Year 2020 stats and tops

Spotify was the first to release the year 2020 stats and top lists, so I’ll start with that. Oddly enough, Rush rushed to the top of the list, having been the band I hadn’t much even listened to, ever, until late last year (that would be 2019). During this year, however, it has become one of my favorite go-to bands, right there with Foo Fighters, Muse, and Linkin Park. And Morcheeba, the mellow moody music.

Books get to be next. Did not read quite as much this year as the year before: 35 books/13,424 pages (2019 46 books/18,919 pages), but last year was exceptional due to the binging of Harry Potters. This year was more according to average. If I had to select the best and the least liked book of the year, the least liked one is an easy pick: Berlin Poplars by Anne B. Radge. The best one is more difficult to pick, but I think if I had to choose only one of this year’s book to take with me on a desert island, I think I’d take Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea. Or maybe Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper. It’s a tie.

Photos next. The Top Nine’s from Instagram are kinda bs, for depending on the app you get a different set of nine. Best Nine app creates collages without watermarks (unlike the Top 9 app that wants you to pay a few euros to remove the watermark), so we’ll go with them. Flickr, unfortunately, doesn’t give a yearly recap, not even yearly stats.

Lastly, blog posts. I still have a bunch of blogs in Blogger, even though all of them get updates rather infrequently. The Happy Dogs Diary was the most active of them this year, mainly due to Ace, and me writing quite many posts about him during his first months. The most viewed post was Ace’s first day at home.

https://dogs.marilka.net/

Artzy Bunny had some new posts too during the year, since I did do some painting and other art projects this year too. The most viewed post was my painting of Ace, go figure 😉

http://artzybunny.marilka.net/

From Kitchen, with Love had a few new posts during this year, too. It is my most viewed blog, for sure, even though I don’t add much content there anymore. The most viewed post of this year was, in fact, a recipe from 2013, that of a feta and spinach pie (a very delicious pie, I can assure you!)

https://food.marilka.net/

This one, the home of marilka.net, had 2,113 views this year, with a total of 20 new posts (not including this one) and five new pages published this year. The most read post is still that one about the busted OBHNordica blender 😀 There’s a few other posts that keep on keeping on in the top list, like the one about sulphate free shampoo and the one about a snowy winter’s morning.

Top 15 – pages and posts alike

I think that wraps it up for this year, with 5 hours to go until the Mad Max year of 2021.

Looking back on 2020

I almost wrote something about the “Corona year”, but truly, it hasn’t defined my year, even if it has had its impact on my life just as everyone else’s. Life has continued through it all, things have happened – both good and bad – and now it’s time to take a look at all of it.

January

Corona was distant world news only, nothing bigger than the SARS everyone had already forgotten about. More important things were those like going to the IMAX movie theater to see the latest Star Wars movie with daughter, and starting the remodeling of our studio/office. Daughter and I started dance lessons again after a few years’ break.

Quote of the month: I think they’ve gotten it all wrong here at the airport. We actually need to board the plane, get in the air and fly to our destination. NOT enough to just gather people to the gate and turn off the lights. (Me)
Book of the month: Garber, Stphanie – Finale (Caraval #3)
The finale of a series that in many ways resemble The Night Circus. A world of magic and illusion. The battle of good and evil, not only in the world but inside of individuals.

Pic of the month:

Poor frozen bunny

February

There was the Ypäjä open doors, daughter’s school production, our new bed, and an ear infection. Nothing major going on.

Quote of the month: To expect something greater after life was to forget that life was the greatest thing of all. (Nina George, The Little Breton Bistro)
Book of the month: George, Nina – The Little Breton Bistro
Seek and destroy. Escape and find a new life. A book about finding oneself, one’s selfworth, the essence of life and family – not necessarily of blood but of friendship.

Pic of the month:

Staying warm

March

A day trip to Tampere, and Bryan Adams in concert in Espoo right before the Corona shits started for real in Finland. No more dance classes, stay at home working, stay at home school. Just, stay the fuck at home.

Quote of the month: My life just changed when I realised that Bon Jovi sings “let it rock, let it GO”, not “let it rock, let it roll!” My life has been a lie (Me)
Book of the month: Itäranta, Emmi – Teemestarin kirja (Memory of Water)
A dystopia where water is restricted, owned by the government and used as a means of oppression. A young Tea Master still has a secret water source and she tries to help the villagers inconspicuously. She also plots her escape, to go to her mom. A rather fascinating read.

Pic of the month:

We will survive

April

More of stay at home. Except that we didn’t entirely, but went for an outing or two, out into the nature, just to get away from the four walls closing in. Ok, once. Once we drove to Linlo. Other than that we had walks aroung here. And we went to see a lady about a puppy ❤

Quote of the month: Quarantine ups: teen’s room stays clean when she wears her jammies day and night (Me)
Book of the month: Riley, Lucinda – The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3)
Perhaps my favorite of the Seven Sisters books, perhaps because it travels in the booky world. I read them all – except for the seventh one which is to be expected next year. I fancied them all what with the mixture of contemporary and historical all over the world. Not all stories ended well – actually quite a bit of them didn’t – but life always wins.

