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Henrik_Madsen ROOTS - Here we go again...


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Edited: Sep 1, 4:07pm Top

2017 was also a great year rooting. I aimed for 40 and managed 46. I really enjoy reaching my goals, so my goal for this year will also be 40 ROOTS.

I will continue the categorization I have used for a couple of years. Deep ROOTs (DROOTS) are books bought before I started systematically registering new books in 2014. ROOTs are books acquired after that point.

1. Robert C. Tucker: Politics as Leadership
2. Samantha King: The Choice
3. R.A.W. Rhodes & Paul 't Hart (eds): The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership
4. Camilla Stockmann og Janus Køster-Rasmussen: Bullshit
5. William Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors
6. Ida Jessen: En ny tid
7. Francoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse
8. Anders Trillingsgård: Ledelsesteamet gentænkt
9. Alan Moore: Saga of the Swamp Thing Book Four
10. Nikolaj Zeuthen: Buemundet guitarfisk
11. Halfdan Pisket: Desertør
12. Peter Munk Christiansen (red): Budgetlægning og offentlige udgifter
13. Lord Byron: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
14. Theis Ørntoft: Solar
15. Antoine de Saint Exupéry: Flyvere i natten
16. Donna Tartt: Stillidsen
17. Agatha Christie: Det caribiske mysterium
18. Iben Monrad: Karensminde
19. Halfdan Pisket: Kakerlak
20. Helle Helle: de
21. Suzanne Brøgger: Linda Evangelista Olsen
22. Kamilla Hega Holst: på træk

1. Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility
2. Fjodor Dostojevskij: Idioten
3. Don DeLillo: Underverden
4. Jessie Burton: Dukkemageren
5. Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone
6. Harald Herdal: Udvalgte fortællinger
7. Jakob Hansen: Universaldirken og andre fortællinger
8. Robert Arthur: Den hviskende mumie

Dec 30, 2017, 6:27pm Top

Hi Henrik, Welcome to the 2018 group. Happy ROOTing and Happy New Year.

Dec 30, 2017, 6:32pm Top

Welcome back and have a great reading year!

Dec 30, 2017, 7:16pm Top

Happy rooting or drooting in 2018!

Dec 30, 2017, 7:16pm Top

Hi Henrik, happy ROOTing through 2018!

Dec 31, 2017, 2:53am Top

Happy ROOTing in 2018!

Dec 31, 2017, 6:36am Top

Thanks all!

What would a year be without ROOTing? Empty. Maybe I should go buy some books, just as a precaution...

Dec 31, 2017, 6:48am Top

>7 Henrik_Madsen: I did that yesterday.

Dec 31, 2017, 9:58am Top

>7 Henrik_Madsen: I like your thinking!

Dec 31, 2017, 1:41pm Top

>1 Henrik_Madsen: Love the DROOT idea. Good luck!

Dec 31, 2017, 10:35pm Top

Glad you're back!

Jan 1, 3:42am Top

Happy New Year, Henrik!

Jan 1, 6:46am Top

Thanks, Connie 😊

Jan 1, 3:17pm Top

Happy reading in 2018, Henrik!

I like the idea of DROOTS, but that is about 95% of my ROOTS. In my case aquired before 2008 ;-)

Jan 1, 3:33pm Top

Happy New Year and good luck with your reading goals! Interested to see what you choose.

Jan 4, 10:02am Top

Hello Henrik, great to see you're back. Good luck with your goal!

Jan 5, 2:20am Top

Thanks all. It's good to see you too. Talking about books in here it definitely gives a boost to reading - and a lot of inspiration for potential ROOTs!

Jan 11, 3:34pm Top

1. Robert C. Tucker: Politics as Leadership

Acquired: This is part of the litterature for a course I'm following right now, and I bought it last autumn when the listed reading for it was published.

Tucker had already written a number of books on Soviet history when he was asked to do a series of lectures on political leadership. Most of his examples are from 20th century American and European history, and they are used to illustrate his points. Leadership in his view cannot solely be about power, it must also be about changing society for the better. (What is better is obviously up for debate, but some idealistic vision must be part of the makeup of a true leader.) He also stresses leadership as a process where problems are identified, solutions developed and support gained for them.

The insights are hardly groundbreaking, but the book is well-written. It is also depressing. Tucker's 1980-diagnosis of the difficulties of creating sufficient global leadership to handle environmental threats, shortage of ressources and overpopulation are only too familiar today.

