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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

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Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

394 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 2013

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About the author

Katarina Bivald

4 books668 followers
Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She'scurrently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unneccessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn't decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they're better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having noone to recommend it to.

Läsarna i Broken Wheel rekommenderar/The Readers in Broken Wheel Recommend is her first novel.


About The Readers in Broken Wheel Recommend:
"A complete knock-out in the feel-good genre"
- Femina, 4 out of 5 stars

"If you loved 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' you’ll love this"
- Tara Magazine, “ The Best Books Right Now"

"I instantly compared it to 'Chocolat'"
- SVT, Go Kväll

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5 stars
7,153 (17%)
4 stars
15,168 (36%)
3 stars
13,472 (32%)
2 stars
4,117 (10%)
1 star
1,141 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,583 reviews
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
609 reviews479 followers
December 20, 2020
This book should have come with the big note on its cover that says ''WARNING: SPOILERS INSIDE''.

You see, this book is a book written by a book lover for other booklovers.
And do you know what book lovers like to do? Talk about books. Discuss plot developmets. They often compare one story to another, wondering why the certain character chose one path over the other.


Our main character, Sara, is a true bookworm, so it is no wonder that this book is full of references to other books which often ends up spoilery.

When I say she is a bookworm, I mean she reads, lives and BREATHES books. You see, only a true book lover would know the difference between the smell of paperback and the one of hardback book.


The story follows Sara who came to a small town Broken Wheel, Iowa, to spend her summer with her pan pel friend who's a booklover herself.
Things get complicated when Amy, the woman Sara should have stayed with, ends up being death.
Town citizens decide it would only be fair for Sara to stay in Amy's house like she would have in the first place, because that is what Amy would have wanted.
Days pass and Sara opens a little bookstore in which she sells books that once belonged to Amy.

This book is originally written in Swedish and it is already a bestseller in many countries (Croatia included). Although I have read a copy translated into English, if I didn't know I was reading a translation, I wouldn't have guessed. That is how great the translation was.

What I liked about this book the most was the atmosphere in it. I really like everything about The Broken Wheel, it's rezidents and their lifestyle. I couldn't help but think about Hart of Dixie the TV show.


This book has everything you need in a book: it is fun, it has a great love story that takes time when it comes to love development, it has interesting side stories, diverse characters and important issues that were discussed in the story.

After finishing this book I understand why this book is an international bookseller. It deserves all the hype that's around it.
If you are a booklover, I am sure you will appreciate this story. I surely do.


Note: I got this book for free via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review. Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark.

Before reading:

That awkward moment when you realize that the book you requested for a review (and got approved) is already sitting on your shelf in a bautiful paperback, only translated in Croatian... :/


I guess I'll read it in English then...

Read this and other reviews on my blog https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,050 reviews1,834 followers
June 9, 2016
Jen immediately took a photo of Sara sitting in the window with her book.

"Who the hell wants to watch someone reading?" Grace asked from the doorway of her diner.

EXACTLY. Who the hell wants to read a book about someone reading books?

You could spend the exact same time it takes to read this book on Bookstagram or GR and have the same result. It's all about how great books are and the glory of reading. Who wants to read 394 pages of that!?

This book falls into the same category as The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and that is NOT a compliment.

This book is one of the most boring books I've ever had the displeasure reading. A boring book filled with boring people.

Sara is a book nerd with no life. She comes from Sweden to Iowa because of her pen pal, only to find her pen pal has just died. She lives in the dead woman's house and opens up a book store.

I could take issue with the portrayal of Iowans here, but I decided not to go into a rant, but I was like >.<

What else?

All the characters in this book are SO one-dimensional. In fact, for a "small town" full of "quirky characters," I was having a heck of a time being able to tell any of them apart, since Bivald is highly confused about what counts as creating a character.

Listen, "the gay one," "the gay handsome one," "the fat one who smokes a lot" and "the depressed older black man" are NOT fully developed characters, instead they are thin, bland, watery standins for actual character development and storylines. And each of these characters - who should be radically different - are SO alike and SO undifferentiated that each time they appeared on page I was wracking my brain trying to remember who they were and what their alleged side-plot was. Utter fail on the part of Bivald, this couldn't be more bland and soupy.

The only part that slightly interested me was the budding romance between Sara and Tom. Mildly interesting, didn't really start until page 228. 228! I was also very mildly interested in the romance between but not really because [the male] had ZERO personality, ZERO, like so many of Bivald's characters and it's hard to be cheering on a romance when one half of the couple has the personality of a piece of Wonderbread. o.O

If Bivald had made this book a romance, I might have been entertained enough to give this more stars. She actually is a pretty competent romance writer. I'd be interested in seeing what she could accomplish in a romance novel.

But instead she makes this book a sentimental, cutesy wootsy book about the love of books and about how reading cures everything and how readers are good people and how everyone should read. While I appreciate and understand what she's trying to do, this isn't a plot. The book is boring, the characters are so sadly underdeveloped that I couldn't even differentiate one from the other, and the 'plot' is random and often nonexistent.

