I love reading! I escape into worlds, times, places, and situations for a brief moment - or, let’s face it, hours! It’s one of the great joys of my life. It’s certainly one of the reasons I did an Arts degree way back when. My Bachelor of Arts required me to read a novel/book per week for many of my subjects. Science students complained bitterly about our few hours of lecture time per week - little did they realise we were heads down in the required reading in some dusty corner of the library.
Back in the day when I was teaching full-time in my mother language in my homeland, I was too exhausted to read for pleasure during term time, spending many hours reading essays, poetry, reports, and source material for work. I dipped into reading for pleasure during breaks but it often meant I only read a handful of books a year.
Now that I have a more varied and flexible work life I’ve been reading with gusto! I upped my game pre-covid (interesting that it’s become a marker of time!) and I now read between 50 and 70 books a year - a mix of fiction and non-fiction, and most recently, adding Swedish books to my native English.
It was around this time I started absorbing* predominately women authors. Deloitte did a study on reading and gender - the results were saddening but perhaps not surprising with a big takeaway being most men rarely read women authors. Even men in the literary industry. Yeah. Let that soak in. Women have used male pen names for years for good reason.
Choosing a diverse range of voices to absorb is important to me. I buy and borrow - I buy from second-hand shops or online, and I borrow from friends or the library. I have an amazing library here with a fantastic English language fiction section - they even order books for me if I request them. Luxe!
Northern Note: Finns love reading! In 2018 the total annual lending was 84.5 million items (15.4 per capita), the annual number of library visits was 50 million (9 per capita) and the internet services of the libraries were used 38 million times. (Thanks, libraries.fi) Moving here has meant I’m in good company.
Not finishing a book is also an option. I’m discerning. If it doesn’t read well then I abandon it. Life is too short to be slogging through something you want to throw out the window. I’m also very aware that the book-I-want-to-chuck-out-the-window is someone’s baby - they poured their heart and soul into it (or not…maybe that’s why it’s a bit shit 🤔), so I never write a scathing review (if you don’t know what I mean, head to Goodreads - or don’t). I simply don’t finish it and will never recommend it. But I’ve also picked up a book I haven’t gotten into, sometime later (years?!) and have had a different take on it - sometimes it’s your own life situation rather than the book itself.
This is a long way of saying I’ll be popping into your inbox every now and then with some book recommendations - we can even chat about it in the Substack app chat function!
Here are a couple of recommendations to get your juices flowing (but not flowing on the book, okay?! Especially if it’s borrowed…)
Absorbing books is a thing (shame, be gone)
Put it down if it makes you frown
Join in the chat with the Substack app
When in Helsinki, visit the Oodi.
Let me know what you’re absorbing! I love recommendations - and pop into the chat on the Substack app and say hello.
*absorbing books - I find this term suits the audible book age. I’ve had quite a number of people seem quite embarrassed when telling me they don’t read books but listen to them. I feel joyful in reminding them that that’s how we all absorbed stories once upon a time - oral storytelling pre-dates the written word, with the majority of the population only learning to read quite recently, historically speaking. So keep on absorbing books, any old how! (Although I personally enjoy reading more than listening.)
A little more…
I’ve written about some of the books that have blown my mind, lived in my head, and changed my life:
My Bookish Window to The World
I'm currently wading through Salman Rushdie's Quichotte. Loving it, but I'm not making enough reading time available to myself, so it's not at great pace.
More importantly, I like to think I'm not gender-biased. But I do read more from male writer than from female ones. That said, I LOVE the books by Elif Shafak. I need to expand my reading. WIll work on that after finishing the one I'm reading now.
I will probably take some inspiration from the book I'm reading from now and then to my kids: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
Impressive that you're reading Swedish now as well. Is that hard? I can sort of make sense of Danish as a Dutchie. But only the written version. The way the Danes pronounce their language confuses me.
Yes. The research is fascinating, and the book is well-written. Although every now and then I hit a paragraph that requires several readings. If you're interested in neuroscience and our amazing brain, I highly recommend it. I'm a little more than half way through the book. I probably need to squeeze a good fiction book in after this one.