May in books

This page saw no updates in May, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened!
On May 3rd I sat my American politics exam, and on May 4th I started a new job! It’s a full time position as a librarian, working both at the library in town and at a youth club at the House of Literature. The job is filled to the brim with creativity, with challenges, with colleagues and with care. I’ve had a month of getting settled and finding my feet with it now, and I honestly feel so lucky to call this my job: working alongside great colleagues to create a safe and fun environment for kids and young people, centered around literature, creativity and giving them space to express themselves by the words they write and the things they create. I’m looking forward to all the things I’m yet to learn and all the challenges still to master, but the first impression I’ve had of this job is marvellous. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

In May, I got through:

The Dictionary of Lost Words – Pip Williams

In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it. Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutters to the floor.”

This book is a beauty, looking at the meaning we assign to words and the dangers of assuming some words more important than others simply because they are written down more. The book lets you witness Esme’s life through the words she seeks out like a detective on a mission – words deemed unworthy because they’re spoken by women with brightly coloured shawls in the market place and not by dusty scholars with brown leather shoes. Cathy, a very good friend from England, read and loved this book, and was kind enough to send her beautiful copy my way, and so one day this popped down in my mail box as a complete surprise! Would definitely reccomend this to anyone interested in words, their sound and their power.

How to get Filthy Rich in Rising AsiaMohsin Hamid

The astonishing and riveting tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia.” It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths crossing and recrossing, a lifelong affair sparked and snuffed and sparked again by the forces that careen their fates along.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval. Romantic without being sentimental, political without being didactic, and spiritual without being religious, it brings an unflinching gaze to the violence and hopes it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.”

Finished this book in two days and absolutely loved it. The second person pov doesn’t feel forced at all, the language is so vibrant and alive and the story, though quiet at times, is such a beautiful and graceful study of characters, of life and what hope and success might come to mean at different points in life and for different people from different walks of life. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked this book up on my own, but I got it sent through the Life’s Library book club, and am so glad I was given that gentle push to read it!

Please Come Off-Book – Kevin Kantor

“Please Come Off-Book queers the theatrical canon we all grew up with. Kantor critiques the treatment of queer figures and imagines a braver and bolder future that allows queer voices the agency over their own stories.

Drawing upon elements of the Aristotelian dramatic structure and the Hero’s Journey, Please Come Off-Book is both a love letter to and a scathing critique of American culture and the lenses we choose to see ourselves through.”

I’ve been following Kevin Kantor’s poetry online since about 2015, and along with Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye, Kantor’s spoken word performances was one of the things that really made me fall in love with poetry. It was strange reading their words “cold” on a page, not actually hearing the musicality of Kantor’s voice, but this collection is a beautiful one – chilling and heartbreaking and musical to boot. Really liked this one.

The Magician’s Land Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Meanwhile, the magical barriers that keep Fillory safe are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. Eliot and Janet, the rulers of Fillory, embark on a final quest to save their beloved world, only to discover a situation far more complex—and far more dire—than anyone had envisioned.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young magician with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. His new life takes him back to old haunts, like Antarctica and the Neitherlands, and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers buried secrets and hidden evils and ultimately the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create a magical utopia. But all roads lead back to Fillory, where Quentin must face his fears and put things right or die trying.

This book surprised me a lot! As earlier mentioned, I really like the SyFy show based on Grossman’s Magicians books, but I didn’t really like the first and second book in the series. There was something about how the characters were written, the pessimistic negativity and self-centeredness that surrounded them. I am all for a flawed and unlikeable hero, but sometimes it all just gets a bit much. However, the third book takes place a bit after the first two, and I liked this a lot better! It honestly felt like the characters had grown up a bit, and following them on their journey was a lot more fun and interesting this time around.

The Future – Neil Hilborn

Neil Hilborn’s highly anticipated second collection of poems, The Future, invites readers to find comfort in hard nights and better days. Filled with nostalgia, love, heartbreak, and the author’s signature wry examinations of mental health, this book helps explain what lives inside us, what we struggle to define. Written on the road over two years of touring, The Future is rugged, genuine, and relatable. Grabbing attention like gravity, Hilborn reminds readers that no matter how far away we get, we eventually all drift back together. These poems are fireworks for the numb. In the author’s own words, The Future is a blue sky and a full tank of gas, and in it, we are alive.”

The blurb says it all – hopeful comfort and hard-hitting sarcasm side by side. I took my time tasting every single poem in this collection, and both individually and as a whole, they were their own little constellations. Really enjoyed it.

I’ll Fly Away – Rudy Francisco

In his stunningly intimate, highly anticipated follow up to Helium, Rudy Fransisco has created a collection of poems that savor the day-to-day. Treating it as worship, turning it into an opportunity to plant new seeds of growth. Language so often fails us, but Fransico has found his way around this as he creates his own words for the things our language cannot give name to. “Felenter (Noun) Definition: Someone who finds joy in things that people believe to be mundane.” I’ll Fly Away Uses fascinating metaphors to convey common emotional states. These poems are an act of remembrance, and an act of believing that you dear reader, are a celebration waiting for the lights to come up.”

