Something About Books

I need a little prompt today. Discover Prompts’ theme today is Book, so fine, that’s it then! I’ll write something about books.

Books… Well, as a teenager, I used to love writing book reports at school. I’d focus on the analysis part and not on repeating the plot, since we had all read the same book anyway and retelling the plot just seemed silly.

In both Finnish class and English class, we read books by Dostoyevsky and Camus, Finnish classics and international classics, war stories, stories of racism and other serious topics. From Hemingway to Toni Morrison, Catcher in the Rye to Lord of the Flies, we read them all.

In French class, we watched films, since reading was too hard – I remember trying to read Maigret in an easy readers form and only getting half the story. We watched Proust and Tintin and played plenty of pétanque. But that’s another story entirely. I became quite good at pétanque but after 12 years of French, I still could not understand the slurred language of Tintin!

I used to be a big reader before I had my twins. Now I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to read the covid headlines before going to bed – sweet dreams after reading that type of news! I don’t know why I’m addicted to reading the news at all, but at least I try to avoid the tabloids and just look at the main news service.

In our living room, our bookshelf looks funny. Its lower half has been stripped clear of its shelves, because my two little boys are climbers. Also, I don’t know if my boys would still do this, but when they were two, they used to love pulling books out and throwing them around and I got tired of the mess. So instead of the bookshelf, the books are now stored ever-so-stylishly in large blue Ikea bags (the kind that were copied by an expensive designer brand) on the floor of my bedroom.

Sometimes the now-almost-three-year-olds go gold-digging in the forbidden blue bags and bring a couple of books to the living room that they then pretend to read. When they notice the lack of pictures, the boys are pretty quick to state, “This book is boring”, but that doesn’t stop them from doing the same thing the very next day.

I always read in English, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to read in Finnish. My imagination just doesn’t work in Finnish. If I was ever to write a book of my own, I would write it in English. I don’t know how to use the Finnish language properly and I feel like my grammar and vocabulary are lacking, though I do write plenty of sales copy at work. But copywriting is very different from creative storytelling.

Maybe if I did read books in Finnish, my vocabulary would improve and I wouldn’t always feel so lost at the office when people use words I’ve never heard of or that seem to have a different meaning than the one I know. It’s very confusing and sometimes I have to google the translation into English to see if I then understand what they mean. But I’m just not inspired to read in Finnish. “It’s boring”, I echo my boys.

Last year, I think I only managed one book. It was The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. I absolutely loved it, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have read it. I’m very picky and will stop reading after the first page if a book doesn’t engage me from the start.

Oddly, my favorite book of all times is a Finnish classic, The Egyptian by Mika Waltari. I’ve read it in both languages, Finnish (at school) and English later on, though I’m not the type of person who usually re-reads books or repeatedly watches favourite movies. Another masterpiece I want to read again is Michael Pollan’s excellent and astonishing book The Omnivore’s Dilemma which everyone should read at least once, if you ask me.

For someone who could barely make it through an easy readers’ Maigret story in French, I have to say my French skills improved after high school and uni were over and I went to Paris to experience some real life, French-style. Big surprise, eh?

In Paris, books were everywhere and they were inexpensive. And they were in French. I read many a book by contemporary French writers like Anna Gavalda, but I also stumbled upon international gems. Through my discoveries at Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysées, I stumbled upon one of my favorite authors, Ryszard Kapuscinski, and read Ebène in French. Kapuscinski was a Polish journalist who traveled extensively in Africa and wrote several novels about the continent’s struggles. His life story had many incredible twists and turns and it certainly wasn’t boring.

What are your favourite books? Give me something light and easy to binge-read with sleepy eyes!

