Gift guide; On the shelf

So let us start the Christmas shopping a little bit. Never hurts to start thinking about it in time, Christmas eve is upon us faster then you know.


Buying books as Christmas gifts (or gifts at all) is both heaven and hell. As a book lover I always want to share that love and make other people excited about reading, but giving them thick Russian classics isn’t always the best way. And that’s not even addressing the minor problems or a) have the recipient possibly already read it b) what does the recipient like to read at all? So my strategy, unless I know for a fact that there is a particular title that is on the wish list ( i.e. books for my father and brother) I usually go with collections, books to browse or a little something feel good.

  1. Anything by Peter Mayle. A year in Provence is such classic but it is a readily available and super cosy winter read. Reading about their Christmas in France during the holidays brings cheer. And his written several other books in the same style, that also work just fine. Good food, good wine and crazy “frogs”; what’s not to like?
  2. The Crazy Rich Asian trilogy by Kevin Kwan. I’ve talked about these a lot but I do love them, and think that they are suitable for so many people. They are funny and smart at the same time. Great on a holiday.
  3. A poem for every night of the year compiled by Allie Esiri. I bought this book last year and I have read a poem most nights, which I think is a great little thing to do. There is now a companion A poem for every day of the year, which I have my eye on. The first one is intended for children but I’d say anyone between the ages 5 and 105 can get something out of it. And you don’t have to read a poem every night, but should you fancy it – you’ll find something very suitable in this (and fear not; there is Byron among them).
  4. A food lovers book of days by James and Kay Salter. Another one I keep talking about but I think that it is scandalously underrated and unknown. Just these little lovely entries about something food related for every day, a few recepies. Celebrate the season and all that.
  5. A time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Another book that I think is sort of feel good (or at least very engaging) and suitable for many people. Fermor’s travels through Europe in the 30s does capture the imagination and he writes ever so well.
  6. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. Neither feel good nor something to “dip in and out of”, but as I was putting together this list I decided that this little book might be one of the best stocking stuffer of all time.
  7. Let Proust change your life by Alain de Boton. Just the right amount of philosophy and air of French intellectual that anyone need during the Christmas holidays. Both fun and informative; you are giving people a possible new outlook on life.



Weekend & Wrap-up

So let’s get this summary of the month out of the way, and just ignore the fact that October isn’t over yet.


Books read; Ten. The eight in the pic plus Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and The Sign of four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Rereads? One. The Sign of four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A phrase in it inspired a cocktail, not the first time that has happens.

Best book? The bear and the nightingale by Katherine Arden probably. I do want to read the follow-up now (more a symbolic statement that something on the to do list. I have commitment issues with series apparently). The Kwan books are not far behind though (and it is a testament to how much I have liked them that I have read all three books in the trilogy. Sure, it took me two years from the first to the second but it happened!).

Worst? I had very few nice things to say about either Ferguson or Hållander.

Worth mentioning? Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney is much hyped, I’ve seen it around IG and it’s recently been translated into Swedish. I had gotten the image that it was more sarcastic and funny, in fact it was raw but strangely readable. In a review that flashed before my eyes someone made comparisons with both Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and The idiot by Elif Batuman. There is a commonality; all books are stories about women with literary ambitions that over think everything as they try their place in the world. I like it more than the former but not nearly as much as the latter. That said it did draw me in, and I was hooked. The end broke my heart a little bit.

Scent; Accord oud by Byredo all day every day. I’ve gotten used to it and don’t find it strong any more. It also smells “less” as I’m wrapped in layers of wool, and the staying power isn’t what I thought it would be (or maybe I’ve just gotten really used to it). The Overrose candle was a disappointment and I’m trying something new now.

Meditation game; Average. It’s the 28th and I’ve used the Mindfulness app 16 times. That’s roughly half of the days. And I can feel the effect of it, on the days I do it. Huge improvement from last month.

Clothes made? A dress, seen yesterday. Halfway through a few projects, need to go buy zippers, thread and more elbow patches.

So, bring on November. It’s gonna be an intense month with The August prize coming up, the H&MXErdem collar hitting stores, some epical bad weather ( as is tradition) and looming deadlines. Let’s get ready to rumble!!



Thursday & “To read is to resist”.

Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey the thing you think everyone is saying. Make an effort to separate yourself from the internet. Read books.

-p. 59

If we ignore that little thing about “separate yourself from the internet”, because I do want you to continue to read this and other blogs, I couldn’t agree more. Even though On tyranny twenty lessons from the twentieth century is written with an American audience in mind, what Snyder has written is relevant for everyone. And since it is so easy to read ( just over 100 small pages) there are no excuses not to.


He does give some great recommendations for what to read as an act of resistance, to sharpen the mind and to be able to articulate our thoughts. And he points out, as did Levitin in his book; it is a chance to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and foster empathy.  These seven struck a note with me.