I love poetry that focuses on the beauty of day-to-day life, and this collection definitely did just that. Once again, the blurb says it all. Creating new words where the English language just won’t do is such a poetic solution to a poetic, emotive problem, and such a testament to the notion that language is a living, breathing being, constantly changing and growing to fit the needs of the communities were it’s spoken. The definitions he’s written down for all the new words are also beautifully phrased, and this is definitely worth a read.

Gosh, this became a ramble and a half! If you made it to the end I thank you and salute you. I hope June treats you well, and that you get clear skies above your head and green grass under your feet.

-Andrea

February and march in books

And just like that both February and March has packed their suitcases, too.

The last days of February saw days of wonderful spring up here in Norway, and it was so tempting to just pack up and away all of winter’s coats and scarves and declare it spring time immediately. Then the first days of March brought cold winds again, however, and the rest of the month has served more gray days. Oh well, at least it’s getting lighter in the evenings!

Here are the reads I got through in February and March – hang tight, it’s a varied but lovely bunch and a bit of a long ride (press the read more tab to access the full list of books)!

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

“Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. It is told in the captivating voice of the fiercely independent and stunning Janie Crawford, who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear or foolish romantic dreams. As she endures three marraiges and a life marked by trials and tribulations, she evolves into an unforgettable heroine. A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published.”

Read More

As we’re leaving 2020 behind…

What a year it’s been. The good, the bad and the unexpected.
Looking back on these almost 8 minutes of rather shaky every day footage left of 2020, has taken on a bit more meaning this year. In a year where a lot of the days have blended into one, where home office and not seeing people has made weeks pass without us really noticing they’ve even arrived, looking back on this feels like an exclamation of “this year has come and passed, in minutes and in seconds and in days, and I swear I was a part of it”. Every cup of tea, every little walk – I was there for it all, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

It’s definitely been a year for contemplation, of decision making and for change. November and December has been a time of looking at what I’ve managed to accomplish this far and what I want to still go on to do, and I’ve realised I need to make some changes. These months have been months of frustration, of worry and of celebrating every little victory I could find, just like it’s been for everyone else.

Rambles done and dusted, here’re the seconds recorded from the 1st of September to the 31st of December this year. I want to post the entire 2020 video on its own in a minute, but it also feels like the last four months of 2020 deserve their own post. They’ve truly done their best with the days they had, no arguing there.

-Andrea

Dear autumn

Written September 1st 2020

Most years I hold onto summer like it’s the railing of a bridge I’m not entirely sure whether to trust or not – fingers clenched around long summer evenings, oceans to swim in and the sun never really setting.

Now it’s September 1st and the fog is rolling in over the hills and the fields of my little hometown. This year something is different. This year, I can’t wait for long dark evenings enveloping us, blankets on the sofa and thicker jumpers in the office. I can’t wait for mugs of tea and warm woolen mittens, for lighting candles and having to turn the lights on in every room I enter. Maybe life’ll slow down a bit around autumn time this year, and I’m excited about that too. Spring brings life and summer brings energy – maybe this autumn can bring a sense of calm. I’m excited for books and for blankets, for sitting inside while September paints the sky with the sun rising and setting.

Yeah, I’m ready for autumn to roll around, but before that I’ll have a think about the months that have passed. May to August of 2020 have been months of moving flats twice, moving away from some very good friends, wonderful summer weekends, boat trips, cutting most of my hair off, starting an internship and seeing that internship turn into a permanent position. They’ve been months of not cooking as much as I’d like, of scouring town for a picture frame with three slots, and of nephew cuddles galore. They’ve been months of corona testing and quarantining and chewing your bottom lip wondering what the future holds. They’ve also surprisingly enough been months of woolen scarves and thunderstorms in July, but hey ho – this year’s a strange one anyway, so who’s to be surprised about having to don a bikini one day and a knitted scarf the next.

We’ve made it through the first half of 2020 – let’s get on with the next one!

-Andrea

Once upon a December

I know we’re twelve days into January at this point, but I’m not not posting the last monthly update of the year, when I actually managed to stick to this project for twelve months!

This December was a strange, chaotic and emotional month. It was the month of last semester’s batch of exams, the month of getting in a few more weeks of work at the library, and the month of driving home for Christmas, which is, and will forever be, my favourite thing in the entire world.

This December has held Christmas concerts, learning how to bake krumkaker, time spent (and cherished) with wonderful friends and with my family. It has been Christmas concerts and study sessions and getting through my “law module exam” in one piece. It has been a month of dinner parties and coffees with friends old and new; a month to look back on with fondness.

This was also Oliver’s, my nephew, very first Christmas, and so it holds a special place in my heart.

So, though a bit late, here’s my one second every day from the month of December 2019!

Aaaand as we’re already wrapping up December, it only feels right to pop the complete 1 second a day-2019 film here. So here goes; the 6 minutes and 16 seconds that make up 2019. What a year!

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

10/12 of the way!

