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I love these poems.

I love these poems.

October 17, 2018
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A while ago I stumbled across Nayyirah Waheed on Instagram. She writes poems, most often short ones, that go deep in me. I cannot duck and take cover from them, they pierce me, through and through, and often leave me… at a moments pause; A pause of taking a breath, of recollecting, reminiscing, refocusing.

At long last, and enough of those significant moments on Instagram, I ordered the book at the library. Got it. Read it. Book number 75 of the year, and a book I would gladly recommend to anyone. I, for one, am a novice poetry reader, and Nayyirah Waheed writes in a way that doesn’t confuse me. I read page after page, poem after poem, word by word. I read them out loud, yet still fully within me, as I read out loud no sounds are heard… I love these poems.

 

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The Law of Light (book 20 of 26)

October 7, 2018
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The Law of Light – the secret teachings of Jesus, written by Lars Muhl. As with The O Manuscript, Lars Muhl provides me with yet another wonderful reading experience. Not as outer worldly as The O Manuscript; but most definitely a book well worth the read.

The book is… well… It contains a mix of verses out of Biblical sources paired with Lars providing explanations or perhaps rather interpretations as well as his own little gold nuggets of wisdom. The book ranges over a wide expanse, covering heavenly archetypes and mystery traditions, conscious breathing and sin, love and free will, and much much more. This is a book I already know I want to – and will! – reread. There is simply so much here that intrigues me, that resonates, that provides little glimpses into things I have barely begun to scratch the surface of.

“A person who lives entirely in the outer world without any connection to his or her inner life always ends up as a victim of loneliness and separation. Such a minus-person […] is often frustrated about the past and in constant fear of the future.”

How I can relate to that. My entire recollection of childhood centered (! Yes. Past tense. Because I can change the story I tell about my childhood experience, to best serve me and those around me.) on being left out, feeling isolated and alone, observing rather than taking part.

“Mankind has only one self. On the other hand, this self has two sides, the small, personal self and the higher, transpersonal Self. Through our free will we have, at every instant, the opportunity to choose the type of reality we desire. We can choose the small self’s limited reality, or we can raise ourselves above the personality’s pettinesses and take responsibility for our life in the creative possibilities of the great Self: NOW.”

Another verse I can relate to. Ever-so-much. The rediscovery of my Self, a journey that has lasted – consciously – for the past three years. A journey that inspires me, encourages me, expands me. At the moment, a journey leading me on a playful dance of discovering my inner Yes (and No – but my lukewarm yeses and no’s have been frequent visitors within, those aren’t my main challenges.) which also has me saying yes and no. Stating it, plain and simple, is a challenge in and of itself. But I am getting there!

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this is of confusion.” (Matthew 5:37)


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Instant motivation (book 19 of 26)

September 23, 2018
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Instant motivation – the surprising truth behind what really drives top performance written by Chantal Burns, is a book about “the difference between how we really think and how we think we think” as Rory Sutherland, Vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather states on the cover of the book.

“All feelings are created by Thought. 

Your feelings are the felt experience of the Principle of Thought taking form, moment to moment. 

Thought and feeling are inseparable. 

Whatever you think, you will feel. Whatever you feel can only ever come from Thought in the moment. This is how the human operating system works.”

It is. 100%. Even though we all, I think, have that special area, where we d o  n o t believe it works this way. But here’s the thing about principles, like for instance the principle of gravity, they are always applicable. There are no “exceptions to the rule” when it comes to principles that govern life on Earth. And the principle of Mind, Thought and Consciousness are just that: principles.

“[…] the content of thought isn’t the issue. It’s our preoccupation with the content of our thinking that gets us into trouble and it’s our understanding of how the system works that gets us out of trouble.”

We-might-think-a-particular-thought-but-we-don-tAnother way to phrase this is: “The problem is never the problem. The problem is always your thinking about the problem” which Cathy Casey stated during the first Supercoach Academy weekend I attended back in 2014. For me, understanding that my state of mind is the driving force of how I experience my everyday life, and not external factors, has been a huge part in why I enjoy life so much more today than I used to. And more than anything, when I got this: “We might think a particular thought but we don’t have to listen to it. It doesn’t have any inherent power over us unless we give it power.” life shifted in a way that means it will never be the same again.

