Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster

Mia Kankimäki

Original title: Asioita jotka saavat sydämen lyömään nopeammin

Author: Mia Kankimäki

Published: 2013

Publisher: Otava

Genres: General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Pages: 380

Reading material:

English sample & synopsis, German & Italian PDFs

Mia Kankimäki quits her job and embarks on an adventure. She travels to Kyoto to research Sei Shonagon, a Japanese writer and lady-in-waiting who wrote about her life in the court of Heian era Japan. Mia doesn’t speak a word of Japanese, and isn’t quite accustomed to scientific research, but her endeavor produces the most wonderful book about Japan, Sei Shonagon, and a middle-aged woman’s solo travels.

Despite her struggles and initial culture shock, Mia finds herself mesmerized by temples, cherry blossoms, kabuki theater, Zen meditation and tearooms. She reads The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and finds a soul sister – a modern woman who loves making lists of all things charming, annoying, elegant and things that make one’s heart beat faster.


“It is always the most delightful experience to find something new and valuable in unexpected places. Mia Kankimäki’s book is one of those things. Kankimäki imitates Sei Shonagon’s style of making lists and succeeds in conveying a message that human life is not a chronological story, but a collection of moments that carry different meanings.” – Suvi Ahola, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

”Mia’s fascinating books will definitely make your heart beat faster: A beautiful, exceptional style, fancy ideas, honesty, bravery and wittiness – an exciting new voice. – Madlen Reimer, Editor, btb Verlag, Verlagsgruppe Random House

[---] ‘Things That Make Your Heart Beat Faster’ is a pleasure to read - light and humorous, but also clever and inspired. By reading it, you get new ideas, make exciting discoveries, and learn a lot about a world that is alien to most of us, but, then again, very familiar.

Alexander Huber, Redaktion Müllheim, Badische Zeitung

Download reading materials

Rights sold:
FINLAND: Otava (orig.)
CZECH REPUBLIC: Albatros Media / Motto
ITALY: Piemme
JAPAN: Soshisha


Foreign covers

About author

Mia Kankimäki

Mia Kankimäki is the author of two best-selling books which blend travelogue, memoir, biography, and women’s history. After taking a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Helsinki and working diligently in Finnish publishing, in 2010 she left her job and traveled to Japan to write her first book. Her books have received several literary awards, for example the Best Travel Book of the Year 2013, the HelMet Award 2015, and Otava Book Foundation’s Non-Fiction Award 2020. She currently lives in Helsinki, Finland, whenever she’s not traveling for her next book project.

Mia has been enthusiastic about Japanese culture for years and is a qualified ikebana teacher of the Sogetsu school. Her first book Things That Make One’s Hear Beat Faster took her to Kyoto where she has spent long periods of writing and making research ever since. Kankimäki’s second book The Women I Think About at Night has sold over 55,000 copies in Finland and the translation rights have been sold to 21 territories, including USA and China.

Mia's both books have been aqcuired by Japanese publisher Soshisha:

"I am delighted to share that Mia Kankimäki’s debut title, THINGS THAT MAKE ONE’S HEART BEAT FASTER, is embraced and loved by many Japanese readers. A cross between an autobiography and a travelogue, the author finds an emotional connection with a woman geographically far apart and from a different era and tries to discover who she really was. I believe this style is reflected in THE WOMEN I THINK ABOUT AT NIGHT as well. Though some of the female figures in this second book might not be well-known locally, I am looking forward to seeing how our readers will react to their lifestyles." - Daisuke Watanabe, Editor, Soshisha


2018, General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Mia Kankimäki

The Women I Think About At Night

2013, General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Mia Kankimäki

Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster