Category Archives: Books

The kindness of strangers

The moving boxes are unpacked (almost), the sofa is assembled, the internet connection is sorted…..aaaaand I’m back to blog!

One of the very best things about blogging is the way it connects you to other people, be it readers or other bloggers that you stumble upon as you crawl and trawl through cyberspace. You leave comments, people comment back and sometimes these virtual handshakes lead to real life encounters.  Like my monthly book group, which is hosted by fellow blogger Helena Halme.

And not that very long ago I received a package from Denmark. From a Brit living in Denmark, who had asked about my address so that she could send me some baby books in Danish.

Inside was some marcipanbrød (which disappeared in a second) and these two books about natural childbirth: one from birth guru and social anthropologist Sheila Kitzinger and another one from childbirth specialist Michel Odent.

Those might come in real handy when I lie screaming in the birthing centre at St. Mary’s Hospital, trying to remember why I chose not to have an epidural. Will get back to these when I’ve finished them.

And then there was this gift. A soft one.

I wonder what’s inside…

Ooh, the cutest little helmet hats. They are very popular in Denmark (where mums also put their babies outside to sleep, even in the winter) and apparently you can’t really get those here in the UK.

Now that we know the sex of the baby I guess we’ll have to pass on the pink ones.

Hmmmm, but I wonder if the mint-coloured one will look good on a boy?

I guess so.

ps. thank you again for the lovely gift Babs – hope you stop by for tea soon.

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Massage that baby – 80s style

When we were in Copenhagen, my lovely mother-in-law gave me this book about baby massage (she always has a book handy for every occasion).

It’s a Danish translation of a book by massage guru, Peter Walker. He’s a physical therapist and yoga teacher and well-known for his developmental baby massage and for having taught over 6.000 certified teachers how to do this.

So I’m pretty sure this  guy knows what he’s doing and I’ll look forward to using it. But there’s an added bonus as it’s from the late 80s which equals funky hairdos:

Some slightly weird drawings.

And a straight-forward invitation to embrace nakedness.

And what baby wouldn’t love a massage from a dad as stylish as this one, with mint green shirt and fluffy hair? (although I must say this particular baby looks almost paralysed with fear).

Book group at England’s Lane Books

When I venture outside on these autumn-becoming-winter days I’m greeted by the howling wind, beaten in the face by the rain and assaulted by the dropping temperatures.

NOT very nice, so I hastily retreat back home to my sofa, make a cup of steaming hot tea and bury my eyes in books. Luckily I’ve just joined a book group so I have a very good excuse for turning the pages.

Photo via englandslanebooks.co.uk

The group takes place every month at the charming England’s Lane Books in Hampstead and is hosted by my lovely fellow blogger, Helena Halme (go read her  brilliant blog).

Last month we discussed Naomi Alderman’s The Lessons and this month we’re tackling the two books above.

The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks is about a young woman who gets pregnant in pre-Pill, pre-Abortion  Act Britain and has to move into a dingy room in Fulham. I’m half-way through it and loving it.

The second book is The Slap by Melbourne writer Christos Tsiolkas about a man who slaps a kid at a barbecue. A slap that proves to have far-reaching consequences.

This book club/book group business is all new to me but I’m already a fan and think it’s a wonderful way to pay tribute to a book that an author has spent a hell of a long time writing, while at the same time exercising your brain a bit in good company. And you always end up discovering underlying themes and meanings that you would otherwise not have noticed.

The next bookclub is on Tuesday 23rd November at 7 pm at:
England’s Lane Books
41 England’s Lane
Hampstead
NW3 4YD
englandslanebooks.co.uk

If you’re interested in attending, email them at info@englandslanebooks.co.uk or just turn up on the night.

Contact the bookshop for more info and keep an eye on their website for other upcoming events, as they do book readings and signings as well. Both books are also available in the shop.

