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Nathalie‘s (Deern‘s) Reading in 2019 Part 1

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Jan 1, 2:25am Top

Welcome to my first thread in 2019 and Happy Reading!

I have no special reading plans for the new year. I realized last year that (for now) I‘m really not doing well with challenges and lists anymore, so I‘ll read what comes my way and feels right.

I‘ll however try to read even more outside my comfort zone, more non-fiction and graphic novels. I‘d like to get through the odd 1001 book, hoping to get closer to #500. And I should read more books by contemporary Italian authors.

Jan 1, 2:25am Top

Best of 2018

Edited: Feb 13, 8:04am Top

Books read

01. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesse Moshfegh - 3.8 stars
02. Endless Night by Agatha Christie - 3 stars
03. My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4 stars
04. My Struggle: Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4.5 stars
05. My Brother's Husband 2 by Gengoroh Tagame - 4 stars
06. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman - 4.5 stars
07. My Struggle: Book 3 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4.0 stars
08. My Struggle: Book 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4.0 stars
09. My Struggle: Book 5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4.0 stars

10. My Struggle: Book 6 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - 4.0 stars
11. Hunger by Knut Hamsun - 3.0 stars
12. Why we don‘t suck by Denis Leary - 3.75 stars
13. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (reread) - 5 stars

Edited: Feb 12, 10:27am Top

Currently reading:
Beethoven by Maynard Salomon
Her Body and other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Cosmocomiche by Italo Calvino
Short Stories by Franz Kafka
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Lessico Familiare by Natalia Ginzburg

Books I‘d like to read this year:

La ragazza con la Leica
Die Welt von Gestern by Stefan Zweig
Amerika by Franz Kafka
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Ida by Katharina Adler

Jan 1, 4:21am Top

Happy reading in 2019, Nathalie!
I see we have similair reading plans, just go with the flow.

For me the 1001 books list stays a guide, I am at 102 of the combined lists now. The non-fiction always needs a boost.
The only challenges I keep doing are TIOLI. Although I won't go for a sweep each month anymore, after two years I have read enough bad books, just to complete sweeps.

Edited: Jan 1, 7:52am Top

>5 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, it was the same with me with the TIOLIs when I still did them. I did only 2 normal sweeps (this felt like hard work already), but read a lot of regrettable books to get as many TIOLIs as possible into a month and be among the top frogs. Sadly I never found a relaxed approach to the challenge, I hope I can return one day and be happy to read just 1 or 2.

Jan 1, 8:13am Top

Happy New Year, Nathalie! Was there much celebration in Merano last night?
I've never had a TIOLI sweep and I doubt I ever will. I just slip books in from my TBR and just rejoice in the fact I've made a space for a new book. hahaha

Jan 1, 9:40am Top

Happy New year Nathalie, hoping 2019 is a positive one, full of good books and good food.

Jan 1, 9:52am Top

Using the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is an excellent tool. I admit that I try to follow lists, but my reading is so sporadic and somewhat driven what the 75 challenge group members recommend highly, some of which would not be in this book.

But, I may try it and see how far I get.

Happy New Year Natalie!

Jan 1, 10:12am Top

I wish you from my heart a healthy 2019 filled with happiness, satisfaction, laughter and lots of good books.

Jan 1, 10:54am Top

Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 10:55am Top

Happy 2019 reading, dear Nathalie!

Jan 1, 12:10pm Top

Welcome back, Nathalie!

Jan 2, 4:33am Top

Oh, so many visitors! :D
Thank you for checking in and leaving good wishes, Lynda, Charlotte, Linda, Barbara, Rachel, Richard and Jim! Happy New Year to you all!.

>7 Carmenere: Your TIOLI approach sounds very healthy. I was lost the moment they started with the frogs. :/
Merano stopped doing fireworks some years ago, instead they have an emission-free light show in town which I cannot see from my balcony. The villages around still do smaller organized fireworks. They were lovely this year.

>9 Whisper1: I started in that group when I joined LT, and the list was fantastic to get into better/ serious reading. However I’m now through most of the free classics and many of the more recent contemporary fiction books, and at the point where some books are hard to find/ cost too much/ seem less important, so I’ve been neglecting the list lately. I’d like to manage 15 to 20 every year, somehow.

Jan 2, 4:42am Top

I’m far from having completed my rounds in the old and new group, am totally disorganized this year, but I’ll get there eventually and also fill the posts 1-4 with pics and lists. Hopefully.

NYE was nice: I worked until 2pm, went home and did my cooking (carrot soup with orange and ginger for the night, mashed potatoes with roast mushrooms for late lunch) and much cleaning. Then settled on the couch with a glass of prosecco and watched a registration of “The Magic Flute”. Fell asleep, but got up for midnight and another glass of prosecco on the balcony. The weather was surprisingly warm.

Today I’m back at work and still recovering from the yearly emotional hangover after the holidays that hit me hard yesterday. Even a very long walk (I was out most of the day) that lead me to three Christmas markets didn’t help much. Spent the evening feeling guilty for being sad, playing silly puzzles (I found a picross app) and eating cookies and cheese sandwiches, sitting on my comfy chair wrapped in a Christmassy new woolen blanket I’d bought on Xmas market #1. The problem is the pseudo-perfection Christmas has always been in my family. We all turn into kids, watch fairy tales on TV, read each other stories, recite childhood Christmas poems together… I know for many people this sounds horrible and forced, but Christmas used to be the one short period every year when my parents didn’t argue, when outside stress (also politics) were not allowed in – and it wasn’t forced at all. An extremely cozy and safe emotional place that is very painful to leave, to face a new year and reality again.

It helps a bit remembering that my mum’s emotional issues cut that period very short anyway – had I stayed there longer we’d have had a difficult NYE, as we had last year.
In the end, I’m immensely grateful I still have both of my parents and they’re quite healthy (my mum would protest loudly now), but I’m also extremely scared of the day when I’m alone. I know this is an ego-driven thought and of course I feel guilty for it. Maybe it's all normal... ?

Anyway – books: I happily noticed that the Guardian’s monthly group read is going to be a “fun book”, which means the forum is full of suggestions. Most of them are literary, which means the book might be mildly amusing at best, but there are some silly-sounding titles as well which I’ll test-read. For weeks now I’ve been super-slow-reading a book on Beethoven’s life which will certainly take me into February or even March. I downloaded a couple of “useless” (non-literary, mostly self-help) audios yesterday, but so far there’s nothing on my reading horizon that seems important or really gripping. Must buy new reading glasses this week.

Jan 2, 6:15am Top

Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you, Nathalie, this year.

Jan 2, 8:08am Top

>6 Deern: I won't manage only one or two, Nathalie, as I still try to fit in as many books as I can. I just don't fill ALL challenges anymore. This way it is a nice help to pick my reads for the month.

>15 Deern: I am glad you have such sweet Chrismas memories, good to return to a place of comfort, sad to return to reality afterward.

Jan 2, 10:48am Top

>16 PaulCranswick: A very happy 2019 to you Paul!

>17 FAMeulstee: Haha, I never thought you'd just read 1 or 2, that would be me. :D
It's true, the TIOLI can be a great help getting older books read. However I found myself buying "regrettable" books instead at some point, books I knew I wouldn't like at all, just to get to 10 or more per month or to join a shared read to generate extra points (for the challenge, not for me).
It's not just books - I did 1.5 to 2hrs of yoga every day for several months in 2016 until my knee and shoulder gave in, because I could "win" virtual badges with an app.
Trying to take the interest in classical music very slow now.

Jan 2, 11:06am Top

Happy New Year, Nathalie! I look forward to following your reading and cooking throughout 2019.

Jan 2, 11:57am Top

>15 Deern: A fun book sounds like a great idea - must go and have a look - thank you!

Jan 2, 4:35pm Top

>18 Deern: That was the very first limit I set for myself, I do NOT buy books for challenges.

Jan 2, 4:45pm Top

Happy New Year, Nathalie!

