Finds at the Swedish Book Sale 2017: Physical shops!

Well, it is here again! All booklovers’ feast. Bibliophiles’ heaven. And then I am one of the worse bibliophiles even though I am trying to restrain myself every year. Today I did the mistake of taking my two youngest sons with me, who are both autistic. Not that they were any problem really. But bringing them, meant bringing my husband as well, to mainly babysit them. And HE does not appreciate my book-shopping, one bit. So all I heard on the way home was how I can open a historical bookshop. When I informed him that noone would want to buy my books since they all have yellow highlighting in them, he changed it to me opening up a library at home. Not what one wants to hear in the early morning hours. Nor is it fun to have a conscience with you, telling you to put the book back, if you ask for advice!

All that said, I have done terrible damage to my bank account. Although it could always be worse I suppose. I say terrible damage, because I want to save as much as I can, in order to go on a holiday, with the family this summer. And it would be nice to do something else, than going to Legoland.

Having the boys with me, was actually good, because they were able to say right away “No I am not interested in that book!”, so I actually did not end up buying a lot of children’s books this year. “Boo” is dyslexic, so he is not really interested in books at all. He did come up with one of the  Wimpy Kid’s diaries books. But I suspected that it might have been one which I bought for his brother LAST year, at the book sale at the supermarket, and I did not want to buy a second copy, especially since his brother never opened the books I bought for him last year. It seems like autism and boys mean a natural aversion to reading. And I guess it stems

"The Big Guide to All the Characters"

“The Big Guide to All the Characters”

from having to make your own mental pictures and they are unable to do so. He did come up with two books he thought I should buy though, for sure, and they were identical. I actually thought it was sweet, since he was thinking about his little brother and he thought they should have one each. But I said no, especially since “Gubby” showed no interest what so ever in the book, nor in any other book really. He did take a peak in a monster book and he did ask if he could have this experiment book, which “Boo” picked for him. But I said no to that one as well, since one might as well borrow that one from the library. What did I buy for “Boo” then?

I did buy the “Chima” book he showed me, since he seems to be the only boy in the family who really has liked Lego Chima. And you get a little miniature figure with it, which he appreciated, even though he with his autism doesn’t know how to play with toys.

These books are nice for the dyslexic child, since a lot of it is pictures and it is a book of facts and not a story to read. You can read as much or as little as you want.

But I have jumped ahead of myself. To get the best deals, you need to be at the bookshop at 07:00 or before 10:00. That is when they sell four books for the price of three. And that was my goal this morning. And why do I say bookshop singular? Because in Sweden you basically only have one bookshop, the chain of “Akademibokhandeln” shops. Some towns might have some little independent shops, but it is most unusual, so there really is monopoly on books in Sweden. Unless you turn to the internet!

I chased the family out of bed at 06:45, like when school is in session. (They are off this week on sports’ holiday.) And as mentioned above, my husband was staying home to work, since otherwise I could not have gone at all. He will have to work the time in, this evening. I was not up for getting up at 05:45, but hoped that the books I was interested in and had marked in the sale catalogue, were not going to have sold out an hour after the doors opened.

So I got there at 08:00, the others dropping me close by and then driving off to find parking. Not an easy feat in Lund. I ran first of all, to novels. I do not usually go for novels but there was a book I have been wanting since it was published in 2015. I feared it

"Sunbleached by Life"

“Sunbleached by Life”

was going to be sold out but they had about 8-10 copies left, so no danger.

For everyone living outside Sweden, this man will be more or less unknown. If I was going to introduce him to someone, I would say that he always looks as happy as he does on the cover of this book! And he speaks like one of Tove Jansson’s cozy Moomin Trolls, with an irresistible Finland-Swedish accent. And he is funny! Very funny! It seems like he comes from a very original quirky family and he always tells the funniest stories about them, which this book also does.

Unfortunately, he has really become famous in Sweden for being a homosexual. And being the partner of Jonas Gardell, a comedian/author. They have always been very open about their relationship and their sexual preferences, but while I would never buy one of Gardell’s books, Levengood is something different entirely. He keeps the bedroom scenes private, which is what all of us heterosexuals do. While his partner Gardell crams it down our throats, seemingly living for sex and talking about it. Maybe that is why, Levengood is asked to host all sorts of events and comment on such diverse things like a Royal Wedding and the Eurovision Contest?  Because he knows what is appropriate! And because he can be nice to WOMEN! And because he shows the same enthusiasm for everything! I have high hopes for this book and that I will look as happy as Mark when reading it!

It also helps that Ilon Wiklund has illustrated it! The woman who has illustrated all of Astrid Lindgren’s books! I just love pictures by her. Cozy extravaganza!