One last point: Bivald spoils plots. If you HAVE NOT read all the classics and all the bestsellers, you might want to tread carefully with and/or avoid this book. She helpfully provides a list in the back of all the books she "mentions" in the book, you might want to peruse that because there's a good chance she tells you the ending/key plot twists of these books. As someone who is pretty well-read but still has a lot of gaps in her reading, I was annoyed. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Tl;dr - No semblance of a plot. Thin, indistinguishable characters with no three-dimensionalism to them. A book about books, the love of reading, and how reading is the bestest thing ever! Many books spoiled without warning and for no reason. Mildly interesting, very slight romances that may have improved the book if they were more focused on. As it stands, SLIGHTLY better than The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which is damning with faint praise. You'd be better off spending five minutes on GR or bookstagram in place of this 394-page snoozefest.

First, everyone is a ignorant, judgmental I'd-never-touch-a-book Iowan, then a Swedish lady comes and introduces people to their first books! And finds a perfect fit of a book for each of them! And it opens up their worlds! And makes them better people! Book magic! Worship books!

What a bunch of sentimental trash. And the worst thing is, I love books, read my fool head off, and really truly believe books can change someone's life. Still doesn't mean I enjoy reading books like this. Goodness gracious, I hope this whole 'book-loving novel with no real plot' trend ends soon. It's so boring and pointless.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
December 9, 2015
Although the premise seems a bit odd, stranger things have happened in real life so I just accepted that a young girl from Sweden would travel to a tiny town in Iowa , called Broken Wheel to stay with a woman that she only knew from exchanging letters and books . These letters, at least the ones from from Amy Harris of Broken Wheel to Sara , are interspersed throughout and we learn more about the town and the people who live there as well as about Amy and Sara.

Sara loves books - how can I not like her ? I couldn't help but feel sorry for her as she arrived. Seems like she's a lonely girl hiding in her books without any friends except a few coworkers. It was a bit much for me , even as much as I love books , that there was discussion about whether one loved books more than people.

It's a town of quirky characters concerned about how to entertain their tourist. The town is falling apart really . Some people had jobs and money and those who didn't were taken care of and paid back by helping fix things when needed. They all wanted to take care of Sara , paying for her food and drinks , driving her around. She decides she has to do something to pay them back and of course this involves books.

It's light which is just what I was looking for , but it was a little chick lity , pretty contrived and the ending was definitely predictable. However, I'm giving it 3 stars because I grew to like some of the characters in this quirky little place, and though predictable, it was uplifting as Sara and the people in this town find a way to change each other's lives.

Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Mai.
60 reviews26 followers
May 8, 2016
This book was absolute rubbish. 394 pages of stupid observations written in a clumsy and somewhat childish language combined with unbelievable characters. It does mention quite a few books that I would love to read, but since it also reveals the ending of most of these novels, the name-dropping just ended up annoying me. What an utter waste of time.
Profile Image for Megan Hoffman.
174 reviews279 followers
January 1, 2016
What's better than books and a good love story? Let's see...oh yeah, nothing.

Seriously, I'm a sucker when it comes to feel-good love stories, and if you've been following me or this blog for any length of time then you know full and well that books are my absolute weakness. Ever wonder whether I'm at a hopping party on a Friday night? Well don't because I'll go ahead and tell you - I'm curled up with my dog and a blanket on the couch with a good book.

The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend was this week's big hit in terms of things that I read and I seriously cannot recommend it enough. Obviously a story written by a book lover for other book lovers, this author will definitely be going down as one of my favorite. The story is about a young girl, Sara, who arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel to visit a pen-pal that she has had for several years. But when she arrives and realizes that things are not going to play out quite as she and her friend had planned, she does what anyone would do.

Start a book store, of course!

Okay, so maybe not anyone would start a book store, but that's precisely what makes this book so charming. Not only does NO ONE in Broken Wheel seem to understand the pleasures of getting lost in a good book, but they can't for the life of the understand why she would want to actually get them to read in the first place. So between selling books and realizing that maybe love and the law can go hand in hand (you'll see - trust me.), Sara learns about what's really important in life.

As for how I personally came to read this book is pretty funny in itself. I was seeking out books to spotlight on this site and this came as a request. Not that I didn't have high hopes for The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend, but I have to tell you I was blown away by how much I ended up loving this story. It was truly one of those books that I wanted to read very slowly so that it could go on forever and yet I couldn't put it down.

Very rarely do I feel like I come across a book where the characters feel so real. The people of Broken Wheel, however, could easily be my neighbors, my friends, those around me. They feel THAT real, and when that's the case it makes it so so easy to feel like you're just another inhabitant of this cozy little town where the story is taking place.

If you're a lover of books, reading, or just charming stories of what life holds in terms of love - I cannot recommend this one enough. I know it's not summer yet, but if you're thinking of jetting off to the beach in order to make it through this winter, PLEASE make this the book you take with you.

*I was provided with a free copy of this book in order to conduct this review.The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend

Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,330 followers
January 3, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel is ridiculously predictable, superficial, full of improbabilities, at times painfully sentimental and definitely a book that could have used a ruthless editor to shorten it. So let me explain why I gave it 3 stars rather than 2 or less. At its core, the story is an ode to books -- about the love of books and reading -- really, a celebration of obsessive bookishness in a world with a diminishing readership. And for that reason alone, I persevered and didn't toss The Readers of Broken Wheel. Sara travels from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to spend a two month vacation with pen pal Amy. Their common interest is an obsession with books and reading. But when Sara arrives, she finds that Amy -- who was quite elderly -- has recently died. Rather than run away, Sarah stays in Broken a Wheel, gets to know the quirky locals, develops a love interest, opens a bookstore and brings some renewed energy to Broken Wheel. The plot is quite meandering, but essentially focuses on a few characters, and their various lives, struggles and loves. The thread running throughout is Sara's love of books, and her optimism in opening a bookstore on a dying Main Street in a town of non readers. This book is a translation from Swedish. It's a challenge for an author to set a book in a country that is not her own, and at times it does feel like the author casts an oddly sentimental lopsided eye on middle America. I am sure this book will find an audience amongst readers of what is often referred to a chick lit, but it's not a particularly strong entry in the genre -- ironically Sara is a fan of Bridget Jones and Marian Keyes, describing them as her favourites amongst feel good books with happy ending. Again, my reading experience was somewhat saved by the ode to books and readers, and the underlying optimism about the redeeming power of reading. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,001 reviews58.9k followers
December 21, 2016
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommends by Katarina Bivald is a 2016 Sourcebooks Landmark publication.

What a wonderful feel good story!!

If you love books about books, you will want to try this one.

Amy, from Broken Wheel, Iowa and Sara, from Sweden, are pen pals who share a love of books. When Sara loses her bookstore job, she decides to take Amy up on her invitation to visit Broken Wheel if she ever got the chance.

However, when Sara arrives, she is stunned to learn that Amy has died. But, the town goes out of their way to make their only tourist’s stay in Broken Wheel comfortable and pleasant.
Overwhelmed by the resident’s generosity, Sara works to pay it forward, and honor Amy and her love of books by opening a bookshop in Broken Wheel. The longer Sara stays, the more attached she becomes to the small little town that has all but dried up, and the residents love her just as much as she does them, giving them all a renewed sense of optimism and hope. Soon, they all begin to wish Sara could stay with them on a permanent basis. But, will she be able to extend her Visa?
I love offbeat and quirky characters, unconventional love stories, and books that imbibe charm and wit, and add just a touch of whimsy to top it all off. But, as a book nerd, a book that features characters who love to read, who love to share good books with others, is always going to get top marks from me.
So, it goes without saying, this book was simply delightful. It’s quirky, funny, sweet, touching! I enjoyed watching the town wake up, as if from a long slumber, and it was wonderful to feel Amy’s spirit moving through the town, as Sara finds an unexpected purpose for her life doing exactly what she loves most.
If you love small towns, stories about friendship and books, this book has your name on it!

4 stars
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
June 18, 2016
There's a lot to love in this novel of Sara, a young, rather plain Swedish bookworm who takes a trip to the small U.S. town of Broken Wheel to visit her older pen pal and fellow book lover, Amy. When Sara arrives, she finds that Amy has died while Sara was en route, but the townspeople urge her to stay in Amy's home anyway and visit with them for the couple of months she had planned.

In many ways the town is as broken as its name:

"Broken Wheel was a complete waste of brick, asphalt, and concrete. The buildings were low because there had never been any need for more than two stories. Nowadays, there wasn’t even the need for one. ... There was something sad about the town, as though generations of problems and disappointments had rubbed off onto its bricks and its roads."

But soon Sara realizes the worth of the quirky inhabitants of Broken Wheel, and as she brings changes to the hearts and minds of Broken Wheel with a used bookstore that she starts up, they begin to change the introverted Sara as well.

Parts of this novel were completely charming. I particularly loved the bookstore plot, with its discussions of books and how they affect our lives.
New books always had the strongest aroma. Sara assumed the printing smells just lingered and somehow, logically, disappeared once a book had been opened, read, and leafed through. That was what she thought on a purely intellectual level anyway, but she didn’t quite believe it. She still believed that what she could smell were all the new adventures and reading experiences awaiting her.
Sara's love for all types of literature really comes through, and will warm the heart of any book lover. Warning: Bivald spoils a few well-known books, so beware of unwanted spoilers.

