About books, you know

With my body exahusted by the flu, and my mind restless and tired of resting (even though it’s been only a day if even that) it’s no wonder, I guess, that my mind started to wander into books, owning books, reading books, bookstores, and my funny little dream of owning a bookish coffee shop, while reading a book about books (I love books about books and reading!).

So, as Thea in the book The Bookshop of Second Chances (by Jackie Fraser) wss getting her first impression of the used books store, Fortesque’s Books, in a little town in Scotland, my mind flew to all those quaint little bookstores in Dublin. Bookstores that were, like this store in the book, established in old brick or stone houses turned from family homes into stores. Little stores with curved staircases and an odd assortment of books hand-picked by the owner.

I felt a pang of sadness thinking that this is something we don’t have in Helsinki. What with the two centrally managed main chains of bookstores, the selection of every store basically the same, making up the majority of bookstores here. Of course there’s books in the bigger markets too (mass-market stuff) and your odds and ends in second-hand stores. Piles and piles of books dumped there by the heirs who don’t know what to do with all the books the previous generation collected.

Then I thought back to some really nice looking used bookstores I’ve seen here and there, some of which I even follow in Facebook, though I admit I have never set my foot in any of them. As much as I loved to scour the bookstores in Dublin, while walking back to the hotel from the conference center, with no worries or hurries, my normal life does not allow such. Or maybe it might, but I always seem to be in a hurry to go somewhere, get the most pressing matters taken care of, just to get back home.

So, not to self: visit AT LEAST that quaint looking antiquariat Sofia literally 93 meters from our office! Yes, I checked the distance with Google Maps.

No, I DON’T need more books, if that’s what you’re thinking now. Nope, I don’t. But with books it’s not about NEEDING as much as wanting. I DO need books to live, because as Mary Ann Schwalbe said, reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying. I couldn’t imagine a life without books OR reading, and while books are essential to reading (in my opinion), reading is not essential to books.

What I mean is that reading books and collecting books are two separate hobbies, and while they often overlap, that’s not always the case. For me it is, though.

I want to be surrounded by books. Even if the books are such that I will never read them. Like the political history and law stuff in the parliament library. I would never ever have the desire something like that, for i find it immensely boring. But I did love it when I visited it (for work). Just to have all those books around me. All the POTENTIAL!

I want to touch books. Even if they’re books I wouldn’t read. I like the feel of books and the smell of books and the physicality of books. I like to feel the material of the cover under my fingers, the feel of the pages as I turn them or flip through them, the weight or the lightness of the book.

I want to smell and look at books. The musty smell of and old volume, rarely opened. The smell of ink still almost fresh on new books. The decorations, fonts, pictures, little symbols, all those things that make the book, beside the obvious, the story.

And I want to read books. I want to dive into a new world that’s not mine. I want to become the main character. I want to feel and experience things that are not my life. I want to submerge, to be carried away by the story. I want to learn about lives that are different than mine. I read mystery, fantasy, history, drama, romance, action, biographies and auto-biographies (I prefer those). And when it comes to reading, ebooks are just as well as paper books.

My Our library is my collection of books and it is ever expanding. There’s much that I have read, much that I will read, and quite a bit of books that I may never even open. I don’t buy books that don’t have the potential for me to read them some day, even though for some books the day may or may not ever come (I mean, come on! So many books, so little time in this short life!), but I have inherited quite a bit of books that I value even if they’re not something I might read.

Some day my dad will die. He has, probably, even more books than I do. I won’t be able to take all of them, nor will I probably want to. I doubt there’s much value in them, selling to some antiquariat might not even be possible. Still, I do understand the notion of Thea when she thinks she should sell at least some of the books she inherited, the ones she really does not like or know at all. “Because, think of the other books I could buy with the money.”

The sad thing is, that as genereations go on with books so readily available (no, digital books have NOT killed the physical book), we start drowning in books no one wants. I guess we might as well start burning the excess in fireplaces; at least they’d keep people warm. It pains me to say so, but it’s the truth.

