Revisiting my 2013 writing challenge

Hello! 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I am in a holiday-sized bubble of Christmas cosy at the moment. Harvey’s visiting for the holidays, I’m at home with my family, we’re all shrouded in soft pyjamas and old cartoons and more Christmas food than anyone should ever eat. It’s great. 

As we’re reaching the end of 2018, I’ve taken a look at my Goodreads 2018 reading challenge, and I figured I’d make a post about that next week, as we’re rearing closer to the end of the year. For now, though, I wanted to revisit my 2013 reading challenge, to see how it went five years ago!

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I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always loved books. Ever since I was a kid I just couldn’t get enough. 2013 however, at the age of 17, was when I proper started recording what and how much I read. It was my first year of using Goodreads as a way to keep track of my books, and it was when I started setting myself reading challenges to complete.

First of all, my goal for 2013 was 40 books, and I managed to read 38. I’ve decided to sort these books into three lists, the ones I remember reading, the ones I have no recollection of, and the ones I’m pretty sure I didn’t read and might have added just to up my number on the challenge. Embarrassing, but hey, it’s years ago.

Total of books: 38

Books I read and remember to this day: 28

-Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
-An Abundance of Katherine’s – John Green 
-Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
-The Fault in Our Stars – John Green 
-Looking for Alaska – John Green 
-Paper Towns – John Green
-The Time Keeper – Mitch Albom 
-A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learnt while editing my life – Donald Miller
-Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs 
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
-The Island – Victoria Hislop
-Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – David Levithan
-Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – David Levithan
-Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List – David Levithan
-Eighty Days Blue – Vina Jackson
-Eighty Days Yellow – Vina Jackson
-A Street Cat Named Bob – James Bowen
-The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
-One Hundred Names – Cecelia Ahern
-Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
-The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
-To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
-City of Bones -Casandra Clare
-Dear John – Nicholas Sparks
Every You Every Me – David Levithan
-The Lovers Dictionary – David Levithan
-Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
-Søskenkjærlighet – Katarina von Bredow

Safe to say it was the year of John Green and Young Adult fiction, but it was also the year I found my favourite author, David Levithan, and my  all time favourite book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and realised that I didn’t just have to stick to the YA romances. 2013 was also my first time dipping my toes in the classics and the advent of buying books online; i.e, asking the cashier in the bookstore to order books that you could never get in my little Norwegian town, otherwise. 

It’s also interesting to look at what you read at a certain point, because I feel like it can show what you were thinking about at that point in time. Your taste in books can’t really define you, but it absolutely shows what you care about, and offers pointers at what was important to you. 

Books I have no recollection of reading: 3

Boy meets Boy – David Levithan 
I’m so sure I’ve never read this, but I can remember starting it so many times. Not sure why I never got through it, maybe it was just the one Levithan book I couldn’t get into?

The Book of Tomorrow – Cecelia Ahern
I cannot for the life of me remember this one! All I can remember is the fact that I bought it on my first ever trip to a Waterstones and read it on the plane back from my second time ever in London. 

I Don’t Know How She Does it – Allison Pearson
So, I added this book to the list twice, but I’ve no clue what it’s about. I just know that I read it on a beach in Mallorca, and eventually forgot it at the hotel room. 

Books I’m 100% sure I didn’t read and just kind of pretended to have finished: 6

Evig søndag – Linnea Myre
This book was a Christmas present if I can recall, but I have not read this. I think I wanted to be cool and say I’ve read it though, because it was kind of “the book” of my year in school that year. 

Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Yeah, I remember actively putting this book away after the opening pages. This was one of those books that really weren’t what I was expecting, even though I knew nothing about the book before starting it, and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve wanted to pick it up again so many times, but just never get around to it. It felt like a very “grown-up” book, though, and I wanted to be able to say that I’d read and loved it, I remember..

The Reader – Bernard Schlink 
Same situation, I have never read this book. It was very adult-y, and historical and quite gritty, though, so saying I’d read it felt impressive. Goodness me, sixteen-year-old me was a mess.