Oh the relief, when I understood that I didn’t have to listen to and act upon all the really weird and not-so-constructive thoughts that zoomed through my mind! And this is, in essence, what this book is about. Clearly written, easily described, with plenty of examples from real life, it’s an easy way to gain deeper understanding to the human condition and more than that, insight into what shapes the human experience on Earth.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Beauty (book 18 of 26)

September 9, 2018
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Beauty. Pure beauty.

There. I could finish here. Because it’s true. Pure beauty, that’s what this book is – Beauty The invisible embrace authored by John O’Donohue. And the funny thing is – I normally abhor audio books, but this one, read by John himself… now that I might truly enjoy, I believe. His soft-spoken rolling sweet Irish accent is wonderful to listen to, and when I was reading it was as if I could hear him whispering in my ears, that which my eyes were taking in. That’s actually how I was recommended the book, by my former coach. She told me to find the audiobook!

Which I didn’t (not for lack of trying). All the same I am very happy that I bought the physical book instead.

Beauty John O'Donohue“These times are riven with anxiety and uncertainty, given the current global crisis. […] Our trust in the future has lost its innocence. We know now that anything can happen, from one minute to the next. The traditional structures of shelter are shaking, their foundations revealed to be no longer stone but sand. We are suddenly thrown back on ourselves. Politics, religion and economics and the institutions of family and community, all have become abruptly unsure. At first, it sounds completely naïve to suggest that now might be the time to invoke and awaken beauty. Yet this is exactly the claim that this book explores. Why? Because there is nowhere else to turn and we are desperate; furthermore, it is because we have so disastrously neglected the Beautiful that we now find ourselves in such terrible crisis.”

Beauty was originally written in 2003, yet, upon reading this paragraph, I feel John O’Donohue is talking about this very moment in time. Climate crisis. Refugees. Wars. Natural disasters. Nationalism on the rise in more places than I care to know. As I write this, the voting in the general election in Sweden 2018 is four minutes from closing time. Four minutes until the counting of all votes will commence… and I fear the results which is totally unprecedented in my life.

“The way we look at things has a huge influence on what becomes visible to us. […] Eventually the windows of the mind become blinded by an imperceptible film of dead thought and old feeling so that the air within becomes stale, life lessens and the outside world loses its invitation and challenge. When no fresh light can come into the mind, the colour and beauty fade from life. There is an uncanny symmetry between the inner and the outer world. Each person is the sole inhabitant of their own inner world; no-one else can get in there to configure how things are seen. Each of us is responsible for how we see, and how we determine what we see. Seeing is not merely a physical act; the heart of vision is shaped by the state of soul. When the soul is alive to beauty, we begin to see life in a fresh and vital way.”

Based on my social media feed, I am saddened and frightened by what seems to be visible to people. How they see… and what. And who’s to blame. Pointing fingers. Painting doomsday images, where Beauty is long since dead and buried. This is not what I need right now. And I don’t think it’s what you – or we as a collective – need either. We need the opposite:
To behold beauty dignifies your life; it heals you and calls you out beyond the smallness of your own self-limitation to experience new horizons. To experience beauty is to have your life enlarged.

Yes. Please, more beauty. For me. For you. How I wish for you – and you, and you, and you! – to experience more beauty.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

 

 

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Outliers (book 17 of 26)

August 26, 2018
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OutliersI have been attending a training all weekend, and once that finished, I went immediately to a dear friend for dinner, arriving back at my hotel room just after nine pm, with 70 pages yet to read. Luckily, I am a fast reader. With an hour to spare, I just finished reading my book-of-the-week, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.

”Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”

Another stroke of luck: Outliers is an easy read. A fun read. Highly informative and once in a while very thought-provoking. At the same time, Malcolm hails hard work a tad too much to my liking. Because somehow I find he misses out on the distinction of hard Smart work.

I mean. I get it, hard work, tenacity, the ability to put in the effort and do the work – of course that is a trait worth praising.

But at the same time – using my smarts to not only work hard, but also to work smart – to ensure I set up feedback loops, find rolemodels whos work or traits I can emulate and/or get inspired by, and most importantly, work hard at building pipelines rather than hauling buckets (a Robert Kiosaki-reference, aka Rich dad – Poor dad) – is something I don’t find expressed in so many words in Outliers.