Which is why I buy some books in paper, to have them in my library, to have my heart warm up at the sight of the books, while some books I only buy for Kindle. And before you can ask, no, I don’t do libraries. I love libraries, but borrowing books is not for me. Not even those I don’t specifically desire to keep. I flit and float through my TBR pile, selecting books according to my mood. I can’t be restricted to what I can get from libraries and when.

However, I do have this funny little dream. I would like to open a coffee shop with books, walls covered in books. A coffee shop where you’re not allowed to use any devices, a place where people would come to read. You couldn’t take books out, only read them in the shop. I know, even I wouldn’t frequent it. But it’s a dream, a little dream of a common living room / library for people to come and read. Homeless people would get their coffee and cinnamon roll for free.

So now you know what I’d do if I won the lottery. Oh, I’d need to buy the tickets first, so don’t hold your breath 😀

2021 Wrap-up

I think I’ll go about it a bit differently this time. Not month by month, but just some highlights and books, music and pictures, of course. And only in English this time.

Starting with road trips

  • Tuomarila-Tuusula on a crisp winter’s day
  • Myrskylä and Porvoo on May Day
  • Kerimäki-Savonlinna weekend in May was a cool mini-break for us
  • Mid-summer weekend in Vesanto, visting my relatives and Kuopio
  • Hanko-Fiskars on a hot summer day
  • Billnäs on a cold November day
  • Inkoo on another cold November day

Some other major markers of the year

  • My eldest kid got a kitten and I babysitted him a couple times
  • Helsinki Book Fair
  • Late Night with Anders – my youngest kid’s fab school play
  • Company party at Lehmonkärki, Asikkala, where I also received my 10 years at Sulava award

And then some…

Corona or no Corona, most of our days are spent with the daily routines of work, eat, sleep, walk the dogs. During the summer time we routinely walked around the Tali golf course, multiple times a week. Obviously I took off to the Munkkiniemi beach a few times too, with or without a dog or two. During the summer we also visited our summer place several times.

The biggest change this year brought on us was Timmy moving to live with our youngest kid.

Also, we got a second car, an AMG V8 Mercedes Benz CLS 6.3 after I kinda wrecked our GLK (which was repaired, not totaled).

All of our three moved into their own apartments this year; eldest and youngest from shared apartments, middle kid from her mom’s. We are officially empty nesters.

Empty nesters who spent the whole autumn remodeling the house. New paint, new cabinets, new look.

Tattoos and piercings

There were a few…


Read quite a bit more this year than in several decades. I guess the empty nest DOES give me more time for books 😉 63 is actually 66 for one of the books is Hobbit + LOTR bundled into one.

My top picks:

Most of my reading year was spent in different fantasy worlds, and I think that trend will pretty much continue, though there’s always some (auto)bios, detective stories etc. in the mix too.


Spring time was emotionally quite difficult for me, and I ended up looping some 45 minutes of select songs mostly by Rush, Foo Fighters, Disturbed and Linkin Park. Oh, and Apulanta. That heavy rotation is clearly visible in my Spotify year, but it’s not really out of the ordinary in any way, since those + Muse are my heaviest rotation in any case.

With that, it’s a wrap

I hope for a good year 2022, despite the pandemic still going strong. It’s not fun no, but doesn’t mean life needs to suck.

Happy New Ye… sorry, JUMANJI!

Processing my books

I think when most people buy books, they stick them on a bookshelf or dresser top to await reading. Maybe take off the price tag, maybe not.

Me, I’m not like that. I process the books.

It’s book fair weekend in Helsinki and yesterday my husband and I braved the masses and went to the book fair. I equipped myself with a tote bag, but came home with two of them full of books. So there’s a lot of books for me to process before sticking them in my library!

The book fair was a deeply satisfying experience, even with the masses. I hate masses of people, but I can suffer them when the reward is golden enough, like it is in a rock concert or a book fair. Two and a half hours of live music from my favorite band. Hours of perusing through thousands and thousands of books. Bringing home a cool new band tee or hoodie. Bringing home bags full of new books.