4 stars

Edited: Jan 14, 6:33am Top

2. Samantha King: The Choice

Acquired: The Choice was a Christmas present from my daughter. As mentioned before she staying in Ireland as an exchange student this school year and it was brilliant to receive a package with thoughtful presents for all of us. Not surprisingly she bought me a book - and a pair of Guinness socks - and now was the time to read it.

Maddie faces a horrible truth: A gunman has shown up at her doorstep and forced her to choose which one of her twins to be shot. She is going mad with self-hate and questions. Who was he and why did he attack her and her family? How can she ever explain choosing? In a number of flashbacks we get to know her and her marriage with Dom and their relationships to his brother Max and her friend Lucy. It is the story of a normal life but also of a family which wasn't as happy as it appeared to be.

The book takes a few surprising turns along the way. It adds to the thriller-aspect of the book and I was well entertained until the last chapter. In the end the plot is spoiled a bit by some inconsistencies but overall it was an entertaining.

3 stars

Jan 20, 5:41am Top

3. R.A.W. Rhodes & Paul 't Hart (eds): The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership

Acquired: It is on my curriculum this semester so I bought it last august. Reading it has taken a while as it almost always does with volumes consisting of a lot of separate articles.

The most important task of a handbook is showing the current status of a scientific field. It should present the most important works and schools and at the same time discuss the limits of existing research and suggest new paths worth following.

The handbook does that well. I have a lot of reservations about how political leadership is studied (too must focus on the top guys, too little focus on ideas as motivation) but you really cannot blame the handbook for this. There are a lot of different authors which inevitably means some repetition and variation but overall it worked.

3½ stars

Jan 20, 4:16pm Top

4. Camilla Stockmann og Janus Køster-Rasmussen: Bullshit

Acquired: Another Christmas gift. I'm trying to implement a new policy: When you get books you have wished for they are supposed to be read in a hurry instead of collecting dust on the shelves. So here we are.

Bullshit was a Danish motorcycle gang who got involved in the first major "war" between criminal groups in Denmark, when they confronted the local division of Hells Angels in late 1970s and 1980s. Bullshit lost and decided to dissolve itself after several members had been murdered.

The book describes the members' background - most of them came from families with much neglect and violence - and how these young boys grew into adult criminals. They were not just criminals, however, and the club became a focal point of their social life which they couldn't live without. There was much violence but also much taking care of each other. There were couples in love having kids - and there was the constant fear and the occasional brutal encounters with their enemies.

The book reads like a novel, a good one, and it is extremely well researched. As such it is a great portrait of a time and a place that is neither that long ago or that far away.

4 stars

Jan 25, 12:54am Top

>21 Henrik_Madsen: Good luck with your new policy, Henrik.

Edited: Jan 25, 4:38am Top

>21 Henrik_Madsen: Seconding Karen. Great policy and one I should copy, having wished for and gotten several books for Christmas.

Jan 25, 11:21am Top

>22 Familyhistorian: >23 MissWatson: Thanks. It's been my intention since forever so we'll see. Now it's out in the open so maybe I'll stick to it.

Jan 27, 9:42am Top

5. William Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors

Acquired: I bought volume two of Shakespeares plays last year. This is my second second reading from it.

The Comedy og Errors is the shortest Shakespeare play, and definitely not one of his best. Featuring two sets of identical twins, the scene is set for at comedy of mistaken identity, as the Greek merchant Antipholus arrives in the city of Ephesos.

Shakespeare's writing is always good, but I found this play rather uninspiring. There is not much af a plot, at most of the comedy is of the slapstick kind.

2 stars

Jan 27, 11:59am Top

>25 Henrik_Madsen: Comedy of Errors probably works better on stage rather than in print. I volunteered with a local theatre group that put on this play, so when I read the play I pictured all the actors from that production :)

Jan 27, 2:25pm Top

>26 rabbitprincess: Oh, I agree. Generally slapstick works best on stage - also because a lot of the comedy is physical and that just don't translate to paper. I can also understand why this play is probably easier for an amateur group to handle than some of the tragedies which are much longer and really require a lot of interpretation and skill.

One of my many reading projects is reading all Shakespeare plays in the new Danish translations, so some disappointments are to be expected but most are great.

Jan 27, 2:38pm Top

>27 Henrik_Madsen: Translating the plays must be such an interesting challenge, especially with the humour. Some of the older humour is lost on modern English readers to begin with, and then the translator has to figure out how to make the jokes make sense in the target language while retaining the flavour of the source text.

Jan 27, 7:36pm Top

>25 Henrik_Madsen: I have an anthology of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies. I've started with the comedies and I have the same feeling as you. Reading them as written is ho-hum. I, too, think they were probably entertaining on the stage. I had to stop rating them because how I can rate a master? But I haven't yet read anything above a 3 and I have finished 7 comedies.

