Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster

Rights sold:

FINLAND: Otava (orig.)



ITALY: Piemme

JAPAN: Soshisha

Original title: Asioita jotka saavat sydämen lyömään nopeammin

Author: Mia Kankimäki

Published: 2013

Publisher: Otava

Genres: General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Pages: 380

Reading material

Finnish edition
English sample & synopsis

Download reading materials

A narrative non-fiction about a Finnish writer’s trip to Japan to look for her soul mate – who lived over 1000 years ago.

Mia Kankimäki quits her job and embarks on an adventure. She travels to Kyoto to research Sei Shonagon, a Japanese writer and a 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 produced 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 tea rooms. 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, or 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


Foreign covers

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 45,000 copies in Finland and the translation rights have been sold to 17 territories, including USA and China.


Mia Kankimäki

The Women I Think About At Night

2018, General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Mia Kankimäki

Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster

2013, General Nonfiction, Narrative Nonfiction

Releated news