Other parts were trite; for example, the names and the comparisons between Broken Wheel and its rival town, Hope, were too obvious for me to really appreciate. The inhabitants of Broken Wheel are offbeat and enjoyable, but for the most part stock characters. I was a little disappointed when this novel took a turn and started focusing on a couple of romances. The main love story with Sara had its moments, but I wasn't really feeling it. I thought the secondary relationship, between a bisexual younger man and an older, repressed lady, was more interesting. In the end, it all plays out in a predictable but nevertheless heartwarming way.

The writing is often insightful; the translator did a wonderful job with the English text. I completely forgot that I was reading a book that had originally been written in Swedish. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the translation itself, but the writing style was very smooth and fit well with the subject matter of the book.

Content advisory: the sexual content is pretty mild, but I don't recommend this one for "clean reads only" readers.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this free ebook for review.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,231 reviews451 followers
March 31, 2016
There was a TV series in the early 1990's called "Northern Exposure", set in Cicely, Alaska, a small town so off the grid it almost didn't exist. The town was populated by oddballs and eccentrics who used the local bar as a gathering place. Long before Tivo and Netflix entered the picture, I tuned in each week to be a part of their crazy, funny world.

This book is set in Broken Wheel, Iowa, another little town off the grid, populated with oddballs and eccentrics with no place else to go. Along comes a Swedish tourist who wants to visit her penpal friend Amy, only to find she's just in time for her funeral. Sara is a young woman who has lived her life in books, and leaving Sweden is the most daring thing she's ever done. She moves into Amy's house, uses her thousands of books to open a bookshop, and gets involved in the lives of the townspeople, none of whom read. Chaos ensues.

Of course anyone who loves books will love this one: Sara's attempts to get the perfect book in the hands of people who need them are touching and familiar, and their acceptance of her and their attempts to get her nose out of a book and into their lives are funny and real. I entered the pages of this book just like I waited patiently for "Northern Exposure" 25 years ago, I couldn't wait to get back into the world of Broken Wheel and the people I grew to love.

This one was comfort food for the soul.
Profile Image for Maziar MHK.
174 reviews151 followers
October 29, 2021
کتاب ها دیواردفاعی اَش بودند. بله، اما فقط همین نبود. آنها از سارا در برابر جهانِ اطرافش محافظت کرده بودند، اما ماجراجویی هایَش را هم، به دورنمایی مبهم بدل کرده بودند. ص27

وقتی کتابو تمومش کردم، با خودم گفتم بِذا گوگل بکنم ببینم شهرِ واقعیِ "استکهلم" سوئد و شهرِ خیالی "بروکن ویلِ" آمریکا چقد از هم دورن، که تو این رُمان، اینقد بِهم نزدیک شُدن. طبعیتاََ یه شهر خیالی نمیشد که رو نقشه باشه، پس یه کَلَک رشتی سوار کردم و مرکزِ ایالتِ "آیُوا" رو که بروکن ویل از توابعِشه، منظور کردم. بعدِ زدنِ دُکمه اینتر و دیدنِ فاصله یِ 7120 کیلومتری شون، یاد آوردم که، رفاقتِ "سارا" و "اِیمی"، این دو خوره یِ کتاب -یکی این ورِ اقیانوسِ اطلس، یکی اون وَرِش-، تونسته وَلو تو عالمِ مَجاز، این فاصله رو به صفر برسونه
جالب تر اینکه، سارا و اِیمی، از دو نسل متفاوتن. یکی آفتابِ لب بومه و اون یکی تازه اول جوونیشه. تازه، غیر اینا، نَه زبونِ مادریشون یکییه و نه حتی، تیپِ شخصیتیشون

لابلایِ مکاتبه هاشون، "ایِمی"، بعدِ توصیفایی که از بروکن ویل و مردمش داره، سارا رو دعوت میکنه بِره آمریکا، اونَم شال و کلاه میکنه تا از شمالِ اروپا بره به قلبِ آمریکا. سارا که می رسه، "ایمی" تازه یه هفته س مُرده. سارا معرفِ حضورِ همه بروکن ویلییاس، نه از رو قیافه، که از تعریف و توصیفایی که اِیمی، قبلِ مرگش، در موردِ "رفیقِ سوئدیش" واسشون کرده
یِکَم بعدتر، موردِ عجیب "سارا"، میشَه خون تازه ای تو رگِ بروکن ویل و مردمش. سارا زندگی یِ مردمایِ این شهرِ کوچیکو با یه کتابفروشی کوچیک تَر، رنگی رنگی میکنه
بقیه شو خودتون بخونین

