsher than those of early twentieth century France or southern England. The peace and isolation are a holiday in themselves: it's something north european fiction does ve...more
Eddie Watkins
A novel masquerading as a series of vignettes that subtly and cumulatively evoke what Summer means to a 6 year old girl who spends every day in one form of imaginative play or another with her grandmother (who's enjoying something of a new birth as she nears the end of her life). Her days are spent on a virtually uninhabited island in the gulf of Finland at a summer house the family returns to year after year, and the stories are dotted with botanical and daily life specifics (such as tossing al...more
"The Summer Book" by Tove Jansson, telling about a grandchilds' and a grandmothers' summer vacations on their island, is praised as one of Scandinavia's modern classics, and it is easy to see why.
The novel brings a typical quiet Scandinavian summer to life; just the type of "still-holiday-but-also-something-else-entirely" that I remember having with my family when I was younger.

The chapters are quite short (ten pages at most I think), and one doesn't need to read them all in one go, which makes...more
One tiny island in the gulf of Finland comes to represent a complete world full of miracle and mystery, safety and danger as we are swept happily along through the adventures of a feisty, indomitable little girl and her refreshingly different grandmother.
Read this perfect little book and better still, give it to everyone you know for Christmas.
This is incredibly relaxing.

These short stories detail a slow and peaceful island life, long summer days, grandmother and granddaughter. Detailed peace and the build-up of life moments. A painting built up from colored daubs. Reminds me of Studio Ghibli movies.
What an amazing read. A story about a small Finnish island, and the people who live there over the summer. Mysterious, scratchy, tactile, warm, angry, tenuous, elliptical...and infinitely heart-warming. I speak of both the nature of the island itself, and the nature of the people who inhabit this deliciously 'other' Scandinavian world. Partly based on fiction, partly based on the author's own experiences - it seems to document some half forgotten memories in all our lives.

To us, the reader, the...more
Rachel Aloise
What a treasure of a book. A new favorite! Here the summer island landscape delicately maps the private world between grandmother and grandchild. Tove Jansson depicts intimate moments of island life, where visitors always intrude, and the one family friend ‘never comes too close’ while scouring the sea for sunken treasure.

The Grandmother (as I fondly remember my own) is irreverent, wise, and grounded in the natural world. Her impish grandchild, Sophia, reminds me of Elsa Beskow’s children of th...more
"If only people had known from the outset that everyone would be saved, they could have given the storm their full attention and admiration."

A novel centering on 6 year old Sophia and her grandmother. Completely won me over. The episodic nature of the book allows you to read these chapters in any order you want, they are almost like little short stories with recurring setting and characters... reminded me a little of reading Calvin and Hobbes. My favorite chapters were "The Pasture" and "The Cro...more
A few pages into reading "The Summer Book," I stopped for a moment and thought, "Now, this is lovely writing."

Composed of twenty-two short vignettes of the interactions between precocious six-year-old Sophia and her sharp-tongued, aging Grandmother, "The Summer Book" is compact, concise, and nearly perfect. The stories all contain a little sliver of wisdom, or truth, folded into the sometimes witty and sometimes banal conversations between granddaughter and grandmother, and Tove's observations o...more
Daniel Villines
The Summer Book is a charming collection of stories that provides insights into two of the most human times in life. To accomplish this, the author creates a setting that is free of civilization’s distractions and then lets life happen to the two main characters in ways that would happen with or without the actual telling of the stories. The book contrasts the beauty that exists when wisdom is first formed with the beauty that exists when wisdom is virtually all that we have left. While small an...more
Тази книга е истинска поезия.
Толкова семпла, лека и истинска.
Видя ми се малко по-оптимистична от "Пътуване с лек багаж". Имам забележки към оформлението - корицата е странна, а явно толкова са искали да спестят от хартия, че дори не са добавили съдържание, което е дразнещо.
Но като цяло...вълшебна.
Jansson captures not only a season but life itself with this short novel of a grandmother and her granddaughter summering on an island in the Gulf of Finland. The freshness of spring turns to the muggy veil of summer, and when August comes, our feelings of ending and loss are those we experience every year in this month.

Grandmother remains unnamed, perhaps to preserve that essential privacy that she explains to her friend Verner must always be reserved. But her granddaughter Sophia is six years...more
A dear friend gave me this book and I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of the author (children's books weren't my thing as a kid). I started reading it in hospital when I thought I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything. It turned out to be perfect. The Summer Book is more like a series of short stories on related themes than a single plot novel. It's about an island, a grandmother and her grand daughter and the times spent there during the Scandinavian summer.
It is deceptively simple an...more
I know this book is very popular, especially in the North, and is considered a huge classic. I grew up in a country where all other children except me seemed to like the moomins. I didn't like them, and I never liked Pippi Longstocking or similar fictional characters for children either. There were moomins everywhere, and what's worst is having a mum who likes the children's stuff when you can't stand that stuff in the age you are supposed to like it. Jansson was most famous for her "innocent" m...more
Taylor Norman
My favorite quotes:

“Grandmother worked only in old wood that had already found its form. That is, she saw and selected those pieces of wood that expressed what she wanted them to say” (15).

“Gathering is peculiar, because you see nothing but what you’re looking for. If you’re picking raspberries, you see only what’s red, and if you’re looking for bones you see only the white” (15).

“That’s strange,’ Grandmother thought. I can’t describe things any more. I can’t find the words, or maybe it’s just...more
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Tove Jansson was born and died in Helsinki, Finland. As a Finnish citizen whose mother tongue was Swedish, she was part of the Swedish-speaking Finns minority. Thus, all her books were originally written in Swedish.

Although known first and foremost as an author, Tove Jansson considered her careers as author and painter to be of equal importance.

Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated her first Moomin...more
More about Tove Jansson...
Finn Family Moomintroll (The Moomins, #3) Moominsummer Madness (The Moomins, #5) Comet in Moominland (The Moomins, #2) The Moomins and the Great Flood (The Moomins, #1) Moominland Midwinter (The Moomins, #6)

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“It's funny about love', Sophia said. 'The more you love someone, the less he likes you back.'
'That's very true,' Grandmother observed. 'And so what do you do?'
'You go on loving,' said Sophia threateningly. 'You love harder and harder.”
“It was a particularly good evening to begin a book.” 33 likes
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