I like to go with the flow when it comes to reading, but I've found that those challenges help me expand my reading. I have to finish a book or it won't count. Some challenge is good, but reading has to stay enjoyable as well.

Jan 2, 5:38pm Top

Eager to hear your Guardian group's choice of a fun book. Permaybehaps Trump for the schadenfreude of it all?

Jan 2, 6:57pm Top

Happy New Year Nathalie and best wishes for your birthday on the 4th.
I'm completely relaxed with TIOLI, my only personal compulsory used to be that I had to read a book for Madeline's challenge each month, but I gave that one up a while back when it meant searching through too many books looking for specific words. Nowadays I list books on the wiki and I either get them read or I don't. Occasionally I'll join a shared read if I already have the book on hand and feel in the mood to read it.

Jan 2, 11:36pm Top

Dear Nathalie, the happiest of happy new years to you! I think each year sees you in a better place, so I look forward to your reading and thinking in 2019.
Kerry's approach to TIOLI is closest to mine except that I never found anything compulsory. I used to use the challenges as an opportunity to read something I hadn't thought of, but now I read what I want and fit it into a challenge if I can.
Ummm. Which bio of Beethoven are you reading? I have a couple of good ones, maybe the best of the older (Solomon) and the newer (Swafford). I intended to get to one of them last year and didn't. Since I'm reading eleventy-dozen things already, I might start one if it is what you're reading. Let me know if you want company!

Jan 3, 12:59pm Top

Checking in from work (feeling guilty) while waiting for a program to finish, and so many visitors! I promise to make the rounds in the new group over the weekend!

>19 kidzdoc: Happy New Year, Darryl! We'll see how my cooking goes. Right now I'm not feeling very inspired - I'd rather keep eating panettone and pandoro all day.. :/

>20 charl08: When I last checked yesterday, the selection still wasn't that great - if you want something silly. It's a long list of smart books.

>21 FAMeulstee: Very wise decision. I bought books for almost all challenges I participated in, also all the author challenges I did over the years. That's why my shelves are full and my ROOT thread was abandoned. *sigh*

>22 EllaTim: Happy New Year! :) Yes, generally the challenges brought me to some great authors/ works. In the TIOLI however at some point it was less about the book and more about the challenge. I hope to return some day.

>23 richardderus: Looks interesting and even funny, but isn't it too sad to laugh about? *sigh* will we ever be able to only half-trust a politician's words again?

>24 avatiakh: Hi Kerry, Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to you, too! Yours has already started, hasn't it?
Maybe I should tentatively return to the TIOLI, with the promise made here not to buy anything for the challenges?

>25 LizzieD: Thank you (((((Peggy)))))! I'm definitely in a better place than in 2015, even if there are moments when I doubt everything.
Contrary to you and Kerry, I have strong compulsive tendencies. I can get very excited ( = obsessed) with something, but in most cases it will burn out quickly. Internet badges/ rewards can become an issue as I've learned. It happens even with small things - for example I set the alarm clock to 6am on Christmas to be among the first to win the daily pear at the Christmas scavenger hunt. I wouldn't have hesitated to set it to 3am. I'm actually quite proud I got off the "have to read all Booker candidates before the short list is out" train. It was fun, but cost me hundreds of Euros in e-books and blocked my spare time for weeks every summer.

Umm... I'm reading the Solomon I think, it's actually out of print, but was recommended by Greenberg. It's much longer and more detailed than I'd expected, and doesn't work as a side read with the odd page here and there.

Jan 3, 11:28pm Top

Uh oh. That's good and bad news about the Solomon. I will love that it's as good as it's said to be, but I'm still in my pick it up/put it down mode, so I guess I won't try it right this minute. I loved the Swafford *Brahms* a couple of years ago, so I'm looking forward to that one too. I ended up buying way too many Brahms CDs, but I've loved having them. I expect my Beethoven collection to swell when I finally get to him.
Please do not make me confess to my cyber-compulsions. They are dire.

Jan 4, 1:23am Top

Hi Nathalie - a 3 day late Guten Rutsch from me! And alles Gute zum Geburtstag auch!

I am going to try hard to keep up more on here this year than last, but it is so easy for me to think that before school goes back and the craziness starts again. But for now, it is nice to be back here. I have given up attempting any of the TIOLI challenges and just read whatever I read. The Beethoven bio sounds good - is it very long? It sounds like it is...

Edited: Jan 4, 4:27am Top

>27 LizzieD: Oh, no - the Solomon IS great. Just not a quick read (at least for me right now). See also my post to Cushla. I actually think you might love it, as far as I can judge by now (just around 12%).

>28 cushlareads: Hi Cushla, Frohes Neues Jahr und vielen Dank für die Glückwünsche! :)
I'll try my best to keep up with more threads this year as well. The Beethoven bio has about 600 pages. I'm now at about 12% and he's still in his teens. It's a great book as it gives much background info on the political situation and "the state of music" then and the system of sponsorship for artists in those small German dukedoms or whatever they were called, the role of enlightenment, etc. Very comprehensive I'd say. Well, Greenberg said it was the only book on Beethoven we'd have to read, so it must be comprehensive. :)

Edited: Jan 4, 4:26am Top

I brought some Kipferln (brioches/ cornetti) to work this morning - want some? They're filled with chocolate/ apricot jam/ hazelnut/ vanilla cream. I also brought a boring empty wholemeal one for myself. :)

Jan 4, 3:25am Top

Oooh. A hazelnut one for me please. Very kind...

Jan 4, 6:53am Top

Jan 4, 6:54am Top

Happy Birthday, Nathalie!

Jan 4, 8:38am Top

It's your birthday! Happy birthday, Nathalie.

Jan 4, 12:04pm Top

Happy Birthday, Nathalie! Hoping that the New Year is kind to you and that it is full of fabulous!

Jan 4, 12:15pm Top

Buon compleanno!

And I'd love to have an apricot Kipfer, bitte.

Jan 6, 12:44pm Top

>31 charl08: Hi Charlotte, please enjoy! :)

>32 Ameise1: Thank you, what a lovely birthday cake!

>33 FAMeulstee:, >34 EllaTim:, >35 Crazymamie: Thank you Anita, Ella and Mamie, it was a lovely day!

>36 richardderus: Mille grazie, Richard! I got the kipferln from a local bakery, those with jam are especially popular. Enjoy!

I spontaneously decided to take the afternoon of the 4th off and to take myself out to lunch to the restaurant where I’d had my bday dinner last year. I had delicious tagliatelle and a glass of red wine and took a walk. In the evening my friends/neighbors/ landlords Karin and Giuliano invited me upstairs for a home-cooked dinner. Antipasti, spaghetti, a pudding and a plate of special cheeses. I‘d brought a bottle of champagne. The day was a big food-fest, „worse“ than the other holidays. :)

Yesterday I went to the hairdresser, had to get quite a bit of (damaged) length cut off. Not happy about it, but there was no way around it anymore. Then I went anti holiday-hangover shopping on the Christmas market. Got some new tree decorations for next year, a Christmas mug and a small teddybear in a suitcase because it looked cute. I know... it‘s high time to return to RL!

Today I slept in, then went to the Xmas market yet again for the last time (this is my 6th of Jan tradition), had my last potato/cheese dinnerte (like a small pizza with sourdough) and bought my last sourdough bread from the same stall. I will miss the bread!

Then I did some serious clothes shopping as the sales have started and the tourists are gone, so the shops were empty.

During all those weekend activities I first listend through Ottessa Mosfegh‘s My Year of Rest and Relaxation which imo is way better than Eileen but not less „ew“. Then I finally started the first Knausgaard, and it’s a great listen! I doubt I‘d have the patience for him on paper, but it‘s a great meditative listen for walks.
And I eye-read Agatha Christie’s Endless Night. Reviews should follow tomorrow, also some Xmas market pics.

I visited many threads and hope at least starred all, but I underestimated the number of posts I missed in the last weeks. I‘ll continue the rounds over the next days.