Pic of the month:

Who’s the fake?

May

I suppose the month could be just as well named Ace. First impatiently waiting for him to come, then our life revolving around the little meatball. Though, we actually got a whole lot of renovation stuffs done in our hallway while waiting for the little dude, and I did go to the hairdresser too.

Quote of the month: Deep down we all want to be twelve years old again. With all the innocence of childhood still lingering, with all of of our life still ahead. We all have that one thing that took us over the bridge. (Me)
Book of the month: Mujunen, Salme – Pentuaapinen
Puppies for Dummies or so. The beginner’s guide to caring for a pup. We’ve had dogs for years, but neither one came to us a puppy. It was ok, lot’s of tips and stuff.

Pic of the month:

Stop to smell the flowers

June

Oh, glory! I turned 45! Went kayaking with some colleagues, swimming at our summerplace, and just, erhm, stayed at home. Oh, we ventured out to the public enough to enjoy a sunny evening on the terrace of Torpanranta (in Munkkiniemi). I lauched my new FB page Mama Loves Bully – all about dogs.

Quote of the month: You know it’s summer when there’s no socks of mine in the laundry (Me)
Book of the month: Barker, Pat – The Silence of the Girls
Interesting different approach of the legend of Achilles and Troy. Really. It’s not so much about the war heroes, more like the ugly side of it all. Told by the women in the camp of those so called heroes. The only thing I missed in the book though was that there was no Trojan horse. I mean, how was there no Trojan horse!

Pic of the month:

Come rain or shine…

July

Vacation month. Zippy ziplining with daughter, day-trip to Hanko and Tammisaari, a weekend at our summer place, a few days at a cabin up in Vesanto picking up daughter who worked for a week at our relatives’ dairy farm. Stuffs like that – in addition to reading in the sun on our terrace, whenever the sun decided to warm our days.

Quote of the month: I KNOW you KNOW how to [use a knife, drive, do whatnot], it’s just that you’re so absent minded. Like, driving down the road, you’re like thinking of unicorns and other universes and such. (H)
Book of the month: Morgenstern, Erin – The Starless Sea
An adventure between worlds. Who is good, who is evil, who is right, who is wrong? And why, and does it even matter? Morgenstern knits a dreamlike world full of intrigue and danger, but somehow this book is just not as dreamy and amazing as her first one, The Night Circus.

Pic of the month:

Just let me spill my coffee so you can fix me a new one

August

Back to work. Actually back to work at the office, at least a couple days a week. We spent some time outdoors in Linlo and Luutalammi, visited some friends in Labböle, ate crawdads at our summer place, and whatnot. Hunted for an apartment (actually a room) for daughter, prepared for her moving to her own place at the beginning of September. Had my last drop of alcohol for the rest of however long time.

Quote of the month: Kuoleman läheisyydessä pelkäämme meluamista, aivan kuin viikatemies ei olisi vielä poistunut vaan etsisi seuraavaa uhriaan ja voisi kuulla. (Indrek Hargla, Apteekkari Melchior ja Olevisten kirkon arvoitus)
[Freely translated: “In the vicinity of death we are afraid of making any noise, as if Death was still lingering nearby looking for his next victim and could hear us.”]
Book of the month: Hargla, Indrek Apteekkari Melchior ja Olevisten kirkon arvoitus
Humhumhum. I did even get the next book in the series. It’s kinda like the C. J. Sansom Shardlake books. A bit slowpaced, like I suppose life was back hundreds of years ago. Much doesn’t really happen, the main character just goes about noticing things and finding the culprit with sharp-witted deduction. Not bad, but not my favorite style of writing either. Intriguing, though.

Pic of the month:

If I’m very still…

September

Daughter moved to her own place, a room in a dorm-like apartment. Son turned twenty and is not a teen anymore. I went kayaking with colleagues, and downhill biking with colleagues. Kayaking was all good despite the rough waters, but the biking ended in a broken arm and surgery. Gotta get some new experiences sometimes, right? So then, the rest of the month I was on sickleave from life.

Quote of the month: Consultant is a machine that turns coffee into speech (No one and everyone)
Book of the month: Lipasti, Roope – Jälkikasvukausi
How does one translate a word that is not really a word even in Finnish but more like a mesh-up of two compound words? Maybe it’s unimportant anyway. The story is that of a completely normal family with teens. It’s all about growth and pains and mistakes and learning from them. Written with warm humor.