Edited: Jan 28, 8:36am Top

>28 rabbitprincess: Translating is always a challenge and translating poetry and texts written with a specific rhyme is even more so. But it can also be a blessing. Since you are not using the original words anyway, it is ok to translate the text into contemporary Danish. Sometimes I think it must be more challenging for English readers to read Shakespeare, because you are not allowed to modernize the writing. (I know it would be a huge challenge for Danish readers to read 16th Century Danish even if the spelling was modernized)

Niels Brunse, the current translator, is a master, but something is obviously always lost in translation. Puns and wordplays are translated as close to the original as possible, but at the same time he tries to make certain, that it works in a Danish context.

>29 tess_schoolmarm: I know the feeling: How to relate to masters - and in English litterature Shakespeare is obviously the master of masters - and even grade them? Personally I always rate my own reading experience, and I don't claim to be able to justly value the litterary value of a work. But I feel confident in relating my experience, the joy and the wisdom I get from any work. So far I have read ten Shakespeare plays and right now I would rate the tragedies > the historical plays >> the comedies - at least as litterature for reading.

Jan 28, 12:25pm Top

>30 Henrik_Madsen: I feel slightly guilty as an English speaker that I've read very little Shakespeare - not that it's not relevant to modern English, there's a crazy amount of his phrases we use every day plus the many rehashes of his plots in modern tv shows and movies. There's even a current comedy programme with Will as it's main character (Upstart Crow) which prompted me to look at some of his sonnets online recently. I think you and >29 tess_schoolmarm: have shamed me into at least tackling my sole Shakespearean ROOT, Hamlet.

Jan 28, 4:59pm Top

>31 floremolla: As mentioned earlier my daughter is in Ireland as an exchange student in highschool right now. They are all required to read Shakespeare - Macbeth I believe - and being forcefed something that difficult at an early age might not be good for reading interests in the long term.

I'll gladly recommend Hamlet, though. I read it in English some years ago and it is a great piece of litterature as well as a great play.

Jan 28, 5:20pm Top

>32 Henrik_Madsen: one of my few Shakespeare reads was The Tragedy of Julius Caesar in high school. I really liked it, it was well taught, and when we had tests on that subject I felt quite confident - I can still quote the important bits. On the other hand, our set novel was The Master of Ballantrae and we were left to get on with that by ourselves - I abandoned it and got through the exams by using another book I loved but we didn't study in school, To Kill a Mockingbird. Much depends upon the quality of the teaching, but also whether you love the text! I hope your daughter is enjoying her exchange, it's a big step for someone so young, and I hope her reading in English is encouraged rather than stifled.

Jan 28, 5:58pm Top

>33 floremolla: Loved Julius Caesar--my favorite Shakespeare (I think), followed by Macbeth and Hamlet. However, I can't really get into his comedies, but I'm gonna read them!

Jan 29, 2:48am Top

I still feel burdened by the required reading I had to do in high school. It completely killed my interest in Dutch literature.

Jan 30, 3:53pm Top

Well, different experiences, as is to be expected.

Personally I really enjoyed the required reading in high school. It opened my eyes to new genres and as I have learned more about litterature I have become increasingly impressed with my teachers' choices.

That said, many of my classmates never really read the novels and was pretty much turned off from reading.

Edited: Feb 4, 8:20am Top

6. Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility

Acquired: When we were on holiday in London in 2013 I bought some books. Actually I bought a lot of books! This was one of them.

Jane Austen's first novel is a study in the lives of the upper class of her time. The not-so-rich sisters Elinor and Marianne embodies sense and sensibility, but neither is a sure way to happiness. Social norms keep everyone in check, and though they fall in love with Edward Ferrars and the charming Willoughby in the first part of the novel, they must endure many complications before they can happily settle in marriage. I never really believed Austen's resolution for Marianne.

Austen wrote stunning dialogues and her books are great studies in the psychology of men and women. This was a very good book but I still prefer Pride and Prejudice

4 stars

Mar 10, 7:36am Top

7. Fjodor Dostojevskij: Idioten

Acquired: This was a gift I got twenty years ago from my friends for my birthday or a party or something. About time I read it! Also, it is one of my anniversary reads this year.

Dostojevskijs style is amazing. He effortlessly combines philosophical discussions with intrigue and are-they-all-insane? dialogue. In this book nobleman Leo Mysjkin returns to Russia and soon finds him entangled in a game of love and passion. Leo is naive and tries very hard not to harm anybody, but it turns out to be hard. You cannot get involved with other people without influencing them, so even the innocent become guilty in the dirty game of human interaction.