Jan 6, 5:04pm Top

I missed your birthday Nathalie. Happy belated birthday!

Jan 6, 9:45pm Top

Hi Nathalie, I am slowly working my way through the threads and have now located your thread. Wishing you belated Happy New Years and Happy Birthday. Love the way you celebrated the days.

Jan 6, 11:01pm Top

I'm sorry I missed your birthday too, (((((Nathalie))))), but it sounds like a fine one. Good for you for taking the day off!!!!!
I spent a half hour last night with the Swafford bio of Beethoven and may have to read them both. His introduction states his aims and sets boundaries. He is also a composer, so he provides an appendix of clearly stated explanations of forms (I read only about the sonata) to support the non-musician in his discussion of the music. He says that he won't interpret but will put out the facts so that the reader may interpret for himself. Maybe the two books will turn out to be complimentary. I have the Solomon in trade pb, and it's only 326 pages. The Swafford claims to be 1100 pp, but not all of that is text. I suspect I'll read the shorter one first now that I know.

Jan 7, 7:13am Top

Thank you Rhian, Lori and Peggy!

>40 LizzieD: 326 pages? In my Kindle Edition it says "print length 600p".
I read and read and read (still only 15%), now finally he's arrived in Vienna and I get a full account on other famous pianists and their sponsors. Lists of names I've never heard. Not boring at all, but slow. I'm not in a hurry with this book.

Head is bursting today. Still windy, sunny and ridiculously warm. Sitting in the Office with the window half-open since early morning. Meanwhile, 3 hrs away, my parents are drowning in snow. Strange winter!

Edited: Jan 7, 9:24am Top

1. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh

I strongly disliked Moshfehg’s Eileen when it was nominated for the Booker, and this one isn’t one “to like” either. I stumbled over it on audible, it was on my “you might enjoy” list, and after the short test-listen I expected a sarcastic, sharp, self-depracating approach to a mental crisis. It isn’t fun at all, although the great narrator gives it an appropriate sarcastic voice. It’s actually very sad and quite touching.

The story is set in 2000/2001. The (nameless I believe) protagonist and narrator is an extremely rich and extremely beautiful young heiress in her mid-twenties, living in a big apartment in Manhattan. Her unloving parents who neglected her all through her childhood and youth both died when she was in college, since then she has been on her own, without any relatives or real friends except for Riva (better not talk about Trevor). Riva is your typical Cosmo-/ S&tC dependent girl, always dieting (actually bulimic), always exercising, always trying to get up the ladder and to “become someone”. Despite her jealousy with the narrator’s looks and wealth, she stays by her side and no harshness in the world can chase her away. If this all sounds terribly empty (and annoying), it is. All the people in this book lead depressingly empty lives and they're all unlikeable.

Slowly it emerges that the narrator can’t cope with her life, basically has no idea what to do with it, and the unprocessed feelings about the loss of her parents. There has never been a loving relationship, so there is nothing real to mourn for her, except for the wishes and dreams of what could have been. She decides to go into drug-induced hibernation for a year, finds a crazy psychiatrist who happily provides her with all the prescriptions in the world, and spends more and more time asleep, neglecting herself and everything around her.

When she finally tries a new numbing drug that gives her three-day blackouts, she gets an idea for a project from which she wants to re-emerge a different, adult person.

This is a book that starts out terribly annoying, but gets stronger when the narrator starts opening her eyes for her surroundings and slowly lets feelings into her life and especially when she finally takes the drastic step through her project. The ending is very strong. I’m however sure that many readers won’t like this book, might even feel offended. I thought the beautiful rich girl approach was great after Eileen. With no outside financial pressure, with effortless beauty even in the worst circumstances, it is possible to concentrate on the emptiness of the narrator’s inner world and every little moment of real emotion is like a light. I was fearing for an exaggerated ending (giving the time frame and some other hints), but it was dealt with surprisingly well.

Rating: 3.8 stars (I still felt in need of a long shower)

2. Endless Night by Agatha Christie - contains small spoilers

I found this as November read in the Guardian’s reading group. I read the comments and spoilers and knew who’d eventually be victim and killer, but that made my read extra interesting, for once I could check the traces AC had laid out for the reader. I thought it was quite clear throughout the book, although I admit I added 1-2 more accomplices to the case who in the end were innocent. The very ending was a bit of a letdown for me from the moment when a certain letter is written (way too early imo) to Major Philpott and when the killer starts overreacting and it’s all a haze. For me, the horror was completely lost in that moment, but according to reviews, others found the last part especially chilling. I would have rated with 3.5 before the ending, rounded down to 3, read some reviews – among them Richard’s which reminded me I’d had the book on my tbr for a while – and went back to 3.5. I never finished my book about AC’s life and didn’t even know about her dementia and that this was her last real crime novel. For this, it’ll have a special place with me.

If you wonder: I didn’t finish the AC book because I got totally lost in all her novels it made me reread.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Jan 7, 7:57am Top

Happy belated birthday, Nathalie! ooooo, I must place a hold on My Year of Rest and Relaxation . I enjoyed Eileen, not so much for the plot but Moshfegh's writing chops and the unusual protagonist. MYoRaR sounds like it's in the same vein.

Jan 7, 4:03pm Top

>42 Deern: I can totally empathize about the biography leading to a metastatic TBR. Happens to me when I brush up on someone's life via Wikipedia! Imagine what a full-blown biography does.

Jan 8, 10:05am Top

>37 Deern: Sometimes you just need an unexpected day of relaxation. I could use one today. But it won't happen. lol. Shhhhh, don't wake the sleeping baby!

Jan 10, 10:01am Top

>43 Carmenere: Thank you Lynda! If you liked Eileen, MYoRaR really might be for you. I hope you'll enjoy it.

>44 richardderus: Yes, it happens every time when I start a book about an author or generally about books. They lead to massice book-buying and are themselves never completed. With AC's biography the extra problem was that I had almost all the books at Hand, so I could jump right into them.

>45 The_Hibernator: (((((Rachel))))) I wish you at least many moments of rest and relaxation.

Little update:
Work: super-demanding this week
Reading: Finished Knausgaard #1 on audio and started the next one right away. I'm enjoying them, the narration is fantastic, but I'm having mixed feelings. So far, they're quite close to "home" - not the plot with the alcoholic father of course, but the general thoughts. Without an audio book, I usually am philosophizing during my lunch walks, now I feel like I outsourced my thinking.
Volunteering: Got my first task, and it's reading a book! :D I'm reading a book about the old villas in Merano and typing the information into an excel table. Perfect starter task!
Weather: dry and sunny. No rain in at least 6 weeks. Parents are totally snowed in and send me pictures every day. It's not going to stop anytime soon. The kids in many Bavarian towns got an extra week of school holidays because roads are blocked and busses/ trains cancelled.

Jan 10, 10:27am Top

>46 Deern: "outsourced my thinking" LOL!
I haven't read him, but am still thinking of it.

Your first task sounds like it fits you perfectly. Are those old villas still there?

Isn't it weird, this weather? Your parents are managing alright?

Jan 10, 10:50am Top

Be patient with Knausgaard -- the books get less claustrophobic and K is, frankly, in control of the material --and that includes setting you up in your responses. It's quite astonishing to me how, from book to book, my "view" of K shifts about. After book 3 it dawned on me that this was all on purpose.

We're having a two day snowstorm, but "only" up to 9 inches.

That does sound like the perfect volunteer job! Molto simpatico!

Jan 10, 12:19pm Top

>47 EllaTim: Most of them yes. I actually took a walk today along one of the streets I read about yestarday, thinking "so you're the old vinery". And I had no idea there were so many different styles. And I have to write down the first owner where it's known. A surprising number of merchants. I wonder if they had their investment bankers back them, telling them to put their money into a guesthouse villa in Merano. I'll need much more time with the book!

My parents are managing okay, apart from being housebound. It's just boring for them.