Pic of the month:

Sure I can just lie here day in and day out not doing anything

October

Yey! Back to work again, feeling like a human again. We built a whole lot of cabinets in the room vacated by daughter. There was even a dinner with my dad and kids, and 69 Eyes gig at Tavastia. Kinda like almost like normal life.

Quote of the month: The wave harmonic theory of historical perception, in its simplest form, states that history is an illusion caused by the passage of time, and that time is an illusion caused by the passage of history. (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Book of the month: Radge, Anne – Berlin Poplars
I can’t actually recommend this one really. I think it was the worst book I read all year. Quite boring, going into seemingly unimportant details forever before getting to the beef – which really was the last 3 pages of the book. Yes, intriguing in a strange way, enough for me to not stop reading halfway (or fourthway or thirdaway or… I did consider!) with crash boom bang at the end. I guess it was worth it. Maybe.

Pic of the month:

Yes, I needed these boots, why?

November

November was actually a rather good month. It started all sorts of good new things in our life. Nothing special or major events, just good times together with and without our offspring who visited us every so often.

Quote of the month: Humor is looking at the broad picture, and then finding the incongruous detail. Humor is another word for looking at life from a slightly different angle. It means not taking yourself too seriously. In addition to all that, it adds a bit of fun to the process of living. (Elaine Cunningham, Elfsong)
Book of the month: Jones, Terry – Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic
One of the lesser known Adams stories. While Douglas Adams was busy creating the video game, Terry Jones wrote the story into a book. Very much a Douglas Adams book, if not entirely written – or maybe finalized into novel format – by him.

Pic of the month:

You can still see my eyes

December

Oh Christmas tree…! No Christmas tree in this house, except for a tiny non-real one. Like 40cm tall. Surprisingly enough dude has left it alone, at least mostly. There was Christmas time, teens and the non-teen visiting. There was Cards Against Disney, puzzles, good foods, and just good times together. And then the year came to its end.

Quote of the month: “My life is such a mess,” I said to Lula. “Maybe,” she said, “but your hair looks good.” (Janet Evanovich, Fortune and Glory)
Book of the month: Adeyemi, Tomi – Children of Blood and Bone
A magical fantasy built on Nigerian culture. As is true in most fantasy, the main characters are barely out of their diapers – actually most of the characters are – but if you don’t let the naivety innocence of them bother you, the story actually flows rather nicely and I truly enjoyed the read. Way more than I did the sequel (and still I definitely will read the third one once it comes, for the second one left off on such a cliffhanger).

Pic of the month:

“Do not disturb”

Recap of a Decade

[Go to stats]

As 2020 is coming to its end, it is time to take a look at the past decade. The first full decade after my divorce from my kids’ dad, a decade that has seen more than any before in my life, a decade that has seen my kids grow up to be adults (well, almost; the youngest one still has three months to go until she turns 18, but she is more or less independent, living on her own already, so adult in ways too). So let’s see, at the beginning of…

2011 I had been divorced for a year, went through a nasty-ending rebound relationship, and was licking my wounds after a short-lived affair with a married guy. During the Christmas time of 2010 I had made my peace with myself, and was rapidly settling down for a life alone with two cats and my every-other-week-kids. Right then, when I least expected, this Man stepped into my life and swept me into a rollercoaster of emotions that has now lasted for, well, a few weeks shy of a decade, and still going.

Highlights of 2011 were most definitely our summer vacation on Tinos ❤ with a twist of Mykonos, and our short but sweet 23 hour trip to Paris in December. I did do quite a bit of traveling that year – in addition to Tinos and Paris, I spent 2 weeks visiting my mom at Gran Canaria with my kids, a weekend in Tallinn, a week in Anaheim, CA, at a SharePoint Conference, and we went on a cruise to Stockholm, all five of us (me, my new man, our three kids).

Lowlight would be giving our cats away in August, with the understanding that my life simply did not support the wellbeing of them. It was bitter and I still sometimes miss them, but I did what I thought best at the time. Even in retrospect, it was the right decicion.

2012 H and I had had our first New Year’s Eve together, all five of us, actually. We had settled into a rather serious relationship and were working hard to get our kids accept it. In late summer we decided to move in together, thinking it would be better before our kids hit the teen years, so we rented a big house in August and began our journey together as a household.

The year saw me in Amsterdam (oh the Anne Frank museum!) with H, Las Palmas with my kids, Tallinn with H, Tinos for two weeks all five of us, and a business trip to London with a colleague. It also saw us in great distress during the last quartal of the year, for reasons better left unwritten here.

2013 we were living a rather normal life of a new family, an “uusperhe”. Kids were every other week with us, every other week with their other parents. I had my first (and so far last) speaker experience in an international Conference when I gave a session about SharePoint branding in the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen in February. In early August we went on a roadtrip with all kids around the Turku archipelago.