Still. He has sure found some great stories to tell, and he is a very skilled storyteller. And I fully agree with this:
”To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success – the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history – with a society that provides opportunities for all.”


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

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Bury me standing.

August 22, 2018
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I should not be sitting here, in the sofa, closer to 11 pm, after a long day, when I still haven’t even begun packing my trip to Stockholm tomorrow morning… but I am. Tonight was the first GIFTED book club meet-up after the summer, and the book of the day was Bury me standing by Isabel Fonseca.

Bury-me-standing-I-ve-been-on-my-knees-all-my-lif“Bury me standing.
I’ve been on my knees all my life.”

A Roma proverb by Manush Romanov, which he called out to Isabel at the end of a mutual visit in Sofia.

First of all – this meet-up marks our one-year-anniversary, and I have to say, I’ve read books I most likely would not have read, had it not been for the book club. For that I am very grateful. It is one way to combat the narrowing of my filter bubble, for sure.

Secondly, Bury me standing is a daunting read. Informative, detailed, perplexing, shocking and sometimes even downright horrendous. It evokes so much in me, it’s hard to know where to start. But… I think…. maybe what strikes me first and foremost, is, truly, how hard it is for me to u n d e r s t a n d the Roma way of life, sentiment and culture. It is a culture very alien to me. Here we have a culture, a people (even though even the classification of the Roma as “a people” is not unproblematic in itself, see the quote below), that seem so foreign, to what almost all cultures across the globe have “assimilated into”. I mean, look at schooling. Most people across the globe go to school, regardless if you are 10 years old in Cuba, Nairobi, Shanghai or Malmö. And those schools, more or less, are very similar. Superficial differences exist for sure, but the basic structure is the same. And here we have a group of people, who just doesn’t buy into what I, what we, what the Western society (for lack of a better word), have deemed good, worthwhile, necessary.

And from the book, it’s made perfectly clear (in all to graphic descriptions sometimes) how we have not been able to stand this, for five hundred years or so. In fact, it seems we’ve done our very best throughout the centuries to thwart every possibility for Gypsies (the term Isabel Fonseca uses throughout the book; the library copy I’m reading was published in 1996) to become a part of society. Shunning them. Ostracizing them. Killing them. Making up laws and regulations (still in effect today. I mean, t o d a y, in 2018!) that are specifically designed to make it as hard as possible for them to live their life, their way.

Why can’t we live and let live? Why is “the other” so frightening to us?

I don’t know. It’s hard even to write about this book.
We did have a really good GIFTED conversation about it though, and somehow, I find it easier to talk about my thoughts, insights, questions and curiosities both towards the book and the Roma people, than to pin them down on paper.

“The Jews have responded to persecution and dispersal with a monumental industry of remembrance. The Gypsies – with their peculiar picture of fatalism and the spirit, or wit, to seize the day – have made an art of forgetting. 
Historically the Gypsies have not had an idea of, or word for, themselves as a group. In place of a nation, they recognize different tribes and, more locally, extended families or clans. Their European names – like Gypsy or Zigeuner – suggest a monolithic what. This isn’t an accurate reflection of how they see themselves: it is a reflection of how they are seen by outsiders.”

Outsider who, like me, have such a hard time understanding what it is we are seeing, that we cannot comprehend it. Perhaps (even likely) we cannot even see what it is we should, or could, be seeing, because our frame of reference is so vastly different.

“But things are changing. Just as Eskimos have chosen to call themselves the Inuit – which means “people” – “Roma” is emerging as a common name and signaling the arrival of a new collective identity.”

I hope, oh, how I hope, that the coming five hundred years will not be a continuation of what has gone on for far too long. So… what to do?

Listen.
Be there. Curiously. Non-judgmentally. Not wanting/needing/aiming to “solve the problem/s”.
Letting go of the idea that the Western way of living is “the right way of living”, letting come… a broadened perspective? A deeper understanding? Self-determination (truly)?

Listen (and learn).

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Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind (book 16 of 26)

August 12, 2018
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“The immense diversity of imagined realities that Sapiens invented, and the resulting diversity of behavior patterns, are the main components of what we call ‘cultures’. Once cultures appeared, they never ceased to change and develop, and these unstoppable alterations are what we call ‘history’.”