Will Grayson Will Grayson – John Green
I remember my sister loved this book, but I just couldn’t get into it! It also didn’t help that I didn’t get that the two Will Graysons are two different people, either, but to be fair, that’s my bad. Maybe I should give this a go again, 5 years later.

James Potter and the Hall of Elder’s Crossing – G. Norman Lippert
Okay, I’ve done my googling. What is this book? Not that I’ve got anything against fanfiction at all, but I’m very certain that it’s never been in my bookshelf, and I’ve no clue why I’d put it on my “read-shelf”.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
I never finished this, I didn’t get along with the narrator’s voice, I think. 

As I’m back at my parents’ for Christmas, I had a little look around for how many of these books I actually still own. We all know I’m a bit of a book hoarder, but I was surprised to find that 36 of these are still on my shelves (and the other two I can remember borrowing from a friend) which basically means that I’ve never been very good at throwing books away, huh…

But I figured it could be a bit fun to have a look at some of the ones I’ve still got!

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2013 was the year I felt desperately and irrevocably in love with David Levithan’s writing, a love affair that to this day is still churning in the pit of my stomach. I remember ordering these at the bookstore, as online shopping wasn’t really as easy an option as it is today, at that time in my town. Well, it all began in 2013, but to this day, I still have all of David Levithan’s books on my shelf, he’s got his own one as he has quite a lot of books published. His stories embody the feeling of home, safety and comfort even in the sadder tales, a warm cup of cocoa written in between the covers.

img_7055This copy of The Great Gatsby was the first classic I ever properly read because I wanted to, and also the first time I realised I could make notes and highlight in my own books. After this, I finished To Kill a Mockingbird, and to this day those are the two only classics I’ve ever really gotten through on my own. 

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The beginning of a long and true love story; Mitch Albom, my designated November reads. 

img_7061-1.jpgThe year of all the John Green books in both Norwegian and English, and a rather large school assignment based on (among many others) John Green’s books and his characters. “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, could she exist?” I think it was called. 

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This copy of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses has been read to absolute pieces, and surprisingly enough it also showed up on my uni set list for a Children’s fiction module, in 2017! 

This post got a bit list-y, but it was fun to have a look through. Like I said, I hope to make a little walk through my 2018 reading challenge, plus I want to write a post about New Year’s resolutions and a bit more about 2018 and its lessons learned. I want to update the blog more and have got some fun ideas I’d love to work on more in the new year. 

So, do you do Goodreads reading challenges? Did you read any of these when you were a teenager or a young adult? And have any of these been, or are some of these maybe still, a favourite? 

Hope you have a wonderful day, 

-Andrea

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Journal #13, The magic of the Ginger Bread

The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.

Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.

Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.


Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.

-Andrea

WWW Wednesday, 5/12-18, Some Christmas reading?

And so it is time for Christmas music, lanterns and candles, and the annual return of the Grinch pyjama trousers!
This WWW Wednesday isn’t all that Christmassy, except from one book, just because I’m really bad at reading Christmas books! This time of year I always want to be like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, where she says she reads Pride and Prejudice every Christmas, but I guess I still just haven’t found my Christmas book yet. (Okay, this is a lot of Christmas)

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However, I’ve been reading other things these past few weeks.
WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! 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
Snøsøsteren by Maja Lunde and Lisa Aisatio

This book is something different. It’s a story that makes you feel all the big things, by showing you the small, if that makes sense? It’s about a boy who’s lost his sister and is worried that Christmas will forever be cancelled now, but then he meets a new friend who apparently will show him that grief and mourning and rejoicing over things like Christmas candles and hot chocolate with whipped cream isn’t mutually exclusive.

I haven’t gotten very far into it, because it’s like an advent calendar in a book; 24 small chapters, “a Christmas story in 24 parts that creates the magic Christmas feeling so familiar from the works of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and H.C. Andersen’s works.” 24 parts that will make up one wonderful story just in time for Christmas Eve. Also, the illustrations are gorgeous and done by one of my favourite illustrators, Lisa Aisato. You should definitely check out her work!