While I was in the novel section, I looked at the special edition classics. My life is so tough as it is, with three autistic sons and a teenage daughter who makes their problems worse, by not accepting them as they are and doing the best of the situation, so I honestly was not drawn to any of all the Russian depressing authors. But I did end up getting a copy of “Silas Marner”. I tried to read it in English, when I was pregnant with my oldest son, 1989, but I was constantly nauseous and vomiting, so I never managed to get through it. Why? Because the paperback I had smelled and all smells made me heave. All these years I have connected the book with vomiting, but perhaps NOW I can put that past me, and actually read the book. After all, I loved “Middlemarch”, so why would I not love this one?image

I know it will not be the happiest novel, since it was written in 1861, when realism was the motto, and it being about a falsely accused man, whose life does not take a turn until he finds an abandoned baby to look after and raise. But I do know that it will have a happy ending. George Eliot will never let her characters end on an unhappy note.

The other book is one I have also wanted to read for a while now, which is the Pulitzer Prize winner for 2015, “All the Light We Cannot See” about Marie-Laure, a blind girl, and Werner, A German Soldier, meeting in occupied France during the war. It cannot be anything but good! It has won too many prizes to be bad. Otherwise, I am not the sort of person who enjoys reading novels written in our time, since they tend to be full of sex, swear words and being too politically correct, so that they always have a homosexual angle to them. Can’t stand it, so I hope this book will be full of neither, but just be a plain good book. When I had added these three books, I headed over to the history shelves in order to not miss out on the books I definitely had come to the sale to buy.

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I am glad that I got there when I did, since I took the last Bergman book, surprising this old man when I reached in front of his face to grab it! I would have been so upset if I had lost out on this one, which was the reason I got out of bed so early on a holiday. It is a book about “The Casablanca of the North” as the back cover states. Stockholm was the hot spot for intelligence during world war two and the most secret part was the C-bureau. I just must quote the back cover: ” It is the story of ‘the swallows’, the women who worked as couriers, infiltrators, informants and ‘escort girls’. They were at the bottom of the hierarchy in the intelligence department and yet they took the highest risks, sacrificed their bodies and future, sometimes their lives. Without ‘the swallows’, the German codes could not have been cracked and the information vital for Sweden, would not have been gained. But this is also the story of power, the power had by high-ranking officers, the police, the politicians and the trouble makers. Here you find out how Säpo, Must, FRA, BND, CIA and ‘Stay Behind’ were created.” Anything about women in world war two, has me interested!

The book they had plenty of, was “A Child From Nowhere”. It was not on my shopping list. But then I ended up buying it anyway, since it is about the Lebensborn program. Not that much has been written about that program since it is one of those subjects still considered a taboo. Not a whole lot of people want to talk about themselves as a product of this evil plan of Hitler’s. And I can imagine that a lot of the documents were destroyed. It is a very tragic part of world war two, since these children were created for the Reich and really did not have a place in post-war Europe. Their mothers got shunned. And often they were adopted by proper Aryan couples, who were supposed to bring them up as true Nazis. The book is Kari’s story, who was taken from her mother at age 10 days, to be raised by more suitable parents. She was brought to Sweden after the war, being adopted by Swedish farmers at the age of three. But she really wanted to know the truth and what she went through during the first three years of her life. That is what the book is about and I have no idea if it is a good book or not. But the Irish Times claims that she really opens up her heart and that it is a story full of healing, love and pain. Hopefully I did not waste my money and will learn a lot of about the Lebensborn program.

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“The Book Thieves. The Hunt for the Vanished Libraries”, was another reason for me to get out of bed early. This is a much spoken of book and one I really want to read since I do love books. I was happy that they had two left on the shelf when I grabbed my copy, right in front of a man standing reading on the back side of another copy of it. This will be a good read, that I know. It is the story about the secret story behind the 1930s book burnings in Germany. The Nazis stole millions of books from libraries all over Europe. Why? Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg competed against each other, since they had different goals with their thefts. “Himmler collected a big library about ‘the enemies of the Reich’. Chief Ideology creator Rosenberg’s plan was more ambitious – creating a new Nazi research and University system. The plan was to educate the future leaders of the Third Reich  but also creating lots of new research facilities in order to justify the conquests of land and the murder of Jews, Roma and political enemies.” I guess the author has tried to travel in the footsteps of the thieves, trying to locate the stolen books and finding out who once owned them.

“In the Shadow of Auschwitz. The Holocaust 1939-45” is about the holocaust of course. But the author wants to tell the story of the forgotten parts of Operation Reinhard. About the camps which are less known, those of Belzec, Sobibór and Treblinka. All talk has a tendency to concentrate on Auschwitz, it having become the symbol for the holocaust. But it is very important to remember the other camps. Especially since they were not work camps. They were solely created for one purpose only, and that was to kill Jews. When their task was completed, the Germans disassembled the camps so there would not be any evidence left. And the people having worked there as executioners, went on to other camps, now being considered experts on how to liquidate the Jewish race. An important book in other words. Hardly going to be a best seller on the book sale, but one which my library will absorb.

