Saturday, 7 January 2017

2016.

What a year it has been. From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. Readingwise it has only been impressive in numbers; I managed to read 63 books. And for the first time ever, I read most books from my own country. I guess I can blame Jo Nesbø for that as I spent three weeks during the winter reading all the Harry Hole books. I also read mainly books published in 2016, and that may be why I felt like this was kind of a meh-year of reading. And maybe the most tragic thing is that I can count the times I have written here on two hands.

Let's see how I did on my reading goals:
  • Read more than 50 books: 63! 
  • Read Ulysses by James Joyce: I gave it a real try, but then I didn't even notice that I had read the same chapter twice - thus I gave up. I probably need to age a little before giving it another go.
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books: 1! I guess reality was too hard to handle last year. But the book I read (To søstre by Åsne Seierstad) was one of the best.
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (49 countries so far): 3 new countries: Austria, Australia and Greece.
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (12,6%) and Nobel Prize winners (29/112): Up to 13,8% and one new Nobel Prize winner (J.M. Coetzee)
  • Read in a book every day, even if it's just a page: This was pretty successful.
  • Write more: Wrote less than ever. But started instagramming. 
So, what about this year? Just a repeat of last year's, minus Ulysses.
  • Read more than 50 books. But with a twist. I have already decided which 50 books to read.
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books.
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (52 countries so far)
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (13,8%) and Nobel Prize winners (30/113).
  • Read in a book every day, even if it's just a page.
  • Write more.   
 The best books I read last year, in random order:
  • Max, Mischa og Tetoffensiven by Johan Harstad (2015)
  • Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood (1939)
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
  • the North Water by Ian McGuire (2016)
  • the Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (2015)
  • Neljäntienristeys by Tommi Kinnunen (2012)
  • the Summer Book by Tove Jansson (1972)
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016)
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (2016)
  • the Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000)
  • To søstre by Åsne Seierstad (2016)
 My favourite shot from 2016. Taken at the re-enactment of the Battle of Little Bighorn, Montana.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

norsk på norsk 2016

For å kvalifisere meg til å nominere bøker til bokbloggerprisen2016, så må jeg vel få fingeren ut og skrive litt om de norske bøkene jeg leste i fjor. Og jeg har lest mye norsk2016 (til meg å være), hele 15 bøker ble det.

Fjorårets lesing kan vel sies å være midt på treet. Med et par unntak. Jeg kan vel også avsløre at både Vigdis Hjorth og Monica Isakstuen havnet i avbrutt-kategorien. Skammer meg heller ikke så særlig over det, de funka bare ikke for meg.

Det som fungerte var å lese om steder jeg har tilknytning til. Jeg falt pladask for Brødre av Erling E. Guldbrandsen som er satt til Nordlandskysten og Oslo. Og det skal mye til for å falle for en bok som er så brutal. Det eneste negative med boka er slutten, som var way way over the top. Nordnorsk julesalme av Hild Haaheim var jo et enkelt valg når den handler om Kirkenes og slekt. Jeg kom meg også igjennom et par bøker som nevner Nittedal, og  Fjällräven Gul av Tiril Broch Aakre var den som nådde høyest opp. Det er rart å lese bøker satt til plasser som du kjenner veldig godt. Apropos slekt, broren til tippoldemor var kokken Lindstrøm, og jeg ble ekstra konsentrert når navnet hans ble nevnt i Amundsen av Espen Ytreberg.

Mange norske forfattere har nok tatt utgangspunkt i den berømte åpningssetningen i Anna Karenina. Eller så har jeg vært veldig flink til å plukke ut bøker som handler om familier som sliter. I tillegg til de som jeg allerede har nevnt, så må bare Et godt liv av Jens M. Johansson nevnes. Rett og slett nydelig. Birgit Alms Endelig skal vi le fortjener også hederlig omtale.

Jeg har vært dårlig til å lese bøker som kan nomineres i åpen klasse. I år ble det kun to. Åsne Seierstads To søstre har blitt diskutert med familie, venner og kollegaer. Superviktig og interessant bok! Den andre var Når historien slutter, den siste boka i I morgen er alt mørkt-trilogioen til Sigbjørn Mostue. Prikken over i-en, rett og slett.