>48 sibyx: Thank you for the info, it is quite an addictive ride. I always wanted to wait for the series to be complete, so I'll probably now listen to them all.

Some more remarks about the books:

I'm not exactly feeling claustrophobic, seriously more "at home" in all the navelgazing (sorry Darryl!). I don't know if that's scary.
I'm 4 hours into book 2 which is 21 hours long, and right now I'm glad I have no kids. Would I be able to get through that birthday party or the day at the fun fair without at least some screaming or crying?

The passage about feeling emasculated made me grin, especially when K calls the rhythm class experience not embarrassing, but deeply humiliating and later has a short rant about modern fathers and his struggle (one of many clearly) to at least seem to be one of them. I would have been such a mother, which is something he doesn't really consider so far. Women can also feel out of place in the role of a happy "alternative" modern mother. I still feel idiotic "omming" along during the more spiritual yoga classes.

Another passage that got to me was about "liking other people" (actually, I doubt that, I guess he friendly tolerates them as long as necessary), but "not caring for them".
Frequenting a cafe -as he recalls - a couple of times until they know you, greet you with your name, give you freebies and that's the moment when you change café - that's quite me. It's idiotic. I know why I do it and try not to, but it still happens.

Oh, and another thing I noticed and don't know how much it is due to translation: he always speaks of the "tenderness" he has for his daughter(s). Not once so far he used the word "love". Tenderness in my interpretation is connected with pain and fear. I guess he looks at her and doesn't want her to experience any harm, but also not to cause him any harm (by changing). It's not selfless as love is, or unconditional. It's a very interesting distinction.

I'm really wondering where the books will be taking me next. Not exactly looking forward to 400 pages of his thoughts on Hitler, but that's far, far away now.

Jan 10, 5:21pm Top

That definition wouldn't leap to my mind as associated with tenderness Nathalie (but am aware I've not looked at the dictionary). More affection and having heightened feelings. But interesting it's always that word and not love, which is surely the more obvious word.

Your walk around town having read about the buildings sounds perfect: I love knowing those little secrets about the history of a place.

Jan 11, 5:08pm Top

It is good to read you are enjoying Knausgård. I liked the first one most, mainly because it was the first and had the largest impact. The thoughts on Hitler in last one weren't so terrible, he still writes good even about him. I rated that book as second best of the 6.

Like Charlotte I have a complete other association with "tenderness": affection, like, warmth.

Interglot gives these definitions of "tenderness":
- a tendency to express warm and affectionate feeling
- a feeling of concern for the welfare of someone (especially someone defenseless)
- a positive feeling of liking
- warm compassionate feelings
- a pain that is felt (as when the area is touched)

Jan 11, 11:59pm Top

I'm happy to hear that your 2019 is beginning with good experiences, (((((Nathalie))))).
I would love to start K'grd, but I can't manage him for several months yet.
I also love your outsourcing your thinking although it seems to me that you're doing your own thinking about what K has to say - all to the good! And I LOVE that you get to read and look for your first volunteer assignment and that you can look at places and buildings that you've read about. Somebody is canny!
Love = desiring the beloved's good in the same way that you desire your own, and doing everything you can to promote and participate in it. Yes?

Jan 12, 12:24am Top

>15 Deern: Natalie, I have fond memories of Christmas when I was a child. Though, in hindsight, I now believe my mother was severely OCD. Everything had to be just right. Tinsel on the tree had to be perfect. All outside decorations were tastefully done. There was always lots of baking, and I do mean LOTS. Still, looking back, I know that she tried to do the best she could for us on a limited budget.

A child of the 1950's, I know that she wanted to find employment out of the house, but my father thought that made him less of a man. She then overdid it with her household responsibilities. I saw a 2019 Hallmark ornament that was a mother/daughter dress. My sisters and I always had dresses alike during the Christmas season. My poor younger sister had hand me downs of the same style dress from my sister two years old than she, and then my dress that was handed down from me to Kathy, two years younger. This poor kid wore a white with blue polka dot dress for six years.

Edited: Jan 13, 9:50am Top

>51 FAMeulstee:, >52 LizzieD:, >50 charl08: Charlotte, Anita and Peggy: thank you for sharing your thoughts on those expressions! My interpretation is what happens when I - as usual - turn everything in a book around my own experiences. Can‘t help being a totally egocentric person, and knowing it and trying to change my behavior doesn’t remove the issue itself.

Anyway, in the last couple of years I‘ve found my own interpretation of „love“ which is mainly the all-encompassing spiritual kind and very difficult to live (for me) most of the time. I don‘t know yet if something similar happened to K., where I am now in book 2 he‘s starting to reconsider his faith.

I was wondering if K. the author, not the character, had for a similar reason substituted „love“ with „tenderness“, love being complete and unconditional, tenderness way more fragile and (in my case) connected with the anticipated pain of loss. There’s also a chapter where he discusses the concept and his search for innocence with his friend Geir (spelling), and the innocence he sees in his young children, mainly Vanya (spelling again, I got the audio only) brings those feelings of tenderness to the surface. „Love“ in my new, totally unromantic understanding, wouldn‘t fear for that loss of (emotional) innocence and the pain that brings.


Oh dear, sorry for that. I‘m so deeply immersed into those books now, I‘m almost through the 22 hrs of book 2 and will probably jump right into #3. All the while taking notes of books mentioned by him I really should read, or reread.... I need more time! *help* :)

Jan 13, 7:57am Top

>53 Whisper1: Those are lovely memories, Linda, thank you for sharing them. No Christmas dress tradition on our side, but my mum told me she and her 4 sisters had identical dresses for Christmas the first years.

And it seems our moms were similar. Mine has given up on the baking now, but there used to be LOTS and then she hid them for weeks in different tins in different places, so when my dad and I found one, we wouldn‘t eat them all until Christmas. Which was ridiculous, we only ever had 2 or 3 and when Christmas finally came, there were always so many left, we couldn‘t finish them before they turned old. :))

Jan 13, 9:09am Top

Wishing you a lovely Sunday, Nathalie

Jan 13, 1:46pm Top

>56 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, happy new week to you! :)

So, finished Knausgaard #2. Started book #3, and really hope it won‘t be all „boys running wild in the 70s“, that might get boring. Interesting thoughts on „re-constructing childhood“ from almost no memories.

Forgot to say that I’m also reading Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the Guardian‘s GR in January. It’s fun, yes, but it would have been hilarious 20 years ago. All the Queen references... *sniff*

And I just downloaded My Brother‘s Husband 2 and hope to get to it the next days. If work allows, that is.

Jan 13, 5:43pm Top

>57 Deern: IMHO the boy runs wild in book 4 :-)

Jan 13, 6:04pm Top

Not sure how I missed your thread until now, Nathalie, but glad I finally found you!

A belated 'Happy Birthday!'

Jan 13, 8:41pm Top

Wow, you are really digging into those K'gard books, Nathalie. I started the first one in the print version and got so busy with other things that I abandoned it. That's the trouble with books I own. I really want to get back to it this year and will probably start over.

I loved Good Omens when I listened to it on a road trip several years ago. I want to read it in print sometime to see if it has the same effect on me.

I look forward to following your reading and the events in your most interesting life again this year!

Jan 14, 6:30am Top

I loved Good Omens. I don't know how long it will take me to get to the series, though...I'm always behind on TV.

Jan 20, 5:06am Top

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Nathalie.

Edited: Jan 20, 12:01pm Top

>57 Deern: >61 richardderus: I gave this to my brother for Xmas, and he disappeared home with it before I had time to read it! The edition had a bit in the front explaining how to read it, which would have been really helpful with book 1, as I got very confused before realising what I'd missed about which way the panels, as well as the book itself, read.

Jan 21, 11:09am Top

I am so glad you are finding K as gripping as I did. Every book is so different and tackles some difficult time of life or aspect of becoming (or remaining) a decent human being. I got book 6 for Christmas, will read soon.