Walking to the cash register, I lifted out two books so that I would have eight books and get two of them for free. Moving out of the shop with the gaggle, I noticed that the religious bookshop Arken, almost opposite, was open as well. So we headed over there. But their sale was not as impressive. As a matter of fact, they did not have any order at all, the sale books being intermixed with regular prized books and only a red paper sticking up at the top, indicating that they were sale books. Very annoying! They could have created sections on a table in the middle of the shop, to make it easier for the customers. User friendly is the key word here. And I felt that I probably missed possible gems, the way their sale was set up. But upon entering, “Gubby” finally found  what

Noah's Arc alphabet puzzle

Noah’s Arc alphabet puzzle

HE liked. “Mamma, lets buy that one” he said and then he sat down in a 1970s egg chair, pulled down the “blind” of the chair and played on his daddy’s mobile. “Boo” sitting on a chair outside the shop playing on a tablet. T. zoomed through the shop determining that he did not see anything worth buying. I must say that I was disappointed and perhaps I should have left, but I did end up buying two more books:

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“My Wounded Heart” by Martin Doerry is one of the most traumatizing books I have read about the Holocaust and then I have read MANY. If you are ever going to read just ONE book on the Holocaust, THIS book should be the one you read, not the diary of Anne Frank. Yes, Anne was robbed of an entire life, she had to hide in fear and was turned in by strangers, which lead to a painful death. Tragic. But to be honest, her writings are those of a spoiled hotheaded child and teenager. This book in my opinion is a much better testament to the trauma of being Jewish during the Nazi era. I have read it once, in paperback, and decided to invest in a good hardcover copy, because I want to read it again. And I want my children to read it when they are ready for it. This woman must not be forgotten! Lilli Jahn’s life was as tragic as it gets. A woman sacrifices everything for her husband. Being Jewish, she goes against her family’s wishes and marries a gentile. She works as a doctor beside him and the couple are blessed with five children. But her husband is not faithful. And after Hitler’s ascent to power, Lilli gets more and more shut out from society. But she is safe since she is married to an Aryan. Only, he trades her for a younger model and the cruelty he puts Lilli through is beyond belief. He and his mistress basically treats her like a dog. Forced to live in one small part of the house, waiting upon the mistress, helping her give birth and so on. But the story gets more disgusting when her husband decides to divorce her, even though he knows that this will lead to her death! She is forced to move with their five children and when she is arrested and put in prison, her children are left to their own devices in a constantly bombed city. Needless to say, Lilli does not survive the Holocaust and you could say that it was her own husband who murdered her. Her letters to her children will make you cry. They are a scream for help but also has all the love of a mother in them.

“The pureness of the blood” is a book about Swedish anti-Semitism during the 1930s and the war years. It is also about the Swedish Nazis during this time period. Written by the foremost expert on fascism in Sweden, it is bound to be good. Especially since she is a professor at Umeå University, in the history department, and works with fascism researcher Roger Griffin from Britain. A must read for me, in other words. I must say, that Arken takes in the most unusual books which you will never find on the shelves in Akademibokhandeln. You just have to have the patience to search through their strange system of displaying books.

Walking away from the town center, towards the car, I got this idea for a treat. In December 2015, we all drove D. to the airport in Copenhagen. He was off to Birmingham and his two-year mission there. He had to leave very early, so none of us had breakfast before leaving. On the way back home, as soon as we got over on the Swedish side of the bridge, we stopped at Macdonald’s so the whining children could have some breakfast. They all took different things and “Gubby” wanted egg MacMuffin. Since then, every time we go to the big M, which is not often at all, he wants the same thing. He is autistic, so it does not matter how many times I explain to him that you can only order that in the morning. To him it does not make any sense at all, that one can not order the same thing throughout the day. And we never go to Macdonald’s in the morning! But today, it was still morning in my opinion, when we drove by the golden arches. We walked in 10:02 and they said “No, it is too late. We serve food now!”. Right! I explained how “Gubby” has dreamed of eating a MacMuffin since December 2015 and she called to the people in the kitchen, to see if they had any left. They did! So, he got his MacMuffin with bacon while “Boo” did the mistake of ordering one with sausage, which he did not like at all. T. had to finish that one. But “Gubby” was in heaven and said it was the best thing he has ever eaten! Big smile! But as soon as we got to the car, he started again, saying that next time we go, he wants the same thing. I give up. How to explain that the hot, hamburger-looking thing he ate, is not a hamburger at all? That eggs and bacon are associated with breakfast in English-speaking countries and therefore you can not get egg MacMuffin for breakfast at American Macdonald’s in Sweden? I guess this discussion will go on for years in our family? He will get disappointed over and over again. But he was at least not disappointed today. And he had a fun puzzle to build when he got home!

 

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