Dostojevskijs style is unique. His characters winds themselves up, says strange things and generally seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is fascinating.

4½ stars

Mar 10, 7:48am Top

>37 Henrik_Madsen: I really love Sense and Sensibility - I know what you mean about the resolution for Marianne, but having seen the film from the 1990s I think that helps, because I could think "don't fall for Willoughby, fall for Alan Rickman!"

>38 Henrik_Madsen: This is on my TBR pile (one of the many, sigh). I'm glad to read such a glowing review!

Mar 10, 8:17am Top

>39 Jackie_K: It's funny - all I remember about the 1990s movie is the running-through-the-rain-and-get-ill scene and Emma Thompson being charming but waaaaay to old for the part.

Mar 10, 9:22am Top

>41 Jackie_K: Yes that's true she was, but I still loved the film despite its faults! And of course in real life after that film Emma Thompson ended up with Greg Wise (who played Willoughby) and they are still together.

Mar 11, 6:07am Top

8. Ida Jessen: En ny tid

Acquired: I got this book for my birthday two years ago and read it immediately. Now I re-read it for my real-life book club and it felt even more like a complete piece of art than the first time.

I don't do many re-reads because there are so many books out there, that I haven't discovered yet. Still, I usually enjoy it and knowing the story gives you another perspective on what is happening. It becomes clearer how plottwists are prepared, how characters are built with subtle phrases, and sometimes you have to face that you couldn't really remember how it was actually composed.

I experienced all this and I really enjoyed spending time with Lilly Bagge, primary school teacher turned doctor's wife, once again.

4 stars

Mar 14, 5:48pm Top

9. Francoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse

Acquired: I got two copies of ROOT #4 Bullshit for Christmas and traded one of them for Sagan's debut novel from 1954. It has just been retranslated and was on my wish-list.

Cécile is just seventeen years old and live with her playboy father and his various lovers. On a beautiful summer holiday in the Mediterranean she discovers desire and their neighbor Cyril, but things quickly detoriate when her father ditches his girlfriend Elsa for the elegant Anne Larsen. She is independent, beautiful and actually cares about Cécile and her future.

Cécile, however, does not want a new mother. She wants to be free, and she uses her newfound understanding of sexuality to manipulate the people around her. If she can tempt her father with Elsa, she might end the relationship she fears. Conspiracies come with a price, however, and as the story ends in tragedy, Cécile realises she has paid a terrible price for growing up.

The open sexuality and manipulations of such a young girl turned the novel into a scandalous success, but it is the wonderful writing of Sagan which makes it worthwhile even now. Cécile is sweet and cruel, thoughtless and cunning, but it is all told in a melancholic voice. Cécile the narrator knows the results of the actions of the character Cécile. Turning adult meant a goodbye to innocence and a hello to consequence. Bonjour tristesse.

4 stars

Mar 17, 6:25am Top

Somewhere in the back of my mind is the thought I might have read this book as a girl in high-school.

Mar 18, 3:57pm Top

>44 connie53: That's very possible. It is a classic - and became even more so after 1968 - and it is short and has a young main character.

Mar 19, 1:13pm Top

10. Anders Trillingsgaard: Ledelsesteamet gentænkt

Acquired: I got this book from work a couple of months ago. Part of my job is consulting for the board of managers and directors in the community and we are always looking for new inspiration to improve and vary how we run the meetings and ensure cooperation.

The author has done research on leadership teams, works as a consultant helping organizations and clearly has a lot of experience to build on. Theoretically he is inspired by William Drath and the idea that leadership is not really a question of leaders and followers. instead the core of leadership is ensuring direction, alignment and commitment - and leaders should obviously be instrumental to that purpose. Trillingsgaard discusses these insights, what leadership teams should do, and how they can become better at it.

It is a sort of self-help book for leadership teams. Theoretical insights are mixed with hands-on instructions for new ways of running meetings, improving trust etc. It is also very well done and I felt both informed and inspired by reading it.

4 stars

Mar 22, 12:17pm Top

Hi!! I've been away and ... so much has happened! I'm happy to see you're doing so well w/ your ROOTing :)

Mar 27, 5:07am Top

>47 avanders: Good to see you and thanks. I'm ok pleased with my progress even though study books are eating a bit more of my reading time than I would prefer.

