Friday, February 15, 2019

Step one

It really baffles me that I keep getting followers to this poor, poor blog. I have not given it attention since autumn 2017 and yet I continuously get these emails: congratulations, you have a new follower!

I don't deserve it.

Lately I have been feeling the itch to do this again. The blog. Since I no longer work with books, I feel disconnected to the entire book world. I just recently started reading books again after months of nothing but work, and I had no idea how empty my life had been without it. I also moved last fall so all of my books have been in boxes and it wasn't until I unpacked them some weeks ago that I understood how much I've missed them.

I have always had a strong vision for this blog and what I want it to be, but my problem is that I've never managed to make it happen. I always fell into the same generic patterns of other blogs and in the end I couldn't say that mine was any different than all the others, so I just stopped. This made me feel so unsatisfied and that's why this blog has had so many different looks and concepts and vibes. I've been trying to find the right way to do it.

This post isn't about how I have found it, "the right way", but it is about how I want to give it a last go. I know that I have grown so much since last I wrote and I want to foolishly believe that heading into my 27th year of life I have gained some experience and knowledge that might finally make me ready for this.

Here is what I want.

I want this blog to be a personal journey and discovery of my life through the help of books, culture and self reflection. I want to be more honest and open then I've ever been before and maybe inspire some readers along the way. I want to weave in reviews, reflections, personal stories and everything else into one continuous mess and ignore the structure of what a book-ish blog ought to be. I want to actually discover how to become the heroine of my own life.

This is step one.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

“My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.”

This book demanded attention. It was powerful and intense, and even though I found it to be lacking in direction and the dialog to be to constructed and unnatural, it was hypnotic.

It is an unusual mother daughter story and nothing really happens, but it’s not about the events taking place – it’s more about the inner life and struggle of being lost within your own mind. And Sofia most certainly is.

She follows her hypochondriac mother to a special treatment clinic in Spain and with the backdrop of beautiful beaches and blue skies she observes the world around her and tries to find a place in it. She’s a strange yet very relatable character with this apathetic and numb mind that I understand and recognize myself in. As a young woman myself also not using the degree I fought for, this book painfully reminded me of what I don’t want to be.

To be honest, so many things in this book didn’t make sense to me and I'm sure the symbolic meanings passed me by. But even though that was the case this quick read has stayed with me and I keep thinking about it. It makes me want to read it all over again.

Title: Hot Milk
Author: Deborah Levy
Pages: 218
Series: Stand alone
Source: Purchased
Published: July 12th 2016

I have been sleuthing my mother's symptoms for as long as I can remember. If I see myself as an unwilling detective with a desire for justice, is her illness an unsolved crime? If so, who is the villain and who is the victim?

Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant—their very last chance—in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis.

But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia's mother's illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia's role as detective—tracking her mother's symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain—deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. How wise and amazing is not she?

In this "manifesto" Adichie gives suggestions to her dear friend Ijeawele, who is pregnant with a baby girl, on how to raise her daughter. With heart and feeling she delivers her suggestions in a very sparse, yet deeply profound way, and it is just so inspiring.

This is a book I want to give to everyone I know and I'm am certain that it will become my own personal bible whenever I decide to get children. But even as a single young woman today, far away from motherhood, this book could still influence me and make me think. It was a joy.

I first read this book on my kindle. That was a mistake. This is a book that you need to physically hold and touch and scribble in, and almost every well written phrase needs to be highlighted. It is a book I will read again and again and I will selfishly indulge myself with spending a few moments in the bright light of Adichie whenever I need to remind myself to not be afraid of the word feminist.

“So instead of teaching Chizalum to be likeable, teach her to be honest. And kind. And brave. Encourage her to speak her mind, to say what she really thinks, to speak truthfully. And then praise her when she does. Praise her especially when she takes a stand that is difficult or unpopular because it happens to be her honest position. Tell her that kindness matters. Praise her when she is kind to other people. But teach her that her kindness must never be taken for granted. Tell her that she, too, deserves the kindness of others. Teach her to stand up for what is hers. If another child takes her toy without her permission, ask her to take it back, because her consent is important. Tell her that if anything ever makes her uncomfortable, to speak up, to say it, to shout.” 

Title: Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminst Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Pages: 80
Series: Stand alone
Source: ARC Purchased
Published: March 7th 2017

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today--written as a letter to a friend. 

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Four British Classics from Novellix

Beautiful books, I will never stop loving them. This lovely little package of four British classics from Novellix found its way to me at a bookshop related meeting last week and I've been obsessively admiring it. I love the choice of thick and lush paper, and the covers are wonderful. My poor bookish heart just melted.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Told through short paragraphs, quotes and insights, a story of a marriage emerges. And it is so good. 

The fragmental writing shifts between wit and painful truths, and every paragraph is it's own story. Through the words of Kafka and facts about time and space, our heroine known simply as wife, leads us on a emotional journey through screaming babies, adultery and the struggle for self worth. Nothing is stated directly and the compact writing did at times require a second reading, but it was worth that second reflection. It made me think and filled me with emotion. 

The shift from first point of view though to third person threw me off a bit, and I could not understand the choice of making it so. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this novel and I'm convinced it's a book that will only improve with re-reading.

Title: Dept. of Speculation
Author: Jenny Offill
Pages: 179
Series: Stand alone
Source: Purchased
Published: January 28th 2014

Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Imagine this: young girls all around the world suddenly gain the power to inflict pain upon men. The balance in the world shifts and no longer are girls afraid to go home at night - men are.

This is a fascinating premise to write a story within, especially considering how our reality looks today with the inequality between men and women, and Naomi Alderman did a fantastic job of giving me a great story.  She made me question and think about how society could look different, and how no one really should hold ALL the power - to much power never ends well.

Told through a large cast of characters the different backgrounds and perspectives made this story rich and interesting, even though it did lack a bit of warmth. But every story can't be warm and this ice cold alternative of a world really hit home with me.

It's a great book to discuss and if there is something this book has taught me, it's to never abuse power and always talk to each other.

Title: The Power
Author: Naomi Alderman
Pages: 288
Series: Stand alone
Source: Purchased
Published: October 27th 2016

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.