74 responses to “Something About Books

  1. Light but thrilling would be Deborah Harkness and a Discovery of Witches trilogy. I loved it. It had everything. Excitement, witchcraft, a love story, travel, history … absolutely incredible series.
    Also, Agatha Christie because Murder is perfect bedtime reading and I just love the fascinating characters she creates!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do read a lot too but that got interrupted by children growing up. I joined bookclubs and the libraries to get me back inti the swing of it, but at night reading was like the best sleeping pill ever.
    I have always read biographies, historical and crime fiction but I am not sure that is what would interest you. The crime fiction I read now is Scandinavian, presumably to sit my mental imagery of the countries I adore. In the past, I have enjoyed Phillpa Gregory’s series of historical fiction, Aussie writers Anna Funder and Nikki Gemmel and a little parrellel to today, The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.
    Your house will return to having books on shelves sooner than you think. I was not such a fan but Tim Winton is extremely popular here.

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  3. Kapuscinski indeed is a great author, with, indeed indeed, a catching and after some revealing biographical details… interesting life story. If I may give you a tip for amusing, not to heavy, divers and often very funny reads I would like to suggest Bill Bryson to you. He is an American who lived and lives now in England. He wrote books on travel, language and topics like his house, the human body (new!), and science. My personal favorites are: Notes from a small island (about a journey on foot in England, very funny), The life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid (about his youth in de fiftees in Des Moines Iowa), One summer (describing what happend in the summer of 1927 in de USA, evocative history) and A short history of nearly everything (about science, insane stories and anecdotes, funny and written in a way that even I can understand 🙂 ) Perhaps his work won’t keep your eyes open for to long but you’ll probably fall asleep with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly sounds like Bryson’s books would give me nicer dreams at night than reading covid news just before going to sleep! 😁 Thanks for the tips, I love books that make me laugh. All too rare, come to think of it! Take care, Peter!

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  4. I didn’t realize you were Finnish. I have a Finnish friend at work and everyone loves her stories about growing up so far away. She also introduced me to the Moomin characters. I don’t suppose the blue stuffed animal in your photo is one?

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    • No, the blue animal is a hippo! 😊 I grew up in Australia and barely spoke any Finnish when I arrived here as a preteen who loved sunny weather and tropical gardens. The culture shock of arriving mid-winter into a grey gloomy country of introverts who weren’t interested in knowing anything about me or making friends never wore off and it drove me to work in the travel industry as a grown-up. (Which I’m no longer doing, thankfully.) I also lived in the Mediterranean area for a few years. As a teen in Finland, I attended a school which had a seperate class for expat kids and so I was able to continue speaking English daily and acquired American spelling, too 😁 I never was into the Moomins but my kids like the tune song 😊 Now that covid is happening, I’m actually pretty glad I’m in Finland. Say hi to your co-worker!

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  5. My favourite author is Agatha Christie and I think she’s the perfect choice for the kind of reading you’re looking for now.

    I prefer reading–and writing–everything in English, I’ve lived in an English speaking country for almost 17 years and I lost touch with my native language.

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  6. I used to read a lot, but not so much anymore. I ditched almost all my books before moving to Hawaii because books don’t fare well here, too prone to mold. The ones I kept are books I’ve read more than once and would read or refer to again. Two favorites are Robert Graves’s I Claudius and Goodbye To All That. Neither is light reading, though Claudius is a page turner. But if you want something light and funny and brilliantly done I heartily recommend The Onion’s Our Dumb Century. It’s a collection of satirical front pages of the Onion newspaper from 1900 through 1999 featuring stories, layouts, and writing style of the times. It’s very well done and irreverently funny throughout. No idea where you’d get a copy though.

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    • Thanks, Graham, for the tips! I’ll look them up and prepare for a bit of a search for the Onion 😊 May I ask how you ended up in Hawaii – and more importantly, how did you get a visa/residence permit? It seems so hard to acquire. Did you have your job beforehand? Not that I’m ever planning on moving over there, no way… 😉

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      • I got resident alien status after I married an American. This was a long time ago, when it was more straightforward than it is now. As to moving here, like many who do so, it followed a great visit. I didn’t have a job lined up, but it’s not that hard to get one if you’re flexible. Many people work online, which is a good option. Government is the biggest employer, but to get one of those jobs it helps to know the right people. There’s always a shortage of healthcare workers and teachers, in part because those jobs don’t pay as well as elsewhere. Otherwise, the best, most recession-proof job, is landscaping and lawn care. Everything grows vigorously here and does so year round and there’s always demand for anyone who’s reliable and does a decent job.

