My reading this year has been about 65% of what it was in 2021. I thought it was a lot less, because I have read less books in total, but number of books is such a weird way to count «reading» in general. Time would be a great, but difficult way to count, amount of pages is at least better I think? I did start out the year getting my heart broken by a book in the worst possible way, by “The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman. I was also so excited for“Book of Night” by Holly Black, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. In so many other ways it has been a great year, with some wonderful books.
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson was both a book by one of my other favourite authors and one in a series I haven’t pick up in a while. And yet it was great! It was the semi-conclusion I was looking for, Maureen Johnson continues being great at delivering the stories (both in cast of characters, plot and vibes) she sets up.
Brandon Sanderson hasn’t failed me yet either, and the 4th book of the Stormlight Archive “Rhythm of War” was a great, long fantasy book. It’s nice to dive into his expansive worlds, where every aspect seems so well thought out, but there’s a limit to how many Sanderson books I can enjoy in a year before my brain melts.
This summer, where I hoped to increase my reading time, I read most of my way through multiple books only to find out they were just badly written. I think both “Other People’s Clothes” by Calla Henkel, “Boyfriend Material” Alexis Hall and “The Maidens“ by Alex Michaelides fell under that umbrella. I really wanted to like “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but it wasn’t quite for me.
The most surprising read this year was a book I picked up in swedish, a language I do not speak, but I can with much effort read as I’m norwegian. In english it’s called “If Cats Disappeared from the World” by Genki Kawamura, originally written in japanese.
I also read two other books that didn’t quite fit with the rest; “The Art of Heikala” which is the artist Heikala about her own process and a book filled with her colourful, great work, and the graphic novel “Mooncakes” by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. Would recommend both!
I listened to “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy, which I almost don’t want to admit because it was such a chilling read in the way that it felt illegally close to reading someone’s journal of abuse. Of course it’s retold with the perspective of a now-adult, still multiple times I had to stop and remind myself that the author herself decided to share this information. It personally made me reframe how I think of child actors, from the best to the worst cases.
I also listened to “Permanent Record” by Edward Snowden. And it was enlightening, to the point where it made me dislike his personality more and still appreciate the work he’s done and what he tries to achieve in giving out information.
Physical books I’ve bought:
I bought a lot of interesting books this year, I just didn’t get to them. I’m halfway through both a lovely copy of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I think it’s the second time I’ve gotten this far, because it’s such a great, but dense book. And I’ve just finished “Harrow the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir.
I’ve both bought and read some good poetry; “Look” by Solmaz Sharif and “So Far So Good” by Ursula K. Le Guin (which were the final poems of her life). I started reading “What Is This Thing Called Love” by Kim Addonizio and while I’ve liked and appreciated the pure honesty of other poems of hers, this one became just a bit too gritty for me. Somehow drunkenness in combination with her descriptions of love became too much so I just decided this one wasn’t for me at all.
I also got “Babel by R. F. Kuang” and it will be one of the books I’m most excited to read in 2023.
Kindle books I’ve bought and will hopefully read soon:
“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom (memoir)
“A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark (fantasy, steampunk, queer)
“Hench” by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, queer)
“Friends: Understanding the power of our most impor tant relationships” by Robin Dunbar (nonfiction)
“The Library of the Unwritten” by A. J. Hackwith (fantasy, queer)
What Is This Thing Called Love by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Bukowski in a Sundress: confessions from a writing life by Kim Addonizio (memoir, essays)
Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford (memoir, true crime): about experiencing sexual abuse on an elite boarding school
frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss (poetry)
The Book of Love: poems of ectasy and longing by Rumi (poetry, classics, philosophy)
Tales of Norse Mythology by Hélène A. Guerber (mythology)
The Anthropocene Reviewed: essays on a human-centered planet by John Green (nonfiction, essays)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (classics, humor, journalism)
Three things on my mind:
So much has happened lately, most of them really nice. I got through my exams with better marks than I could’ve wished for despite lots of roadblocks, spent some time alone waiting for my 2nd covid-19 vaccine. Managed to get it and finally spend time with friends and family, some I haven’t met in two years now.