In June my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and I went to Las Palmas to visit her alone in July. Later in the autumn mom came to Finland to live with us and my sister’s family. Around the same time we got our first dog, when Meggie came from Spain and found her forever home with us.

2014 I was scheduled for acoustic neuroma surgery. My mom was starting her chemo at about the same time. She moved from our place to my sister’s a few days before my surgery, and due to, erhm, disagreements, she never came back to our house, but instead moved back to Las Palmas a month before she died in mid-May. A couple weeks later my sister and I flew down to take care of her stuffs there.

My surgery was a success, though the recuperation was not a small thing. I had to learn basically everything from the start – walking, spooning stuff into my mouth, driving the car, washing my hair, everything. It did come back quite fast and after 10 weeks I was back to working, having suffered two major losses: hearing from the left side and my naval piercing. Oh, and my balance will never be the same again.

At the end of July our pack grew with another spanish rescue dog, when Timmy joined our family. He had a bit of rough start with a broken paw and a bloody diarrhea episode, but has fared well since those. In November we moved to another house in Paloheinä, and in December I visited Barcelona for a weekend with our company.

2015 we were doing all sorts of renovations in our new home (which was, in fact, a 60 year old house): kitchen, electricity, some plumbing even. And it went on for most of the year too, later spreading to other stuffs like painting hallways etc. The kitchen we managed to finish in May. Both of my kids moved to live solely with us for different reasons. Son in Febuary, daughter in August.

In May my grandmother turned 90, and in August she ended up having emergency surgery and died a week later. The surgery went well, but her heart couldn’t handle it. Second major loss for me in little over a year. I myself turned 40 in June and we had a biggish party in July. My only trip outside of Finland was a company trip to Berlin in November. The year went down as the year my grandma died.

2016 H was going on business trips every few weeks for a few days at a time while I worked at home a lot. My step-daughter moved to live solely with her mother, only visiting us for a few days or so every month. On the other hand my kids stopped spending weekends at their dad’s, only seeing him occasionally. In March I went on a business trip to Brussels, getting out of there only a day or so before the explosion at the airport. I also went on a girls’ trip to Tallinn with a bunch of my friends.

In May my son finished his mandatory school and decided to burn his school books in the yard so that’s what we did: had a book bonfire going for math books and Swedish book, mostly. H and I drove to Lapland for a week on summer holiday. In the autumn I traveled to Austria a couple times: a long weekend in Seefeld in early October and a short week in Vienna for a SharePoint conference in November.

2017 saw us move again. This time to my grandparents’ old home after my dad had acquired it for himself (and emptied it). H got his Finnish citizenship in March and in July we got married. Just the simple civil service with my dad and his wife, and my sister and her husband, and our kids attending, and some champagne at home afterwards. A few days later we had a big barbeque party for friends to celebrate our nuptials. At the end of spring the middle-daughter finished her mandatory school.

Unfortunately we didn’t escape renovations in the new home either (to be certain, they’re still ongoing), starting with a full kitchen remodeling. H tore everything old out and we built a new one from scratch, renewing even the floor. In July we took ourselves and the dogs again to Vuotso for a week. I had been to Tallinn on a company trip in June, and in the autumn I traveled to magical Dublin for a conference yet again, and Prague for a company weekend. Before Christmas my son moved to Ypäjä to study.

2018 life was just plodding along. Son was at Ypäjä, but I took my kids for a weekend at the company villa in Tammela for some hot tubbing and chilling. In May, right at the time of the Eurovision Song Contest (definitely not by design, quite the opposite! that’s what you get for not being interested in these popular events) I took daughter to Lisboa for a long weekend. Apart from that I visited Tallinn with my friends in May and Amsterdam in December.

In the summer we got a new car and took it and the daughters and dogs for a roadtrip to the Turku archipelago, just one night in a cabin and back home. Vuotso met us again in July, this time with the addition of my daughter, two inflatable kayaks, a bb-gun, and a horsebow. At home our summer was mostly spent in the phase 1 of our yard remodeling, i.e. clearing out the jungle. In the autumn I spent a wonderful day scouring the Helsinki Book Fair just on my own.

2019 one of the first things I did was helped my son buy a car for himself. A 15yo Audi A4 it was, the dream car for the young man studying in the middle of nowhere. This freed me from chauffering him back and forth when he came home for a few days every few weeks. This came to an end already at the end of spring, though, for he graduated in May and moved back to Helsinki, and into his own apartment in the autumn. Youngest daughter ended her mandatory school. In the summer we built our wonderful terrace and got an inflatable hot tub for the yard.

In May I traveled to France – Lyon and Sète – with middle-daughter. That actually was my only trip outside of Finland that year, and so far my last one. Our traditional company trip was supposed to be a cruise to St. Petersburg but that got canceled so we spent a weekend in beautiful Lehmonkärki instead. We didn’t even go to Lapland for summer vacation, our own yard being so nice and all.

