I think I could start each year’s post with: “I did not intend to buy any books at this year’s sale…” but as usual, it is too tempting to go to the actual sale and it is way too tempting, to check out the online shops. Just to see what they are selling this year? Just to see if there are some real bargains to be had? And of course, this year was not different from any other year. There were lots of bargains on-line as well as in the physical shops. And I managed to find things which I like, and the family will enjoy.
Usually I feel ashamed about writing this post, because I would rather not people know exactly how many books I have and what a book fanatic I am. But on the other hand, it is fun to share what finds one has bought, with perhaps fellow book lovers. So, fearing criticism from my enemies, I am giving away the secret, that I have added to my library with plenty of books.
This year, I will include books I selected long before the sale. Yes, if you order on-line, from the bookshops Bokus and Adlibris, you for one, assure yourself, of getting exactly what you want. If you act the same day, the newsletter arrives in your inbox, that is. And of course, the books are about 20:- cheaper on an average, to what they are in the physical shops. These were posted to me on the 23rd and arrived here a day after the sale started, since I chose the free shipping option. Cheap as I am. And to my joy, this year they did not mess up my order, like last year, when they had forgotten two books. That time, I had a difficult time with customer service not believing me, when I phoned them and told them, that I had paid for so many books and two were missing. There was no way to prove that the books were not there and when they finally gave in and decided to trust me, they had no more in stock to sell me. So I had to receive a refund and wait for the books to get in to stock again. But when they did, they were full price, so I never did purchase them and they were not in this year’s sale!
I found nothing worth spending my money on, at Adlibris, strangely enough, since I prefer that on-line shop. What did I buy from Bokus? First of all, I bought the book I knew everyone else would be buying:
Astrid Lindgren, was and still is, an integral part of growing up in Sweden. I was lucky, since when I grew up, all the films, based on the books, were made and showed in the cinemas and later on TV. So not only did I read all of her books about “Emil in Lönneberga”, “Pippi Longstocking”, “Ronja” etc. I also got faces to all the characters. And like everyone else of my generation, I grew up with the songs from the films, knowing them by heart, to this day. When I had children of my own, I made sure to invest in the books and little by little, in the films on DVD. So, my children have grown up with the same things, as I did. And this is basically what goes on in every Swedish home.
But what children do not know, is that Astrid was so much more than the old lady in gigantic owl glasses, who read her stories in a way that noone else can. Last year, a much talked about documentary, about her life, was shown on TV. There was three parts to it and for me it was an eye opener. The entire documentary was built on her newly published war diaries and the biography, sold at the book sale this year. I can not say that the documentary put Astrid in the best of lights, but I guess it depends on how you feel about things. I for one, have a very difficult time with how she carried on an affair with an older married man, without ever feeling any remorse about it. She was basically about 20 years old, so she very much knew what she was doing and I wonder if she did it, to further her career? She came from a good family, so I don’t understand this aspect of her character.
During the war, she worked for the censorship department and censured soldier’s letters as well as private people’s. It was during the war, that she decided to keep a diary to record the world events. I received the diary for my Birthday last year, from friends, but have not yet read it, and of course have not read this biography. But it is something I am looking forward to, with a little bit of hesitation. This biography has been said to be biased. We will have to see! One thing which will be interesting, is how all her children’s books were inspired by world events. And when she said that she had no more books in her, which I thought was a horrible thing, back in the 1980s, she really did not. She had protested against everything she felt was wrong in the world!
I might add, that the biography was also in many people’s baskets, at 06:00 Wednesday the 24th! As a MedMera customer, I got this book really cheap at Bokus though, way cheaper than in a physical shop. It was a book I expected to be in at least next year’s sale, but they decided to not wait that long. A book I also expected to be in this year’s sale, was the second part to Bengt Liljegren’s biography about Winston Churchill. The first part was on sale, last year, so it was only reasonable for them to put this part on sale this year. I do not have too high expectations about the book, because can a Swedish high school teacher make Sir Winston justice? I don’t know, and I strongly doubt it, but I do want to find out. Because I am one of Churchill’s most avid fans. I doubt that one can write a good book about a person, when all records and physical evidence is in another country, from where one lives oneself and one has a day job which does not include writing! But we will see.
