The Estonian Book We're Reading in November is...

Mia choose Estonia as our country for November, but coincidentally, I’ve recently met someone from there named Kristel. While speaking to her about Estonia, she shared a powerful trailer for a documentary detailing the Singing Revolution which happened in her country—a revolution that Kristel was a part of herself!

“The Singing Revolution shares how, between 1987 and 1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered publicly to sing forbidden patriotic songs and share protest speeches, risking their lives to proclaim their desire for independence. While violence and bloodshed were the unfortunate end result in other occupied nations of the USSR, the revolutionary songs of the Estonians anchored their struggle for freedom, which was ultimately accomplished without the loss of a single life.”

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Enjoying the freedoms I do in the US, it’s sometimes hard to imagine the more recent struggles for independence that other countries have had. But this 5-star rated documentary seems as if it brings this inspiring story to life so it’s now on my “to be watched” list. I hope it’s on yours too.

I also asked Kristel which book she would recommend from the Estonian list we curated. She pointed out one book in particular which I’m thrilled to say is actually the book we’ll be reading—a book you seemed to agree looked amazing since your votes scored it an average rating of 4.6 with the next book only coming in at 3.5.


Winner of the Eduard Vilde Literary Award.

The Man Who Spoke Snakish is one of those important books that speaks to your soul in its own language and which marks a milestone in your personal reading history.” - des Bouquins

“A bestseller in the author’s native country of Estonia, where the book is so well known that a popular board game has been created based on it, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the imaginative and moving story of a boy who is tasked with preserving ancient traditions in the face of modernity.

Set in a fantastical version of medieval Estonia, The Man Who Spoke Snakish follows a young boy, Leemet, who lives with his hunter-gatherer family in the forest and is the last speaker of the ancient tongue of snakish, a language that allows its speakers to command all animals. But the forest is gradually emptying as more and more people leave to settle in villages, where they break their backs tilling the land to grow wheat for their ‘bread’ (which Leemet has been told tastes horrible) and where they pray to a god very different from the spirits worshipped in the forest’s sacred grove. With lothario bears who wordlessly seduce women, a giant louse with a penchant for swimming, a legendary flying frog, and a young charismatic viper named Ints, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is a totally inventive novel for readers of David Mitchell, Sjón, and Terry Pratchett.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Linda Varick-Cooper for the suggestion.)