Edited: Jan 23, 6:03am Top

Aaaargh.... over a week AWOL and it's still only January. Will post some reviews now which I prepared earlier today and then hope to get some replies posted. I'm okay, just very stressed, working long hours.

3. A Death in the Family /4. A Man in Love / 7. Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Well, I’m deeply immersed in the Knausgaard books, much more so than I ever expected. Which is at least half the “fault” of narrator Edoardo Ballerini. Actually, it was an interview with him I read which lead me to start listening to the first book which I’d had in my audible library already for a while.

The narration is 5 stars. The books… I don’t know. 4 stars maybe. They’re addictive, the descriptive writing is very good – in contrast the dialogues are surprisingly short and empty. There’s a man – and I’m trying to differentiate between the writer and the character Karl-Ove – who has all the words in his head, but isn’t able to speak them out except by writing. Okay, the writer is older and wiser than his character, but even in the now parts his dialogues are sparse and I keep thinking “why don’t you people just say openly what you’re thinking?”. But all this of course is intended. I'm starting to feel a bit manipulated by all that supposed truth.

Books 1 and especially book 2 were extremely fast listens, because I could connect so well to the thought processes. Book 3, as expected, was a bit of a drag, at least the first part. It’s the darkness that’s attractive in his books, not comparatively happy early childhood memories. Except for one or two occasions, I could understand his fear of his father, but not really the life-long trauma. But hey – trauma reasons are individual. I should know that. Emotional abuse – even just perceived emotional abuse – can have just the same consequences in later life as physical abuse has.

I was just wondering how, with all his fear inside, he still was able to go and burn a meadow and do other idiotic forbidden things. I wasn’t half as scared of my parents, but I would never have done that. There’s a harsh part in me (despite being introvert and over-sensitive myself) that has been formed by my own dad who after all I heard had a father similar to Karl Ove’s (he died before I was born). That part often was annoyed and impatient with young Karl Ove when he started crying about every little thing. Your mum having a middle name makes you cry? I remember I was curious and a bit jealous when I found out my parents and all uncles and aunts had middle names while I didn’t. But crying because I feel “cheated”, really? I cried a lot, still do on occasions, but boy he really is extremely sensitive! And then he goes and without thinking burns that meadow, as I said.

Looking at his father, with the “wisdom of my years”, what I see is a man with a strong inclination to all kinds of “vices” (however you specify them), who with all his might tried to keep order in his life, thinking he’d drown if he let go of control just for a moment. Which is what eventually happened. What a terribly sad death.

The mother often acts surprisingly… erm… looking for a word. Something between naïve and insensitive. Who in their right mind would buy a bath cap with plastic flowers for a boy and be offended when he doesn’t want it? That was a prime example and she was over 30 then. I often thought she was quite oblivious to the needs of others and what she did to his brother when they moved was basically abandonment. I guess that’s how the present/ writing Karl Ove also sees it now in his ratio and what he was trying to convey in the books without openly saying it.

In book two I constantly had to remind myself how young Karl Ove and Linda still were and of the bad decisions (love-wise) I took when I was their age. “We clearly don’t get along anymore, and the other person didn’t miraculously heal all my ego-wounds, so let’s have a bunch of kids”.

I generally very much get the constant running away when a place/ relationship/ friendship seems exhausted, of re-inventing himself, starting a new page. But so often already at such a young age. In a sense, he's very much like his father. I wonder how that will turn out.

I’m almost half through book 4 now which despite the dreaded detailed description of alcohol excesses and resulting hangovers (ew) is a much faster listen again.

Ratings so far:
They all get 4.5 – 5 for the narration, 4 for the books.

Edited: Jan 22, 11:35am Top

5. My Brother’s Husband 2 by Gengoroh Tagame

A much faster read than the first one – it had less text, bigger illustrations, and this time I knew I had to read from right to left, so it made sense from the beginning. :)
After the bigger conflicts of the first part, this was easier with Yaichi coming to terms with his late brother’s homosexuality. For the average Western person it’s a very tame book (again thinking of my brilliant and very graphic Ralf Koenig gaycomix collection), but probably just enough for a very conservative (Japanese and non-Japanese) readership. The chapter where Yaichi and Mike are looking at pictures of Mike's and Ryoji's wedding and the last chapter had me tear up quite a bit.

Rating: 4.5 stars

6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Confession: I never read a Terry Pratchett book. I bought the "Discworld" computer game many many years ago because I loved “Simon the Sorcerer” and hoped for something similar, but I never got through even the first quests. And then I never was an avid reader of fantasy of any kind. Of Neil Gaiman I read Coraline and the short story about Susan from the Narnia books. There’s something that didn’t really click (yet). This book is the January GR in the Guardian, and if it hadn’t been for the comments (“best book ever”) and all the quotes I might have given up early in, as I was so confused and the story didn’t really interest me. And then it got me, somehow. It helped a lot that about a third in, I bought the audio on Sunday and listened through it in one go. It isn’t a book for the odd 5 minutes here and there. The audio was narrated by Martin Jarvis whose voice I like a lot for classics and children’s literature, but here I’d have expected a younger and sharper voice, less “uncle in front of a fireplace” style. I learned he also narrated the “Just William” books and as the “Them” here are based on those books, he might have been the obvious choice.

Okay. The story imo is a bit lame, there are many strange characters with complicated names and the ending is a bit… not exactly spectacular. It’s all in the general feeling, in the many many quotable parts that just show how much fun the authors had and in some really, really, really silly ideas (I sometimes love silly humor). During my Sunday walk I actually stopped and laughed loudly several times. I had wisely chosen a lonely trail. All those 90s references (every cassette(!) turning into a Queen album after 24hrs), all the timeless political references (American troops landing in Atlantis to save the people there from “something”), the book explodes with ideas, the plot isn't important.

The humor is classical British: people are thrown into hair-raising situations they deal with stoically while worrying what the neighbors might say if they found out. So better not overreact if an UFO blocks your road. Just answer the aliens’ questions and hope they’ll leave quickly. There’s a character who is indignantly non-stop composing “letters to the Times editor” about the loss of good manners while meeting witches, angels, riders of the Apocalypse, hell creatures and even the antichrist during his dog walk. You just have to imagine him trolling a forum nowadays, and voting for Brexit of course. Generally the characters, while confusingly many, are written perfectly. The thing is I like this sort of humor much more in the “now”, as it is in this book, the clash with life as we know it. I can’t really imagine it in a fantasy world. Though I’m considering reading some TP now. Or better having it read to me.
I really hope the TV show will somehow be available to me.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Edited: Jan 22, 11:38am Top

>58 FAMeulstee: OH YES, HE DOES! :O

>59 alcottacre: Hi Stasia, Happy New Year and thank you for the bday wishes. I promise I'll visit soon!

>60 Donna828: Hi Donna :)
I wasn't able to eye-read Good Omens and I doubt I could read Knausgaard in my short reading sessions right now. The audios are just right. Eye-reading I might skim over all the descriptive detail and be annoyed with the sparse dialogue.

>61 richardderus: *sniff* I was so sad in this one about Rioyi's death...

>62 The_Hibernator: I don't think it has started yet (if you mean the TV show). But you have the best reason to be behind on things right now. :D

>63 PaulCranswick: Happy week to you, Paul. I hope to be back posting regularly soon.

>64 charl08: Same here! I got so confused in book 1. :D

>65 sibyx: I hope 6 is as good as the others. It seems to be more than twice as long (43 hrs?).
I can't yet say the books are "great", but they are certainly special. More special when I think parts might be really completely fictional and it's not just a very long auto-bio. The process of how he became a writer fell a bit short in book 3 of course, now this is coming into focus again.


Yes, work is being busy, but that volunteering task took more time than I expected, most of my lunch breaks and part of the weekend. Now the first version of my excel table is done. Of course I haven't just done what was asked, but added several extra columns with information I personally found interesting, like profession of the villa's owner (surprisingly many "normal" people) and also the addresses. So I can print it out and take it on walks with me.