Caspian has been on my back for a long time about reading Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. And I’ve been meaning to, for a long time. So when the time came to pick books for the reading challenge of the year, giving one spot to Sapiens was an easy choice. However, I’ve been putting reading it off, until I had plenty of time, so from the beginning I had my mind set for a summer read. However, my summer has gone my in a flash, with all sorts of things booked, so I finally realized I just had to start. So I did. I even gave myself two weeks to read it, as I started it at the same time I read the Swedish book of last week, which was a fairly short read.

“[…] the average forager had wider, deeper and far mot varied knowledge of her immediate surroundings than most of her modern descendants. Today, most people in industrial societies don’t need to know much about the natural world in order to survive. […] The human collective knows far more today that did the ancient bands. But at the individual level, ancient foragers were the most knowledgeable and skillful people in history.”

Sapiens_Still. With a few days to go, I wasn’t even halfway, so I’ve been cramming it this weekend, let me tell you. Woke up this morning with 70% of the book read; approximately 120 pages to go. Not an impossible feat at all, even though I’ve been busy with work and other things all morning and well into the afternoon.

“How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. […]
Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural.” 

And yes. It’s now done; honest to god, I swear I’m not cheating, blogging about a book I’ve yet to actually finish. I did finish it, and I do recommend you read it. In 466 pages Yuval take me by the hand and walk me through the history of humankind, just as the title promises. Cramming in 70 000 years in 466 pages makes it brief, by default. Yet it’s far from shallow. I wouldn’t say that at all. No. Yuval both summarizes, and provides me with some startling new perspectives on the Cognitive, Agricultural, Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, each in turn.

“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine. For example, studying how Europeans came to dominate Africa enables us to realize that there is nothing natural or inevitable about the racial hierarchy, and that the world might well be arranged differently.”

Yuval looks to the history of humankind in Sapiens, while his next one, Homo Deus (sitting on the shelf, unread, possibly a part of a similar challenge for next year?) is aimed forward, as far as I’ve understood it. But Sapiens isn’t solely a book that looks in the rearview mirror. He extrapolates, suggests, and fantasizes about what might be – and let me tell you, it might as well be heaven or hell, from what I understand. And the only way “to know”, is for someone to look back, many many years from now, to document the history of what is, as yet, the future.

“Science can explain what exists in the world, how things work, and what might be in the future. By definition, it has no pretensions to knowing what should be in the future. Only religions and ideologies seek to answer such questions.”

Caspian.
I am with you.
We could have a field day talking about this book, so yes, let’s record a pod about it soon, ok?

“[…] we are witnessing the formation of a global empire. Like previous empires, this one, too, enforces peace within its borders. And since its borders cover the entire globe, the World Empire effectively enforces world peace.”


 

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

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How should we live? (book 15 of 26)

July 29, 2018
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How should we live? is a book subtitled Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life, written by Roman Krznaric. Sounds extremely cheesy, but thanks to a recommendation by Navid Modiri (I do believe) a year or more ago, I ordered the book, and it made the cut for my weekly-reading-challenge of 2018. Of that I am glad. Because I don’t find the book as cheesy as the title, not even close to it.

“The plague of divorce in the West is closely linked to the silences between couples, and in many families you can find relatives who refuse to talk to each other, often for days and sometimes for years. Conversation is the unseen thread that binds families together and it is time we took it more seriously.”

“For Socrates, conversation was a dialectical process in which the dance of ideas could help people inch closer towards their own personal truth.”
– From the chapter Family in the first section of the book.

Set up with four major sections – Nurturing relationshipsMaking a livingDiscovering the worldBreaking conventions – each containing three chapters, with each chapter having at least three examples of great ideas from the past, this book has a lot of content – and it is a mix of facts and opinion, stories and advise, commentary about where we are at today and pointers on what might be instead, if only we start to experiment a bit more with life, with ample suggestions of what to experiment with.

“[…] we need to find ways of overcoming our fears and lack of self-confidence, which may be holding us back from taking action. […] Whatever strategies we try, we should endeavour to treat our working lives as experiments in the art of living, heeding the words of the nineteenth-century writer Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.'”
– From the chapter Work in the second section of the book.

I am having serious problems limiting the number of quotes from the book. Without problems, I could surely write a blog post based on a quote from this book for every week of a full year, and still have pencil markings lest un-blogged about at the end of it – and one of the things I most appreciate about the book is the humorous undercurrent of it mixed with a sharpness that certainly cuts straight to the core.

