Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sunday bliss and a new reading corner

I am, once again, in Sweden to fix a few things in our flat. Martin and me have spent the last week to fix outstanding things in the flat, mainly buying some new furniture. We are awaiting our last buys tomorrow; a TV bench and a buffet, both in the same modern style. I have also found a nice, comfortable reading chair with foot pall to go into my library, which is in the corner of the living room. The outlook from the chair is through the balcony door over the lime stone quarry ahead. A lovely view that extends into eternity!

My reading chair with a sheep skin for warmth!
After all the work we decided to take the weekend off. Saturday came with heavy winds and rain and we were not too eager to venture outside. However, I went to the spa area that belongs to our residence, and spent a couple of hours reading (yes actually, finally!) and dosing off in the sun that shone through the big windows. Then a tour to the hamam and a swim in the pool. Absolutely wonderful. In the evening we went to have a look at our son who was playing a padel tournament nearby. Spent four hours on a Saturday evening looking at his games. Very exciting and it went rather well.
Padel tournament in Malmö
Sunday came with wonderful, autumn sunny weather. We took the car and went about half an hour to the Torup castle which is surrounded by a wonderful beech forrest. We walked around on different paths, for hours. It was so beautiful with the sun shining through the red and yellow leaves. A stunning day.

Beech forest in Torup

Yddinge lake

Passing by a golf course
As for the reading I am still on the fifth book in the Poldark series, but hope to finish it before the end of the month! I have also started on a Swedish book, Färjan, (The Ferry) while I am here. It is about strange things happening on one of the ferries that go between Stockholm and Helsinki. As a matter of fact, I am going early to bed to read and slowly fall asleep after this day full of exercise and sun! Hope you also had a nice weekend with a lot of fresh air and reading!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Classic Spin # 14

There has been another Classic Spin from The Classic Club. Lately, I have not had time to read any of the spins, although I am eager to reduce my classical list, which is also a TBR list. This time the spin ended on number 1. Here is my list:

1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
2. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
4. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
5. Light in August by William Faulkner
6. Karin Lavransdotter by Sigrid Undset
7. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
8. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
9. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
10. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
11. Richard III by William Shakespeare
12. Travels With My Aunt by Graham Green
13. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
14. The Overcoat and Other Stories by Nikolaj Gogol
15. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh (for 1 August)(not finished)
16. Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams
17. The Taming of a Screw by William Shakespeare
18. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
19. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
20. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man I did not manage to finish, but the aim is there. One day! Vile Bodies I tried to read but gave up. I think that the two books I have read from the list I read outside the spin. One book I did read is La Nausée by Jean-Paul Sartre (deleted from the list after reading).

As you see, number 1 is a classic that I am eager to read, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. That will be my aim for 1 December. I will read another Austen book, Northanger Abbey, for my Brontë Reading group, set for December 6. So, a couple of Austen books in the near future.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Poldark series by Winston Graham

Many years ago I read the first books in this series and really loved it. I don't know why I did not continue to read the following books, but alas did not. However, waiting for the first season of the new BBC Poldark tv-series, I read the first four Poldark books in a row. Difficult to stop!

Whatever BBC does, it does very well. The Poldark series are no exception. Absolutely fantastic! Wonderful actors, wonderful scenery and a wonderful script that follows the books very well. The absolute highlight is of course Aidan Turner as Poldark. You can just not think of anyone else who would do the part so well. The other actors are also perfectly cast and it makes it the top adaption it is.

I am now watching the second season (I think they do two books per season) and it gets better and better. To prepare myself for the third season which seems to be on the way, I have bought the next three books in the series; The Black Moon, The Four Swans and The Angry Tide. I am more than half through The Black Moon and it does not disappoint. I am curious to see if Winston Graham can keep up the saga, since it was written over quite a long time period. There are 12 books in the series and the first one, Poldark was published in 1945, and the last one Bella Poldark in 2002. The saga covers the period from 1783 - 1820. I just love a well written family saga. Don't you?

Winston Graham with the books
in the Poldark family saga

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Mount TBR: Checkpoint #3

Long time no see! But now I am back again and hope to be posting a little bit more regularly in the near future. I have been busy with other things than reading. It is going really slow now, so I feel somewhat desperate. But, what can I do, but keep a big smile and say; "I do read, but it is getting a little bit slow."