This spring exam season was the first time I sat down and was like “I can actually do this” because I do love what I’m studying (physics). I just don’t love the whole regiment I have to uphold to try to get a working, cooperative brain and focus. Like basically I have to schedule when I do certain activities as I know I’ll have pain afterwards, mainly eating, and it was tricky to figure out the most efficient times. I have crohn’s disease among other things, and it’s fairly active still, but we’re working on it.
So I’ve done a lot in my daily life this summer, but I’ve read so little. Mostly poetry. And I have been very happy, for the most part. I’ve watched a lot – a lot – of movies, because that’s a social thing to do. I can’t get through a movie or tv series without skipping some parts if I’m on my own, so I really only get the chance to enjoy them under supervision of other people. I did watch cats, the movie. And would wholeheartedly recommend against it.My body was having physical reactions to not being able to keep up with the godawful CGI/human cat faces, the inconsistency of them making it only more fucked up. Glad I did it with someone beside me, it was hilarious to suffer together. Better movies I watched for the first time was The Matrix (I laughed at every matrix I calculated with for the rest of the week), The Martian, Gravity and My Neighbor Totoro. All great films, of which Totoro is definitely the supreme winner.
I’ve been reading a lot of love poems lately. I opened Felicity by Mary Oliver to the part of Love, and the first thing I met was Rumi’s writing that she included. There was no less of a sign of wisdom to not let fear guide you in anything, let alone emotions of importance like love.
Someone who does not run toward the allure of love walks a road where nothing lives.
(Idk why some of these books was on my winter list.) I’m still as excited about them! Time is weird, and so is seasons, and that is the best reason I got. But I am really excited for spring to come this year, having had to choose between being completely in quarantine and taking walks in storms or snow-storms lately. Hopefully I can read some of these books in a park or even sitting on a bench somewhere outside. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of spring.
A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan #2) by Arkady Martine
Release date: March 2nd 2021
Why I want to read it: I’ve yet to read the first book in this series, but the beginning of this queer sci-fi series has gotten so good reviews. I mean – Aztec empire in space??
Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
Release date: March 9th 2021
Why I want to read it: honestly I’m unsure about this book, even with the stunning cover. But sapphic witches, a magical plague, dark powers and love bargains might be too good to pass on, especially as the reviews I’ve noticed have been positive.
She’s Too Pretty to Burn
Release date: March 30th 2021
Why I want to read it:queer girls, a rebel art scene and claiming to be a “sexy, psychological thriller”.
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Release date: March 23rd 2021
Why I want to read it: The protagonist is looking for her missing brothers in a town (and woods) that seem haunted ft. mental health and grief, trauma, anxiety and insomnia. A kind of dark & eerie Peter Pan retelling. From the same author as “Cemetery Boys” which I just read & appreciated.
First Person Singulair: Stories by Haruki Murakami
Release date: April 6th 2021
Why I want to read it: Haruki Murakami’s stories are just great, but I need to take a break in between each of them to digest, which is where hopefully short stories would be a great treat. I would rather go into this knowing less than more, I feel.
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Release date: April 20th 2021
Why I want to read it: two enemy witches that create alliance to fight a mutual threat, but power and revenge interferes. Jamaican-inspired fantasy which I’ve seen only good reviews for so far.
Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun
Release date: April 20th 2021
Why I want to read it: I like Jonny Sun and his “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too“. This collection of essays, stories and poems promises humor and heartfelt writing covering heavy topics like mental health, happiness, wanting to belong.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuinston
Release date: May 6th 2021
Why I want to read it: I’ve looked forward to this book ever since reading “Red, White & Royal Blue” as the author writes so poignantly with humor and intellect to what could be very cheesy stories. Here a 23-year-old woman is moving to New York, then meets a girl on a train who dazzles her ft. time-travel (idk either hahha). A sapphic romcom type of romance I’m here for.
Heartstopper Vol. 4 by Alice Oseman
Release date: May 13th 2021
Why I want to read it: Heartstopper is like the gay m/m soft teenage romance that makes you sigh of relief in between more dramatic books. I thought vol. 3 went a bit too slow, but overall leaves me with a very nice feeling of hope.