Last time I visited the book fair there were some interviews of authors I attended, and some book signings too. This time there were no interviews that would’ve interested me, nor any book signings. Actually, there would’ve been but not during the time span of our visit. I did stop to chat with and old friend of mine, who is a poet and author and had her own stand at the fair. And bought a few of her books since I never did get around to order them before.

Exited at the book fair

So I bought a shitload of books. And didn’t buy some books that sort of called to either one of us, but I – or we – decided against after all. I didn’t buy the leather bound volume of full works of Edgar Allan Poe. The book was beautiful and all, but Poe is not my cup of tea, and husband has read it all. We didn’t buy this illustrated volume of Kalevala, even though it was beautiful too; it just wasn’t the exact version H wants. I didn’t buy the hard cover version of The Silmarillion, but settled on the paper back version. If only for the reason that the cover was prettier.

That was, by the way, the same reason I ordered the paper back version of Good Omens from Amazon.de once we got home – as I did not find it in English from the book fair – and noticed only after order that it’s temporarily out of stock with no clue as to when it would be available again. Bugger! I’m in no hurry though, so let’s see if I ever get it or if I need to cancel the order and get the hard cover.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Edited by Christopher Tolkien

So anyway, I came home with bags full of loot and now it’s all sitting on the dining table waiting for me to process them.

First, I glue my Ex Libris on them.

Taina Latvala, Torinon Enkeli, signed at the book fair

Then, I book them in Goodreads. Sometimes I need to create the book, as was in the case of the books Bullterrieri and Elina Salminen’s Kirjoita se kauniiksi.

Elina Salminen, Kirjoita se kauniiksi; Bullterrieri

Then, I flip through them, turn them in my hands to get their feel, scan through their pages to get their feel.

Then, finally, I place them in their rightful spot in my library. Sometimes I need to look around and ponder a bit to figure out the correct shelf and who the neighbors should be. Sometimes it even prompts some reorganization of the shelves. Sometimes it’s a straightforward process to just make space on the shelf and set the book in it’s new home.

All the books we own…

Books (most of them in Finnish):

  • Lisa Strømme – Mansikkatyttö
  • Jelena Chichova – Muistista piirretty kaupunki
  • Jean-Dominique Brierre – Edith Piaf Hymni rakkaudelle
  • Dennis McNally – A Long Strange Trip (the story of The Grateful Dead)
  • Karolina Kouvola – Pohjolan jumalattaret
  • Vanessa Kairulahti & Karolina Kouvola – Helsingin henget
  • Johan Egerkrans – Kuolemattomat hirviöt
  • Elina Salminen – Kirjoita se kauniiksi
  • Elina Salminen – Kuin lempeä laulu
  • Elina Salminen – Jos minä jostain alkaisin
  • J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion
  • S.N. Pires – Karhunkiertäjä
  • S.N. Pires – Yökulkija
  • S.N. Pires – Rummunvartija
  • Bullterrieri
  • Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith
  • Sofia Lundberg – Kuin höyhen tuulessa
  • Nelli Hietala – Maailmanlopun kahvila
  • Kiego Higashino – Uskollinen naapuri
  • Taina Latvala – Torinon enkeli

H got one book from the fair: Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life. He’s more into reading non-fiction.

Take-aways from the tales of Dave Grohl’s life and music

Yesterday I finished Dave Grohl’s book The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year, right there at the top, alongside T.J. Klune’s books The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door, and Max Seeck’s Kauna. I think any fan of rock music – not just Foo Fighters or Dave Grohl and his numerous other music projects – would enjoy the book what with all the encounters and the tale of punk rocker Dave growing up to be a world-renowned musician.

That said and out of the way, I did not love the book simply because it is a memoir written by my all time favorite musician; I loved it because it tasted like life. Somehow Dave Grohl managed to make his nearly fabled life sound just like an ordinary life, like my life or your life, just any life. His job just happens to be a rock musician who’s been rocking the fucking world for decades, but that aside, it’s a life, and one I could relate to in surprisingly many ways.