2020 I was thinking that I had another year as usual ahead of me. One with a whole lot of normal life and maybe some special ups and downs. Actually, looking back, that it mostly was, despite the coronageddon. Before the pandemic hit Finland life was nothing out of special. I went to Ypäjä Open Doors with son, and saw Bryan Adams in concert with H and didn’t even think too much about the Corona that still seemed somehow so far away. Then it did hit with us and for a while it caused a lot of fear.

For five months we were all huddled here at home, I barely saw my son and dad, let alone any others. Then again, all of that is nothing out of ordinary, except for the part of not going to the office and daughter’s school being remote school. At the beginning of September, daughter moved to her own home.

In May, however, we got a new member to our pack when little dude Ace joined our family as an eight week old meatball. In June I took daughter to Zippy for some zipline adventures. We spent a day in Hanko. Daughter spent a week at Vesanto working at their dairy farm and we drove up there to pick her up, and stayed for a couple nights in their cabin. We even visited some friends at their summerplace in August, and went to see 69 Eyes at Tavastia in October. I returned to partial office work after my summer vacation, went kayaking, downhill biking and to the theater with some colleagues. Our Christmas party was online in Teams, though.

And had my arm operated. One could understand that downhill biking is not very safe for a person with less than perfect balance. So I broke my arm and had to have surgery. By the end of the year I’m still going to physiotherapy with it, but it’s doing quite good.

2011-2020 in stats

  • Marriages: 1
  • Countries visited: 16 (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain mainland, Canary islands, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, England, Czeck Republic, Portugal, Greece)
  • Concerts: 7
  • Piercings taken: 3 (navel, tragus, conch)
  • Piercings lost: 1 (navel)
  • Surgeries: 2 (acoustic neuroma and arm)
  • Family members died: 2 (mom, grandmother)
  • Books read: who the fuck knows? Didn’t start using Goodreads until sometime in 2016, but if the stats after that are any indication, I’d say a decade would be somewhere around 350-400 books
  • Number of devices used: 20 – 7 cellphones (2 HTC’s, 3 Lumias, 2 iPhones), 4 tablets (Galaxy Tab, iPad 2, Kindle Fire, iPad 5 mini), 2 smart watches (FitBit, Apple Watch 4), 7 laptops (1 mini, 2 home laptops, 2 HP work laptops, Surface Book Pro 2, Surface Book 3)
  • Home addresses: 4 (Pakkala, Torpparinmäki, Paloheinä, Munkkivuori)

I suppose that just about does it. Oh, there’s been a lot lot more, a whole lot of things I won’t go into. A whole lot of difficult stuffs, but all in all, I think I’m ending this decade and entering the next one on the plus side of things.

Name of the Exodus

Inspired by the movie challenge I decided to list the books that have most impacted or influenced me in some way. This was way more difficult than picking ten movies and I simply could not restrict me to 10 but decided to go with 15 instead. I have read way more books than I’ve seen movies, and I love reading way more than I enjoy watching a movie.

  1. Saariston lapset (Astrid Lindgren)
    saaristonlapset
    This is the the book that made me a book dragon. I devoured the book and then continued to devour book after book, first the other Astrid Lindgren books I had, then everything else in my own book case, then everything from the local library.
    01saaristonlapset 
     
  2. The Tripods (John Christopher)
    tripods
    My debut SciFi read. My friend recommended this trilogy and borrowed me the book too, and I loved it. I think I read it multiple times after that, once in my adulthood too. I never owned the book until a couple years ago when I decided it was something I needed to have in my own library.02tripods
     
  3. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
    pikkunaisia
    This WSOY series of “girls’ books” ❤ All of the Anne of Green gables books, the Emily of New Moon books, I had them all, I read them all, and I loved them all.
    2020-05-16 18.01.42
    I guess this one got picked into the books that made an impact on me simply because it was the one I modeled my first attempt at book authoring by. I wrote several chapters of something sort of similar to this story until I moved on to something else.03littlewomen
     
  4. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
    watershipdown
    We used to have a bunny. Well, actually several, but when I was 9-13 years old, we had the first bunny and I got this book for Christmas or birthday or something during that time. It made me cry, it made me think I somehow understood the bunny better, it gave me a new partial language what with the rabbit language invented by Adams. I still remember a tidbit like Narn = good and Hraka = poop. And rabbits only count to four, after that everything is Rhair (million).04watership
     
  5. Exodus (Leon Uris)
    exodus
    Mom had this book – like all of Uris’ books, and I did read them all too, some many times – in her book case. It was one of the first books I read from her collection, probably after having read some Ian Flemming’s Bond books and Peter O’Donnel’s Modesty Blaises first. I loved the story and later on it prompted me to read e.g. Bodie Thoene’s Zion Chronicles series.05Exodus
     