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        • Lawn care doesn’t sound bad at all actually, and maybe the tourism sector needs people too (apart from right now). But like Australia, Hawaii will remain a dream for me since getting residency is near impossible 🌴 You were lucky to marry an American!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Tourism is a big employer, but dead right now and also subject to the ups and downs of world economies. An irony currently is that agricultural workers, many of whom are illegals and thus scum in Trump’s view, are also ‘essential workers’ and still working during the lockdowns.
            What you need is a boatload of money. Then you’re welcome to move pretty much anywhere.

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  7. When I started reading your post it came to my mind I didn’t know any Finish authors… I’m writing down Mika Wattari now and will check it out 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of Maigret too, I’ve always wanted to read him, in English tho… 🙂
    I’m with you, early on in life I’d read avidly day and night, literally, now I can barely keep my eyes open pff… my favorite book of all times is Jane Eyre, I reread it maybe every year… this year I’ve only rewatched one of the movie versions… c’est la vie 🙂
    great post, Snow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Alexandra! 😊 I’ve actually never read Jane Eyre, maybe I should! But I have read Wuthering Heights, yeeeears ago, and I liked it. Mika Waltari wrote historical fiction (and also other genres) – the Egyptian is set in Ancient Egypt (obviously) but he also wrote interesting novels set in Ancient Rome. Thanks for the visit!

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  8. Oh I love to read..and I have already written down your recommendations. I would love to get my eyes on them. I think I still fancy flipping the paper rather than swiping through a tablet or in laptop.It doesnt feel the same. The smell, the crisp sound of turning the pages, and tea tastes better with my other hand holding a book. Just like you, I tried to keep my eyes open but then the moment the clock struck 8:30pm, i am dragged by tiredness and sleep so for me, I can´t read more in the night… and certainly no Corona nightmares as well!
    Have a wonderful day to you dear friend!X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, I love real books. I tried to read on my ipad once on a long travel with long-haul flights and plenty of oppurtunites but I just can’t get swept away with the story in the same way as with a book. Odd, eh? Sleepy at 8:30 sounds just like me 😁 Hope your family is well, dear Cristina, take care! xoxo

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  9. I love reading but with travelling frequently a book often takes me a long time to finish, not any more. In this new life I’ve started re-reading my set of Petit Nicolas books by René Goscinny which I adore and to improve my very rusty French. I do need to keep referring to my dictionary when I come across words I’d long since forgotten. I adore anything connected with words and have rekindled my love affair with unravelling cryptic crosswords that I was once addicted to as soon as the newspaper popped through the door. Nowadays I just print off the relevant page from my iPad version and sit in the garden with a cup of coffee and a digestive biscuit enthralled with my daily challenge. I’m nowhere near as proficient as I used to be but as they say practice makes perfect. I no longer look at the tabloid press either as I believe there’s too much scaremongering and with all the doom and gloom around, we certainly don’t need any more. For weekend evening entertainment in these stay at home times, we’ve dusted down the Scrabble box and started Friday and Saturday night tournaments over a glass or two of wine and a few nibbles which is great fun. I was wondering, if you speak to the twins both in Finnish and English, I expect you do! Those IKEA bags are so useful, we’ve lived in the same house for 26 years and it’s definitely an opportune time for a declutter so I use those big blue bags when turning out cupboards and drawers sifting through things that can go to charity shops or that are of no use to anyone. All these little (and big) jobs that I never had time to do, but sadly now I have no more excuses. Take care, all of you. Marion

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    • Oh, your Scrabble weekends and garden sound lovely! I’ve always been a city girl but during this social isolating period I’ve really begun to long for a garden of my own. A backyard where I could sit in the sun and my boys could play and we’d have flowers and green beauty all around us.
      I do remember you like languages, like me, though I was never good at crosswords. I did enjoy sudoko for a moment though. I’m happy to hear you’ve had some time to read in French – I actually just found a French series on Netflix that I started following, since reading is too much for me. The language brings back a certain nostalgia for me.
      I sing to the kids in English (I’m not a good singer but with kids it just came naturally, it’s a bit odd really) and sometimes say something, but mostly we speak in Finnish. I’d likw to enroll them at a bilingual daycare next autumn but unfortunately they are too expensive. But they know some words in English and can sing the ABC sing quite nicely already 😋The boys play with some of my old toys and one of them is a Care Bear that I named Sunshine as a kid. The boys have learned the name (in English) and for some reason feel the need to shout it everytime they say it 😆 ”SunSHINE!!!”
      Stay well, Marion! xo

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  10. I cannot read these days, or watch films. The reality tops anything that could ever be invented, and also I’m busy with my poems. Even when I do, I don’t want things to get too light. No suitable recommendation comes to mind but your lovely readers have provided many already. Instead, I wish to show you this reading that cracked me up recently: 😀

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  11. Oh, The Egyptian…. I’ve recently re-read it in English and I loved it… again! Probably one of the best books I’ve ever read!
    I don’t know why, but I’m not reading almost anything these days… Too much information around, too many messages and video calls with family in Spain, too much cooking and baking… I think my days now have even less hours than before!! I can’t even imagine how it must be with two little boys….

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    • Yay, you know The Egyptian!!! Very cool, Mercedes! Did you get to know the book during your Swedish days or completely randomly?
      My days have less hours than before: at work (from home) I’m super busy non-stop for 8 hours and the rest of the time is spent with my lovely boys who are very active and have an endless amount of energy, like kids do! ❤️ No time for baking or anything creative, merely writing this post was a treat, for once managing to think and stay awake! 😆

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      • My parents recommended it to me when I was a teenager! I think my love for historic novels started with Mika Waltari and his Egyptian! Now at home I have an English version that I bought when I was in Sweden (funny, because it’s the same edition as in your photo!!)
        Your days must be exhausting… But if you think about it, most of the parents always complain about how many things they miss because their kids are at childcare or school most of the days… These are weird and terrible days in general, but they have a very few good things… And getting to see your kids growing everyday must be one of them for sure! I’m sure these are one of the things you’ll remember fondly from these days in the future 🙂

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        • We actually just took the boys back to daycare this week, after a month home. Looks like this epidemic is going to be around for a couple of years so it seemed inevitable. Is daycare open over there?
          And how fun that we have the same book 😊 same edition and all!

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  12. Books are my life! Haha – sounds dramatic, but I don’t think a day has gone by since I started reading as a little kid that I have not read a piece of fiction. I read every single night before I fall asleep, sometimes just for 10-15 minutes if it’s been a long day, and often for an hour or more. I find it takes me to a much more relaxing place than the news or my messages, etc. I adore fiction of many types, but despite my heavy reading log, it’s hard for me to recommend books to others. Unlike you, I will stick with a book for a long time even if it starts badly; so many of them do redeem themselves!

    I love the image of your little climbers, and your own history with reading and your languages is so interesting to me. I hope you can find the time to inch your way back into reading!

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    • Wow Lexi, you really do read a lot! No wonder you are such a talented writer – I do believe the two are linked (plus obviously you have natural talent as well). I’ve always read too, but not daily. I love it when I find a book that absolutely sweeps me away and even better if it has sequels to look forward to. Haven’t read anything like that in a long time though. Interesting how you say that some books redeem themselves! Maybe I should try being a more patient reader…

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  13. Mother of twins? I have no idea how you get anything done let alone reading. Your time will come, but right now you have your hands full of of so many things besides books. Be patient. You’re doing what’s important: lovin’ those kids!!