Mar 29, 6:47am Top

11. Don DeLillo: Underverden (A literal translation of the original title Underworld)

Acquired: I bought the book on a large book sale around 15 years ago. I had read a glowing review when it was first published in Danish in 1998, which I remembered when I went through the sale catalogue. However, at 800 pages it has looked a bit scary on the shelf but I got around to it now because it was chosen for the group read in the 1001 group.

The novel is an ambitious attempt to capture the whole of the cold war in one book. The story is stretched between 1951, where a famous baseball match took place as the Soviet Union went through with its second nuclear test, and 1992 where Klara Sachs is working on a huge art installation consisting of more than 200 discarded bomber planes. The main story is told backwards from 1992 but DeLillo intersperses this story with bits about the aftermath of the baseball match and he mixes his own characters with historical figures like J. Edgar Hoover and Lenny Bruce. It is a book full of ambition and sometimes that is a bit too obvious.

Overall I did enjoy the novel and there were some stunning elements like the prologue focusing on the baseball match between the Dodgers and the Giants, which were both New York teams at the time. But some of the main characters never came to life for me and the book just wanted to do too much at times.

3½ stars

Mar 30, 5:37am Top

12. Alan Moore: Saga of the Swamp Thing Book Four

Acquired: I went to Copenhagen last Saturday for a party for some of my good friends. I found time to visit a comic book store and brought this one home with me.

At this point the foundations of the series is set. The Swamp Thing and his plant nature is gradually built upon - in this volume he visits the Parliament of Trees - and Moore is discussing current issues in the shape of the horror story. Controversially he lets Swamp Thing find a haunted house. It was owned by a gun manufacturer and is now haunted by the people killed with the weapons, which build the owners fortune. Most of all, however, this volume is the culmination of the American Gothic saga. It is finally revealed what John Constantine has been training Swamp Thing for and it all culminates in an epic battle on the shores of Hell.

That is obviously pretty far out, but Moore mixes philosophy with well-known images and original stories to create a universe which is interesting and still manages to surprise me. This is partly the result of the beautiful artwork and it will be interesting to see how the series will fare without Stephen Bissette and John Totleben.

4 stars

Mar 31, 12:17pm Top

13. Nikolaj Zeuthen: Buemundet guitarfisk (Pretty much untranslatable. It is a species of fish with a very peculiar name in Danish)

Acquired: My wife and kids gave me this one for my birthday in February. As mentioned earlier I'm making it a point to read the books I get as gifts in a hurry.

The main character Stefan is around 40. He has wife and kids and a not quite established career as an author. As Nete, his wife, is the main breadwinner he cherishes his time with his children, but still struggles with his self-confidence as funds start to dry up and the romantic parts of his relationship get lost in everyday routines. As he grows increasingly desperate, he gets involved with a dubious consulting firm and in his hunt for affection he initiates an affair with a young woman. This just complicates things even further - there is no getting involved with other people without them demanding something from you.

The book is called a "precarious comedy" (precarious is referring to Guy Standing's theory of a prekariat) and there definitely are funny aspects of the book. Satire might have been a more meaningful description, because Stefan might be a somewhat ridiculous character but he is also in deep emotional pain. Overall this is a good novel on Danish society at this point.

4 stars

Mar 31, 12:18pm Top

So, February was slow on my part, but now I'm rolling along nicely. Planning to keep it up in April!

Apr 1, 10:15am Top

Happy Easter, Henrik, and here's wishing you a successful reading month!

Apr 1, 10:50am Top

Thanks, Jackie. I fear the usual obstacle (study and work) will get in the way, but we'll see.

Apr 3, 6:07am Top

Happy and successful reading in April!

Apr 10, 2:23am Top

Keep it up, Henrik.

Apr 15, 6:58am Top

Thanks all - I shall do my very best!

14. Halfdan Pisket: Desertør (In English: Deserter)

Acquired: When I traded the book I got two copies of for Christmas, I settled on Bonjour Tristesse and added a little money on my own to get a much-acclaimed Danish trilogy of comics as well. This is the first volume.

Around 1980 a young man is growing up in Eastern Turkey. It is a happy place, but gradually the expectations from his family and especially the repression by the Turkish military is tearing him apart. When he is enrolled in the army and himself send to another part of the country as an anonymous agent of repression i finally rebels and ends up in prison.

It is a violent story told in a poetic style which is supported nicely by very expressive black & white drawings. It is a very personal history based on the author's father but dealing with universal problems. It is also a major feat in Danish graphic novel history and currently being translated.