The second book will be very, very interesting. A book devoted to the soldier at the front, 1939-1945. Yes, there are people who have written memoirs about their experiences, but sometimes, that is too close. Selective memory being the main problem, when the memoirs are written 50-60 years after the fact. Which might be this book’s problem as well. But what this book wants to do, is answer specific questions, which a memoir does not do. Women’s memoirs from the war, tend to talk less about what they actually did for work and more about all the dances they went to and the romances they had, which led to marriage. Nothing irritates me more! The men’s often describe battles in detail, which leave me clueless, since I can’t see what they see in their minds. They have the picture, I do not. This book will touch topics like casualties, diseases, battle morale, discipline, attitudes, lots of interesting aspects about war, in other words.
For a clearly anti-semitic country like Sweden, it is always nice to see that there always are a couple of books about Jews, in the book sale. So also this year! For new readers: No, I am not a Jewess but have a deep interest in their history, religion and right to exist!
Finally, a book I have been wanting for years, was at the sale: “Jewish Life in Europe 1786-1933 A prevented integration process”. The book covers why the Jewish emancipation failed in lots of countries. And why Jews remained Jews in the eyes of society, as well as in their own eyes,even though they often tried so hard to assimilate, that they almost extinguished themselves. They fought for the right to be socially and politically equal, with their fellow citizens, at the same time as countries grew more and more nationalistic and autocratic. At the same time, they left cultural stamps all over European cultures, which of course those same countries today, deny. Cant wait to read this book.
Nor can I wait to read Joseph Roth’s book “The Wandering Jews” which is a book full of essays, written in 1927, describing a world which no longer exists. The travelling merchants, the piety, the dreams, the poverty, the pogroms and the ones who left for America. Joseph Roth died in Paris, 1939. This will be a good book, I just know it. It is also part of the World Literature.
Did I not get anything for my poor children? Sure I did. But there was only one single book which held my attention at Bokus. It is a book I like, but I am not sure how much “Gubby” liked it, when I borrowed it from the library.
How could one even translate the book’s name? “A small pink & and other rowdy variegated”. I know, the title make no sense in English, but to be honest, it makes no sense in Swedish either. Some pictures are a little bit scary, but these little characters are funny and there is a book on how to sew your own “variegated”. I asked “Gubby” last year if he wanted one, and he said “NO”. He might have thought them too scary. Why does the librarians and bookshop sellers love it so much? I don’t know. I don’t know why I like it, except it has funny text in it.
Things rhyme in the book, which is something autistic children really love. I guess it is because they can guess the word coming? (My three youngest sons, “Kitty”, “Boo” and “Gubby” are all autistic.) The first chapter, is a story about a candy thief at a Birthday party. The second chapter is about numbers. Like here “4 Four brunettes baking baguettes”. Hello, that worked in English too. Then comes shapes.
This one works less well in English, “Eating Food in a Square”. Then comes letters, moods, can you do this (“Of course you can if you want to!”), opposites, scary variegated, Little Pink is in love, more moods, magic tricks and prepositions.
“Above a vase, between two glasses”. Not rhyming in English. It’s a funny book, except the chapter on little Pink is in love. I guess the authors are lesbian, because little pink is a girl being in love with a girl. I am not a homophobe, but I believe in God’s plan and why he created man and woman, which means I am never going to teach my children that homosexuality is an option or alright. So I read he when it says she, and there is no problem, since the girl in question looks like a boy with a tie on.
Now, what about the physical shops’ book sales? Since I am a member of Akademibokhandeln, I was invited to be there already at 06:00, when the regular sale did not start until 07:00. It was nice, because there were not that many VIPs there, and one could easily walk around looking at everything. I was not too impressed with the selection of children’s books. I guess it is because my children tire of a book pretty quickly. They want variation and then you might ask yourself, if it is not better to borrow at the library. At the same time, if there is a book they really do like, and you have to borrow it all the time, it might be worth it, to purchase it for keeps. Especially since, I have had to experience the loss of a library book, which could not be replaced and I ended up having to pay 350:- for it! F. “cleaned it away” and refused to even help, trying to locate it. Unfortunately, it was counted as an adult book, even though it was a book about ADHD, trying to explain it to children! Silly pictures and only one sentence on each page. Even the librarian wondered at it being classified as an adult book!