و اما سه نکته یِ جنبی
کاترینا بیوالد، نویسنده یِ کتاب، که به گردِ پایِ هم وطنِ محبوبش "فردریک بکمن"-خالقِ مردی بنامِ اُوه- هم نمی رسه، لابلایِ هم صحبتی یِ شخصیتایِ داستان، حدودِ 100 تا کتابو معرفی کرده که، تو پانویسایِ کتاب، اشاره شده که تو ایران با چه عنوانی و توسط کدوم ناشر چاپ شدن
طرحِ روی جلد این کتاب ، بی اغراق، زیباترین خروجی یِ کاریه که تویِ سالِ 98 ، از یه گرافیست دیدم
ضمن دست مریزاد به "لیلا کرد"، مترجمِ عزیز، باید بگم هنوز خیلی مونده تا فوت و فنِ ترجمه بیاد دستش و خسته نکنه مخاطبو، خسته مون کردی لیلا
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,011 followers
June 9, 2017
I am always a pushover for books about books and this one certainly fit the bill! What was even better was that the books mentioned throughout the text were mostly all books we know and love. Harry Potter was in there and Mr Darcy and even Bridget Jones amongst many others.
On the other hand I have a low quirkiness rating and this story was certainly quirky and full of odd characters. Luckily for me it managed to stay just the right side of quirk and never became just silly. I loved the book shop to bits. Wouldn't we all like to have a sunshine yellow room full of every sort of book and two comfy old armchairs to sit in and read all day. Who needs customers? They would just get in the way of reading time.
If you enjoy a good book about books then read this one. In fact you might want to read it just for that excellent title:)
Profile Image for Behin.
73 reviews17 followers
December 29, 2021
این کتاب خیلی قشنگ بود، خیلی حس خوبی میداد به آدم🥲😍
هر چی سعی کردم بزارمش دو روز دیگه بخونمش که بشه اولین کتاب ۲۰۲۲م ولی نتونستم چون خیلی کشش داشت، دلم خواست ببینم چی میشه😂
واقعا خوشم اومد ازش خیلی آرامش داشت خیلی فضای قشنگی داشت، انقدم کششش زیاد بود و روان بود که نمیتونستم بزارمش زمین:)))
Profile Image for Nina.
123 reviews50 followers
March 20, 2020
بدتر از تو آخرین ساعتای بدترین سال عمرت بدترین کتاب عمرتو تموم کردن چیه؟
آهان. این که یه ساعت بعد از سال تحویل انقد تنها باشی که بشینی ریویو بنویسی
Profile Image for Beverly.
785 reviews279 followers
October 13, 2020
Love, friendship, small towns and books

A wonderfully sweet, warm story, The Readers of Broken Recommend is a great book to curl up with on a cozy chair. It seems strange that this was originally written in Swedish by a Swedish author, because she seems to know small town life in the US very intimately. Small towns have a reputation of being filled with small people with small minds, but I think you find as much variety in the people there as anywhere as evidenced by this book.

I like how she made many of her male characters very stoic and reticent. If there is anything that defines the American male it is these two characteristics. With these, she tempers them with kindness, which unfortunately is not as often met with anyplace.

Her women are strong, even when they don't know it, but willing to bend. Bending does not mean breaking. Change is good.
Profile Image for Fictionophile .
1,002 reviews327 followers
November 12, 2020
Today, in the age of social media and instant communication, letter writing has become antiquated and uncommon. Not that many years ago however it was the norm and many people had ‘pen-pals’, myself included.

This novel is about two women, one young and living in Sweden, one not so young and living in a tiny town in the middle of Iowa cornfields. Bibliophiles both, they become acquainted through books and the love of reading is what makes their relationship work.

When after years of sharing their books, their thoughts about books and their reflections on life, Sara, the young woman from Sweden is made redundant when the bookshop she works in closes down. Amy invites her to Iowa to stay with her and so the story begins.

Not without a huge surprise for Sara though, as when she arrives she discovers that Amy has died following a lengthy illness. When the quirky townsfolk insist she stay in Amy’s house, Sara begins an adventure worthy of one of the novels she loves so much. The people of Broken Wheel can’t seem to do enough for her and consider her to be their guest. After awhile Sara begins to feel beholden to them and wants to find some way to repay their generosity.small town in Iowa

Broken Wheel, Iowa, is small and less than prosperous and there are many empty buildings on Main Street. Books have always been Sara’s friends and her love of books and reading cause her to want to share her passion. She decides that she will open a used bookshop with Amy’s many books. It will be her way of paying tribute to her late friend and also give back to the townspeople who were so generous to her. Her tourist visa will not allow her to ‘work’ in the U.S., but she does not want to profit financially from her endeavor. Her parents back in Sweden think her plans foolhardy and want her to return home. Sara, on the other hand, has no real wish to return to Sweden where her family think her ‘boring’ and she had few, if any, friends.

The little over six hundred town residents have become apathetic to life and their town in particular. It was a sad, dying town where little happened and one in which the young people left at their earliest opportunity. Sara’s arrival adds a much needed ‘spark’ to the town’s morale and as a result the townsfolk embrace Sara. Also, Amy’s nephew Tom provides a reluctant, though honest love interest for Sara – though she is skeptical of his interest due to her uninteresting, bookish ways and her plain appearance.

An uplifting, entertaining, and charming debut novel, “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” has enough book references sprinkled into the narrative to please any bibliophile. Quirky characters, a community pulling together, and more than one love story ensure that this novel will be enjoyed by many.