Okay, I promise I won’t start this post with “how has October come and gone already, this year is flying by so fast!” but I guess, by saying I won’t, I allowed myself to do it anyway.
October’s been a strange and busy month, with lots of traveling, a lot of assignments and uni work and thankfully, some wonderful moments with good friends.
The weather has also made it perfectly clear that we’re reaching the last months of the year now, as the winter coat has been dusted off and there are no valid reasons to not put on mittens and a hat before leaving the house. Secretly, I’m really here for it.


October has brought along:

  • Two trips back and forth between home-home and uni-home
  • My mum’s birthday and thus a lot of cake, lovely food and family time
  • Some wonderful bonding time with my little nephew
  • Oliver’s baptism – which was a fairytale in itself
  • A lovely trip to the place my sister’s husband is from and getting to know his family better
  • Learning a new craft! (It’s called Hardangersøm, a type of traditional Norwegian embroidery, and I love it!)
  • A lot of beautiful concert experiences at The Church Music Festival in the Cathedral
  • A lot of studying, assignment work and exam revision
  • Some very productive study sessions with Trine, plus a lovely weekend with her lovely family
  • Halloween spent binging Netflix-shows and eating all the sweets that no children came to collect

November, bring it on!
-Andrea

Dancing in September

You can’t not preface a September Wrap Up Post with some Earth Wind and Fire.

September’s brought along autumn weather – green leaves turning red, orange and yellows blurring into each other, the need for mittens and thicker scarves. With every year, I get more appreciative of autumn as it pops along, and this year I’m so here for crisper air and darker evenings.

September has seen:

  • The new logo that a good friend of mine has so kindly made for me and for this blog! I love it!
  • A lot of work; both cleaning, interpreting and guide work
  • Me getting back into cooking again
  • So much rain
  • Good books
  • The Downton Abbey Film premiere with lovely friends, followed by the best loaded chips I’ve ever had
  • A lot of studying
  • Handicrafts, knitting and crocheting
  • The old cosy knitwear resurfacing
  • A trip home-home, for a spontaneous autumn holiday
  • Lots of nephew cuddles and family evenings

September’s been a good one, as these months usually are.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
-Andrea

On the first day in August..

…I want to wake up by your side

How is it September already?
August really flew by this year, and I feel like the months just slipping through my fingers like sand in an hour glass (or something else equally poetic) has become the theme for these wrap-up posts. To be fair, come November I’ll be screaming “can’t it just be Christmas already??”, so not really sure I can be the one to talk, but right now at least, I feel like the days are passing just that bit too quickly.

August has been great though, and I’ve gotten to:

  • Start the month in France, plus stay in both a little gite + a tent in a campsite
  • Go swimming in a French lake + “float” across said lake on a homemade raft
  • Explore Tence and Chenereilles with Harvey
  • Bring Harvey back to Norway with me for three weeks, and show him my home in proper summer-gear
  • Spend more time with my nephew, plus introduce him to Harvey
  • Start my third year of uni!
  • Meet a lot of wonderful new people
  • Translate a few more services
  • Get back into my guide job and start a new part-time cleaning job on the side
  • Get some more writing done for the business
  • Receive 38 postcards through Postcrossing (!!!)
  • Spend Friday-Sunday at a hotel in a neighbouring city, basically being thrown into the deep end with student politics, at my uni’s Student Parliament’s kick off-seminar
  • Sleep in 7 different beds; in Chenereilles, at the camp site, at home-home, on an air mattress in the flat, in my own bed in my own flat, in a hotel with Harvey and in the hotel with the Student Parliament

What a month! Thanks for stopping by and having a look, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

-Andrea

Like some surrealist invented this Fourth of July

And there goes July. I’ve spent the last two weeks in small French mountain villages, driving along winding forest roads, swimming in a lake and eating more cheese than anyone should eat in a lifetime – let alone a summer (of course this is not true at all, if you find yourself some really good brie there is never a reason to not just eat all of it). There was not a lot of phone reception and even less internet to acquire, and so this post is a bit late. But as Harvey and I are on the train-tram-plane x2-coach journey home now, it seemed like a good time to post the July wrap-up post and video!

July’s been a good one on many accords.

I’ve gotten to:

  • Get to know, to hold and spend a lot of time with my new nephew!!
  • Work at the library
  • “Farm” radishes
  • Do a lot of baking and cooking
  • Get to know my sister’s husband’s family better as they came and stayed with us for a week
  • Fish for crabs again like we did when we were children
  • Travel to France on my own
  • Stay a night with a (lovely) family who I didn’t know at all (but who literally saved me), because Harvey’s plane (from England) got cancelled and suddenly I was stuck in Lyon all alone
  • Go to a beautiful wedding in St Segolene
  • Eat my own body weight in French brie and baguettes
  • Know and stay with Harvey’s family, which was lovely
  • Get a little bit of a tan!

So this has been my July; new nephew, work, food and France. Not a bad month summed up. And Harvey’s come back to Norway with me, and is staying for another 3 weeks, so fingers crossed August will be wonderful too.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
-Andrea