WWW Wednesday September 5th

And it’s a Wednesday!
Throughout June and July I did a WWW Wednesday post every week, but I haven’t done one for about a month, now. However, as I’m finally getting properly settled into this new little house of mine, I’ve also finally gotten into the headspace for reading again, and figured I’d get back into posting WWWs again too!

As you can see from the background of these photos, all my reading (that’s not uni course related) is happening in one place. I’ve made myself a cosy, little reading nook. It’s a small-esque chair, nestled under the stairs. It’s got a lamp and a bookshelf right next to it, and my favourite Harry Potter-blanket, the only thing I brought with me from my flat in Winchester to this new uni home. I figured I’d put in a picture of my cosy nook at the end, but before that; let’s look at some books!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join. All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):
-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

I am currently reading:
Flight by Vanessa Harbour

I’ve been so excited for this book for so long! It’s written by Vanessa Harbour, a writer of wonderful children’s fiction and a “master storyteller”, as the praise on the back of the book says. All three years of my Creative writing BA, I was lucky enough to have her as my lecturer and in my third year, she helped me immensely (and was awfully patient with me and my rising stress levels) as my dissertation tutor. Vanessa always stressed how writers have to ask questions, and she sometimes used her own process of working on this book to set examples for us students. This helped us a lot, both as what she talked about and taught us was very helpful, but also because it felt like she was taking us seriously, as students, as writers and as people. Flight popped down in my mailbox today, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

Blurb:
If Jakob sneezed, he could die.
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stables, where they hide the precious Lipizzaner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they just get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory.
Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

What did you just finish reading?
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

I know I was gushing about this book in my last WWW post, and I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept of women having developed magic to deal with systematic oppression, and how that magic again was mistaken for a dangerous force that needed to be quenched, when in fact it is even more powerful when used for good. I also really enjoyed the world building, the maps and the different cities, all the talk of languages and the nuances in the different languages. However, I feel like this book could have benefited from a bit more editing. Some of the sentences were awkwardly worded and a lot of the world building came through in huge info dumps and unnatural pieces of conversation. The back describes it as a feminist fairytale, and though the inclusivity is wonderful (yay LGBT characters, strong female characters, disabled characters and people of colour in heroic roles), it also sometimes felt awfully forced. This is still a good book, though, and like I said, I loved the concept enough to want to read it again at some point.

Blurb:
Mia took the knife and held it high, silver moonlight glinting off the blade. She stared at herself in the reflection. A demon in oyster silk stared back. And yet, in spite of everything – even as she stood amidst the charred cinders of her life – she felt freer than she had in ages. Powerful.
Run, little rose. Run fast and free. 

What are you planning on reading next?
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

I don’t have any clever reasoning for wanting to read this book; I used to love the Disney adaption of it when I was a child, and I saw this in Waterstones, months ago, and just fell in love with the colours on the cover. Now I’m excited to see what the original story is actually like!

Blurb:
When Merlyn the magician comes to tutor Sir Ector’s sons, Kay and the Wart, schoolwork suddenly becomes much more fun. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy being turned into a fish, a badger, or a snake?
But Wart is destined for great things, and Merlyn’s magical teachings are only the beginning of his amazing future.

Okay, that was fun! Like I said; I’ve settled in now, which means more energy for reading, which means that hopefully, it won’t be a month until the next WWW Wednesday post! If you’ve done a WWW post this week, please leave it in the comments, I’d love to check it out! What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books?

As usual, have an absolutely brilliant day,
-Andrea

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Wordless Books; reading the illustrations

It should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog, that I like words. I love reading, I’ve got a writing degree done and dusted, I attend poetry readings and sometimes perform my own work. I really like words, language and stories, and I talk a lot about them.

Another thing I talk a lot about, is the job I really like at the library. I love it because it lets me talk to a lot of people, I get to learn a lot of cool things, and it’s introduced me to books I never would have found on my own.

One type of book I’ve fallen completely in love with, I found when a lady came in and asked for “the book about the cats”. We should be able to find that, i said, there are lots of books written about cats, but no, she said, it’s not written. It’s just about the cats. I didn’t understand what she was looking for, however, the actual librarian who was also there, knew exactly what book the lady wanted.

Where Shall the Cats Live by Torill Kove. Published by Gyldendal in 2018, it is classified as a “wordless book”.

Wordless books have no words (as it says on the tin), and even though (as already mentioned) I love words, I’m so here for them. On Gyldendal’s webpage, the publishers write that wordless books can be read both by those who love to read and those who struggle a bit more, but they’re purpose is to give kids who struggle with reading that feeling of reading an entire book all by themselves. This is because the wordless books aren’t read by reading the words, but by “reading the illustrations, discovering details, patterns, feelings and actions – solely by watching and understanding the visual cues; an ability our youngest readers already have.”