This review was originally published on https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/ as part of the offical blog tour of the book.
Visit my blog to read my favorite quotes from the novel.
Profile Image for Tina.
2,394 reviews1 follower
December 7, 2021
I love this book. I write pen pals, and I love the fact pen pals where going to meet each other. One of them died while the other was coming to visit her. I love the book store becoming the saving part of the little town. I love this little town. This book has so much that I love in it. I think if you like books that takes place in small town and about book stores you will like this book.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,643 followers
January 2, 2016
This was such a cute story that moved my book-loving heart! Yes, it is very perfect and partly cheesy, but in this case I didn't mind because the novel was perfect that way.
This story takes place in Broken Wheel, Iowa, and it contains a great love for books. Sara, the main character, is the sweetest girl whose love for books was so easy to relate to. She loves smelling them, looking at them, and of course devouring them over a cup of coffee or tea.
This story also contains a diverse cast of characters which I quickly grew attached to. Once again, they are very caricatured - you have the crazy woman, the insecure Catholic and even a bisexual - but in this case it simply worked, and I didn't feel like rolling my eyes at any point.
I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did, but I simply couldn't help it. My only complaint is that it contains multiple references to other books (a good thing!) which are quite spoilery (a bad thing). But all in all, this cheesy, somewhat predictable story really worked, and I'll definitely be missing Sara, the other characters and her love for books.
Profile Image for سـارا.
235 reviews241 followers
December 22, 2021
عاشق طرح جلد این کتاب شدم و خریدمش. انتظار چیز عجیب غریبی ازش نداشتم. یه داستان ساده و شیرین که وقتی ذهنت خسته و درگیره میتونه بهترین گزینه باشه. چیزی که بنظرم باعث شد کتاب بیشتر خودشو تو دلم جا کنه شخصیت اول داستان بود که عاشق کتاباهاست، همیشه خوندن درباره‌ی کتاب‌ها لذت بخشه.
حال و هوای داستان، شهر کوچیک و مردم عجیب و غریبش رو خیلی دوس داشتم اما حقیقتا کتاب چیزی بهم اضافه نکرد که بخوام بیشتر از سه ستاره بهش بدم. (صادقانه‌اش شاید ۳/۵ ستاره) «کتابفروشی کوچک بروکن ویل» دقیقا شبیه دیدن یه فیلم آمریکایی ساده و آروم تو یه بعد از ظهره گرم تابستونیه.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
July 23, 2018
This is a sweet, charming story about what happens when a bookshop opens in a small Midwestern town.

The story follows the bookish Sara, who travels from Sweden to Iowa to meet her elderly pen pal, Amy, only to learn that Amy has recently died. The townsfolk try to make Sara feel welcome, and soon she makes friends. Amy owned a lot of books, and Sara takes the initiative to open up a bookstore as a way to share the collection with the town.

I'll pause here to say this is one of those cute, sweet books that it's best not to take too seriously. Ignoring all of the tax laws, estate laws, and basic rules of finance, it's delusional that Sara would be able to open up a bookstore in a few days' time without any legal hassles. Plus there is a wildly improbable subplot involving the town leaders pressuring Sara to get married and stay in Iowa, and some laughably incorrect regional and cultural references. (I'm from Iowa. Katraina Bivald is from Sweden. I'm pretty sure her descriptions came from inaccurate Google results.)

However, I tried not to let the silly details spoil my enjoyment of the novel, which includes fun bookish references and even a little romance. Recommended.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books329 followers
August 14, 2020
Sara is traveling from Sweden to stay in the US for a few months with her longtime pen pal Amy, with whom she has bonded over a love of books. But when she arrives in Amy’s small Iowa town, she discovers Amy has passed away. What is Sara to do? As she struggles to find her next steps and to find a way to help a town competing with “Hope”, the better off small town just down the road, this story only becomes more endearing. This was a charming, slow-paced story perfect for book lovers who love winding tales of quirky characters, eccentric small towns and friendships.

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,676 reviews2,324 followers
June 15, 2021
. . . many of her most rewarding relationships had been with people who didn't even exist.

Sara has never done anything adventurous in her life, never been more than half an hour away from her home in Sweden, and now she's in Broken Wheel, Iowa, hoping to spend a few months with Amy, a fellow book-lover with whom she's been corresponding, only to discover that Amy has recently . . . died.

Now what?

Well, the townsfolk want her to stay . . . so badly, in fact, they want her to marry a local bachelor. Meanwhile, Amy has opened a bookshop, using her dead pal's massive library as inventory. The residents aren't big readers, but some of them are willing to give this book thing a try, for Sara's sake, at least.

Despite the extreme implausibility of this tale, and the rather simplistic view of what it takes to open and run a retail shop, the first half of this novel was fun. Too bad the second half concerns only the town's attempts to marry off their beloved visitor before she's shipped back to Sweden. There's also way too much emphasis on the back stories of the village oddballs, who really aren't quirky enough to be of much interest. In short - I wish this had been more about the townsfolk coming to learn that they might just have a passion for books after all, instead of a Sam & Diane, love/hate, run-of-the-mill romance.