Winter’s Bone

I walked past this poster in the tube the other day and was instantly intrigued (yes, I do tend to judge books and films by their cover, shame on me) and turned to Sam: “That looks interesting, have you heard anything about it?” (it’s pretty great to be married to a walking film encyclopedia). Of course he had, and he’d only heard good things about it, so yesterday we went to see it.

Apparently people have been going crazy about the low-budget Winter’s Bone at Sundance and everywhere else. And rightly so. It’s based on a book by Daniel Woodrell and set in the remote Ozarks Mountain Country. Here a poor 17-year-old girl embarks on a gruelling  journey to find her meth-cook of a father, before “the law” can take away the family home and land from her, her two young siblings and mentally resigned mother.

It’s harrowing honest and visually stunning in all its simplicity. No over-the top visual effects and 10 layers of make-up here. This is all about the story/message and the acting is remarkable. The bluegrass soundtrack is pretty awesome too.

Enough said, now go see it.

Winter’s Bone official site (with trailer)

Review from Empire

Photos courtesy of Sebastian Mlynarski

Mori & Margaret Atwood – yesterday’s finds from St. John’s Wood


Gik en hurtig tur over til St. John’s Wood i går og scannede gadens tre genbrugsbutikker. Intet af tøjet tiltalte mig, men som altid bugnede hylderne i Oxfam af læseoplevelser. Jeg hapsede en af yndlingsforfatterne Margaret Atwoods bøger, Bodily Harm og håber at den er på højde med to af mine favoritbøger fra hendes hånd: A Handmaid’s Tale og Life Before Man.

Og så den egentlige grund til at jeg var i området: for at hente take-away frokost hos japanske Mori. Indtil videre har de to butikker i hhv. St. John’s Wood og Marylebone, hvorfra man kan forsyne sig med diverse sushibokse, salater, karryretter og supper, som også kan spises i restauranten. Altsammen billigt og sundt (omkring 7-9 pund for en boks). De har også lækker, fedtfattig yoghurtis. Prøv den, hvis du er i området. Læs mere her.


Went for a walk to St. John’s Wood yesterday and quickly browsed the three charity shops on the high street. I didn’t find any exciting clothes but picked up a copy of Margaret Atwood‘s Bodily Harm in Oxfam’s brilliant book store. I can’t wait to read it as she is one of my favourite authors – hope it’s almost as good as two of my favourite Atwood novels: A Handmaid’s Tale and Life Before Man.

But the real reason for my visit to St. John’s Wood was that I was craving Japanese for lunch, so I picked up a sushi box and a salad (with delicious, creamy wafu dressing) from Mori. Currently they have two restaurant/take-aways in London: one in St. John’s Wood and another in Marylebone. Their food is fresh, yummy and pretty cheap (around 7-9 pounds for a sushi box) and apart from sushi they also sell curries, soups and salads and frozen yoghurt. Read more here.

My favourite books (or some of them)

Jeg elsker at læse. Og sluger selv alle de boganbefalinger jeg kan få via blogs og venner og bekendte. Så her er mit eget bidrag. Listen er en skøn blanding af forfattere og bøger – i tilfældig rækkefølge.

Og jeg modtager gerne nye forslag!

I’ve always read a lot and I love to get book recommendations through other blogs and friends. So here’s my contribution: a list of some of my all-time favourite books and authors – in no particular order.

I would love to receive your recommendations!

Jeffrey Eugenides
Manden har desværre kun skrevet 2 romaner: “Middlesex” & “The Virgin Suicides” (men jubii, der er efter sigende en tredje på vej). “Middlesex” er min absolutte favorit. Hovedpersonen er hermafroditten Cal og undervejs oprulles gribende fortællinger om Cals græske rødder og hans/hendes søgen efter egen identitet. Skal opleves.