4 stars

Apr 16, 3:19pm Top

15. Jessie Burton: Dukkemageren (The English original is The Miniaturist, which is not quite captured in the Danish title which literally translates to "The Puppet-maker")

Acquired: Actually my wife bought this book a couple of years ago. It's been sitting on our shelves since she read and liked it. I needed something light and thought this could be it.

The young girl Petronella arrives in Amsterdam in the autumn of 1686. She is to move in with her husband, a wealthy merchant, but once she is there, everything turns out differently than she expected. The household - his unmarried sister, his black servant and a servant girl - seems unforgiving, her husband doesn't visit her bed and around them new threats to the family surfaces everyday. One day she gets a dollhouse for her amusement, but once packages the dolls are delivered they turn out to be too much of a reflection of their lives.

I really liked the setting, but it is not used as would have liked. Soon the 17th Century world is filled with identity problems of today, and the role of the miniaturist was never really fulfilled.

3 stars

Apr 16, 7:09pm Top

>58 Henrik_Madsen: I agree with your assessment - I enjoyed the story and the setting but there didn't seem to be enough detail about the miniaturist. There was a very sumptuous two-part adaptation on BBC over the festive season and I was hoping it might explain more about the miniaturist, but I missed it!

I have Burton's next book, The Muse - it doesn't seem to have been so popular but the art/history theme appealed to me - hope to ROOT it out soon.

Apr 17, 4:00am Top

>59 floremolla: There did seem to be some unrealized potential in that story. Not bad, but I think I'll pass on more from Burton. There are so many other authors to discover!

Apr 29, 8:37am Top

16. Peter Munk Christiansen: Budgetlægning og offentlige udgifter (Budgeting and Public Expenses)

Acquired: I got this book in January - it is one of the books I have to read for my MPG-study.

David Easton famously said that politics is about the autoritative distribution of ressources, which turns the making of state and community budgets into the most central activity of any political body. It is obviously also about technicalities - how should you subdivide the budget, how detailed should it be planned etc. - and it is hard to understand the game if you don't understand these fundamental principles. Besides, it is the point of the book, that the technicalities are also political since they almost always favor one position over others.

It was a good introduction to a subject which can be both boring and daunting. A good textbook with lots of information for future reference.

4 stars

Edited: May 5, 3:20am Top

17. Lord Byron: Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Acquired: I downloaded my edition from Library of Congress in January. The final parts were published in 1818 so this is my 200-anniversary read this year.

The book is written in four parts which describes the story of to travels. The first takes Harold/the narrator through Portugal and Spain to Greece. The next sees him through Belgium and the Alps to Italy. Harold just seems like a thinly veiled excuse to tell what Byron himself has experienced. It is a reflection of the places he sees, of the struggle between freedom and tyranny, the Napoleonic wars and characteristic traits of the places he visits. It is also a celebration of the past as it expresses itself in ruins and memorials. In that sense Byron is much more tourist than anthropologist.

The writing was stylistically impressive, and his view on places and history was interesting, but the were large parts which was just pathos topped with more pathos.

2 stars

May 9, 4:14pm Top

18. Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone

Acquired: I bought this around twenty years ago in a bookshop in Odense, where they had a nice section with English paperbacks. After reading it I feel kind of sad I didn't do it before, because it's great!

The Moonstone is one of the first modern detective novels. After Rachel Verinders birthday her expensive diamond is stolen during the night. It is a complete mystery how it has disappeared, and at first even the great sergeant Cuff has problems understanding what has happened. The story is told by a number of distinct voices, who have each personally seen important aspects of the story. Layer after layer of the brilliant plot is revealed as we get to know the characters and the world they live in.

The story is suspenseful and the writing is wonderful. I enjoyed it from the very first pages, and I enjoyed it throughout.

4½ stars

Jun 29, 3:49pm Top

19. Harald Herdal: Udvalgte fortællinger (Selected Stories)

Acquired: I bought this at a library sale in Odense at least 15 years ago - so this is definitely a "DROOT".

As the title suggests the book is a collection of the most interesting short stories from the first twenty years of Herdal's career. It encompasses stories from the 40s and 50s and I especially enjoyed the early ones where Herdal brings the poor people of the depression years to life. They are always portrayed with solidarity and compassion as a reminder that we are all human beings and obliged to support those that can't support themselves.

It reminded me a lot of contemporary writers like Harry Martinson and John Steinbeck who also used tramps and outcasts as their main characters.

3½ stars

Edited: Jul 4, 4:45pm Top

20. Theis Ørntoft: Solar

Acquired: Book of the month in may. Ørntoft's first novel got glowing reviews earlier this year, so I thought I wanted to get to it fast.