Fake it till you make it

This is one of my life mottos. I’m not a world-class musician, not a world-class anything, but as a trainer and consultant I have often felt like Dave wrote in the book on many occasioons. How did I get here? What am I doing here? Ok, I’ve got this. Because I fake it till I make it. And make he did, and so do I, in my own world of Microsoft consultation. Life is about challenges and living up to them.

Anger vs. frustration

Somewhere in the very first pages of the book Dave talks about his daughter Violet and how she was extremely verbally talented, and from a very young age could wield words like a way older person. Not only was I like that, and my son was like that, but I was especially amused by the story of Violet having a breakdown in the kitchen and telling her dad: “I’m not angry, I’m frustrated!” Dave noted that he still doesn’t know the difference, but apparently Violet does. Go Violet! I know too, and can’t even count how many times I’ve said that exact sentence to people claiming I’m angry when really I’m just fucking frustrated!

Fresh pots!

Oh, that coffee consumption! Goes a bit with fake it till you make it, as it is supposedly a remedy for too little sleep and too much to do while being awake. Thus you drink pots and pots of coffee just to make it (through the day awake). I too used to drink shitloads of coffee, go around like a Duracell Bunny on steroids, until I had the AN surgery. After that I started getting vertigo from caffeine. Slowly, but surely I pushed my caffeine limits, but never returned quite to the same levels as before. Just a cappucino or three a day, plus some 😀 Oh, and don’t miss on the Fresh Pots video!

Making a short story long

Sometimes while reading the book I felt a kinship of sorts as the style of writing felt so familiar, kinda like my own. Each chapter was constructed in a similar way as I construct my blog posts: around a theme, starting with an event and going from there. I am a storyteller, I come from a family of storytellers, and I found a fellow storyteller in Grohl. Another person able to write a short story about rescheduling a show to fly from Australia to LA to attend his kids’ Daddy-Daughter Dance and back to Perth, Australia witihn the same 36 hours. I mean, you can list events and give details, but that’s not a story. And I think that’s what most biographies lack. They’re not stories, they’re recitals of a life.

Not taking oneself too seriously

“Anything for a laugh,” writes Dave in the chapter Down Under DUI, about whizzing through the fest goers in a silly little scooter with Taylor Hawkins. I could totally do that, allow myself to be the laughstock, even revel in it. I learned somewhere along the way that it’s not good to take oneself too seriously. Life is way too short for that! Take the adventure when it’s available and go for it! Even if it sometimes ends in a DUI sentence or a broken elbow.

Using the word fuck

One of the things I love about rock concerts is that there’s people (on the stage) who actually use the word fuck more than I do (when not angry or, krhm, frustrated). Dave Grohl definitely is one of those, though I promise this book is not full of the word; I think it was used there only a few times in places that rather needed it.

Those young talents ❤

The book begins with Dave talking about his daughters Violet and Harper. Violet is an extremely talented singer who actually once told his dad that he’s not even the best singer in the house (not in the book, actually, but in one of the Youtube videos I ended up searching and playing before I got further in the book) – and they’re right too! My god, they have a fabulous voice! Just check out them performing a cover of Adele’s When We Were Young or this collaboration of dad and daughter as they sing Nausea! Harper, several years younger, on the other hand decided on drums and has tried her hand in concert already too, see eg. the rehearsal of We Will Rock You cover in Notes & Words (with Violet singing) in 2018.

These two young talents lead me to other videos of daughters of famous rock stars and by god I expect to hear more of also Toni Cornell and Olivia Vedder. Just listen to Toni Cornell singing about Far Away Places, or Olivia Vedder singing My Father’s Daughter. I mean, their dads rocked our world, now it’s their turn and they totally rock!

Uskollinen lukija

Myönnän, etten ole koskaan ollut mikään suuri suomalaisen kirjallisuuden kuluttaja. Olen minä lukenut Sinuheni ja vähän muutakin Waltaria, Tuntemattoman sotilaan (useampaankin kertaan), vähän Veikko Huovista, jota isäni luki minulle aikoinaan iltasatuina ala-kouluiässä, samoin kuin Seitsemän veljestä (nahkakantisesta painoksesta, joka oli kirjoitettu wanhoilla kiriaimilla).