Yes, these books are absolutely wonderful for children. But the reason I fell in love with them is the wide audience they can appeal to. The illustrations in these books are colourful, vivid and vibrant, and not necessarily just for children. The book I’m running away by Mari Kanstad Johnsen, for example, is an example of a wordless book, that utilises a darker style of imagery, while still maintaining the vivid, emotional and thought-provoking nature of these books.

In an interview with BOK365, Johnsen says that “I wanted to explore the possibilities that are hiding in a book without any text. I wanted the pictures to invite different readers to read diffferent stories.”

This brings us back to the lady who wanted the book about the cats, again. She had moved to Norway from Sri Lanka a couple of years ago, and when her grandchildren came to visit, they made a game out of reading the wordless books together. How many different stories can we make out of these illustrations today? How many words can we point out in Norwegian and how many words can we name in Sinhala?
She said that sometimes she even read them on her own, just to practice using Norwegian in her head, without reading words off the page. Difficult, she said, but helpful.

To understand more about these wordless books and what they can offer, I read a study called “Using wordless books to stimulate language: Why, how and which ones?” In said study, language scientist Monica Melby-Lervåg points out that creating the stories on their own, helps build children’s understanding of narrative, which is an important part of understanding language and grammar, and also later, reading comprehension.” She also references another study, “Cognitive stimulation of pupils with Down syndrome: A study of inferential talk during book-sharing” done by Kari Anne Næss, Liv Inger Engevik and Mette Hagtvet, which states that reading wordless books are a great way to help children develop and use their vocabulary and to help them express themselves; they recognise what is happening in the illustrations and learn by putting their own words to what they’re seeing.

How wonderful is it that a little book of maybe 20 pages can be so valuable to such a wide and varied audience? This is a little niche market I had no idea existed up until a couple of months ago, and now I’m getting really into and interested in it. It is going to be interesting to see if these books manage to catch some ground in the Norwegian book market, and if there’ll be done more research on it in the future. And on the bright side, if the authors of books such as these have to branch out internationally to reach an even bigger audience, at least the translation costs won’t be breaking any banks!

What are your thoughts on wordless books? A little bit silly or really, really cool? It would be great to hear what you guys think about this!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

WWW Wednesday July 4

And it’s Wednesday again! Norway’s so warm right now, so all the time I’m not at work I basically spend at the beach with a book. Life’s pretty great, to be honest.

I am at work today doing shifts at the supermarket, and so this is the perfect day for another WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words , and anyone can join. All you need to do is answer three simple questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading
Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A bit like with Jane Austen, I’ve always really liked the idea of Shakespeare, but never really gotten through any of his plays. Norwegian schools also don’t set away all that much time for Shakespeare’s works either, and so it wasn’t before I got to England and met some very enthusiastic Shakespeare fans that I really got into his plays. In February, my really good friend Cathy, brought me along to see my first play at the Globe and I’ve seen (and loved) the film version where David Tennant plays Hamlet. Now I’m reading Hamlet in Norwegian, and the translation is wonderful! So sprightly and playful, not heavy and long-winded like I expected it to be. I’m loving every page so far!

Blurb:
“Å være eller ikke være, det er problemet.
Om det er mere edelt av et sinn
å utstå skjebnens slyngekast og piler,
enn ta til våpen mot et hav av plager
og ende dem ved motstand? Dø, å sove –
og ikke mer, å si med en søvn
vil all vår hjertesorg ta slutt og alle
de tusen slag naturen har å by på
og kjødet tar i arv – det er en slutt
vi inderlig må ønske oss.”

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d.”

I just finished
Villskudd by Gudmund Vindland

Last year I discovered that I’ve got a very big soft spot for books set in Scandinavia in the 60s, and especially books about the LGBT community in the big cities at the time. So if you’ve got any recommendations for this (rather small) niche market of books, please throw them at me!
There is something about the language used, the characters that always seem stereotypical but then defy all those stereotypes, the places I recognize but depicted several decades ago, before I was born but not even that long ago. I really enjoyed this book, because it was such an unapologetic love story from the protagonist to himself, if that makes sense. It showed young gay men finding their way, really screwing up and having each other’s backs. It also had a lot of hope and good laughs, great humor and fantastic pop-culture references. A very good book!

Blurb: (Translated)
In Villskudd we get to know Yngve, who is gay in late 60’s Oslo. “This book is a little piece of Norway. A tale of a young Norwegian’s journey across the earth; a song of his doubts and his beliefs, his insecurities and his struggling desires, of shame and infamy and the dream of becoming someone.” (“Villskudd”, 29.02.16, http://www.skeivtarkiv.no)

Next on the list
Sky chasers by Emma Carrol

I’ll buy anything with hot air balloons on it, any day. Not entirely sure why, I just love the aesthetic of them soaring through the skies, especially since I have absolutely no idea how they work and so they’ve kind of kept that air of mystique around them! I bought this book purely because of the cover, and I’m really excited to get reading on it!