Theis, the main character, is a misantropic young author. He feels estranged from others, and he tries to settle him self into the world by wandering through Jutland. The writing i beautiful as he philosophizes about the connectedness of everything in the world. He does not, however, find any answers and as he returns to Copenhagen he focuses on fitness, seducing the beautiful Nadja, but it's never supposed to give him any real meaning. Instead he loses his job and his welfare and after being kicked out he embarks on roadtrip through Europe.

There are some really beautiful passages in the book, but the take on young man in crisis and his descent into drugs and violence is hardly original. Not a bad book but ultimately a bit underwhelming.

3 stars

Jul 6, 1:49pm Top

21. Antoine de Saint Exupéry: Flyvere i natten

Acquired: It's one of the older books in my collection - this edition was published in 1941 - but I only bought it a couple of months ago in a used book store in Copenhagen.

We are in the early days of commercial flying in the 1920s. In Buenos Aires Rivière, the director on the ground, is awaiting planes from Chile and Patagonia to get the flight to Europe underway. He is a pioneer in night flying, which was obviously dangerous, because emergency landings in the dark was practically impossible. Saint Exupéry depicts the courage of the pilots, the grit of Rivière and the claustrophic nature of flying i a convincing way, but I think some of his other books on the topic are better and more poetic.

3 stars

Jul 6, 1:52pm Top

>66 Henrik_Madsen: There was a really interesting programme on Saint Exupery on the BBC World Service a few months ago, looking at how his own flying experience with the French postal service formed the basis of The Little Prince.

Jul 6, 2:01pm Top

>67 Jackie_K: I think it shaped everything he wrote. In Wind, Sand and Stars there are som incredibly beautiful parts where he is forced to land in the middle of the Sahara dessert and is forced to face both the natural beauty of the place and the existential loneliness of man in the universe - both important ingredients in The Little Prince. Flying was, for better or worse, his life.

I enjoyed this one, but I think Wind, Sand and Stars is a better book.

Jul 24, 3:44pm Top

22. Donna Tartt: Stillidsen (The Goldfinch - the Danish title is the Danish name for the species)

Acquired: I bought this book in June 2014. It is one of the first books for which I have registered the precise date, place and price - and so it was the oldest ROOT in my library. (Not the oldest unread book in my library, though. I call books bought before systematic registering DROOTs)

Theo loses his mother in a terrorist attack at the museum of modern art in New York, but he escapes with the Goldfinch, a small Dutch painting of a bird by Carel Fabritius. Since his father is gone, the authorities has to place him with the rich Barbour family, but it turns out to be a temporary arrangement. Surprisingly his father reappears and takes him to Las Vegas where he lives with another woman. Here he becomes friends with Boris, another outsider, and they start drinking an doing drugs together.

As he grows up, he carries the painting with him. It is part of his memory of his mother, and after some time it becomes very difficult to return it without facing jail for stealing it. But it is also a window into the past and it fuels his growing interest in antiques. Art and things are worth spending time and energy on, because they carry meaning to us, but also because they connect us with other humans from different eras.

I really enjoyed the book and made my way through all 800 pages without getting bored with the characters. Only the passages on drinking af doing drugs got a little long in the tooth, but it's a minor thing.

4½ stars

Edited: Jul 26, 10:20am Top

23. Agatha Christie: Det caribiske mysterium

Acquired: I bought this book on vacation a couple of weeks ago - and decided I wanted to read it right away. I had just finished Stillidsen and needed a quick, easy read. Which is just what I got.

Miss Marple is on holiday in the Caribbean, where she has to put up with lots of boredom and lots of anecdotes told by major Palgrave. One of them is about a person who has gotten away with murder. Miss Marple thinks little of it until Palgrave turns up dead the next day. Now she has do delve into the case and try to prevent more people being killed. It is not easy, because information is flimsy and she doesn't have access to the ressourceful people who helt her in England.

I really enjoyed this mystery. Miss Marple uses her deceptive facade to get to the bottom of it and the book didn't feel as schematic as some of Christie's other books.

4 stars

Jul 25, 9:09pm Top

>70 Henrik_Madsen: Agatha Christie is an excellent author for quick, easy reads! I have a few unread on my shelves; should probably read them soon!

Jul 26, 3:41pm Top

>71 rabbitprincess: Absolutely. I enjoy her books being relatively short and the violence not too fleshed out.

Jul 26, 3:48pm Top

24. Iben Mondrup: Karensminde

Acquired: Book of the month from my book club a year ago.