Mister Impossible (Dreamer #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Release date: May 18th 2021
Why I want to read it: I don’t know what’s going on with this cover, but I love it. Last book followed Ronan (and Adam) from the series “The Raven Boys” and this continues where it left off, I guess. I saw someone ask for Ronan to “live out his gay cottagecore dreams”, but ofc that’s not going to happen. Gay yes; suffering also yes. I just love the magic infused in Stiefvater’s writing with these characters and world.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
Release date: May 18th 2021
Why I want to read it: I’ve already pre-ordered it! Not that John Green needs it, but I really wanted one of the many many signed ones. The cover is lovely, the podcast episodes (same name) behind it are truly stunning pieces of work. I expect more of detailed deep-dives in complex, somewhat strange stories and topics that John Green all somehow manage to tie together to explain some of human nature and society.
Pls share any new releases you’re looking forward to!
I really love these posts personally because it makes me so excited for other’s & my TBR. But – latst time I did this it took closer to ten months for me to get around to reading all the books. It will hopefully be a lot sooner this time, as I made the list shorter. I already have a lot of these books on my shelf as well, so they’ll stare at me as a constant reminder.
The Hidden Girl & Other Stories by Ken Liu: I loved “The Paper Menagerie & other stories” by the same author, but it’s been years since I read the collection of short stories for the first time. It’s just stories that live in my head now. Just the day I remembered so I found this new release and then happened to walk right past it by accident in the (norwegian) library – my luck! I snatched it so fast. This collection is of sixteen fantasy & sci-fi short stories and a novelette.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: The cover is awesome, but so is the description of “a trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave”. Trying to find a murderer, queer & trans people, cool ghosts! Brujos! I’ve seen both very positive and slighly let-down reviews, so I’m still a bit nervous because I’m so ready to love it.
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel: I’ve somewhat started reading this already, on a very scenic train-ride, before forgetting it in my pile of physics textbooks. So I already know that it’s such a good writing and narrative about how we think about math, and felt very approchable to both the math student (young and older) and the ones that are just interested. I rally loved the points on reconfiguring how kids learn about math, like introducing category theory eariler, because it’s just boxes we put math things in, but gives the first step to the why’s that seem to rarely get answered in learning kids math.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: Ocean Vuong’s writing is already stunning and gets deep under your skin, that I know. I can’t imagine this debut novel – about being an immigrant, trauma, queer, family dynamics and love – being any less than his poetry.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (web comic link): I’ve always loved mythology and gods being modernized or otherwise rewritten, and I just got back into web comics so this very much loved web comic on greek gods seem like the perfect next one for me.
So, I’ve started buying more physical books (in comparison to none) and then I never do book hauls, so here they all are gathered up. Honestly, a few of these books are from a year ago, but too nice-looking to not include.
Astrobiology: a very short introduction by David C. Catling
Kant: a very short introduction by Roger Scruton
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
Robin Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (penguin english library edition)
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (penguin vintage classics)
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (bught used, panther granada publishing edition from 1978)
how to: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems by randall munroe
A Separate Peace by John Knowles (simon and schuester edition)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher`s Stone (scottish edition)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (slytherin edition)
Dune by Frank Herbert (penguin edition)
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
War on Peace by Ronan Farrow
The Iliad by Homer (penguin classics edition)
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (david fickling edition)
Maya by Josten Gaarder (found for free)
The Library Book Haul (aka books I promised to return a month ago, but have not read yet)
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Story of More by Hope Jahren
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
The City We Became by N. K. Jemish
The Notebook Haul (mostly gifts)
Floral (green) notebook from Paperblank (called poetry in bloom)
Flowers (dark) notebook from Paperchase
Edinburgh illustration notebook by Libby Walker
New book posts:
Other books I’ve been reading:
Currently reading Winter Hours by Mary Oliver (poetry/prose/essays)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
World Without Fish by (graphic novel, nonfiction, enviromental science) by Mark Kurlansky
Added to TBR:
A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek (science)
Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek (science)
The Queen`s Gambit by Walter Tevis (chess, fiction)
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, superheros, lgbt; bi mc, nonbinary)
The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2) by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters (contemporary YA, lgbt; m/m)
Tell Me by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Bound by Claire Schwartz (poetry)
Hours Inside Out by Isabella Presiz (poetry)
Three things on my mind:
About physical books; it’s funny how much taking photos of books is would boost my book posts more than anything. My short review of graffiti by Savannah Brown is a perfect example, it gets too many views each day solely from google image searches. I’m using the library more this year and in general have bought more physical books, so I hope to also take more photos, because I do love that aspect as well. I definitely did a lot when living at home, to the point where we would rarely get good natural light in winter and it annoyed me because book photos were worse, hahha. Physical books are just more expensive and less convenient. You’re talking about the girl who at the age of 10 years old chose to learn books in english instead of the translated norwegian copies because they cost so much. But I do prefer having physical copies of science and poetry books a lot over digital ones, because it’s so much easier to refer to and really sit down and take time with reading the book. I would love to have a copy of all my favourite books on hand in case friends are looking for recommendations, but I just don’t have the money for all the fantasy series that would include, as the student I am.
