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Must Reads

It’s a Book

Mari and I went shopping. And we found the awesomest book by Lane Smith, a children’s book of few words and lovely drawings, with a good point to boot! The book? “It’s a Book” (2010). The book is about a monkey who likes to read, and a curious donkey who doesn’t quite get what a book is for. Luckily, youtube has a trailer for the book, however, all is not included, so you’ll just have to get up off the couch and find the book yourself.

Love, Hanna

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Even Silence Has an End

He died while I was still chained to a tree in the middle of the jungle.”

A couple of weeks ago I got new hero. Or, to be more accurate, heroine. I was reading Even Silence Has an End (2010) by French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt (1961).

Ingrid Betancourt, running for president in Colombia in 2002, was kidnapped basically on the campaign trail, by the FARC (Colombian Armed Revolutionary Forces), a gerilla group with a lot of power in some parts of the country. For six years she was held captive in the jungle, and her book is basically a memoir over those years. While at times being one of those books you read while covering your eyes because you really can not take any more cruelty, it was aslo a book that impressed me with its wisdom and caring and humans ability to forgive, as well as portraying human cruelty and desperation. Ingrid Betancourt writes about young girls joining the FARC, because it is even that or prostitution, and she has an astounding ability to try to understand her enemies, and to see their point of view.

I won’t lie to you, this is a sometimes awful book, not because of how it is written, but because of some of the content. However, it’s a book that will teach you stuff you may need but may not want to know about the world. And it will stay with you for a long time, I’m sure of it.

PS: Ingrid Betancourt for president!

Love, Hanna


Darkness at Noon

“Nobody can rule guiltlessly” Saint-Just

Ok, so I’ll be the first to admit that Darkness at Noon (1940) by Arthur Koestler is perhaps not the most cosy, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas read. However, the book is brilliant and should be a must read for everyone everywhere.

It is set in Russia in 1938, and starts with the main character, Rubashov, being arrested in the middle of the night. This short book (at least according to Wikipedia) “express the author’s disillusionment with the Soviet Union’s practice of Communism.”

We follow Rubashov into imprisonment, through interrogation, corruption, and torture. The book is so well written that when I was reading it this summer, in a room full of people, I had to force myself to look up every now and then just to remind myself that I was not in an interrogation room headed for a show trial, and that I was, in fact perfectly safe. It’s a book and a story that gets under your skin. And it should, seeing that it actually tells a story that many were forced to experience in the 1930s.


Momo

When I was a kid (around 7 or 8), I read German author Michael Ende’s book The Neverending Story (1983) ten times in a row. I’m not exaggerating – I think I had it checked out of the library for a whole year, probably hoping for it not to be a fantasy and to open up and take me to its world like it does main character Bastian. When I got a bit older, I discovered some of his other books, mainly the fantastic and amazing novel Momo (1973).

Momo

Momo (or Momo oder Die seltsame Geschichte von den Zeit-Dieben und von dem Kind, das den Menschen die gestohlene Zeit zurückbrachte which Wikipedia informs me translates to Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves and the child who brought the stolen time back to the people) is about a young, poor girl whose “superpower” is her amazing ability as a listener. Her listening skills help the other children (and adults) stretch their imaginations and solve their problems, basically making her their muse. She lives in the ruins of a theatre in relative happiness and harmony. Until the Men in Grey appear. They are thieves of time, convincing the adult population to “save” time by placing it in the Timesavings Bank for later use. However, after agreeing to do so, they forget all about the men – all that lingers is the idea that they should save time. The only person immune to their power is Momo, and she must save the city and her friends from the evil men.

Years later, this is still one of my favourite books, and one I strongly urge you all to read if you haven’t already. No matter what age you are.

Love, Mari


House of Leaves

By Mark Z. Danielewski.

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How to explain this book?

I guess it is a half-finished document investigating something called the Navidson tapes.
This document is filled with footnotes from the person writing it, the person who found it (our main character, or at least one of them, depending on your definition) and the editors of House of Leaves. The Navidson tapes are a collection of short films exploring the house of Mr. Navidson, a photographer who discovers that his house is bigger on the inside than on the outside (and not in a cute Harry Potter-fancy tents-way).

One thing is for certain: You must, must, must read this book! (Don’t let the size put you off, you will read this in a heartbeat!)

This is one of the most impressive books I have read in years! It is really more a work of art than a novel. This is a ghost story, a love story, a psychological investigation, an allegory, a story about madness, loneliness, mystery, fear, as well as a mockery of western civilization’s attempt to rationalize everything, even the unexplainable (and as such it is filled with quotes, statements and analysis worthy of a text book). It is brilliant! Read it!

Just beware that if you are easily scared, don’t be home alone, this book really sneaks up on you.

Love, Elin


My Invented Country

“Let’s begin at the beginning, with Chile, that remote land that few people can locate on the map because it’s as far as you can go without falling off the planet.”

My Invented Country (2003) is a memoir by Isabel Allende. Allende, who is originally from Chile, moved around a lot as a child, and later on, when Agosto Pinochet took the power in the 70s, she emigrated for good. Anyhow, Chile remains her country, and in this memoir she looks back at her life there, and how the Chilean culture have and continues to influence her.

It’s beautifully written, like all books I’ve read by Allende, and is full of funny and sarcastic little quotes which lightens up the reading, even if we are in the middle of a bloody coup d’etat. I had to read this book with a pen, underlining sentences, drawing hearts and writing notes in the margins. (Yeah, I do that). The book teaches you a lot of history, (who knew there was a civil war in Lebanon in 1958? I sure didn’t.I It also makes you want to read more Allende, and to visit Chile.

So go find yourself this little book and enjoy! See you in Santiago?

Love, Hanna


A Room of One’s Own

In 1928 Virginia Woolf held a series of lectures on women and fiction. These lectures were published as an essay collection in 1929, entitled A Room of One’s Own. In it Woolf discusses what is meant by women and literature. Is it female characters in books? Is it women writers? Is it books about women? She explores, through various fictional female characters, the advantages and (mainly) disadvantages women have had when it comes to literature, with regard to lack of education, lack of status, lack of right to participate in public life, politics and to travel, but perhaps most importantly: The lack of a room of their own, somewhere to withdraw from daily chores and quietly contemplate their writing.

The essays are beautifully written, clever, interesting and still current today many places in the world.

I truly recommend this to everyone who has an interest in literature and history, or really anyone who simply enjoys reading. Because, let’s face it: Virginia Woolf was effing awesome!

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