Lisbeth Salander’s favourite reading material

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I am even more grateful than I realised in advance to the publisher (MacLehose Press) for sending me the perfect weekend distraction of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland. The book is out in the UK and Australia on 1 October, so if you haven't read the first two in this trilogy, you just about have time to rectify that situation before the final volume is out. You certainly need to have read them both before embarking on Hornet's Nest. Like the previous volumes, the opening 100-or-so pages are not an obvious way to begin a novel of this calibre. But persevere  – I am now 200 pages in and at that delicious stage of wanting to race on as fast as possible, yet not read any so that I don't finish the novel. (As, sadly, there will be no more by this author.)

Lisbeth Salander, the scorching protagonist, is in hospital because of her serious, life-threatening injuries incurred at the end of book 2 (The Girl Who Played With Fire). Here's an excerpt from Hornet's Nest (p. 187 of my edition), an exchange between her surgeon and a psychologist at the hospital:

… "I asked her if she wanted something to read, whether I could bring her books of any sort. At first she said no, but later she asked if I had any scientific journals that dealt with genetics and brain research."
"With what?"
"Yes. I told her that there were some popular science books on the subject in our library. She wasn't interested in those. She said she'd read books on the subject before, and she named some standard works that I'd never heard of. She was more interested in pure research in the field."
"Good grief."
"I said that we probably didn't have any more advanced books in the patient library – we have more Philip Marlowe than scientific literature – but that I'd see what I could dig up."
"And did you?"
"I went upstairs and borrowed some copies of Nature magazine and The New England Journal of Medicine. She was pleased and thanked me for taking the trouble."
"But those journals contain mostly scholarly papers and pure research."
"She reads them with obvious interest."

See Euro Crime news for some early reviews of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

More about the Millennium Trilogy, with links to reviews of and articles about the earlier books.

8 thoughts on “Lisbeth Salander’s favourite reading material

  1. Ha ha, good question, Bob. Book first published in 2007 (in Swedish), but I think poor Stieg died in 2004. In those days, it would probably have been Chris Gunter (genetics) and John Spiro and Tanguy Chouard(neuroscience). Of course Rory Howlett could have been involved in anything! Tanguy is still on staff so I’ll see if he’s a Stieg reader. Chris is on Twitter so I’ll send her a link here. Thanks again for the question, Bob.

  2. Thanks Bob and Maxine. I feel some vindication! Editors at Nature for genetics/neuro/molbio were also mentioned in both “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and one of the last Michael Crichton books, so I guess we were doing something right. But the “cancer biology” editor had one fabulous paper and then retraction from Allegra Goodman’s “Intuition.”

  3. Thanks so much for your comment, Chris – and such fascinating info. Nature was also once on X files I was told by the then-marketing guy (near the start of the series) – though unfortunately it was the baddie who read it or had a paper published in it, I’m afraid.
    Nature did feature in a novel I read recently – by Peter James, a Macmillan author – a character could not recall that he had published a paper in Nature when confronted with the fact! An unlikely scenario (as I am sure Peter J intended).
    In Ann Cleeves’s The Crow Trap, someone plagiarises some work and publishes it in New Scientist – I think a primary journal (Nature?!) might have been more apt, though it was not 100% clear from the text whether the plagiarism was the actual research itself or a secondary (review-type) article. (The latter would have been plausible NS material.)
    I asked Tanguy about Lisbeth’s reading, and though he has not read the books, his partner has (in French) and had pointed out the above excerpt to him, he’d forgotten. So I sent him the link so he could put it on his c.v. 😉

  4. Hey Maxine, thanks for the nice & perceptive review of Millennium 3 (I just can’t make myself type the new title). Next up from me is The Stonecutter by Camilla Läckberg, her best yet I think.

  5. Thanks, Reg. “The Girl who Exploded Castles in the Air” in the original Swedish, I think?
    Looking forward to The Stonecutter – thanks for the heads up on that.

  6. Brilliant little excerpt, Maxine – and incidentally one of my favourites as well. 🙂 I wonder, though, what kind of fiction literature Lisbeth reads/would read – if any? I’m quite sure she’s not socially dysfunctional at a level where she only reads scientific magazines to satisfy her nearly autistic abilities of photographic memory and desire to solve mathematical puzzles. I seem to recall that Larsson – among his many ‘inventory lists’ – did make one in “Fire” where he actually listed some (fiction) books Lisbeth bought on her journey. But I’m sure …
    Tnx 4 a cool and informative site/blog
    Chris – because one Millennium should never end!

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