I started writing a short thing about how I’ve been thinking about gender for a while, as I did put off an imminent gender crisis during the first season of covid-19 lockdown. But then it turned into its own whole thing, and I think it will just be a post on its own because it fits nowhere else. Not that it has any conclusion, it’s more of an on-going discussion with myself.
I’ve listened to & loved the podcast Reply All from Gimlet Media for years. To the point that when company after company was revealed to have racist practices and similiar recently, I actually thought about if these (until now seemingly empathic) white guys behind Gimlet Media would disappoint me to. But instead they’ve hired and otherwise given platform to producers of color with a purpose to cover a more diverse range of topics. And it’s really brought things to my feed that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, I think. A very recent addition to this is a series on the Bon Apetit test kitchenwhich had a “online reckoning” last summer with being exposed for being racist. Told by reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, she goes hard in the first episode by calling a huge number of past and current employees over a period of twenty years and highlights the many people of color that has quit already way back because they were devalued in different ways because of the color of their skin and them not coming from the same background or looking the same as every other white person in the kitchen. She does an expert job by pointing out other possible causes for situation as well, many of these people struggled at the time to understand it themselves, but overall it shows a pattern. Especially in comparison to the newest known scandals that made so many very-much-loved-by-the-audience cast members quit. Absolutely worth listening to, I’m sure the next episodes are going to be great as well.
Resistanceis another new podcast by Gimlet Media hosted by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. all about the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third episode “Shake the Room” was the first I listened to, and the story of how american police targeted protesters months later, and this example of how they showed up at the house of the Warriors in the Garden protestor Derrick Ingram in particular, really shook me to my core in its injustice and the potential and threat of violence.
Here’s the thing – I thought I could, and would actually have to, celebrate my birthday with those of my fifteen roommates who are home. We were asked not to go back to our university cities right now unless necessary because of a major corona outbreak there, but for many that message came too late as the semester is starting up. Personally I was supposed to have a hospital appointment that could not be moved, so I would have to travel there. Turns out, when you have a possible allergic reaction to the kind of medicines I am on and an ambulance has to treat you, it’s suddenly (and thankfully) possible to postpone hospital appointments for two weeks more. I’m good enough right now that I could probably go, but I would have to be much more in and out of the hospital to take tests, and that increases the corona risk so much more than if I was in total lockdown with my friends. Well roommates, but we’re pretty much all friends. Which leads me to do all that here and instead celebrating my birthday alone, but with my lovely mom.
In a few more days I will know how badly my start of the year will look like and I’m not looking forward to it. Sometimes there’s only bad alternatives, and there’s nothing you can do except accept that. Ah, I’ve always told myself and those around me that when physics & math are my biggest problems, my life is good. I’m truly excited for that too be the case again. I had a reminder of that when someone (kindly) asked me if it wasn’t better to take a reduced course-work this year, and the pure rage I felt at having the one good thing taken away from me right now. Of course, at a point I will admit defeat, but that’s not one week in.
I was supposed to do the regular yearly 2020 TBR Update, but then I had to leave a lot of half-finished books behind for winter vacation (the downsides of switching over to physical copies again) and tbh I’ve not had enough energy to read. So I’ll extend that into 2021 and make the post whenever I feel I have caught up a bit, which is probably halfway into the year, let’s be real.