“The greatest explorers have not been those who pushed back the geographic frontiers on colonial maps, but rather those who have travelled beyond the frontiers of their own prejudices and assumptions – whether they are based on race, class, gender or religion. A successful expedition is one which challenges and alters our worldview, liberating us from the narrowness of deeply ingrained beliefs that we have often unconsciously inherited from culture, education and family.”
– From the chapter Travel in the third section of the book.

As I read, I connect dots. Between books I’ve read before (for instance the one on Humboldt). Conversations I’ve had (including conversations on the book on Humboldt, as that was a book for my Gifted book club). Blog posts I’ve written, as well as those still left unwritten on thoughts that have yet to land, to solidify into words on paper.

He-who-cannot-draw-on-three-thousand-years-is-livBits and pieces click in place, making me feel like I’m at least starting to draw from those thousands of years, as Goethe suggests in the opening quote of the book.

“One form of belief is the idea that our nation is superior to others in particular ways, such as cultural achievements, natural beauty or sporting prowess. Australians much believe they have the best food in the world – but so do the French, Italians, Spanish, Peruvians and Chinese. George Bernhard Shaw recognized the absurdity of it all when he noted that ‘patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it’.”
– From the chapter Belief in the fourth section of the book

I finished reading this book three days ago. And already, as I flick through it in search of suitable excerpts for this blog post… an itch starts within. I want to reread this book. And I could start already today, really. The only thing hindering me is the fact that it’s time for me to finally put my friend Caspian out of his misery, but reading the one book he’s been ordering me to read for quite some time now. So I won’t. Reread this book. Now that is. Because reread it I most certainly will!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Siddharta (book 14 of 26)

July 15, 2018
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“When someone is searching, said Siddhartha, then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always things of nothing byt the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”

Have spent the past week at Ängsbacka outside Molkom in Värmland, Sweden, at the No Mind-festival. Knowing I would not have a lot of time or the wherewithal to read something heavy, I brought Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse with me, which in and of itself seems a bit comical, now that I’ve finished it. I mean, the No Mind festival is filled with “teachers teaching”, which is one thing Siddhartha is continuously critical about in the book. Up until the end, when he realizes the value he actually has received from quite a few different teachers through out his life.

Knowledge-can-be-conveyed-but-not-wisdom“Look, my dear Govind, this is one of my thoughts, which I have found: wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness. […] Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.”

This difference between knowledge and wisdom makes sense to me, as wisdom, for me, has to be embodied. It is knowledge internalized, and transformed on it’s way through and out of me, into the world. If I am simply repeating words, without having put my own twist to them – making them mine, rebirthing them, enriching them with my onlyness -, is it not simply knowledge then? Regurgitated by me, rather than applied upon life, my way?

“[…] I prefer the thing over the words, place more importance on his acts and life than on his speeches, more on the gestures of his hand than his opinions. Not in his speech, not in his thoughts, I see his greatness, only in his actions, in his life.”

That last bit about greatness seen through his actions, seen in his life, is yet another way to describe wisdom, is it not?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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13 read – 13 to go!

July 4, 2018
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Have reached the halfway mark of one of my two reading challenges of the year, to read 26 English books (as well as 26 Swedish books) during this year, books I already had in my home at the beginning of the year, books I’ve had the intention to read, but never got around to. Until now, that is! I’ve read 13 of the English books and am currently on my 14th Swedish book, so I am on track on both languages, with 13 English books to go. (My second reading challenge is to read 100 books in total in 2018, and I am fairly aligned with that goal as well, with 48 books read so far.)
English books - 13 downEvery Sunday (or, well, rather every other Sunday, as I blog about my Swedish books every second week) I write a book reflection on the book of the week, which in and of itself is a treat for me. I discovered how much joy it gives me to reflect on books as I did the 2017 #blogg100-challenge when I wrote a book reflection every day for one hundred days in a row. There are so many fantastic books, and also so much thought provoking, beautiful, outrageous, troublesome, chocking, fascinating and marvelous to read in books!

Once I’ve finished the Swedish book of this week, I think I will start on Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, but then again, you never know. Sometimes I change my mind at the critical time of actually flipping open to the first page of the book…

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