Andre bøker som er lest og ikke helt glemt: Cathrine Everlid - Drømmer fra Texaco, Nicolai Houm - Jane Ashlands gradvise forsvinning og Birger Emanuelsen - Anna og kjærligheten. Bøker som er lest og nesten glemt: Victoria Bø - Adresse Alberta, Silje Aanes Fagerlund - Eneste, Geir Pollen - En spøkelseshistorie og Nikolaj Frobenius - Alle mine demoner. Den siste boka jeg rekker å lese før nominasjonsfristen er Havende av Gunstein Bakke - så langt liker jeg den.

Den beste boka? Max, Mischa og Tetoffensiven av Johan Harstad. Det tok meg over et år, men herregudogfaderforeibok! Verdt hver eneste tegn og sekund. 

Og apropos den virkelighetsroman-debatten; jeg siterer Jens M. Johansson
“Alle vil bli skrevet dikt om" sa han. "Men ingen vil være karakterer i en roman.”

Thursday, 25 August 2016

books read in 2016 that i have said nothing about.

In an attempt to start writing again, I need to have a clean slate (yeah I know I said the same in June, here's to a second try). So, a list of all the books I have said nothing about:

  • Wolf Hall (2009) by Hilary Mantel (UK, Man Booker): ❤︎!
  • the House of Ulloa (1886) by Emilia Pardo Bazan (Spain, 1001 books): 3
  • Bring Up the Bodies (2012) by Hilary Mantel (UK, Man Booker): 5
  • Black Ice (1992) by Michael Connelly (USA): 4
  • the Nest (2016) by Cynthia d'Asprix Sweeney (USA): 2+
  • Last Rituals (2005) by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland): 3+
  • Portnoy's Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth (USA, 1001 books):  3+
  • Pastoralia (2000) by George Saunders (USA, 1001 books): 4
  • My Soul to Take (2006) by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland): 4
  • Ashes to Dust (2007) by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland): 4
  • the Day is Dark (2008) by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland): 4
  • the Natural Way of Things (2015) by Charlotte Wood (Australia): ❤︎!
  • All That Man Is (2016) by David Szalay (UK, Man Booker): 4+
  • Barkskins (2016) by Annie Proulx (USA): 3+
  • the Girls (2016) by Emma Cline (USA): 3-
  • Things Fall Apart (1958) by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria, 1001 books): 4+
  • the Summer Book (1972) by Tove Jansson (Finland, 1001 books): ❤︎!
  • Homegoing (2016) by Yaa Gyasi (Ghana): ❤︎!
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016) by Elizabeth Strout (USA, Man Booker): 4+ 
Books not yet translated to English
  • Tellemarck (2015) by Morten Øien (Norway): 5
  • De urolige (2015) by Linn Ullmann (Norway): 5-
  • Adresse Alberta (2016) by Victoria Bø (Norway): 3
  • Slik skal vi velge våre ofre (2015) av Bjørn Vatne (Norway): 4+
  • Neljäntienristeys (2012) by Tommi Kinnunen (Finland): ❤︎!
  • Eneste (2016) by Silje Aasnes Furulund (Norway): 3
  • Anna og kjærligheten (2016) by Birger Emanuelsen: 4+ 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016



not sure if this is temporary or permanent. 


❤︎

Monday, 2 May 2016

of whales and men.

the North Water by Ian McGuire (2016)

 Behold the man is the opening sentence, and that we really must do. The man in question, Drax, is a brute, a lover of rum and young boys. He is about to ship out with a whale boat named the Volunteer. The year is 1857, and the traditional whale ships are met with hard competitions from the steamers. The captain on the ship is deemed unlucky as he has lost ships and men before, so the atmosphere aboard the ship is nervous.

There is another man we must observe, Patrick Sumner, who has signed up to be the ship's doctor. He has come back from India where he witnessed the siege of Delhi and the horrors of war. And because of that he is not able to sleep and function without laudanum. But as the ship's doctor he will witness things equally as bad or even worse; venereal diseases, clubbing of baby seals, conspiracies, frost bites, rape and even murders. One thing that is for certain is that both the ship and its crew are beyond hope.

When I read the book's description, I knew that this would be right up my alley and I'm glad it didn't disappoint. Although it is dark, violent and gory, sometimes bordering the grotesque, I loved every word of the book. The language is crucial in order to make such a wild tale work, and it flows perfectly while being entertaining and salty. The only fault I see is that it was simply too short, I wish the author would give more details of the returns at the end.