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  14. Hi Snow. Your boys’ reaction to the pictureless books from the IKEA bags sounds so cute and funny haha. You read in French as well? Do you maintain similar skills in the language to this day?
    I understand what you mean by preferring to read in English over your native language. I have read a few novels in Nepali, but I have to always concentrate a bit longer and read word by word to understand everything. English feels more natural and I read a lot more quickly. I used to read sometimes a few years back – but the past few years, I’ve been so busy with my other hobbies. 2020 has been trying to better myself as a software developer – there’s so much to learn and ‘catch up’ that it’s never-ending – it feels I never have time to read books. It seems that I prefer watching movies over books these days – but there’s no match to the fascinating and imaginative world where reading books takes us. One day I will restart from crime or travel themed novels – I like those genres.

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    • Hey Pooja, thanks for chatting and sharing your thoughts! You’ve been away from Nepal for such a large portion of your life that I don’t wonder English feels natural to you! And so cool that you are driven in what you do at work! I like crime novels too – travel ones only if travel is a side theme and it’s really a mystery novel. A good one I read in the travel-fiction-mystery genre was The Expats by Chris Pavone 🤗 For me, I’m bilingual and learned to read and write in English way before Finnish, so I think that’s why the preference always stayed with me. I don’t read in French anymore! I used to be quite fluent in Swedish too, actually, but that was another lifetime ago. Reading in Swedish was easier than reading in French. What about your Polish?

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      • Hm travel with a theme mystery – sounds like something I’d enjoy too 🙂 I just watched a thriller movie this past weekend called The Prisoners – I really enjoyed it.
        Wow you’ve had experience with quite a few languages! That’s the thing with languages though – once you lose everyday practice, it’s easy to gradually lose the skills.. I am only truly comfortable reading in English. My Polish is on a B1-B2ish speaking level, but quite poor when it comes to writing or reading. It takes more concentration to read and decipher, so usually I just paste things like emails in google translate :/ But if I must read something like short notices when I am out and about, I do read and understand. Anyway, I am not planning on picking a book in Polish anytime soon haha, although I once tried children’s book and followed through 😀
        It was the same with Hindi when I was younger – I understand it perfectly, but I found it so hard (slow) to read and understand.

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  15. I’ve been doing more reading this year. I don’t think I did much reading when mine were little unless it was storybooks for them. The Psychology of Time Travel sounds amazing. Liane Moriarty’s books are light reads. 🙂

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  16. What a lovely post and I really enjoyed your reading choices! Have you tried Bookworm? It’s just an easy read and goes through all the books the writer recalls from her childhood, so quite nostalgic and plenty of ideas for classic reading with your twins as they get older.

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  17. Ebène was a good book. I could relate easily since I lived in Africa in most of the period he covers. Ah! I will miss my endless walks along the Seine from one book box to the other. I generally pack my suitcases full with books to bring back. 😩😩😩

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  18. I started reading in Finnish just last year!! I thought it was so boring and tedious. I’m not sure if I’m thrilled about it now but it has opened a whole new world of books for me. This year I’ve read 43 books all in all!!! How about “The Dutch House” or “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” – I listened to both. Most of the books I’ve read have been on the heavy side 😛

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    • Wow, 43 books!! My gosh. I tried Bookbeat but everything was in Finnish so I quickly deleted it during the trial period. I wonder if there is only one reader, or is it like a play for dialogues??? 😋 As you see, I’m clueless. Anyway, I guess it would depend a lot on the reader voice whether or not I stick along. And yeah, Finnish writing IS tedious! 😂 I mean, it’s a small language so it’s understandable the vocabulary is limited. As for Finnish original works, I feel like the topics are usually very dark. Not my cup of tea! Thanks for the book tips, immediately looked them up! 🤗

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      • Bookbeat has lots of books in English too but only in audio. In Finnish you can either read the book or listen. There are different readers so it doesn’t get boring. Right now it seems to me that many current books are about being a woman. However, I’m not that interested in reading personal accounts about it if it’s about a white, European woman 😅 Right now I’m listening to a book that brings back Agatha Christie vibes with a fantasy twist: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

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