  1. The plot against America by Philip Roth. I actually have this in my TBR-pile and it’s high time I got around to it.
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K Rowling. I have Harry Potter on the brain right now, I feel a reread might be in the near future. That Snyder uses it an example of “an account of tyranny and resistance” is just another argument.
  3. The origins of Totalitarianism by Hanna Arendt. I should read this. I recommend her book Eichmann in Jerusalem to people all the time.
  4. Nothing is true and everything is possible by Peter Pomerantsev. I’ve seen this on the shelves and heard people speak well of it. Feels like a relevant read. I’ve made a note.
  5. The Bible. I’ve actually tried reading this once. Got through the Old Testament at least but the New testament might be more what Snyder has in mind. Jesus was all about freedom and kindness. The old testament is more about vengeance and several reminders not to sleep with your sister.
  6. Politics and the English language by George Orwell. This is a brilliant essay, I read it last year and I probably should make a point of reading it now and again to immunize myself towards populist rhetoric.
  7. The unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera. I read this when I was younger and I thought it remarkable even though I was probably to young and naive to really understand.


A study in Scarlet

This past weekend I conducted an experiment; I started at the top and worked my way through my books, turning books by male authors, so that spines only on books written by women( or in two cases by a man and a woman) were visible.

I got the idea for this from @curledpages on Instagram, who in turn got it from @athousandbooks, and he in turn got it from a bookstore. Meanwhile @2manybeaytifulbooks did it too a while back, inspired by an article in The Guardian(about a bookstore. Possibly the same one as mentioned above). It’s in the air.


I forgot two books that should have been tuned but the general impression was still one of shelves that were fairly balanced. And this wasn’t exactly a surprise; currently my shelves are very curated. In two waves, for different reasons, I’ve had to go through all my books and decide what I want to keep, and also what to buy as I have limited space.

Buy a new edition of a book that I have read and is written by a dead man? Probably not. I’ll get that from the library instead and give space and money to a living female author. And I feel the need to point this out again; I’m not saying that the gender says anything about the quality of the writing, I am saying that women still have a harder time in publishing and that they were almost entirely excluded for millennia. There are exceptions of course but few seen to the fact that women make up almost half the worlds population.

However, when I posted on IG a few people commented on the fact that so many of the pink books still had there spines out, the hashtag #spinesoutexperiment tag was born and someone was offended naturally( that person later removed their comment). The case of the pink spines made me take a closer look. It should be explained that my shelves are organized according to colour, more or less. As there is a predominance of books with black or white spines I’ve had to wrap a few books in paper of another colour to find place for them, and a few books are in bad condition and need that additional protective sleeve.

In the end it turns out it’s mostly an optical illusion; the bright light and a little bit of filter makes books that are red appear more on the pink side.

IMG_2702 (1)When looking at it as it normally is, and closer up, it doesn’t feel as pink and a few heavy hitters like Bulgakov and Wondrich have lovely pink covers. In the end I don’t have that many pink books, and a fair few are by men. It’s more that it sticks out the bookcase is a rainbow of sorts. My sleuthing revealed nothing interesting; the Sherlock Holmes fan girl in me is a tad bit disappointed of not finding the indication of a huge conspiracy on my shelves, the economist in me knows well that not finding something is a valid result and very often the only result.

It’s worth mentioning however that books about feminism often have pink covers in Sweden, just because. Fanny Ambjörnsson wrote the brilliant book Pink-the dangerous colour where she points out the very short history of pink as a “girly” colour and also point out that it isn’t always the case, The Financial Times are printed on pink paper and that’s not a exactly a weak and emotional paper( except possibly Sir David Tang in the Agony uncle-column, but polemic is the whole point of it, and  mostly for comic effect). Even before that book there had been several feminist classics in pink covers, a case of reclaiming the colour I guess. I love pink and there is no contradiction between that and being a feminist( to claim so is utterly 2007. Just stop).

So the next step would naturally be to turn my books so that only spines on books written by people of colour would show. There eI’m afraid the result would not be as balanced. We’ll see if I get around to that.


Things related to this post;

That article in The Guardian

Another article, also from the Guardian, about gender imbalance in reviews and publicity





I’ve taken you to Venice, I’ve taken you to Paris; might I invite you to one of my favourite places in London too?

I shall not pretend that I’m not very comfortable in Mayfair or around Sloan Square. Which very much has to do with the fact that I actually not belong there; I’m a cat among the ermines and I enjoy it. As a Scandinavian (albeit one that doesn’t look it because short and a brunette) I pretend I own the place. In the east end it’s the same thing but opposite; I don’t belong because I’m not hip nor genuin enough. But I do love that part of London.

The flower market at Columbia Road is so wonderful. I also very much enjoy shopping for fabrics and Bollywood earrings in the Indian shops that I pass getting there. Dennis Sever’s house is one of my fave museums(except it isn’t a museum,it’s a living tableaux). Oh and the beigle bakery in Brick lane. Get the strudel; almost as good as in Vienna. And if If I want a bit of that east end vibe when I don’t have a chance to go ? The Gentle Author takes me there.