I did some cooking last week as well and am very happy with my instant pot. Totally surprised with those cooking times. I mean black (pre-soaked) beans in 6 minutes pressure time? Cauliflower butternut curry in 5?!? And it tastes so much better, the latter is a recipe I made in a normal pot first. Now it tastes "complete", perfectly combined.

Edited: Jan 29, 11:41am Top

Just a quick update: I'm 1 hour 20 mins away from finishing Knausgard #5, just having downloaded #6.
Had to travel to a meeting in Bavaria last Friday for an ill colleague which meant I had to catch up on my work on Sunday. Spent the rest of Sunday doing 2 interesting things: participated in a guided walk along the places where Meranese Jews had lived before the Shoah and in the evening after work I went to a book presentation at the synagogue. I bought the book, Ida - about Ida Bauer (married Adler), a former patient of Freud's, better known as "case Dora". Katharina Adler did a wonderful reading and signed my book.

I learned next year will be Kafka year in Merano (he lived here for a bit) and offered to volunteer.

Yesterday I met my friend Astrid for dinner. She said many wise things and I thought I'll call 2019 "my year of Basta!".

The work and firewall situation is very difficult... I just wanted to post why I haven't been on LT this weekend either and I'll reduce my office online time again. Any maybe change my password, just to be safe. :(

((((Hugs to all))))

Jan 29, 8:35am Top

Sorry to hear you've been working so hard - but you seem to be packing in the fun things too. I like the idea of a year of Kafka, the possibilities for fun linked events sound quite promising! Wishing you a good week.

Edited: Jan 30, 10:45am Top

08. My Struggle: Book 4 and
09. My Struggle: Book 5 by Karl Ove Knausgard


Well… while books #4 and 5 were much faster listens than book 3, I thought they were a bit weaker than the first three. I learned now they were published after the first two books were out and reactions were in, and you can feel that. On the one hand more restrained when it comes to other people, but way out of hand when it comes to Karl Ove himself (“you people feel insulted and embarrassed?!? See how much more I can embarrass myself!”). For a while I was wondering if at least half of what he wrote is actually fiction, I mean “full fiction” – not blurred memories. But according to the two interviews I read it’s mainly the latter, while I would have preferred the first – I like that idea. Take a real world frame and then go and invent where you feel it’s needed. IMPORTANT: call it fiction and publish it in book form. Don't call it alternative reality or any such nonsense and make news and politics out of it.

In book 5 he says over and over again that there is no story in him. He wants to write novels and short stories, but doesn’t know about what. In my own very limited world of occasional private writing I understand that very well. There were times when I was writing daily, when I felt I had to write, but for lack of a story it was always about me and my own life. Strangely, while I never considered showing my writing to anyone, I still felt guilty for being so self-centered. If you wonder, I always feel guilty about being self-centered, also when I'm here which is another reason for absences.

Anyway, books 4 and 5 must have been partly fictional, when it comes to K’s “love life” (I’m writing this on my office computer and will have to get this past the firewalls and monitoring mechanisms, so please substitute “love” with the 3-letter word that ends with an “x”). No “self-love” at all until 20? And then in the cold shared downstairs bathroom, three times a day? Are you kidding me?!?

I broke into laughter when he orders Shakespeare and 2 other big classics and a book with , errr..."art" photographs from “The English Book Club” in the late 80s. I joined that English Book Club at the same time. It was then the only way to get my hand on books in English, or better on a catalogue to choose from, and of course, my entry selection of “4 free books” contained smut. (I’m sure the firewall doesn’t know “smut”). Mine was Henry Miller’s Cancer and Capricorn books in a set and a D.H. Lawrence collection. You might imagine my disappointment when I saw the dialect in “Lady Chatterley”. My dictionary wasn’t very helpful there. The other two books were Oscar Wilde’s works (which Knausgard ordered as well, yay!) and Sue Townsend’s first two Adrian Mole diaries in a set.

The person he was forced to leave out of the later books was clearly his half-sister, and I noticed his father’s second wife (no idea how the name is spelled – Uny?) makes just one more appearance and he never mentions how, when and why they split up, the father is just suddenly living with the grandmother. The Tonja/Tunje/first wife story is interesting as well. I don’t believe for a minute he cheated just the once, he was just found out that one time, so that’s the official version. The early Linda story from book 2 isn’t even mentioned in book 5, not even the writer’s workshop where they met. This is all bits and pieces, and it’s the job of the reader to find the connections and to add the memories from the first two books to the picture in book 5, to find the correct time line. Is this intended, is this art, is it confusion or a result of external reactions?

About the alcohol I’m wondering that there seems to be not a single moment when K at least tries to stay away from it or forms a connection between his father’s drinking and his own. Or I should say he writes about everything but that. The things he leaves out start becoming more interesting than those he keeps repeating. Or maybe we’ll get there in book 6.

Is the annoying “he said, I said, she said” a Norwegian thing? I mean, in dialogues he could as well have left it out in most cases, just using “ “. It might be less noticeable in the paper book, but the narrator always lowers his voice when doing the "yxz said", and as people never say much, dialogues have such an up and down rhythm.

Last note: I bought my first Hamsung, Hunger.

Rating: 4 for each (3,5 for the books, bonus for the narration)

Jan 30, 5:05am Top

>70 charl08: A good week to you as well, Charlotte! :)
And of course first thing I did was downloading a "complete Kafka"...

Jan 30, 6:51am Top

Something I want to add to my Knausgard #5 review (spoiler alert!):
a) the part about writing generally was wonderful and 5 stars. What bored me a bit were the repetitive "drink fillers" - without any inner analysis about it when he analyzes everything else. I mean, is there ever a moment where he mentions a hesitation before grabbing and downing the first beer of a night? Not in the first books where the blackouts are all great, but later when he knows he's in danger of hurting people he loves and when his brother clearly tells him to stop drinking?

b) The book presentation on Sunday fits nicely in here and in my doubts about bending the "truth", whatever that is, for a novel (I just had a look at Lucy's brilliant review and while reading it remembered I had planned to include this bit into my review). Katharina Adler knew next to nothing about her great-grandmother Ida Bauer/Adler when she started the project and research only got her so far, so she filled the gaps with "full fiction". I find that extremely courageous (as I find K's books super-courageous as well), as you're always in danger someone will turn up and call you a lier. It's easier with a relative who has been dead for decades than with yourself and the people around you, but I'd be totally terrified in any case.

Jan 30, 3:06pm Top

I'm crawling around the threads to say I'm not dead but woefully unread, both books and threads. Hope you're well.

Jan 31, 3:34pm Top

My thoughts about the conflict between Knausgaard and his uncle are that they both could be right. What you remember isn't always what happened. Memories can change through time, and what one can see isn't necesary what the other sees. So the "truth" may have many sides.

Feb 1, 6:43am Top

>74 richardderus: I can't believe I'm still well... everyone around me is ill, my office colleage has a severe bronchitis. I'm eating orange-fennel-olive-chickpea salad right now and hope my immune system will fight all those bugs.

Have a good weekend! We're getting snowed in right now, btw. Haven't seen any real snow down here in years, and now it doesn't stop. Looking forward to a weekend inside with much reading. Ingredients for IP butternut/cauliflower/lentil curry and banana bread are already in the fridge.

Edited: Feb 1, 1:17pm Top

>75 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, I'm only now listening to the parts in book 6 that cover the whole Gunnar story. Well... as Lucy said in her review of book 5, K's truth is his own emotional truth. I'm sure the objective truth is somewhere in between.

The books after #2 feel a bit different, and this one very much so. I wonder how much was at least slightly modified with uncle Gunnar in K's thoughts and this makes me see the ridiculous "love life" events of books 4 and 5 not in an all different light (I mentioned it earlier), but even more as something to provoke his uncle ("you're telling ME I'm playing the hero? I'm such a loser, I'm too stupid to w***, and I write about it. Are you finally happy now?!?"). This is totally funny!