Other books I’ve been reading:
Rereading Corazón and reading Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)
Shame is an ocean I swim across by Mary Lambert (poetry)
Added to TBR:
In the event this doesn’t fall apart by Shannon Lee Barry (poetry)
Happy New Year’s! So I took my first solo-trip (right before turning twenty-one) to Edinburgh to celebrate new years/Hogmanay (the scottish new years) last year. Actually, the timing was more of a need to get myself out of my family situation, which thankfully has gotten better over the past year. So this trip was created to be alone, experience things, but mostly take a breath after a stressful time, without losing too much money as a college student. I even had people who wanted to come with, but there’s a lot of reasons I’m happy I decided from the start to go on my own. I would love to visit Edinburgh again someday with friends as well, though.
So here’s this short guide to going on a solo-trip to Edinburgh (for book lovers) –
The Real Mary King’s Close! GO! I have already recommended this to all the people I met on the trip. It’s one of the only chances to walk underneath Edinburgh, to visit the old streets that the “new” old city is built upon. It’s from the 17th century, not far underneath the real streets and the guides were awesome. Be warned that you’ll never see the narrow streets the same again when you know how many people died there during the plague, and how the streets were the only plumbing they had. WHAT; I didn’t know before now that City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab was set in Mary King’s Close? Not that I’ve read it, but that’s interesting.
I stayed at Castle Rock Hostel and really liked it. The whole hostel is castle-themed, but the amount of space and themed rooms inside was amazing, especially as I went in with low expectations. I would have gone for a only-women’s room instead of a mixed room, as a girl travelling solo, but it was sold out. You get a lot for what you pay for and if you have any questions I’m happy to answer them, but I would say the overwhelmingly positive reviews online are correct.
I was trying to get to as many bookstores as possible, made a bit more tricky since it was holiday season and a few of the smaller ones were closed. For example, I wish I could’ve visited Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s radical bookshop. Armchair Books was truly stunning, and worth the trip. Right next to it was Peter Bell Books, which also was closed, but looked to be the same style. Most of the books I bought were from Edinburgh Books and Waterstones on Prince’s street.
Loundon’s has gluten free afternoon tea or breakfast-kind of food! In the Grassmarket area there also were great gluten-free pizza at Mamma’s American Pizza (note; I do not have celiac and can’t vouch for that). I’m happy I found it after wandering the streets, truly desperate to find gluten free dinner close to where I lived. Next time I’ll have to visit PekoeTea as well, I got a taste of their tea from Loundon’s by surprise, although I already knew of them and that they were closed during holiday time. Also I didn’t know what Nando’s was before someone introduced it to me the last day. I really wished I had known that easy-to-eat chicken before. In general, it was really hard to find food I could eat, especially as I was in the older part of the city, where it was a bit of a walk to check if one place or another had gluten-free options. I was limited because on a budget, but I think in general as well. For example, one night I was in an unfamiliar part of town and ended up eating a small piece of steak with pomegranate seeds, because there literally was nothing else on the menu of the five restaurants in that specific area. I would have done a bit more research prior, if I were to do it again.
Other Great Attractions
Holyrood’s castle and St. Arthur’s seat; Holyrood castle was more interesting to me than Edinburgh Castle! It’s something about how it’s still transformed from tourist area to the queen’s actual residence when she is in Edinburgh, and the tour through the upkept and grand palace was so well made. It has a cute garden, and you can go straight out to the Holyrood ruins, with even more history. From there you see the St. Arthur’s seat. I have some experience hiking and was wearing good shoes. Still, the internet might say this is an easy hike (about 1 to 1.5 hours), but beware of the weather. As a norwegian, I considered this, but it wasn’t that bad when we started the hike. And at no point was it raining enough that it was dangerous, but I could see a lot of people struggling because of the mud turning slippery. It was truly the wind taking a hold of you the further up we went that tired me out. It was not an easy hike in those conditions, and there were people I went on the hike with that struggled. Just take into consideration on any type of walk uphill that it’s never too late to turn around. Still, I would absolutely not miss it!
National Gallery; I really liked the modern art part of it. It was a peaceful time walking around. And then I walked past Vanessa Hudgens and was incredibly shocked even though I remained calm. Can’t promise she’ll be there for your trip as well.