But I have strayed from the topic. I only bought three children’s books at Akademibokhandeln and two youth ones. The one children’s book, I just had to buy. It being “Five ants are more than four elephants The Song Book”. I grew up with that children’s program and sat there singing along with the songs, all the time. My sister received the songs on cassette tape, one year for Christmas, from our nan. Then I grew up and thought it so sad that my children would not get to see this program, which teaches counting, letters, prepositions and all sorts of things. One has to have been there to see it, to understand how good it was. They were a trio of actors, who did the program, and they had a marvellous chemistry between them. Pretty Eva Remaus, who died only 42 years old from a brain tumour, comedian Magnus Härenstam, who died last year in cancer and
comedian Brasse Brännström, who died suddenly in 2014, of not published reasons. They created history and culture! Good thing, that my husband’s workplace had a DVD library, so my children could grow up with the program too. The DVDs being too expensive for me to buy myself. And through the years, books have come out with the well-known illustrations, games, clothing… Lately, they have tried to recreate the idea with other actors, but it is really, really bad! When I saw this book on the shelf, I grabbed it at once, and did not notice until I got home, that it comes with a CD. I was overjoyed. We will sing the songs, when the children get over their stomach flu!
The second children’s book, has all sorts of fairy tales in it, and I thought that perhaps “Boo” could struggle through them? (They suspect he has dyslexia with his autism.) Or that they would not be too long for “Gubby” to listen to? I just thought it had pretty illustrations and nice stories: Sleeping Beauty, The Nightingale, The Beauty and the Beast, The Dragon Painter, The Frog King, The Helping Gnomes, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Wild Swans, The Emperor’s New Clothes.
It is difficult to get “Kitty” to sit down and read. His ADHD has no patience for it, nor his autism. But, I did find a book which was funny for him. My husband did not agree. He came with me at 06:00 and looked at books himself and then left at 06:30 to take the train to work. He minded the next book, since it demands a LOT of Lego, if one wants to make the items described in the book. Personally, I know that “Kitty” enjoys looking at pictures of how things are made, as much as making them himself. And for every wonder, there is a page of facts. So, a little bit of reading is required, but it is the sort of reading he doesn’t mind. As a matter of fact, I am starting to suspect that autistic children, at least at that age, prefers books about facts, more than stories. This book, is all about the wonders of the world, made in Lego.
If one wants to build, there are descriptions for some things, like this little mini sphinx. But not for everything. He liked it when I came home with it, so daddy was wrong.
For the teenagers in the house, I had to buy something as well, of course. Or should I say, E. F. does not speak to me anymore, so I have no idea what and if she was interested in anything. But the two books I bought for E., were the ones she had marked out in the catalogue. I am not going to say anything about them, since I have no idea what they are all about. It is not my kind of books!
The two books before “Allegiant”, were bought at previous years’ book sales. But over to what I bought, which of course can be read by anyone in my family, but the only one who probably would have had an interest, is serving a mission in England for the next two years, so I will be the sole reader of them.
In the catalogue, there were two pages with limited books. So limited that only a couple of book shops in Sweden, were going to have them. Lund was one of them. And there was one I absolutely wanted of them, which is why I got up at the unchristian hour of 05:00, to be at the shop in time for the opening at 06:00. The biography on Goebbels, really belongs in a historian’s library on WWII. I have biographies of everyone else of the monsters, so why not him? This book is a real brick stone, so I guess there was a lot to tell about this man, who made Hitler’s plans possible to carry out, by carefully preparing the minds of the German people. While I was at it, I also bought the book about the monster women, who happily served in concentrations camps and other places in the East, making the holocaust possible. They very much had active roles, and no doubt you will later be able to read an entire post about that book. It promises on the backside, to be entirely shocking. Not that I love to read shocking things, but I do want to know the truth about things.
Shocking as well, is the effect propaganda has. Especially during war-time. Some people I guess, feel that it can turn the tidal wave. I guess, it depends on how critical a person is to whatever comes from “above”. If one uses one’s own brain to think with or let others do the thinking for one. Journalists today, are in many ways, the propagandists. I have little faith in what is reported and see how Swedish reporters break the first law of journalism, daily, by not staying objective nor reporting on events in an objective manner. Even of the selection of news is subjective. Propaganda is interesting though, which is why I invested in this book. Most people might shy away from it, because for the money you have to pay for it, you only get a very small and skinny book. But sometimes that is all that is needed, to explain a topic and show examples of what has been discussed. This book talks about all sorts of things. Like the propaganda that made eligible young men flood to the recruiting offices in England, when war broke out in 1914, and how young men rarely could escape being made to enlist. It also talks about Goebbels of course, the master of all times, as pertaining to propaganda. How it was used to change people’s opinions and worse of all, target one scapegoat in society, the Jews. The book also covers Japanese propaganda and even a little bit about Sweden’s WWII one, Stalin’s and the Gulf War’s. A really good little book, from the looks of it.