I have a sneaking feeling that the North Water might end up as one of my 2016-favourites.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

january - march.

I have read 21 books so far this year. And only written about 2. I wanted to write about more, but I have never gotten around to it because life is simply too much everything right now (and that is why I'm reading so much - escaping reality).

So. I'm just going to list them (except the recent Norwegian ones, they will get a post of their own).

6. Disgrace by J.M Coetzee (1999): Race and rape. Bleak. It is still on my mind. Won the Man Booker Prize, is on the 1001 books list and Coetzee has a Nobel prize. Read for Line's 1001 books challenge: books by a Nobel prize winner.

7. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (2000): Scary, but too much academic writing and nonsense. Disappointing in the end. 1001 books.

8-16. Harry Hole book 2-10 by Jo Nesbø (1998-2013): I developed a love/hate relationship to Harry Hole and the books. Too many similar plots. But at least Harry Hole has a great taste in music.

18. the Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (1932): The downfall of a family and the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Read it with a smile on my face and also learnt a lot of history. Read for Hedda's off the shelf challenge: books written in German.

20. the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892): Sherlock Holmes #3. Short stories. Entertaining, but some were too predictable. Read for Line's 1001 books challenge: crime and mystery

21. the Black Echo by Michael Connelly (1992): Harry Bosch #1. I watched the Bosch series and fell in love. The book was tougher to get through, probably because I overdosed on police corruption reading the Harry Hole books. Ingalill says it will get better. Started on #2.

Clean slate. I'm enjoying Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel tremendously, all I want to do is read about the Tudors all day long. Luckily I have Bring Up the Bodies to look forward to.

I also set up an instagram account and it is more up to date than this blog. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Berlin, Berlin!

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood (1939)

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will
have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

Christopher moves to Berlin where he spends his time giving English lessons, writing and having a jolly good time. But this is Berlin in the early 1930s and behind the decadence lurks Nazism and violence and Christopher decides to leave the city in 1933.

Through his years in Berlin he meets a lot of interesting characters. My favourite is Sally Bowles, an English cabaret dancer who loves men and money. I think the reason why I love Sally is her complexity, she is both fun and depressed. There are other important and fascinating characters as well, and many of them Jewish or gay. And that is why this book is so sad. The last chapter made me cry because we now know what happened. It is also the reason why this book is important.

Isherwood simply amazed me with this book, in fact I read in just a few hours on a train between Oslo and Trondheim back in February (I'm superslow at logging my books this year). Now I'm eager to read the rest of his works. I already bought Mr Norris Changes Trains when visiting fantastic Berlin during Easter and his autobiography Christopher and His Kind is very high on my wish list.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

trust me, I'm telling you stories.

the Passion by Jeanette Winterson (1987)

 Henri is the man who prepares chickens for Napoleon. And because of that he gets to see the battlefields of Europe, all the way to Moscow. Meanwhile, in Venice, a web-footed girl named Villanelle works at a casino. At work she cross dresses to flirt with the customers and she falls in love with a married woman. Years later, Henri and Villanelle meet on the outskirts of a burning Moscow and they decide to desert together, making their way to Venice where Henri has to find Villanelle's heart.

I'm amazed by the fact that this book is a mere 180 pages long, but has so many stories within the story. I loved the setting, and if I could time travel, Venice would be one of the places I'd visit (but not now, as it is a tourist trap). I also learnt more about Napoleon. All in all, it's a great read and that was a pleasant surprise as I didn't enjoy Orange is the Only Fruit when I read it years ago.

(Why is it always so hard to write a lot about the books you have come to love?)

This was my choice for Hedda's off-the-shelf 2016 reading challenge; a book with a red cover. I'm months behind in blogging.

Friday, 29 January 2016

all the lonely people, where do they all belong?

Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (1936)

 “Their combined ages were two hundred and sixty-three years. None of them had ever been out of England, fought in a war, been in prison, ridden a horse, travelled in an aeroplane, got married, or given birth to a child. There seemed no reason why they should not continue in the same style until they died. Year in, year out, nothing ever happened in the Comstock family.” 

 Gordon hates money so much that he left his good job and started working for a small book shop. At night he writes poetry while glaring at the hated aspidistra on his shelf in his rented room. And always thinking about money and the fact that he is too poor to do anything.