The Worse Parts
The actual visit to Edinburgh Castle was a bit of a let-down. It’s most majestic looking up at it, especially as it was the view from my hostel everytime I stepped out. It was particularly exciting visiting on the (early) morning before new year’s eve, as soldiers walked aroud taking care of the huge amounts of fireworks they were going to shoot off. I knew more than most about Edinburgh Castle going into it, and there were little new information. It was cool to see the dungeons. More interesting that it’s still an active military place, but that also meant that the truly interesting parts – the many floors underneath the actual buildings – were off-limits.
So much walking up stairs. And tiny, old alleyways, which really gave the place its atmosphere. (I might have listened to The Magnus Archives first podcast episode right after this trip, and definitely recognized that dark alleyway). Which was my fault for booking a hostel, no matter how lovely, that was so close to Edinburgh Castle. If you can afford it uber was a great thing, which I only as a norwegian used once with other people, because I didn’t spend time figuring it out. The walking also felt a bit more unsafe during the darkness of night because I was alone during the holidays, I think that if I was to be there in a less busy time of the year I would’ve been out more. Honestly I kept to myself because I wanted to, that was a part of the reason for this vacation; I needed time alone. There was plenty of opportunities in the hostel of going out with a group or stay in and be social, even if you were alone.
The first night was truly the only night I regretted the decision to go alone for very much personal reasons, because I got a terrible migraine, which is a semi-uncommon thing for me. I literally could not move, or sit up from my bed before wanting to puke, even with taken all medicines with me as a precaution. Goddamn, I can still feel the anxiety in my chest as I realized it would be one of my worst migraines.
Actual New Year’s Eve
I loved it so much and it will be a cherished memory forever. It was my first time in such a large crowd of people as the whole city of tourists and (at least some) locals joined together in this large street party. I saw mixed opinions on the actual street party that you have to buy a ticket for (we got it free through the hostel), but while I get every local doesn’t want to spend hours on hours outside with long toilet queues, it was absolutely worth it. There were concerts/shows spread out over multiple stages, so the people would spread out as well. There was a parade through the old town, with mythical creatures and lots of show. Then the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle was spectacular and afterwards everyone actually danced in the streets. I was lucky to meet a group of friends at the hostel that I spent the night with, and met a few very nice, very drunk locals as well. I surprised myself with staying pretty sober – which is not my natural state at a party, I promise you. But I just wanted to experience it all fully and remember it, which is why I only have a few photos with the group taken by nice, random strangers and a couple videos of the energy of the night.
A Year Later
This year, 2020, I’m back celebrating New Year’s in my tiny village of 620 people, which I would’ve found hilariously amusing, hadn’t it been for COVID-19 being most of the reason.
Even as someone who’s very introverted I hope it won’t be too long until it’s safe to again get to share the energy of concerts, of massive gatherings and of people doing nice things out of happiness and creating moments together.
None, because exams coming up. Ah, scratch that, I read the short Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (m/m, fantasy with myhtology & fairytale vibes).
Added to TBR:
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (mystery, thriller, dark academia): a group of old Oxford uni friends (or frenemies), a cabin in the Scottish Highlands & murder
The Truants by Kate Weinberg (mystery, thriller, dark academia): untrustworthy characters, manipulation, a mysterious star professor
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (fantasy, sci-fi, lgbt)
Dearly by Margaret Atwood (poetry); it’s a new release and I didn’t realize as suddenly I saw pieces of her poetry all over
Maurice by E. M. Forster (classics, lgbt; m/m)
Harleen by Stjepan Šejić (graphic novel): found it as one of the goodreads award nominees
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (fantays, magical realism, greek mythology): found it as one of the goodreads award nominees
Three things on my mind:
I might have woken up one thursday morning, opened my eyes and thought “I want to take the seven hour train and bus ride back home, in the middle of studying for exams, and exchange this tiny room in a flat of fifteen to be in the house alone” then did so the next day, but I did not expect the immediate return of stress-baking as a coping mechanism. Or my suitcase-wheels breaking off, meaning I had to drag it throughthe snow in soaking wet, cold sneakers. Then, on the train I learned my tiny village of 940 people is having it’s first outbreak of corona virus (don’t know how bad yet) and also all the snow made the power go out in the whole village, meaning my dinner was one nice, cold pita with nothing on. Still, I don’t regret the decision one bit (yet), even though my poor body is hurting all over because my joints wasn’t well to begin with because of the newly discovered ~rheumatism~.