Tosin, nyt kun alan miettiä, voin minä nähtävästi nimetä puolen tusinaa muutakin suomalaista kirjailijaa, joiden tuotantoa olen ahmimalla ahminutkin. Anni Polvan Tiinat ja myöhemmin lukioiässä vähän aikuisemmat hömppäkirjat, Jalon sisarusten poni- ja ravitallit, Tuija Lehtisen nuortenkirjat, Eeva-Maria Vierulan ja Eero Ekqvistin hengelliset kirjat teini-iässä. Joitakin mainitakseni.

En ole varsinaisesti tietoisesti koskaan päättänyt hyljeksiä kotimaisia kirjoja. Kävipä vain niin, että lukion jälkeen englanti, joka oli ollut koulukieleni 10 vuoden ajan (leikkikoulu, esikoulu, ja peruskoulu kasiluokan loppuun saakka) uhkasi jäädä vallan käyttämättömäksi ja alkaa rapistua, joten aloin ylläpitää kielitaitoani (edes kirjallista) lukemalla kirjani ensisijaisesti englanniksi.

Kotimainen kirjallisuus koki nousun elämässäni jokunen vuosi sitten, kun englanti oli jo pitkään ollut kotikieleni. Kirjafriikki kun olen, kirjahyllyt ja -laarit vetävät minua puoleensa kuin magneetti, missä tahansa olenkin. Erään kerran jokunen vuosi sitten Lidlissä oli syksyn tullen kirjalaari, josta poimin käteeni Max Seeckin Hammurabin enkelit. Kansi kaikessa yksinkertaisuudessaan yhdistettynä kiehtovaan nimeen sai tarttumaan kirjaan, takakansi ostamaan sen.

Kirja ei muistaakseni enää ollut ihan uusi silloin, vaan trilogian toinen osa, Mefiston kosketus, oli jo tuloillaan. Ostin sen heti kun se kirjakauppoihin ilmestyi ja ahmin myös sen, jääden malttamattomana odottamaan kolmatta osaa, seuraavana vuonna ilmestynyttä Haadeksen kutsua, johon kävin Helsingin kirjamessuilla hakemassa signeerauksen.

Jouluna tuona samaisena vuonna 2017 sain isältäni lahjaksi Mikko Porvalin Karelia Noir -sarjan ensimmäisen osan Sinisen kuoleman kuva, historiallinen dekkari Viipurista kieltolain ajalta. Vuotta myöhemmin sain sarjan toisen osan, Veri ei vaikene, niinikään joululahjaksi faijalta.

Jotenkin kirjan lopun perusteella kuvittelin sarjan loppuneen toiseen osaansa, etenkin, kun en sitten enää viime jouluna saanut isältä enempiä Karelia Noireja. Harmittelin kovasti asiaa, sillä pidin sarjasta kovasti. Mieleeni ei jostain syystä koskaan tullut tarkistaa asiaa – ei ennen kuin juuri nyt. Kolmas osa, Kadonneen kaupungin varjo, on sittenkin olemassa ja puuttuu hyllystäni. Muttei kauan. Tilasin sen juuri Adlibriksestä.

Seeck siirtyi tuon ensimmäisen trilogiansa jälkeen vielä vähän synkemmille psykologisen trillerin vesille viime syksynä ilmestyneen Uskollinen lukija -kirjansa myötä. Odotan jo malttamattomana sarjan seuraavaa osaa, Pahan verkko, jonka ennakkotilasin jo joku aika sitten.

Seeckin jalanjäljissä kulkee toinen tuore suomalainen dekkaristi Villy Lindfelt, jonka esikoisromaanin Miltä tuntuu tappaa hotkaisin tuossa eilen yhdellä istumalla, kun en malttanut käsistäni laskea. Kulkee ja ei kulje, Seeckin jalanjäljissä siis, sillä ihan tuo kirja oli omansa lainen, ihan sillä on oma paikkansa uudemman Nordic Noirin kentässä. Hienosti rakennettu psykologinen trilleri tämäkin. Toivottavasti saadaan vielä lisää Lindfeltiä – lupaan olla uskollinen lukija!