Well, Bev's (My Reader's Block) call for the third checkpoint on the Mount TBR challenge woke me up, so I am now sitting at the computer to do an update, albeit small. As usual interesting questions to answer, and I am now curious if I have managed to ascend a little higher on my mountain.

Looking back on my checkpoint #2 I see I had read 27 books and had reached Mont Blanc, plus made 1.203 meters up Mt Vancouver. So let's see how far I have got now? I have read 39 books from my TBR shelves, 12 books since July! Not so much, but better than nothing. That means I have reached Mt Vancouver, which is 36 books. It has also set me two books up the Mt Ararat. 39 books out of 48 means I am now fighting with the oxygen on 4.173 metres! Only 1000 metres to go, that is, 9 books! I am quite pleased after all.

Since I like all Bev's questions, I will try to answer them all.

A. Favourite character so far? I think it has to be Harold Fry. I like the way this very ordinary man managed to change his life, with small means, and also his outlook on life and people around him. An extraordinary man in an extraordinary book.

B. Pair up your reads. Male protagonist versus female. Good versus evil. I go for two real life characters which both fascinated me; Che Guevara and Greta Garbo (Che in a non-fiction about his life and Greta in an historical fiction, but based on her fantastic life. I think both characters speak for themselves). The Road will do for booth good and evil. Along the road that the main characters travel we meet both kinds. A book that stays with you for a long time.

C. Which book has been on the shelves the longest? Was it worth the wait? It must be the two books by Graham Green; Our man in Havana and Travels with my Aunt. Both excellent, and I don't know why I did not read them before. Sometimes I think some books have to wait for the right time. I might not have appreciated them as much, if I had read them when I bought them. They must have been there from the 1970s.

D. Choose 1-4 titles from your stacks, use a word from the titles and do an image search. I choose TAG, since most titles seem to start with a T.
The Distant Hours
Grymhet (Cruelty)

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Literature from Gilgamesh to Bob Dylan

The good thing with moving books from one place to the other is that you discover books that you have forgotten that you have. This is especially the case for rather big, fact books. I have had a book called Levande Litteratur (Living Literature) for many, many years. It is written by a famous Swedish writer/journalist/translator, Tore Zetterholm. He tells the history of the written word from the Greek antiquity to modern times. This is a book which you should enjoy in small doses at the time, so I use it (while here in Sweden) as my breakfast reading.

I thought it would be interesting to see how many of these great work of arts that I have on my shelves, which ones I have read, which ones are still to be read and which ones I would like to read. I will try not to anger the gods with a possible 'hybris', so will try to be realistic in what I know I will manage to read.

It all starts with Gilgamesh and the Bible. Although I will not be able to read the Gilgamesh epic I like to read some of the stories of the Bible. The very first written words came from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India and China. And then came the Greeks. Their influence on literature is still acknowledged today. The Romans took over, but could not quite come up to the standard of the Greeks. One of the greatest storyteller is Homer's The Illiad which I have at home and have read about half through. Time to finish it off. I also happened to have one of the great poets of the Roman times, Catullus. Time to bring down that book from the shelves, dust it and open up to read some love poetry. I also read about Augustinus and his confessions, and I remember that they were given to me recently by a friend of mine. Hybris beware! I might not be able to read them, but will give it a try.

We are entering the Middle Ages and here we find one of the most famous early writings, which I have actually read. That is Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epos from the 8th century, about a hero killing off troll and dragons. Going further south, we return to Italy and one of the most famous writers of all times; Dante Alighieri and his La Divina Commedia. I have had this book for ages, but still not read it. Now is obviously the time! Further north the Icelanders were early on with telling their folktales to new generations and finally wrote them down. The Eddas tell us about the Norse mythology. I happen to have this as well, so there is no excuse anymore.

Going from the wild people of the north, down to the south and the Renaissance in Italy. It started there around the 16th century, which was 200 years before it came to the northern parts of Europe. Machiavelli was an Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer and an official in the Florentine Republic. His masterpiece is The Prince. I read it many years ago, but should maybe read it again. Here a few of his advice to the prince.
It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.

The last one for today will be Giovanni Boccaccio and his Decamerone, which also happens to be on my book shelves. Here one might find rather daring stories, even with todays more open attitude to love and relationships. Have you read any of the great classics? What would you recommend?