So goes his life, until one day when he receives a letter and a cheque for 10 pounds from an American magazine that will publish one of his poems. He is going to give half of it to his sister who has always given him a hand, but first he is finally going to invite his girlfriend and a friend out to dinner. But the perfect night turns into a drunken stupor that ends in jail.

Orwell is a master in portraying the life on the dirty, poor streets of London. And as in all of his novels, the political aspect is close to the surface. Although Gordon is a miserable character, Orwell writes with an excellent sense of humour, and it is hard to feel sorry for  Gordon as he can only blame himself for his position. After all, the war against money is a battle that he is doomed to lose. The way the book ends is another plus, although I predicted it.

This was the remaining Orwell novel on my shelf, and that is a little sad. But he has written some very interesting non-fiction books, so I have something to look forward to. If you have only read Animal Farm and 1984, I highly recommend his other works.

Folkens! Lines 1001 bøker lesesirkel har gjenoppstått fra de døde. I januar leser vi en bok vi har lenge hatt lyst til å lese. I februar er det en 1001 bok fra en nobelprisforfatter som står for tur. Sleng deg på!

Friday, 1 January 2016

2015: annus horribilis

Well, maybe horrible is a stretch too far. But, it has definitely not been one of the best years in my life. I spent most of January to April off work due to an illness that was only getting worse until my doctor had a vague diagnosis and gave me some pills that worked wonders. It turned out that I have hypothyroidism which really fucks up your body, but is easy to manage. And because of that, I slept through most of the autumn. My grandma got really sick just before Easter, and I decided to spend the summer taking care of her. It was really tough, but luckily she recovered and is in her 86th year doing better than she has in years. It hasn't been easy to live a good life the last year (a proof of this is all the things I ended up not going doing - concert, parties, travel plans).

So, here's to 2016! The year of getting out there and doing things. I'm going to quit my job and sell my apartment. It may result in travelling the globe, or just moving to a different city. Perhaps I even take a swing at writing out the two ideas that have been stuck in my head for years.

Fortunately we who read have the chance to escape to other worlds when things are lousy. My reading has been influenced by the year I have had. I read very little before April, and I read a lot through the summer and then less as the autumn progressed. And as 2014, I barely managed to read 50 books. Looking back, my reading goals seem very hairy. So, how did I do?
  • Read more than 50 books: Yes, just in time!
  • Read the alphabet (author's surname of course): I think I gave it an attempt, then gave up.
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books: 3 of 5, fail.
  • Read A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. That's 12 books in all: Didn't even think about it. A great idea, though.
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (47 countries so far): I counted, and I have just read books from 8 different countries this year. But, two of them were new (Slovenia and Bulgaria).
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (11, 9%) and Nobel Prize winners (27/111): Up to 12,6% and 29/112 (Lagerlöf and Kawabata + another Steinbeck) so that's at least something. Need to focus on 1001 books again.
  • If I want to buy a book, I'll have to read one off my shelf first: I haven't counted, but I did a pretty good job of restricting my bookbuying. But I bet I bought more than 50 books.
  • Read in a book every day, even if it's just a page: This has been fairly successful and a good goal.
Well, there it is. Not too happy, and especially about how little varied my reading has been. Too many Norwegian books (18!) and books published in 2015. I also hardly participated in any reading circles, and I feel like I have been missing out. I'm most pleased by finally getting to read Moby Dick, even though it wasn't the best book.

New goals:
  • Read more than 50 books
  • Read Ulysses by James Joyce
  • Read at least 5 non-fiction books
  • Continue working my way around the globe in books (49 countries so far)
  • Lifelong goals: cross off as many 1001 books you must read before you die (12,6%) and Nobel Prize winners (29/112)
  • Read in a book every day, even if it's just a page
  • Write more
 Nothing too difficult, except perhaps Ulysses.

And finally, the list of books I read in 2015 which you should read in 2015
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
  • Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle (2003)
  • the Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (2015)
  • the Hobbit and LOTR by J.R.R Tolkien
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)
  • the Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy
  • Morvern Callar by Alan Warner (1995)
  • the Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahata (2015)
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers (2015)
  • Career of Evil by Robert Gailbraith (or J.K Rowling, 2015)
  • Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata (1952) 
 I don't ever think the list of books I recommend has been so small as this year. I blame it on annus horribilis. Bring it on, annus mirabilis!

Midnight at Grense Jakobselv, Norway. A fine summer's day in July 2015.