Vähän vahingossa käsiini sattui naapurimaan nousevan dekkaristin Camilla Greben Lemmikki. Esikoinen oli sen ostanut jostain pokkarikaupasta lukemista kaivatessaan ja suositteli minullekin. Luin ja tykästyin. Samohin aikoihin käsiini osui eräästä kirjavaihtohyllystä sarjan edeltävä osa Kun jää pettää alta, joten tietenkin sen poimin matkaani, luin, ja annoin esikoiselle.

Greben sarjaa on jo ilmestynyt kaksi osaa lisääkin – Horros ja Varjokuvia – mutta vasta Horroksen olen ostanut ja lukenut ja se on nyt matkalla esikoisen hyllyyn. Sinne minä kerään koko tuon kyseisen sarjan, pokkareina (koska pokkareina se kaikki alkoi), joten tuoreinta kirjaa saa aina odotella vähän pitempään. OCD ja silleen.

Mistä päästäänkin aasinsillan kautta Johanna Valkaman Metsän ja meren suku -kirjasarjaan, josta kaksi ensimmäistä osaa, Itämeren Aurin ja Linnavuoren Tuulin, ostin aiemmin mainituilta kirjamessuilta pokkareina. Pidin niistä niin paljon, että hivenen hampaitani kiristellen ostin vastikään kai kirjakauppohin tulleen Kaukosaarten Ainon kovakantisena. Kokonaisuus häiritsi hyllyssäni armottomasti, kunnes sarjasta ilmestyi neljäskin osa, Jäävuonon Ruusu, joka niinikään kovakantisena tasapainottaa tilanteen.

Nyt kun noihin kirjamessuihin päästiin, sieltähän tuli mukaani aika paljonkin kirjoja, edellä mainittujen lisäksi mm. jokunen Kristiina Vuori ja Kaari Utrio, Anja Snellmannin Antautuminen, sekä Markus Falk -nimimerkillä kirjoittavien Hämeen-Anttiloiden yhteinen esikoisromaani Profeetan soturit. Erinomainen trilleri tuokin, ja sen jatkon, Aleppon kirjuri, niinikään tilasin juuri Adlibriksestä.

Oikeastaan vähän hölmöä koko tuo Adlibriksestä tilaaminen, sillä noudan kirjat aivan Suomalaisen kirjakaupan naapurista, jolleivät ne tule postiluukusta sisään 🤷‍♀️

Minulle on siis tässä piakkoin tulossa kotimaista kirjallisuutta useammankin kirjan verran lisää hyllyyni. Edellä mainittujen lisäksi vielä Roope Lipastinkin tuorein, Aviotärähdys. Jälkikasvukausi on paraikaa luvussa.

En minä silti ole englanniksi lukemistakaan hylännyt, mutta se on enimmäkseen siirtynyt digikirjojen puolelle Kindleen. On kuitenkin tiettyjä (englanninkielisiäkin) kirjoja, jotka tilaan paperisina Amazonista, sellaisia kuin vaikkapa Charlotte Brontën Jane Eyre, jonka vastikään tilasin sillä sivistyksessäni on sen kokoinen aukko, ja kaikki ne muusikoiden ja näyttelijöiden elämäkerrat, joihin olen hurahtanut. Niistäkin tosin osa on poimittu suomeksi Suomalaisesta.


Joitakin muita tuoreempia suomalaisia kirjailijoita ja kirjoja hyllystäni

  • Emmi Itäranta – Teemestarin kirja
  • Henri Aleneff – Siveltimen voima (tämä onvielä lukulistallani)
  • Riitta Lehvonen – Kenkäheinistä kännyköihin, Tyttöteurastaja
  • Katja Kettu – Rose on poissa
  • Jorma Rotko – Amalie Armas, Kissa nimeltä Joosef, Koirat ja heidän ihmisensä (eKirjoina)