After 40 years Jens and Karen return to Denmark from Greenland. Their children have moved there long ago and are finding their own way in life. It is not easy, however, to move home after that much time abroad, and especially Jens has a hard time settling down on the small farm, they have bought in the countryside. After a year he has a stroke and tumbles from a ladder and ends up needing daily care. Jens was the anchor that held Karen in place, and after his accident the family starts falling apart in a pretty scary way.

Mondrup writes very well. The characters are multidimensional and the everyday drama is both touching and troubling. I really enjoyed it.

4 stars

Aug 3, 3:44pm Top

25. Jakob Hansen: Universaldirken og andre fortællinger

Acquired: My wife brought this one with her when we moved in together. In 2001...

Jakob Hansen was a promising young author around 1900 but died young from tuberculosis in 1909. This volume is an attempt to reestablish his reputation as a writer of the people and contains a novella and four short stories. The novella is the best part featuring an amoral lawyer who has become an unashamed leader of a pack of thieves. He rationalizes their behavior: After all, they are merely living off other peoples work, just like the upper class! His hope is to construct a universal key. If everybody has access to all valuables, there will be no more unequality... Along they way, the thieves experience all sorts of weird situations, sort of like Steinways group of homeless men in California.

Hansen had a grotesque sense of humor and was obviously very knowing of a lot of subjects. When he leans back and just tells stories, he is still worth reading, but in other parts he is just too schematic and attempting to be "literary".

3 stars

Aug 4, 5:15pm Top

26. Robert Arthur: Den hviskende mumie

Acquired: This is another one of my wife's books, which we got from her parents when they cleaned some space. Picking it up now was jus an act of nostalgia on my part. I read tons of Three Detectives when I was a kid, and I wanted to see, how i it held up.

The boys, Jupiter, Pete and Bob, are engaged to solve a mystery. Professor Yarborough has a mummy at his place, but that's not strange. At least not i in this book. The fact that it has started whispering, now that's a mystery. Jupiter puts his mind to it, and soon other strange things happen. In the end the boys prevail, and it even though they go through many adventures, it never gets really scary.

It was a fun read. I don't think the book held up very well for grown-up me - and it would definitely fall short in terms of plot and character development compared to most contemporary YA novels - but it was a fun trip down memory lane.

3 stars

Aug 10, 3:50am Top

Good job, Henrik!

Aug 10, 8:15am Top

>76 connie53: Thanks Connie, and good to see you back.

Edited: Aug 18, 11:02am Top

27. Helle Helle: de

Acquired: I just recently received this book from my book club. Otherwise I would probably have bought it, because I'm following Helle Helle's books quite closely.

A teenage girl grows up in a small Danish town - close to where I live, actually - and the book tells the story of her first year in highschool (10th grade) where she has to find her way and at the same time has to face the fact, that her mother is seriously ill.

Helle is masterful at portraying modern women who are struggling to find their place in life, and she does this in a very minimalist style. Not much happens and there is no speculation from the author or the characters. Instead you have to read the text very carefully because the relationship between the characters are expressed in their actions. Some like this approach, others don't. I love it when Helle Helle does it.

4½ stars

Edited: Aug 25, 8:28am Top

28. Suzanne Brøgger: Linda Evangelista Olsen

Acquired: I bought it in February last year at a booksale in he local bookstore. Most of the books were gone, when I got there, but I had to buy something, just on general principle. I have read a couple of books by Brøgger before and this was both cheap and tempting.

The title is also the name of one of the narrator's cats. The whole book is about her life with different cats, and plays very well on the mythological connection between women and cats. Her first cat is independent, elegant, and just doesn't care what anybody thinks about her. Much like the narrator (which obviously share many traits with the author) who very publicly lives as a sexually active intellectual.

I enjoyed the book. There is hardly any plot but it is very well written and the cats became af very good prism for telling the story of independent women.

3½ stars

Sep 1, 4:15pm Top

29. Kamilla Hega Holst: på træk

Acquired: Holst is one of many new female authors in Danish literature right now. This novel was book of the month in 2015 - and I have been almost starting it a number of times since then.

Kaya is a young woman in crisis. She has moved / run off to her grandfather in Thailand, where she is trying to get her feet back under her as she hangs around the pool and watches how other guests discretely pay for sex. In a series of flashbacks we see how her marriage with Carsten slowly dissolves. It starts when they have children - motherhood doesn't come easy to her and the relationship is losing passion. Even though she desperately needs Carsten, she starts having an affair with his best friend only to find out he has also seen someone on the side. Living alone only makes things worse however.

It is not a bad book. Holst can write, and it was an ok read. I just never really got to care about Kaya, not even enough to get angry with her.

3 stars


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