Blurb:
Orphan Magpie can’t believe her eyes when she sees a boy swept off his feet by a kite… or something that twists and dances in the wind. She goes to his rescue only to find herself dangling in the sky. The world looks so different from on high and suddenly Magpie knows what she wants – to be the first to fly in a balloon above the King and Queen of France.

Have you read any of these? What are you reading right now and how are you liking it? And how is your relationship with Shakespeare?

I really appreciate the community feel around these www Wednesday posts, and would love to read some more! Please drop your link in the comments, I’d love to check it out!

As always, have a wonderful day!

-Andrea

Journal #3

“I can’t work in my room,” I say when people ask me why I’m always in the library, “too many distractions in there.” All throughout my degree, separating uni work and down time has been very important to me. I think one of the reasons for this is because I’ve been living on campus for the last three years, but maybe today was a bit different. I’m sat here now, by the desk in my little room, with my bookshelf full of adventures I’ve yet to go on and a phone that’s charging right next to me, and I’ve finished my dissertation without checking either. Or, I mean, I’ve finished the creative part of my dissertation at least. 8000 words, now finally edited, done and dusted. I’m sure I’ll go through and proofread a bit more, but from now on I’ll just be looking for spelling mistakes and stray commas, not any actual edits. It’s a weird feeling. And I did it all from the comfort of my room, here where I say I can never work. Guess I was wrong. I’ve got a proper mug of tea (not just a travel mug), a bowl of (almost completely) homemade pasta carbonara and I’m listening to soft music on speakers, not through headphones. I still think the library’s the place for me to sit down and properly get everything I need done actually done, but maybe I can be a bit more open to the idea of working in my own space too. This has been a surprisingly productive, but relaxed, day.
I can get used to this.

(Blog Andrea Wold Johansen) Desk 1
Have a very staged picture of how I’d love my writing nook to look like all the time. The norm is more pens everywhere and paper flying! (Also, I finished my tea just before taking this..)

-Andrea

Writer’s Log 2

WRITER’S LOG 2
26/02-2018

Mission Log:
A short (but important) rationale session

10:59 I need to write a 2000 word rationale about a 8000 word creative piece. It is due in nineteen days, 1 hour and 1 minute. Normally I really enjoy writing rationales for creative pieces, but I’m struggling with getting started with this one. Maybe it’s like a head space thing. I’ve got lots of research already done (I really love research) and a lot to talk about, but it’s a bit scary to write about such a “big” assignment. I can do this, though!

11:11 Not writing-related, but it’s actually, proper snowing today! A nice view from the library. Also, 11:11! Make a wish!

11:29 Had to do a bit of “paperwork”, send some emails (5 emails, to be precise) and figure out some dates for course related events. But now I’m really getting started.

11:36 This is going okay, have finished the introduction plus the first couple of paragraphs. Tips to anyone wondering whether to go to uni or not and/or wondering what kind of course they should do: creative writing. It lets you write about your favourite books into academic essays. There’s something special about being able to quote lines that gave you chills when you read them as a child, and as I’ve basically based my entire creative piece around the book Mio’s Kingdom, that means getting to use quotes like “If only the trees hadn’t grown so close together, […] if only the darkness wasn’t so black and we weren’t so small and alone.”

12:17 Got distracted by an article I’m writing for a  Student Life magazine at the uni. It’s a feature article with lots of pictures and 500 words, about wonderful places in and around Winchester. Not rationale working, but still writing!

12:34 Finished the piece for the article instead, now I can tick that off the list too.

13:12 Done with writing for today, am heading into town for coffees with Jeanette! It’s gonna be great to see her again and to catch up. But first, raiding the library for more books, research is absolutely the best part of essay-writing!

Andrea Wold Johansen 007

Recap of the session:
Not the most productive session wordcount-wise, but great for research, decluttering the brain and for crossing things off the old to do list.

Mistake of the day: More typo of the day. “Thing” is now spelt “thign”. Every single time.

Word count of the day: 635 (plus 548 words on the article, to be fair)

Writing location: Library, top floor, computer 48. Not as ideal as computer 57, but it’ll do.

Phone breaks: Getting better!

Beverage of choice: None. I forgot my tea at home and can see it just waiting on my desk, slowly getting cold. It’s a tragic story, indeed.

Mood before writing: “I am stressed”
Mood during writing: “I am significantly less stressed now that I’ve started working” Mood after writing: “I may not have finished my rationale, but I got a lot of other things done”

Question of the day: Any tips for being productive when a thousand things are running around in your head at once?

-Andrea