Blurb (translated):
Christmas Eve is coming up, a day that’s also Julian’s birthday. Usually, this is the best day of the year, when the Christmas tree is decorated and the candles lit, the air filled with the scent of clementines and gingerbread, and the fire in the fireplace is crackling contentedly. But this year, nothing is as it should be. Julian and his family are carrying a sorrow in their hearts after their sister Juni died, and Julian can’t help but think that Christmas is cancelled.
Then one day, Julian meets Hedvig, who reminds him how lovely Christmas can be, and Julian starts wondering if maybe it can be Christmas after all?

Just finished
Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Oh, this book’s got me in a mood! I really wanted to love it, but it felt like it was just trying to do too much, and I struggled to get to the end. It’s supposed to be a sci-fi “space opera” sort of love story, but the fantasy elements are so well-written in it that the sci-fi feels a little bit out of place. The characters, the dialogue and the setting all feel like epic fairytale settings and I kind of wished that the author would have stuck with that. It also felt like it ended quite abruptly, while the start dragged on for a while.
Still, it is a really good book. The story is interesting, the world-building intense and so detailed, and the idea of someone acting as a body double to the monarch, and what playing the role as someone’s duplicate might do to a person, is really interesting. The relationships between the characters are also well-written, I loved the shifts in the dialogue between Maram and Amani, and the moments between Amani and Idris.

Blurb: 
The crown of Dhiya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

Next, I’ll be reading:
The name of the wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Giving this another go!
I got this book for Christmas in 2016, and so many people have told me it’s their favourite book ever. I’ve started it a couple times, but something’s always gotten in the way of getting further in than a chapter or two, but not this time!

Blurb:
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to Gods, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.

Do you have any books you have to read the second December starts? Any Christmassy reading traditions or recommendations? Please drop me a comment!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Journal #14, a little life update

Hey, you!

I’ve missed posting bits and bobs on this blog lately and really hope to get back into it again, soon! Uni’s taken over my life a little bit at the moment, but the last month or so has been a really good one. Crazy busy, but good.

The last few weeks I have been lucky enough to:

find the world’s smallest cinema screen with a good buddy
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visit too many Christmas markets for it to still be the first week of December


do some translation and interpretation jobs
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enjoy some very light snow img_7762

have some late nights fighting off a cold
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study for multiple exams (currently done with 1 of 4)
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do a lot of stand work with a charity I care about
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make a makeshift Christmas tree out of a tiny plastic palm tree
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have some really good cake
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try and fail to make a gingerbread house with some wonderful peopleimg_7934

and have a lot of tea
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I haven’t managed to get in as much reading time as I was hoping, but still, I’ve got what I needed done. Plus, I’ve found a new flat from January on, and managed to decide on where to do work experience and where to study abroad next year! Back to England, I go, to work hopefully in Sheffield and to study in York.

I really want to make some more Christmassy posts throughout December! Both because I’m really excited for Christmas, and also to think about stuff that aren’t my exams.

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

“I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas”

but you’re impossible to buy presents for.

Maybe I’ll give you the sequins of sun on snow,
and the frost roses I scraped off my car this morning.
I could write you a note saying how nothing lasts forever,
but look how pretty temporary can be.

I could give you a magic chocolate factory,
with a flying glass lift and grass made of sugar,
because nothing’s ever as it seems,
and every problem looks small when seen from above.

Maybe I’ll get you a home made jumper,
so big it could house the Russian circus.
Hopefully, it would remind you to always dance,
even when it’s Jan Garbarek on the radio.

No, I’ll  give you a kiss like they do in Peter Pan.
An acorn on a string,
soft fingers on your chest, messy sheets,
and quiet voices,
in the dark.

I knitted your cat a scarf for Christmas,
but you are impossible to buy presents for.

Andrea Wold Johansen 005

-Andrea