That hidden subtle criticism for his mother I noticed from book 3 on also gets a new sense now. Would he have mentioned the bath cap and the two death cats (wasn't that terrible? One long, painful death and Mephisto put down in the middle of his life?) without having Gunnar's accusations?

The person K always accuses directly is is father, everyone else gets those little hidden kicks (Linda in this book, even more than in #2 - intended or not, he makes her look terrible).

Thinking much about truths nowadays. Thinking about old events, I can easily switch how I interprete them. Facts are bland, the rest is interpretation and the mood of the day.

Feb 1, 7:46am Top

>76 Deern: Sending power to your immune system, Nathalie! Your discussion of K's books almost has me tempted!

Feb 1, 12:09pm Top

>71 Deern: Yeah, I feel like once reactions are in for a series, the feel of a series changes. Even very good authors have trouble avoiding that.

Edited: Feb 3, 3:20am Top

>78 charl08: I wanted to read them for a while, but had to wait for the right mood, or I might have thrown them at a wall, or given up after half of book 1. Many people read them in parallel with the Ferrantes, and while similarly addictive (they‘re both written from head and guts and „feverish“ which is transmitted to the reader), they‘re quite different. I‘m wondering which will have more impact on me. The Ferrantes, as I interpreted them, were a clever play with life‘s possibilities, while this is becoming all about „truth“. Both are alltogether a bit too long.

>79 The_Hibernator: I‘m now at a point where I don‘t believe anything anymore which I know is wrong, but I like it better. So it‘s not just about the truth for the writer and the characters who exist in RL, each reader can also build their own reality. Taking in the reactions of uncle Gunnar and everyone else is such a smart move. Maybe he just wanted to be honest, maybe he just wanted some revenge, but what it does to me is throwing all the earlier books into a spiral, so I don‘t know anymore where I am as a reader.

The Paul Celan part goes over my head, because I‘m unable to follow it. I‘d never heard of him, now I read the two poems in the original German, but I can‘t follow K‘s thoughts, as my head suddenly builds weird religious theories while the narrator speaks on and on.

Started Hunger by Hamsun yesterday and can see the influence.

Did some cooking yesterday, my banana bread didn‘t work out at all, maybe because for the first time I followed the recipe 1:1? Walked in the snow which is already disappearing again quickly.

As always a month late, I finally scribbled down some new year‘s resolutions and made an excel list for checking items off. It‘s the usual stuff: eating healthier, walk more, do more yoga again, volunteer, more serious reading... :)

The villa is going to open on April 20, Easter Saturday, with a big garden party and free guided tours. We met with the curator from Berlin on Thursday evening and she told us a bit. We‘ll have workshops where we‘ll learn more about the house and the owners and all the exhibits. The other volunteers all seem nice and many have an art background.

Feb 4, 7:53am Top

Update book 6... 17 hours to go (26 listened to). I'm wondering if this is the book to end all books?

Weekend with Geir and the kids... except for the outside reactions to novel 1 totally action-free, and somehow what was charming in book 2 (family life in detail) is less charming here. Not boring, but it isn't that he had to fill pages somehow. The book is more than twice as long as any of the others, so maybe not every credit card payment or ice cream purchase or nappy change in real-time detail? The point of his existence between little life and big thoughts wouldn't be lost.

With the Paul Celan part I had difficulties for simple reasons: German poem translated into Norwegian is the basis for the Norwegian essay. This is then translated into English and in my head back into German. Poetry/ discussion of poetry in a foreign language is a different level from other literature, and I just couldn't follow.

The part about young Hitler pre 1920 (was that all? Didn't feel like 400 pages. I guess we'll get the later years as well, maybe with the Breivik case) was surprisingly easy to follow, extremely interesting and in a certain way (sorry!) entertaining. I didn't read any of the sources, but he picks out just those parts of Hitler's youth that are similar to his, so while he doesn't say it, it's of course all about him. The question is "what made this youth turn into the monster, and why did I manage to stay quite sane?"

And now he's turned to arts, religion, sin, and I wonder where he's going to stop and return to Earth and BBQing sausages on the balcony. All his theories sound deep and well-analyzed, but I lack knowledge to judge them.

Except for a short break in book 3 I've been listening to those novels for 4 weeks now, several hours a day. I'm at the point where it's quite enough. But maybe there are some more happy surprises waiting for me in those last 17 hours?

Feb 4, 8:14am Top

>80 Deern: Nathalie, your position with the Villa is my dream job! I'm so excited for you! It is sure to be a wonderful experience.
Wow, you sure are investing a lot of time in book 6. I'm impressed!

Feb 4, 12:28pm Top

Well, I was quite tempted, until you mentioned Hitler.
The opening event sounds lovely - please take some pictures, if you can, of the place?

Feb 4, 2:26pm Top

>82 Carmenere: Yes, I‘m sure it will be a very special museum, I hope it‘ll be a success with the tourists.

43 hours, my longest audio ever! The whole series must be about... way over 130 hours. And I‘d thought War and Peace on audio would be too long.

>83 charl08: the second Hitler part just started. The first was good, as I knew almost nothing about the very early years pre WWI, and it was an unusual approach. That second part, the rise of the Nazi party, will be hard to get through, especially looking at all the new populist movements. We don‘t learn.

Yes, I promise pictures. I tried to take some on Thursday, but it was too dark. I‘ll take some again when I‘m there at daylight.

Feb 4, 6:30pm Top

>81 Deern: I am not sure about any happy surprises to come, Nathalie, only that I enjoyed the last book until the last page :-)

Feb 5, 12:16am Top

>85 FAMeulstee: :) I‘m quite sure there won‘t be any (he really isn’t one for happiness...), I just hope the listening will become a little easier. This is the only book I would have preferred to read. Listening needs a bit of a plot for me (personally), even in non-fiction.

Feb 5, 10:33pm Top

The Knausgaard books look like a project of themselves, Nathalie.

I found Hunger a real slog as I recall.

Feb 9, 2:13am Top

>87 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, both aren‘t finished yet. Hunger is very different from what I imagined, and it doesn‘t call me at all. Not bad, just doesn‘t fit my reading mood.
I hope to finish the Knausgaards this weekend, #6 needed much rewinding and repeated listening in the Hitler part (which is absolutely brilliant and very very scary)


Emerged from a workweek from hell (more of those to come) that was free of any eye reading or LTing, just to be hit by an infection I hope won‘t turn into what my office colleague has (who has been on and off sick for weeks now). Ew.
Had a bad night, have a massive headache now and am planning to spend this sunny and warm day mostly in bed with a hot water bottle and much tea. And audio books as reading makes me feel dizzy.

I must change my work in some way, I really can‘t see myself being in this situation (also psychologically/ emotionally) for many more years. We have many freedoms there, but also too many people with rage issues. Working in a team of 2 with someone who won‘t talk to you for weeks and hates the world and everyone in it and brings himself into hair-raising situations of health and stress because he can‘t delegate really makes no sense at all. The one thing that doesn‘t change is that I have no idea where I could go alternatively. *sigh*

Feb 9, 6:40am Top

Hunger sounds like heavy going, Nathalie. Can I send you a Pereinne edition as a bit lighter reading? I have been looking at home working options after speaking to a friend who does a lot of it. Well, thinking about it more than looking at it, truth be told. Wishing you a gentle weekend.

Edited: Feb 10, 2:24am Top

>89 charl08: This is embarrassing, but I googled Pereinne and still don‘t really know what it means. Is it a publishing house? I‘m listening to a Denis Leary audio now (which I got when searching for „fun“ recently). It makes me fall asleep which is great this weekend as I had to catch up on sleep. It‘s funny as well, though not yet LOL funny.

Working from home is no option here at all. Much of my IT work is also reacting to the daily issues (someone calls and needs help), so it involves talking to the people at their desks/work places.