I actually saw this book at the Brick lane bookshop when I was in London in 2014 but didn’t buy it because it was a brick of a book(pun intended) and my bags were already full to the brim. But I had a look when I got home and found it online. It started as a blog so it’s divided into many small chapters about the people,places and past of Spitalfields in the East end. There are probably very strict geographical lines to adhere to, as a bloody Swedish tourist it’s all the East End to me and I can’t tell Spitalfields from Shoreditch. I think I might just be a tad proud of that in fact.

The point is that this book is a darling thing to read and it has all those kinds of sweet nostalgic stories that I love on paper but don’t know how to deal with in real life. Like the story about the pigeon fanciers. That’s lovely that is, that someone is still keeping postal pigeons that carry messages. I also think that they are nasty birds, all of them. The kind of thing that I love to read about, I might even throw in an “we have culture anymore. Carrier pigeons was a sign of civilization and now we have the Kardashians”. I don’t mean it at all.

But many of the things in this book I do love, and I do appreciate diversity in real life. It should be noted that because it’s so many small chapters,and about a variety of things it doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, and it’s an easy read too or browse. But possibly hard to get. I would advice to read the book before going to London,not after. Or you know, make another trip. London is always a good idea.

Things mentioned in this post;

The Gentle Author


Weekend,wreckages and what happened?

img_8881-It’s been a long week it feels like; Trump got elected as president of the USA which no one thought possible just a few weeks ago. Despite everything he has said in the campaign, and his track record in life and business, he has gotten the mandate to one of the most important offices in the world. Oh, and he has a court date for fraud in November.

-Getting 30 cm of snow in less then 24 hours is unusual even for Stockholm. We were not prepared. Winter comes every year so you would think that we have learned by now but no. We lie in denial of the weather.

-It’s not only my spirits that have taken a bruising this week; more clothes and accessories have broken. My beloved tote bag from Daunt books in London got a tear in it but luckily I got this lovely Ampersand-tote as a belated birthday present. One pair of winter boots turns out not to be worth repairing any more and socks and tights are being turned into cleaning cloths. I need to go shopping soon but not yet. It’s become a bit of an experiment to see how long I can last without doing so; I do look forward to this organic process of closet cleansing.

-My reading slump is still a thing. I have three books on the go right now and will try to finish them over the weekend.

-It’s been “No perfume week” here in Sweden which I have honored or whatever you might call it. Despite loving perfume I have a lot of sympathy for people who are sensitive and never use to much. Indeed I’m myself sometime get headaches from certain perfumes and too much of it on others . However I do look forward to spritzing myself with these samples from Byredo when I’m pottering around the house this weekend.

-Those that follow me on Instagram are probably already bored with always seeing the Essences of Galliano candle that I bought from Diptyque(here). How ever it has been lovely; it’s made it into the list of fave candles. I also know that Other stories have released a candle called “Le coin lecture” which is appropriate for a booklover but I found it to floral for this time of year. You can find that here.


-I recently read #Girlboss by Sophia Amaruso. I was underwhelmed by it which has a lot to do with cultural differences being too big and I thought the writing and editing felt sloppy. I Read here that her company is filing for bankruptcy which feels sad because she has become a role model for so many women, and it will be interesting to see what she does next.

-The Margery Kemp book also in that pic I’ve already said is less interesting then the episode on BBC4 “In our time” about her. The latest episode was about “Fighting Temeraire”; a painting by Turner and it was a very good episode. Next week it’s gonna be about Byzantine laws and I for one can’t wait. The history of the Byzantine empire is a lot more interesting then people think. But then I’m a nerd.

Have a great weekend!


The beauty and the books

I’ve written a bit about perfume and books. How about other beauty products? There are some out there.  In fact it’s my bookishness that  made me break my rule of only having one bottle of nail polish at a time.

When it comes to nail polish I’ve become fairly conservative over the years. It’s usually some kind of red or “Bitter Bitch” from Tom Ford (which is brown). I went looking for a new red when I stumbled across “Ladybird” in the H&M Beauty range. Yes I have become very fond of the H&M beauty range; they do a few of their products very well( I love their lipsticks) so it should come as no surprise that those were my hunting grounds. “Ladybird” is a red bug of course but I immediately thought of the Ladybird-books. I don’t actually own any but I have bought them as presents.

I then continued to scan the shelves and found this beautiful greenish metallic named “science fiction” which I also bought. A genre I don’t read that much but I probably should. If nothing else Ursula K.Le Guin has long been on my TBR (to be read-list).

I found these both to be easy to use: I like the rather short and wide brush. Should be noted that I use a fast-drying top coat from Seche-Vite and a base coat from Mavala. But given those things the staying power is reasonable: a few days and I use my hands and wreck my nail polish easily (sewing etc.). The price is also agreeable; 50 kr per bottle. More info can be found here.