I’ve started procrastinating by watching chess again. I don’t really like to play regular chess myself, only to make the calculations while in-game or just watch the play if it’s rapid or blitz chess as it’s mesmerizing how fast it goes, as well as very apparent when a player realizes they’re in deep trouble. I mean, as a norwegian, of course I have to follow Magnus Carlsen’s play, but he truly is interesting to watch more so because he seem to understand the next move so quickly, no matter the pace of the chess.
This fake-deep correlation struck me; I’ve started to think of this past semester as a blind chess game, constantly trying to remember all the moves of the people around me for the past ten days and then do the calculation of whether I’m safe enough around them as someone in the corona risk-group.
Let’s end with some positives; I got the power back in time to play among us for the first time ever, with friends. It was terrifying as a non-gamer. This house has a bathtub that I’m spending too much time in already, procrastinating and trying to return some heat to my body surrounded by this snow. My local store is bringing food to everyone’s door both because of how the elderly shouldn’t have to wander in the heavy snow and because of the corona outbreak, so I used this on the slight chance I could’ve brought corona from the city and I’m so happy they’re making it easier for everyone to isolate themselves. And also enabling the stress-baking. Cheers from me, the wine bottle I left last summer and the bread in the oven. I’m also so excited to hug my mom when she arrives.
1. What is your favourite “academia” or “dark” book + movie?
I truly have yet to watch a dark academia movie I like (at least as I can remember right now)
2. What dead poet would you like to have a drink with?
I would say Mary Oliver, who rather recently died. But she does not seem like a person who would spill her secrets or innermost thoughts in one meeting. It would still be nice though. I could ask life advice in general, hahhha. Her life seemed calm and filled with love as she got into old age.
3. What is your favourite painting and/or sculpture?
As a norwegian I think I was over-exposed to “Skrik”/ Scream (1910) by Edvard Munch, but then I slowly also fell in love with it and the expressions through the colours and the motive.
4. What is your favourite architectural marvel?
The pyramids of Giza. I mean, they were built in 2550 to 2490 B.C. and that has always fascinated me, as everyone else. I think ancient egyptian civilization as a whole takes up a certian part of my brain just for being mindblowing and existential about how long humans have been very intelligent.
5. What Shakespeare play would you want to be the lead in?
I know too little of Shakespeare, but obviously Hamlet.
6. How many languages do you speak and which language would you most like to learn?
First language norwegian, fluent english, very much not fluent in spanish as I took it at school for five years, but truly only two somewhat-productive ones at that. I would like to learn spanish better at some point. At one point in my life I want to learn Northern Sami because my grandmother, who started her life as a sea-sami, spoke it. Mainly to learn more about that culture from sources in their own language, because that’s a barricade I’ve met researching even a small bit sometimes. Other than that, I don’t take to languages easily and while it would be really cool to know russian or something with a completely different alphabet than mine, it just won’t happen anytime soon.
7. What is your favourite quote (from poetry, prose, plays, etc.)?
Lately it’s been –
You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen
to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.
And anyway it’s the same old story –
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
for a simple reason.
Quote from Dogfish by Mary Oliver
8. Which fictional character’s death is your ideal way to go?
Immortality, of course.
9. What university/college would you most like to attend?
I am at university, so this feels like cheating. But then again my university has handled corona badly this autumn, so I don’t feel that bad. I truly considered Edinburgh university for a while, pre-corona, as exchange or further into my degree. But it was definitely more for the city than the university.
Where I truly would want to go is Bennington College back in 1982 which Esquire described as “Among the druggies, rebels, heirs, and posers: future Gen X literary stars Donna Tartt (The Secret History), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and Jonathan Lethem.” The article is fascinating, if kind of unbelievable. It’s not got the same reputation for eccentricity today, unfortunately. Or fortunately?? I think if that image was real, places like that make or break people; a few truly achieves a potential, a lot end up with drug problems and similar things.
10. What is your murder weapon or murder method of choice?
Poison is a classic
11. What mythology would you most like to apart of?
I’m guessing we’re thinking as if a god in this “universe” type of scenario; Norse, because of Loke and the shit he’s up to. I just want to see the reactions of that family as they realize.