Unfortunately this author spends around a decade writing each book and so far he’s only written two novels: “Middlesex” & “The Virgin Suicides”, but his books are well worth waiting for. My absolute favourite is “Middlesex” about the hermaphrodite Cal and his/hers Greek roots and journey towards finding a place in modern American society. A must-read!

“Geek Love” – Katherine Dunn
Grotesk, fabulerende og fantastisk. “Geek Love” hander om et omrejsende familie-freakshow og jeg-fortælleren er en albino-dværg. Ekstremt rørende og smuk fortælling. Katherine Dunn har ikke skrevet andre romaner siden.

Grotesque, heartbreaking and absolutely amazing. “Geek Love” is the story of a dysfunctional travelling family freak show, told by an albino dwarf. Incredibly moving and too bad Katherine Dunn hasn’t written a single novel since.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” – Harper Lee
Denne skønne og hjertevarme klassiker om raceulighed i sydstaterne burde være fast pensum i alle skoler. Den enste roman Harper Lee til dags dato har skrevet.

All students should be forced to read this beautiful and heart-warming modern classic about racial inequality in the deep South. The only novel Harper Lee ever wrote.

“What I loved” – Siri Hustvedt
Den her læste jeg for mange år siden på dansk, og det må snart være tid til en genlæsning på engelsk (skal bare lige have fundet et eksemplar i en genbrugsbutik). Bogen foregår i New York, hvor jeg-fortælleren Leo ser tilbage på sit liv som en del af den intellektuelle kunstscene. Her er indviklede parforhold, knuste drømme og eksistentielle spørgsmål en masse, altsammen smukt fortalt. Og så giver den mig lyst til at flytte til New York.

I read this many, many years ago in Danish and I really want to re-read it in English (just have to locate a cheap copy in a charity shop). The book is set in New York where the narrator Leo looks back on his life amongst intellectuals and artists. Filled with captivating portraits of complicated relationships, shattered dreams and life’s big questions. Plus it makes me want to move to New York.

“The Road” – Cormac McCarthy
Det kan næsten ikke blive mere dystert i Cormac McCarthys nedtonede dystopiske fortælling om en mand og hans søn, der kæmper for at overleve i en verden i undergang. Her er faderkærlighed så det batter, men den er ikke for sarte sjæle.

It doesn’t get much bleaker than this. Cormac McCarthy’s dystopian novel follows a man and his son as they travel through a grey post-apocalyptic landscape. Quite disturbing and depressing but hey, nothing wrong with that. It’s a beautiful portrait of fatherly love and the human will to survive.

“The Bell Jar” – Sylvia Plath
Jeg har en forkærlighed for tragiske kvindeskæbner og sad med tårer strømmende ned af kinderne da jeg så The Hours i biffen. Der er lidt af det samme på spil her i Sylvia Plaths eneste roman, der er halv-selvbiografisk og følger den unge kvinde Esther, der flytter til New York for at arbejde for et bladhus, men som samtidig bliver mere og mere deprimeret. Sylvia Plath begik selvmord en måned efter bogens udgivelse.

I must admit, I have a penchant for tragic life stories, especially tormented women’s. I cried my way through The Hours when I watched it in the cinema. And I loved Sylvia Plath’s only novel, the semi-autobiographical story of a ung women who travels to New York to work for a big magazine. During her stay she become more and more depressed. Sylvia Plath herself committed suicide shortly after the novel was published in the UK.

Richard Yates
Og nu vi er ved tragiske kvindeskæbner, så er Richard Yates en sand mester. Jeg elskede “Revolutionary Road” som var mindst ti gange bedre en filmatiseringen (også selv om Leo var med) men endnu bedre er “The Easter Parade” om to søstre og deres temmeligt triste liv.

Not done with the tragic life stories yet. Richard Yates is a true master. I loved “Revolutionary Road” and found it ten times better than the movie (sorry Leo). Even better is “The Easter Parade” about two ordinary sisters and their honestly quite sad lives.