The next two weeks will be filled with several all-day workshops and many year-end tasks. I hope that then in March we‘ll be at a point where the whole situation gets clearer.

10. My Struggle: Book Six by Karl-Ove Knausgaard

Done with the Knausgaards. The long part about Hitler was very painful and difficult and also brilliant and makes #6 a stand-out. The book was written some years ago, pre-Brexit, Trump, Lega, etc., and the scary thing is how close we‘re getting to the situation of the late 20s/ early 30s. The politics of emotion, of the „lowest“ level of vacabulary, the propaganda, the slow deterioration of language: so many expressions are okay now which a couple of years ago were unthinkable. The left is underestimating that scapegoat-theories and feeling like victims is easier than dealing with changing values and adapting to a changing world.
I had to listen several times to some chapters, always confronting them with today, asking myself where we are now.

I was quite annoyed however with the last 10 hours and more reactions to the publishing of the first books and how family life was affected. He can‘t have been so naive. I can‘t believe he sent Tonja/Tunja the script of book 1, but not 2, after having experienced the backlash of book 1, and that‘s just one thing.
All that suffering and hiding from reviews and people. And then Linda‘s story... Seriously, how naive can people be? He lets her look terrible, himself not saintly but almost stupid and passive-aggressive. All those issues, all those fights, then another child (and yet another one after the books and then still a divorce and of course another love of his life in a different country again. He will write about that as well eventually, I‘m sure)
I‘m wondering if he is empathetic at all or if he‘s just caught in his own suffering when he makes others suffer. I knew someone like that (in fact had a relationship) and it took me 3 years to understand that his obvious suffering when he‘d hurt me was all about him and his guilt issues. He was forever the little boy hiding his misdeeds and fearing punishment.

Both K and Linda don‘t seem to be relationship-fit people, contrary to Geir and Christina. I was brought up by an“unfit“ couple who never managed, who still are unable to look at their own issues instead of focussing on their partner‘s. I ‚inherited’ something from both and am now single by choice, but I never wanted to put kids through this, knowing I‘d never be the mother a child should have.

Rating: 4.2 stars, 5 for the parts on literature and on Hitler, 3.5 for the rest

One more thing about the narration: generally great as ever, but there are 2 points:

1) In this book there are two Geirs, and both are spoken in the same voice. K talks to both a lot, so that was a bit confusing.

2) There were many German expressions in this book. I wish the narrator had asked a German how to pronounce them. I sometimes only understood them when he gave the English translation. I‘m sure this was an expensive production, they could have done that. He clearly learned the pronouciation of many Norwegian words.

Feb 10, 4:25am Top

Hi Nathalie, I reread my post and wanted to apologise, I should have realised home working wasn't an option in your current job. I was thinking about a new job for me, really, that would let me work from home. Pereinne is a very small publishing house that does books in translation. I've just read a few but they've been good so far, and the physical book is lovely, a small soft paperback where thought has gone into the typesetting. They are aimed to be read in a couple of hours. But apologies again, your message said you're struggling with text after all the screens, so probably not the helpful idea I thought.

I do enjoy your comments on the K books. I wonder about gender: how would this kind of series have been received if written by a woman author?

Feb 10, 5:18am Top

>91 charl08: No need to apologize for anything, Charlotte :)
Working from home would be lovely, it has been my dream for years. Not exclusively, maybe with 2 office days thrown in as well. But even in my old job it was still regarded negatively, and this here is another world, which shows in the ridiculous internet and private mail policy.

I‘ll look into those Pereinne books. I‘d like to read more paper books again, at least those unread ones on my shelves. I love having books around me.

Gender: I don‘t really know. Probably as a great work of honest feminism? But no, it wouldn‘t be as new then. Thinking of Ferrante for example. Hers are more „like real fiction novels“, but there are clearly RL experiences in there, and they are just as „written from the guts“. All the physical stuff about puberty, love life, is something I haven‘t read in this form from a male author yet. If others write about embarrassing stuff, it’s often mixed with humor and /or clearly marked as fiction. And the eternal „not being good enough“ and feeling guilty 100%of the time is usually a female theme anyway. He sometimes calls himself effeminate and doesn‘t like it at all.
Interesting: your question finally shows me how the two series are related. So many people have been reading them together, for me they felt quite seperate until now.

Feb 10, 9:31am Top

>91 charl08: Sorry, are they Pereinne or Peirene?

Feb 10, 11:03pm Top

Just checking in before I fall asleep, Nathalie. What I mean is (((((((Nathalie)))))))!
Hope your weekend has been restful and reinvigorating. I wish that the job were better. You deserve some joy in what you do!

Feb 10, 11:12pm Top


Your situation is so familiar to me. I hope against hope a new horizon opens for you.

Feb 11, 12:41pm Top

>93 Deern: Oh dear. https://www.peirenepress.com/about/ (I was convinced they had an extra n!!)

Interesting about the acceptable face of masculinity. I can't think of bios that do speak in the same way, as you say. I really should go back to, and read Ferrante too. I did not enjoy Days of Abandonment and haven't picked her up since.

Feb 12, 7:52am Top

I got a Golden Pear Badge! :D


>94 LizzieD: (((((Peggy))))) Thank you for visiting! My weekend was okay, infection (seems) almost gone, although today my throat aches and my voice is rough. I'm wondering if whatever gave my office colleague such a severe bronchitis might play around in my body in different ways?
Anyway, two days with tea, hot water bottle, blankets, audios, TV (a mix of a classical music channel and reruns of Big Bang Theory) and a bit of eye-reading helped for now.

>95 richardderus: (((((Richard))))) Thank you! :)
I know those horizons have to open in my head first, because generally it's all there. Grrrr....

>96 charl08: I also didn't enjoy Days of Abandonment, in fact put it on hold 2/3 through. But I thought it was brutally honest, a woman basically losing her mind and sometimes comand of her body for a couple of weeks when everything that held her life together breaks down. The Naples series is different, there's more head in it, but my enjoyment depended much on my interpretation of the split person. It is also a bit "woosh" (I don't know why that non-word comes into my head: it means it felt like too fast writing with not enough editing, "just written in a fever and thrown out of the window to the waiting public"), but that's also a strength. In RL when things happen to us it all gets muddled and loses all logic, and so her story sometimes loses focus. The series is however a tad too long. It was planned for 3 books, then they made 4, and books 3/4 are getting repetitive with the eternal ups and downs of the two main characters.

More happened at work and I guess I'm seeing things a bit clearer already now. Difficult weeks to come but I got some moral support from management with my issues. Let's see where this goes. More from home sometime this week.

Feb 12, 11:20am Top

Reading all your K comments with great interest. I remember thinking many of the same things -- about the mother and the bathing cap (but you know, my mother did things like that -- deciding not to bother buying or packing the new white untouched sneakers and extra white socks and shirt for the end-of-camp gala so I ended up with a very kind counselor out behind the kitchens trying to bleach and then put white shoe polish on them--better than nothing, but she did things like that fairly often and I did die of shame every time.) Oh my goodness, I can still feel very sorry for myself! (ha ha). Anyway, I am less hard on K generally -- he was a hypersensitive child -- and they are difficult, supremely difficult and frankly annoying sometimes. I suspect that writing these books is K's therapy, his lifeline to sanity. The drinking, well, no one ever thinks they are doing what their parents did, do they?

thanks for your complement about my review. I greatly appreciate it.

Sorry work is so awful.

Feb 12, 1:13pm Top

How did I miss starring you??? Bad Bekka!

I've been so awol that I only realised when I emerged from my cocoon and went to visit my visitors and couldn't find you on my list. BAH!
Anyway, sorry, back and you are stuck with me.

Massively empathise re work. I've been told mine is going to get better now for 18 months. Sit rep. Not better. Hope something crops up/changes soon, and much love to help you through.

Feb 16, 8:26pm Top

Hope you are doing well Nathalie.

Have a lovely Sunday. xx

Feb 19, 3:36am Top

Sunny greetings from Davos.

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