  6. Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
    nameoftherose
    I actually saw the movie first (so it could’ve been in that list too). We watched it in school maybe some religion class thing? It made a strong impact on me – the story, the monks, the mystery, the sex on the kitchen floor 😀 – and I went and got the book from the library and read it and loved it every bit as much as I had loved the movie.06nameofrose
     
  7. Trinity (Leon Uris)
    tirnity
    Trinity and Redemption really go together, I mean they are two parts of the same story, after all. However, Trinity came first and obviously I found it in my mom’s books, read it and was immediately smitten with Ireland. Have been too, ever since. Later on, when Uris released Redemption, I immediately bought it (I already had all of Uris’ books in my own collection at that point).
     
    In my late teen years my mom also introduced me to the series The Emerald Ballad series by B.J. Hoff and that more or less sealed it. Anyhow, I think I used to be Irish in one of my previous lives. Most probably a leprechaun of sorts 😉07Trinity
     
  8. Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster)
    daddylonglegs
    Out of all these “Nuorten toivekirjasto” books (that included books like The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Huckleberry Finns, all sorts of adventure books and classics and whatnot), this was my favorite. You can believe I was thrilled when I learned that Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn had made a musical of the story!08setapitkasaari
     
  9. Tuntematon sotilas (Väinö Linna)
    tuntematon
    The Unknown Soldier. One of the absolute Finnish classics, the book about the WWII in Finland. One of the rare classics that I have loved and read multiple times (I usually find classics somehow pretentious in the high-culture-boring kind of a way). I’ve seen all three movie versions of this book, the newest one being my favorite.09tuntematon
    Favorite quote
    Hietanen: “Mää ole hiilest tehty ahvena.”
     
  10. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
    thornbirs
    I can thank my mom for this one too. She told me when I was a teen that she really loved The Thorn Birds and that prompted me to read the book (in Finnish). I fell in love with the story and through this book started reading other McCullough books too. I have read this book dozens of times, in Finnish. Only a few years ago did I finally order the English copy, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    I love this book so very much that it was quite the disappointment, when my mom finally confessed to me – not long before she died! – that she actually had never read the book. Her fascination had more to do with Richard Chamberlain than the story itself, Chamberlain being Father de Bricassard in the 4 episode TV series, which I also do love. It’s actually funny how the storylines mix sometimes, for I can fully picture the book with the TV series characters playing each scene of the book in my mind.10thornbirds
    Favorite quote
    Meggie Cleary: “And there’s one thing you’ve forgotten about your precious roses, Ralph, they’ve got nasty *hooky* thorns!”
     
  11. Tim (Colleen McCullough)
    tim
    I read this one right after the Thorn Birds and it touched me possible even deeper in some ways. Tim, the simple man, who finds love with a lonely older woman. Tim, whose family thought him just a simpleton and a burden. Beautiful story!11tim
     
  12. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
    annefrank
    I was just about fourteen when I read this book, more or less the same age as Anne Frank when she wrote it. It touched me deeply! Later on in the early ’90s, I also read the sort of similar more contemporary book “Zlata’s Diary”, taking me to the war zone of Bosnia. Reading the stories of these girls made me solemn in a way. Just so sad, yet grateful.

     In 2012 I went to Amsterdam for the first time and one of the things on my bucket list was to visit the Anne Frank House. We did – I was traveling with my current husband – and it was practically a religious experience for me.12annefrank
     
  13. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    montecristo
    I hijacked my dad’s old copy of The Count of Monte Cristo already as a teen, when I first found it at our summerplace and read it and the sequels. This wasn’t my first Dumas book – I’d already read the Three Musketeers and it’s sequels – nor was this the last, for I went to read quite a bit more Dumas books after this one; my great-grandfather was a fan and we have a proper collection at the summerplace.

    I was actually contemplating between Musketeers and Cristo because really both should’ve been on this list, but while I’ve always had a bit of a crush on D’Artagnan, the story of Edmond Dantés still won my inner battle.
    13montecirsto
     
  14. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
    hitchhiker
    Out of this collection of books, this is the first one I actually read as an adult; all previous ones I read as a teen. Somehow I just had never even known about this book until my sister, who fraternized with nerds, talked about it. Still it took me quite some time to get around to it. At first it was a “I guess I should read what it’s all about” but then it ended up being one of the best books I’ve ever read, and definitely my most quoted book.14hitchhiker

    Favorite quote
    Ford Prefect: “There is no point driving yourself mad trying to stop yourself from going mad. You might just as well give in and save your sanity for later.”