Margaret Atwood
Canadiske Margaret Atwood er en af mine absolutte favoritter. Hendes bøger er intelligente, sindssygt velskrevne, ofte humoristiske og med feministist strejf og så kan jeg næsten altid identificere mig med hovedpersonerne. Hendes bedste bog synes jeg er “The Handmaid’s Tale” – en fortælling om et fremtidssamfund, hvor kvinder er stærkt undertrykte og bl.a. skal bære slør(!). “The Robber Bride” og “Life Before Man” er to andre favoritter.

Canadian Margaret Atwood is one of my absolute favourite authors. Her books are intelligent, well written, funny and with a strong hint of feminism. If you were to read only one of her books, please choose “The Handmaid’s Tale” – a feminist sci-fi tale about a society where women are veiled(!) and very suppressed. “The Robber Bride” and “Life Before Man” are pretty great too.

Carol Shields
Endnu en af favoritterne. Blandt hendes bedste bøger er “The Republic of Love” om en havfrueforsker med kærlighedsproblemer, “Larry’s Party” om en helt almindelig mand med en passion for labyrinter og “The Stone Diaries”, som ligger på hylden og venter på at blive læst.

Another favourite. Among her best books are “The Republic of Love” about a folklorist with a passion for mermaids and a messy love life, “Larry’s Party” about a very ordinary man who builds mazes and “The Stone Diaries” that tells the story of Daisy Goodwill, from birth to death.

Stephen King
Gys, gru og uhygge. Jeg elsker at lade mig suge ind i Stephen Kings horrorunivers. Han skriver som en hvirvelvind, så medrivende at man lige pludselig har slugt 900 sider uden at opdage det. Blandt favoritterne er “It” (med jordens mest skræmmende klovn), “Carrie” (griseblod anyone?), “Lisey’s Story”, “Salem’s Lot” og så selvfølgelig hans selvbiografiske bog om at skrive: “On Writing” som jeg varmt anbefaler til alle, der elsker ord.

Crawling creepiness, monsters and dark deserted houses. I love to jump headfirst into Stephen King’s amazing world of horror. He’s a true master and writes like a whirlwind, sucking you in and entertaining you 100% through hundreds of pages. Some of my favourites are “It” (with the world’s scariest clown), “Carrie” (pig blood anyone?), “Lisey’s Storey”, “Salem’s Lot” and then of course there’s his autobiographical book “On Writing” that is a must-read for all word lovers and aspiring writers.

Joyce Carol Oates
Man går ikke helt galt i byen, hvis man vælger en bog fra denne produktive forfatters hånd. Har langtfra læst dem alle, men blandt mine favoritter er “The Falls” om en tragisk honeymoon til Niagara falls og “We Were the Mulvaneys” om en perfekt familie, der falder fra hinanden.

You can’t really go wrong if you choose a book by this highly productive author. I haven’t read all her books but really enjoyed “The Falls” about a tragic honeymoon to Niagara Falls and “We Were the Mulvaneys” about a perfect family that falls apart.

“100 Years of Solitude” – Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez’ fortælling om familien Buendía gennem 7 generationer er dybt fascinerende og smuk i al sin magiske realisme. En af dem der godt kunne tåle en genlæsning, tror jeg.

Gabriel García Márquez’ tale of the Buendía family through 7 generations is deeply fascinating in all its magical realism. I think it is time for a re-reading session.

Paul Auster
Austers bøger kan være svære at hitte rundt i, men de er også svært tiltrækkende. Mine personlige favoritter er den selvbiografiske bog om hans far “The Invention of Solitude” + “The New York Trilogy”. Glæder mig også til at læse “Invisible”, der udkom sidste år.

It can be hard to navigate through Auster’s sometimes dreamy and surreal books but I keep getting drawn towards them. My favourite is the straight-forward “The Invention of Solitude” about the authors dad. I also really loved “The New York Trilogy” and look forward to reading “Invisible” from 2009.