12. If you had to do a PhD what would you choose to do it on?
I’m in physics, so hopefully physics?
13. Which fictional character would you die for?
No. Something the characters of the books I read have in common is that they often make choices that leads them to uncertain situations, and it’s most likely their fault? And they’re fictional.
Rapid-Fire: Pick One
1. Leather bound or cloth bound books
Cloth – no ethical things to research.
2. Dog-earing pages or highlighting pages
3. Sculptures or paintings
4. Piano or violin
Piano – I claim to be able to play it, but none I live with have yet to hear it because I’m so out of practice.
5. Films or theatre
6. Poetry or prose
7. Museums or bookshops
8. Smell of books or smell of coffee/tea
Smell of tea
9. Fountain pen or typewriter
Fountain pen – I own one
10. New or used books
Used has extra charm, but I don’t have easy access to good used book stores.
I did this last time about a year ago, but I do aquire more books that find themselves on the “maybe” shelf I’ve created on goodreads. So let’s clean it out again? There’s currently twenty books to decide on, so I’ll pick out some of the more interesting ones.
The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes
we’re starting off with one of last year’s contenders …
Positives: historical lesbians, but with major caveats (!!!)
Negatives: Goodreads reviews strikes again! I thought the rating were below average bc of homophobia, but turns out it’s the author who might’ve written it transphobic. And bad sources. Several reviews explain the problematic aspects, but I quite liked this one from a goodreads user called Juan.
Never read. You don’t write queer gender study books and not know what you’re doing if focusing so much on genitalia so define categories.
Positives: About Ancient Egypt & Nefertiti, of course
Negatives: It seems most of the criticism is that it’s not detailed enough and very much a beach-read. So even if it had good ratings, when I dive into ancient egypt again I want to truly get as much out of reading as possible. Or the story better be told in a damn brilliant way.
I won’t read it, unless someone wholeheartedly supports it. I’ll look for another more detailed book on Nefertiti, I think.
Positives: YA fantasy book where the protagonist is a healer who can’t heal herself, which might be interesting
Negatives: The number of YA fantasy on my bookshelves is alarming considering I’ve dramatically stepped away from reading heaps of it. And I haven’t heard anything special about this book, from 2017, which always makes it a coin toss of good/bad quality writing.
I’ll give it a try, under doubt. Just because I want to read more books about magical healers, for some writing-of-my-own reasons.
Positives: It’s only got 55 ratings on goodreads?? Ohhh, that’s interesting. Something feels promising still as it’s about vigilantes and moral questions is brought in. Debut novel. Also queer with genderfluid and aromantic-asexual character (ownvoices).
Negatives: Debut novel might be one? The synopsis is pretty generic fantasy and nothing memorable.
Positives: Set in remote Turkish town, translated from Turkish. Winner of 2006 Nobel prize. Has a lot of elements like journalism, political violence, protests, questions of what is true. Highlights the challenges towards democracy.
Negatives: I thought it seemed a bit boring before I started reading up on it.
I will definitely be reading this sometime. I think I need to go into it ready for politics and existential societal questions, and with the american election around the corner – it’s going to be a while.
Positives: Truly cool cover! Promises of moral grayness – which I’m very much looking for recently. Debut novel.
Negatives: A 500 pages YA fantasy and beginning of trilogy better be good, because that’s a lot of time investment. Debut novel. Goodreads friends has disliked it – oh shit, looking further into it there’s a lot written about a controversy pre-publishing where “some readers argued that Zhao’s depiction of slavery was racially insensitive”. Here’s my problem; cancel culture is turning into a truly bad thing, but that’s separate from a piece of work actually having problematic/racist elements. And she hasn’t changed anything, just halted publishing a couple months.
Still a maybe, but with a leaning towards no unless I come across some truly good arguments/explanation otherwise.
Positives: A protagonist on a mission to save her kidnapped sister, and out for revenge in an enemy kingdom. Infiltration of the royal family. Possibility for enemies-to-lovers prince & princess romance.
Negatives: More YA fantasy with an unoriginal synopsis and heavy on the romance.
Interested enough that I’ll keep it as a cozy, light read.
Six book kept on my TBR. Five books removed. A good enough percentage, I think.