  15. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
    bookthief
    The most recent of these books. This was a really strong, wonderful story of wartime Europe and a little girl stuck in the midst. I also got the movie, after reading the book, and while it too was awesome, the book was just something in its own sphere.15bookthief

Other little trivia about my books and reading:

  • The other Astrid Lindgren books I had and loved were ‘Veljeni Leijonamieli’, ‘Mio, poikani Mio’, ‘Marikki ja kesäkummun Tuikku’, Ronja ryövärintytär’, and ‘Rasmus ja kulkuri’
  • I still have the others in my bookshelf, but my son hijacked Veljeni Leijonamieli and Ronja Ryövärintytär when he was younger, so he has them now
    2020-05-16 18.01.54
  • The first ever book I tried to read was “Pelastuspartio Bernard ja Bianca” (The Rescuers, by Margery Sharp), but somehow it only bored me and I never got further than maybe 50 pages in the book
  • In the summer of 1984 (when I had just turned 9) my mom tried to challenge me to read five books during my summer vacation. I thought it impossible, and it was. However, during the following autumn I found that Saariston lapset, and haven’t stopped reading since
  • During my pre-teen and teen years I frequented our local library and read basically every book I could find that interested me even remotely. Later on, I moved on to some bigger libraries for more selection
  • I did get a bit of a reading exhaustion when I was studying in the Uni and had to read so much for my studies
  • When I was on sick leave while pregnant with my daughter, I read a book a day; I had borrowed a pile of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books and read all day long while my son was in day care (I was in bed rest due to preliminary contractions)
    2020-05-16 18.01.28
  • I’ve been an Evanovich fan ever since and have read all of her books
  • When my kids were small, I had really little time to read, so I restricted my reading to the new releases of a few favorite authors: Janet Evanovich, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, James Patterson, and Michael Palmer
  • Sometimes, if a book really has me hooked, I may cook and walk dogs and do whatnot with my book in the other hand
  • I love “real paper books” and I love my own library, but there is no way I could fit all my books in a normal home, so I read a whole lot of books in Kindle too
  • Besides, Kindle is easy since it’s always with me right there in my phone
  • I usually have two books going at the same time: one paper book and one Kindle
  • I currently read more in English than Finnish, but one of my favorite authors is Finnish: Max Seeck – I love his thrillers!
    2020-05-16 18.01.22

[Find some book recommendations on my About Books page and recent reading history in Goodreads]

From Dirty Dancing to Totoro

There’s this challenge circulating in Facebook, challenging people to post pictures from movies that have impacted them somehow, ten movies, one per day. I did – or rather am still in the middle of doing it – but thought I’d make a post about them too, explaining why exactly they’re important to me. Since that’s “forbidden” in all of these FB challenges for some odd reason.

There’s plenty of movies to choose from – so many good ones and even some bad ones that have left some sort of mark on me over the years. Still, instead of having to select from too many movies, I found myself struggling to fill the ten with truly important ones. Many movies were good and touching and whatnot, but did they leave a permanent mark? Mostly not.

This is the list I came up with. First four were a no-brainer, so huge were they to me. The rest were more difficult to pick.

  1. Dirty Dancing
    dirtydancing
    If you were a teen girl in the eighties, it was more likely for you to fall in love with this movie than not. I think I was only 12 when it came out and I needed to have a parent with me to watch it; for some reason it was my dad taking me, not my mom.The movie opened a whole new world to me!

    Somehow, even though it’s set in the fifties, it opened the teendom to me. Launched me into teenhood. I remember wanting to become a dancer/actress/singer/writer/animal caretaker combo after seeing the movie.

    Favorite quote
    Penny: “Oh, Come On, Ladies. God Wouldn’t Have Given You Maracas If He Didn’t Want You To Shake ’Em!” 

  2. The Sound of Music
    soundofmusic
    I mean, obviously. The movie that made me fall in love with musicals. My grandma had this on a VHS and I first saw it with her, after which I watched it over and over again at her place. This movie was also my first brush with Nazis and what they did.

    Favorite quote
    Maria: “Excuse me sir, I don’t know your signal.” Captain: “You may call me ‘Captain’.”
     

  3. Victor Victoria
    victorvictoria
    Man, this one was an instant hit with me! Absolutely wonderful musical with good humor and great music. I absolutely love the scene where they do the “You and me” with a bunch of good natured bickering that just gives the audience the feeling that they are totally at ease with themselves as well as each other.

    Favorite quote
    Toddy: “I taught him everything I know.” Victor: “That’s why he has so little left.”
     

  4. Mamma Mia!
    Mamma-Mia-1
    Mamma Mia! What’s there not to love? I mean, Greek island, Abba songs, love and humor and Meryl Streep. It always makes me think of Tinos, and it always makes me cry. With every watch I find new things that touch me one way or the other. Dot dot dot!

    Favorite quote
    Donna: “I used to have fun.” Lisa: “Oh, we know!”