A book, I was not certain about, was this journalist’s book about his mother, who survived Auschwitz against all odds. “Why have you drawn numbers on your arm, nan?” It is not very common, that survivors, who settled in Sweden after the war, write books about their lives before, during and after the holocaust. It is dangerous to show that you are a Jew, in today’s Sweden. Most of them have not dared to tell their stories, even to their own families. The author of this book, is the son of a survivor, and he was 33 when she finally told him her story. A story about France and living under the Vichy government, in other words, basically under Nazi rule. But it also tells the shameful story of relatives living in Sweden, pleading with politicians and authorities, trying to help the family to safety. I say shameful, because Sweden could not have cared less and did not let people in. We made sure that a J was stamped in all passports in Europe, to indicate the holder being a Jew. So we more easily could turn them away at the border and deny them entrance papers at the different embassies. I bought the book, even though I probably have read one hundred books like it, in order to read about yet one more fate, and to encourage more surviving Jews to tell their story, before it is too late. It is the only way to prevent the holocaust from being denied.
When I looked in other people’s baskets though, I did not really see the sort of books that I bought. For most people this is a feast, when you can get novels cheaply. I am divided when it comes to this. You can borrow a novel at the library, since you are not likely to re-read it ever. And why have your book cases full of books, which you will never read again? With books like the ones mentioned above, I highlight everything important and I go back to them. So, what to do with the tempting novels, which everyone else put in their baskets? I did succumb to TWO.
One, I thought I could get E. to read. And it is not “Wolf among wolves”. I thought that “Longbourn” might be a fun read and a little bit of pure escapism. It says that every true Janeite should read it, and since that I am, I must read it of course. The servants view of Mr. Darcy and the Bennet family. Or a world so far apart from Pride and Prejudice, as it can be. It could be nice and it could be really, really bad.
The Swedish publishing house of Lind&Co continues their publication of Hans Fallada’s novels. One each year, for the sale (?), and how can I stop now, when I have bought them previous years? This book, E. will not touch. I can assure you. It has 979 pages!!!! Some say this Fallada novel was his best. He stayed in Hitler Germany and protested best he could, against the Nazis. This book, about the returned soldier Wolf, with his gambling habits, and the ex-prostitute Petra, might be very depressing. But the backside promises a rich gallery of characters, from all layers of society, a society full of fanatics on both the left side and the right, a crumbling Weimar and the Nazis on the rise, corruption, decadence, inflation and unemployment. The sort of book you start on the first day of the summer holidays!
On the way home, I stopped at the local supermarket. Usually I do not get to their sale until later in the day, when hardly anything is left. But today I got there at 08:15, so there were still a couple of books left. Like the first in the “Mazerunner” series. They had the second book in the series, at the book sale in town, but I felt, why get that one when we do not have the first one? Now, we have the first one, but it would have been cheaper to have ordered it from Bokus, with the other books, since ICA unfortunately sold it for 30:- more. But you have to pay shipping if you order under 99:-, so a new order would have come out at the same price as ICA. No, what I did find at ICA were these three books about “Greg”, and I have high hopes for getting “Kitty” to read them. E. and I looked through the do-it-yourself book and it is really funny. Should “speak to” “Kitty”. And the other two must be as funny as that one, albeit they are novels. They are easy reads, so he just can’t object. Can he? I have heard from other mothers that their children love these, so here is hoping. And these, were actually 30:- cheaper, than at Akademibokhandeln, which meant 90:- saved! We love that! I also found a cute book about space for 29:-, all explained by my favourite bear, “Bamse”. I read it to “Gubby” though, and it was far too difficult. True, he is 7 years old, but he has autism and severe language problems. So, that book might have to wait, or I will have to put my own words to everything pictured. Leaving out boring details and explain simply, because this was not really that simple of a book, despite its look.
All in all, I thought it was a good book sale because I did not spend too much money. I opted out on a couple of books and feel fine about that decision. And I do not feel that I made any stupid rash decisions, but got books which I will truly enjoy. Hopefully this post has been helpful, if you were undecided on some books or undecided whether to bother with the sale this year. Good luck shopping, I am sure they still have a lot of good books left in stock!