Sigh . . .

Another good premise wasted.
Profile Image for Patricia.
410 reviews82 followers
December 15, 2016
4 stars

During the holiday season, I like to take a break from all the violent, suspense novels I usually read and will read a cozy novel or something along those lines. This book fit that criteria perfectly.

Sara Lindqvist has been a pen pal to Amy Harris for a few years. What the two women have in common are books - both Amy and Sara read voraciously and love to talk about their books. Sara has been working in a bookstore in Haninge, Sweden where she lives and feels as if she is going nowhere and has never had a proper holiday or adventure. Amy, in her letters to Sara, writes stories about the people she has known in her life in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Amy invites Sara to come for a visit and when Sara loses her job due to the closure of her bookstore, Sara decides it is time for that adventure. Unfortunately a surprise awaits her on her arrival in Broken Wheel.

This is a delightful read. Predictable, yes, but so what? In some of these troubling times, it's nice to read a book with quirky characters having a bit of a shake-up in their routine life that made this reader smile.

At the end of the book, the author lists the books and authors that are referenced throughout the story - thank you Katarina Bivald.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
350 reviews388 followers
November 24, 2015
"The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" is a book built around books and the people who love them. It's about the power of books to build friendships, repair broken hearts, set dreams aloft, and change prejudices. It's a book that had so much promise, but for me ultimately fell short of the perfect "sweet spot" nice and cozy little story.

Sara is a young Swedish woman who is pen pals with elderly Amy of Broken Wheel, Iowa -- a small down-of-it's luck town hit hard by the recession. Despite having never met in person, they develop a solid friendship, and bond over a love of books. When the bookshop Sara works at closes, she decides the time is finally right to visit Amy in the USA. Unfortunately, she arrives in town at the exact moment Amy's funeral is taking place (not a spoiler -- this all takes place in the first chapter).

The residents of Broken Wheel know all about Sara from Amy's letters, and embrace her arrival. They insist that she stay, if she wishes, and welcome her with open arms. Sara soon makes friends with those in town, but is dismayed to learn that Amy was the only one in town who enjoyed reading. Sara tries to remedy this situation by opening up a bookstore in one of the many shuttered storefronts in town, and stocking the store with Amy's voluminous collection of books.

True to form, each of the side characters in the book fits a role you can probably guess -- recovering alcoholic, uptight Christian lady, town busybody, handsome single guy, etc.

The book's whole premise relies on Sara feeling like she "belongs" in the town, and like it's "home"; the townspeople feeling like she belongs there; and a love story. Despite nearly 400 pages (which definitely felt like it was dragging at times), some of these connections just felt weak to me. I definitely wasn't getting "the feels" and so the book wasn't quite as satisfying as it could have been.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 156 books37.5k followers
January 7, 2016
Received from NetGalley.

When I was thinking about how to describe this book, the first word to mind was "sweet." But sometimes people see that word as synonymous with saccharine or syrupy.

So maybe sweetly whimsical? Or maybe a sentence is better than a word or two: I think the reader for this book enjoys a gently rambling plot, quirky characters, romance, and above all, a passionate love of books.

It was written by a Swedish author who at the time had never been to America. But from what I could tell after occasional short visits through my life, she got it spot on when she sends Sara, a lonely bookseller now out of a job, to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to visit her elderly pen friend Amy at the latter's invitation, only to discover when she gets there that Amy died.

The dying town's few people all seem to agree that Sara must stay at Amy's house, which Sara isn't happy with. A bit at sea, Sara tries to figure out what to do with herself, as she meets the townspeople one at a time. When she discovers Amy's cache of books, she opens a bookstore/library. She can't actually earn a living, as her visa prevents it, but she can, and does, give away books to those she thinks might like them. Or lends them, if the reader brings a book back in order to get another.

There are a lot of sharp observations about people, especially disappointed, hurt, or bewildered people. One of the best portraits is of the silently suffering George, the town drunk. One of the quirkiest is Grace, of a long line of gun-totin' Graces, as she will tell you, lengthily, whether you want to hear it or not.

Grace, at one point, tells an investigating officer, Men just have no sense of anything romantic. Insist on wanting to get married and have you, rather than just hanging out with a little moonshine and some semiautomatic weapons.

The women are especially well drawn, I thought. The ending might have gone on a bit long, but there were enough nuggets of sheer enjoyment there to keep me reading until the last page. It's a book to make you smile.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,833 reviews412 followers
February 1, 2015
Rating 5* out of 5. This is the best feel-good chick-lit book about books I've ever read. Deeply insightful in regards to the human condition, humorous and filled with books. I've snubbed this type of book for at least a year, I have no idea why, but I'm over that now. I know that a book of this quality is one in a hundred, but I seriously need some variation to my thriller-horror-zombie-blood-and-gore preference.

Sara from Sweden is visting the truly godforsaken Iowa town Broken Wheels. She arrives just in time for the funeral of the woman, Amy, that she was to meet for the first time. They had been exchanging letters and books for some time. The town people insist she stay at Amy's house and they welcome her into their midst, refusing to let her pay for anything. She feels that she needs to give something in return, so she opens a book store with Amy's books. When her visa is about to expire, the town will not let her go.

The people in the town are wonderful characters. Sara with her nose stuck in a book reminds me a bit of Belle from "the Beauty and the Beast", except she is no beauty. She is neither pretty nor stylish, but with a kind heart.

This is a book that I feel inclined to re-read immediately. A book that opened my eyes to my own shelves brimming of carefully selected UNREAD books. Unread because they are too old, too long, too difficult or too feminine. Sure, I have plenty of loved and well-read books too - but I've got at least a year worth's of reading to attend to. Anyhow, if you like books about books, then this is definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,666 reviews440 followers
June 9, 2017
I had my doubts about this book when I started it since there were so many improbable events, but it ended being a cute light story. Sara, a bookseller from Sweden, has been a pen pal with Amy, an older woman and book lover from the tiny town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. When Sara loses her job, Amy invites her for a visit for two months. Sara arrives in Iowa to find that Amy had recently died, but Amy's friends want to entertain her for her vacation. To repay the people for their generosity, Sara volunteers to open a small bookstore using the thousands of books that Amy had collected over the years.

Sara seems very comfortable in a small town setting, and enjoys getting to know the quirky people. She also likes to match the people with the right book in the store. When her two months visa is almost up, her new friends find that they want Sara to stay since she has brightened their lives so much. "It was as though the town needed a center, something to gather around, and Sara had filled the void Amy had left behind, with Amy's shop and her books and her almost universal kindness."(344)

Even though there were a number of unlikely events and a predictable ending, the book was sweet and entertaining. It told about the importance of friendship and the pleasure people receive from reading. It should bring a smile to the face of a reader looking for a light beach read.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,074 reviews221 followers
February 7, 2017
No. Just no. Not the book for me!
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,614 reviews554 followers
February 21, 2016
The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is the charming story of friendship, small town romance and so much more. A story that connects two friends over their love of books.
Sara Lindqvist travels from Sweden to meet and spend two months with her pen pal Amy Harris in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Upon her arrival Sara is shocked to learn of Amy's death and she has arrived just in time for the funeral. The townspeople insist that Sara fulfil her intended plans and stay at Amy's house as this is what Amy would have wanted. Sara reluctantly agrees. The people of Broken Wheel welcome Sara and in no time at all treat her as one of their own.
In an effort to repay their kindness Sara decides to open a book store for the town. Her new friends help her while at the same time scheme on how they can get her to stay in Broken Wheel forever.
The novel includes letters from Amy to Sara which show how Amy entices her friend to make the trip.
A well written story with likeable and well-developed characters.
I hope to read more of this author's work in the future.
Profile Image for Nazanin Moshiri.
95 reviews
May 29, 2019
با نهایت سخاوتمندی ، لایق دو ستاره بیشتر نیست....اونم فقط برای این که درباره ی دنیای کتاب هاست و انگشت شمار قسمت های جالب توجه داره..قصه درباره ی سارا، دختر کتابخون و آروم سوئدیه که برای دیدن دوست مکاتبه ای به بروکن ویل سفر می کنه غافل از این که اون مرده..
مردم شهر با سارا ارتباط خوبی برقرار می کنن و سارا کتاب فروشی در شهر تاسیس می کنه
این وسط یه عشق هندی طور هم شکل می گیره :))
که چون شخصیت پردازی خوبی وجود نداره اصلا درگیرش نمیشید...
امیدوارم کتاب الکی معروف نشه چون به هزینه اش و خوندن ۴۵۰ صفحه ش نمی ارزه..
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,044 reviews1,368 followers
February 13, 2017

"This one's on me."

How many times would Sara hear that? She couldn't keep taking things for free ​and ​especially the rent.

Sara came to Broken Wheel, Iowa, ​from Sweden ​to meet her pen pal, Amy, but what she found when she arrived wasn't what she was expecting.

​She didn't find Amy but a town of friendly folks who loved Amy and who loved giving Sara things for free. They also offered Amy's house to Sara since Amy was no longer in Broken Wheel.

Sara was only there for two months on a visiting visa, but as she moved around the town and saw how there were so few stores and NO bookstore, she realized that Broken Wheel needed a bookstore.

Sara was determined to make the town of Broken Wheel a town of readers.

This book was a delightful read especially when books and authors I know were mentioned and love bloomed.

THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL is a gem and a book that is perfect for a change of pace as well as a treasure for any book lover.

I truly enjoyed the small town of Broken Wheel and its quirky, caring residents.

A favorite of 2015 for me. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation in return for an honest review.
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