  5. Top Gun
    topgun
    Great balls of fire! Not too many things that would be more iconic eighties than Top Gun. Take My Breath Away was played in every school disco, multiple times. Motorcycles, riding into the sunset, all that testosterone in the sky. Man, I was so in love with Tom Cruise.

    Favorite quote
    Maverick: “It’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

  6. Brother Bear
    koda
    I just cry every. single. time. There is something absolutely beautiful about the story, that touches me somewhere deep deep inside. I love the way the spirits fly in the northern lights, how Kenai learns to care and love, all of it. Of course, the moose bros make me chuckle through my tears.

    First time I saw this movie was in the theater with my kids who were maybe three and five years old. I was struggling to hold myself together so that especially the very empathetic younger one wouldn’t get scared or start to cry too.

    Favorite quote
    Sitka: “Bonehead, just because his totem is wisdom doesn’t mean he’s wise. I mean, look at him.” 

  7. Les Miserables
    lesmiserables
    One time my son was watching this in the living room while I was reading in the library. There’s no door so I could hear the movie prefectly. Despite trying to concentrate on my book, I cried. Just cried. Another one of those movies with so much feeling, so much human tragedy, so many aspects that touch my soul. not to forget the amazing music.

    Favorite quote
    Fantine: “I dreamed a dream in time gone by… when hope was high, and life worth living…” 

  8. Coctail
    coctail
    Another eighties movie, another Tom Cruise movie. Beach Boys Cocomo. Dreams of the sun and just life. The movie made me think anything was possible for me, too.

    Favorite quote
    Bonnie: Excuse me, do I have “fuck me” written on my forehead? 

  9. Pretty Woman
    prettywoman
    And another one from the eighties. It was a debate between this and My Fair Lady, but Pretty Woman won. Maybe because there’s more I can relate to, kind of. Champagne, strawberries, hot tub scene. More modern cinderella story.I love the scene where Vivien tears down the street in Edward’s car noting that it “corners like it’s on rails”, and the one where Edward thinks Vivien is doing drugs in the toilet, when she’s just flossing after eating strawberries. Oh, and the hot tub scene.

    Favorite quote
    Vivien: “Did I mention, my leg is 44 inches from hip to toe. So basically we are talking about 88 inches of therapy wrapped around you for the bargain price of three thousand dollars.”

  10. My Neighbor Totoro
    totoro
    The troubled kids whose mom is in the hospital. The friendly Totoro and cat bus and all, that help them cope in the new home while dad is working. Plus, those siblings always remind me of my own kids. The dynamics are so similar.

    Favorite quote
    Tatsuo Kusakabe: “That’s wonderful. Good for you! I’ve always wanted to have a haunted house. It’s been my lifelong dream!”

     

Some other movie trivia of my life:

  • First movie I ever saw in the theater was Bambi
  • I went to see it with my friend and her dad
  • At that time, there was no dubbing in Finland, so parents all over the theater were whispering the subtitles to the kids
  • Other important childhood movies were The Fox and the Hound, E.T. and this Finnish movie “Kuningas, jolla ei ollut sydäntä” (King who had no heart)
  • My strongest negative memory stamp is from the movie Electric Grandma; the scene where she poured milk from her finger icked me bad
  • When I was a kid, my dad was more likely to take me to the movies
  • He always bought a bag of popcorn (no fresh popcorn in Finnish movie theaters at the time), a Royal chocolate bar and a box of “Amerikan pastillit” (m&m type sugar coated chocolates, in the Featured Image pic)
  • At home I watched a whole lot of old Finnish movies from the Ansa Ikonen & Tauno Palo era with my dad
  • I have never been big on horror movies; they give me nightmares for a long time
  • I gave in to my sister once and watched Pet Sematary when I was maybe 20
  • Other negative impact movies are The Thing and Bladerunner
  • The first movie I went to see underage (K16 movie when I was 13) was Tequila Sunrise and I loved it
  • I went to see every single Tom Cruise movie in the theater
  • I love old MGM musicals and have a nice collection of them as DVDs
  • Some of my favorite MGM musicals are Summer Stock, Singing in the Rain, Top Hat, Swing Time
  • Other beloved musicals are e.g. Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins returns, Grease, Footloose, The Greatest Showman
  • I have a Holiday Time movie list I watch through almost every Christmas time: Borrowed Hearts, White Christmas, Holiday, and Love, Actually
  • I saw It’s a Wonderful Life so many times as a teen that I can’t stand the movie anymore
  • Some favorite contemporary movies contain Out of Sight, Avatar, Tron Legacy, Star Wars series, Marvel Avenger movies (Thor movies, especially), Kingsman movies
  • I usually prefer reading to watching movies and only watch movies when my daughter asks me to watch something with her
  • I go to the movies usually once of twice a year, generally with my offspring
  • The last movie I’ve seen is The Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom