Reading Lately: Reading Challenges & #WITmonth Progress (August 2018)

In the last month I’ve been enjoying vacation reads, a book club pick, and the first of my books-in-translation for Women in Translation Month. Since I often read Norwegian and other Scandinavian female authors, I’m going to venture outside my comfort zone for #WITmonth starting with a book from South Korea.

Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


Girl at War by Sara Nović

This was a favorite of the summer. It’s a very moving novel about a young girl and the effects of the Yugoslavian Civil War (1991-1999) on her life. Ana is ten years old and living in Zagreb, Croatia, at the start of the war. She makes her way to America after some horrible war experiences. Ten years later she returns to Croatia for closure. Reading it while traveling through Croatia, particularly along the coast near where Ana spent summers and where the book ended, really brought it to life also. (A fun example, Sara Nović writes about a drink called Cedevita and its importance for Ana’s generation, and we saw it all around and were able to taste it.) It’s hard to believe war took place in this beautiful country not so long ago.


I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

I absolutely loved everything about this book! There were so many wonderful characters. Friendships were deep and true. Family was a huge extended network. There was an intriguing mystery. The writing was beautiful. It all made for a fun and easy read, but at the same time there was serious substance beneath it all. I had hesitated reading it because I hadn’t read the previous two books involving the same characters, but then I just decided to jump in anyway. I’m so glad that I did. I’m recommending this to anyone who needs a book recommendation these days.

Reading Challenges:


Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

This book was not for me. I finished it but only to see if I could understand why both Reese Witherspoon and Anne Bogel (MMD 2017 Summer Reading Guide) recommended it. The writing was simple and dull, the characters unsympathetic, and the plot not that engaging. The only interesting thing was that I really enjoyed her middle grade level The Apothecary when I read it while ago and have a hard time believing this is the same author. Luckily, it did fulfill an empty prompt for a reading challenge (a book where the characters are traveling somewhere) so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

Reading Challenges:


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This was my book club’s latest read. The book is about an African American recently married couple living in Atlanta. On a visit to his parents in a small town in Louisiana, the husband is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit. My heart went out to the couple in this book, put in this awful and unjust situation. Seeing the story from the three main characters’ perspectives — the husband, the wife, and the friend — added greater depth to the story. I enjoyed the book very much. It was a sad and complicated story with much to think about it and discuss.

Reading Challenges:


The Vegetarian by Han Kang (translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith)

This prize-winning book in translation (Man Booker International Prize, 2016) has been on my radar for a while but not necessarily on my TBR list (due to controversy about the translation not being accurate). However, with August being Women in Translation Month, I decided to go ahead and read it. I knew it was about a woman-turned-vegetarian and her family’s opposition, but it turns out it was so much more. It was a short read, but not a light read. The story was disturbing, at times shocking and brutal, but I’m glad I read it. What was particularly interesting was the structure of the novel. In three parts, each from a different family member’s perspective (first the husband, then the brother-in-law, and finally the sister), the reader followed “the vegetarian” from the time she decided to become vegetarian until the time she was institutionalized. It was a somewhat different take on using different perspectives to tell a story. It was very much a character-driven novel with much attention given to characters’ motivations and mental turmoil. I’m intrigued by Han Kang and have added her book Human Acts to my TBR list.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

 

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August 2018 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Don’t Miss an #OwnVoices Immigrant Film from Norway

Have you had a chance to try something new or explore a new-to-you area of Los Angeles this summer? Summertime offers some special multicultural events for Angelenos. There’s still time to take advantage!

Some exciting Norwegian film news! What Will People Say by Norwegian-Pakistani filmmaker Iram Haq opens today in Los Angeles. I saw this movie at AFI Fest this past fall and loved it. It’s a very powerful film about a first generation Norwegian teenager born of Pakistani immigrants in Oslo. The movie is about family, culture clash, honor, and shame. There were many gasp-out-loud moments in this film. It’s a thought-provoking and heart-breaking movie. I highly recommend it. It opened my eyes to a world very foreign to me, a world that could theoretically be right next to me without me knowing it. Read my full review here. It is playing at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. Visit Laemmle’s website to see showtimes. Don’t miss it!

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 4 & 5 *

Big World Fun: Quattrosound, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. Hailing from Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, and the U.S., acoustic ensemble Quattrosound skillfully blends personal music influences with classical and jazz on violin, cello, guitar, percussion instruments and creative vocal arrangements. Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids are admitted free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended. Pre-show craft activities start at 9:00 a.m. Families can also explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals along the Ford’s entryway gardens.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/4, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures — not to mention great bargains — to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Delta Nove Featuring Lonnie Marshall, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/4, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Get up and groove with the world funk sounds of Delta Nove and the “RUBBABoX” instruments of special guest performer Lonnie Marshall. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

LACBC’s Sunday Funday: South LA, Sunday, 8/5, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join LACBC as they explore South LA and ride to the Watts Towers. They’ll visit some historic landmarks and neighborhood gems and quench their thirst and refuel their tanks at Roi Choi’s famous spot, LoCoL. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace. Click here for more details and the RSVP.

Mexico: Teotihuacan Clay Bird Vessels (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/5, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Ecuador Independence Day Parade and Festival, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Sunday, 8/5, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The Ecuadorian community of Los Angeles invites you to celebrate the independence of their homeland with a parade, traditional music, lively dancing, and tasty cuisine from this beautiful South American country. Activities take place in the historic Los Angeles Plaza, adjacent to Olvera Street. Free admission.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/5, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Family Jam: Exploring Temple Traditions with Taiwan Academy, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Taiwanese temple festivals feature colorful parades and captivating performances that symbolize Taiwan’s cultural heritage. Families are invited to learn about these celebrations through hands-on painting activities, an introductory dance workshop, and a live performance provided by the Rowland Heights-based STC Foundation, dedicated to Asian arts and culture.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 11 & 12 *

Family Amphitheater Performances: La Victoria, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/11, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Building upon strong foundations in Mexican folk music plus their everyday experiences as Chicanas living in LA, this female mariachi trio performs a sound that reflects their city. Playing both contemporary songs and folk standards, the trio takes audiences on an emotional and uplifting musical journey. In each song, Rodriguez’s violin drives the melodies, Calderón’s guitarrón provides the heartbeat, and Alfaro’s percussive and graceful guitar unifies. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

France: Niki de Saint Phalle – Sculpture (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/12, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Dexter Story Presents Tezeta West, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/12, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Join composer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dexter Story on a journey through Near Eastern and African music. Informed by his current ethnographic research at UCLA, Story has assembled a first-rate group of Armenian and Ethiopian musicians to explore the theme of nostalgia, also known as tezeta in Ethiopia’s national language Amharic. For this riveting performance, the musicians will celebrate the poignant and historic relationship between these two ancient cultures. Their repertoire includes both compositions and improvisational works that explore loss, displacement, migration, community, reclamation, dignity, and release. Performance is included with museum admission, no reservations.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/12, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 18 & 19 *

Tiki Beach Festival “Ohana O Ke Kai”, Granada Beach in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, Saturday, 8/18, & Sunday, 8/19. Event highlights include Island Market Place & Cultural Center, traditional arts & crafts including tiki carving, Taste of Aloha food court, renowned masters of Island music & dance, “Night of Fire” torch lighting, fire knife dance, fire walk and Island music, kids’ zone and play areas, canoe rides and other activities, Sunday morning hula praise & worship service. Visit website for entertainment line-up.

Natsumatsuri Family Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/18, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join JANM for their annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities. There all day activities and scheduled events. See website for details.

Ancient Egypt: Sarcophagus – Painting (Barnsdall Arts Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Los Cambalache, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/19, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Los Cambalache, named after the Spanish word that means “exchange,” is an East LA–based group of musicians who play son jarocho—a style of music from Veracruz, Mexico, shaped by indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures. In the spirit of the fandango, a traditional celebration of music and dance, dance along to this vibrant music!

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/19, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Family Jam: Making Music with Nathalia / Tocando Música con Nathalia, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/19, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Join us for an afternoon of instrument making and live music celebrating the Fowler’s diverse collections. Create your very own maracas and drums while listening to bilingual songs performed in Spanish and English by LA-based musician Nathalia. Drop-in instrument making from 1–4pm. Concert starts at 2pm.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 25 & 26 *

Los Angeles’ Birthday Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 6:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. Celebrate the 237th anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles with Los Pobladores historic reenactments, a civic ceremony, artisan demonstrations, live entertainment, and free birthday cake! Bike or walk to El Pueblo from San Gabriel Mission following the historic nine-mile route of our first settlers. El Pueblo Historical Monument is also proud to present a classic collection of vintage automobiles, low riders, and first-rate motorcycles on display in and around the historic plaza.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 1 1/2 hour walking tour takes visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/25, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. This is the last Summer Nights event of the summer. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.

Great Britain: Land Art Goldsworthy – Stone Painting (Barnsdall Art Sunday), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/26, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays: Printmaking in Italy, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sunday, 8/26, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, explore the printmaking boom during the Italian Renaissance in the exhibition The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

Oslo Harbor Promenade: Venice Beach the Oslo Way!

During our one and only full day in Oslo this summer, we explored one of the city’s newer attractions, the Harbor Promenade, known as Havnepromenaden in Norwegian. It’s a walking/biking path that stretches nine kilometers (about 5.5 miles) along Oslo’s waterfront and combines sightseeing, history, art, architecture, shopping, dining, and a little bit of adventure. Large orange information towers guide the way. (And there are plenty of geocaching opportunities along the way for those who are interested as well.)

Our adventure began at Frognerkilen (Point #1 on the map). We were greeted by the peaceful sight of docked boats and wandering ducks and geese. The first stretch of the promenade was a pleasant and leisurely walk right along the shoreline.

We enjoyed watching boats coming and going and swans searching for food. In the distance, we saw the ferry bound for Denmark leave port. On the other side of the inlet on the Bygdøy peninsula, we spotted Oscarshall, the royal summer palace completed in 1852 and open to the public since 1881.

At Kongen Marina (Point #2), a tropical themed café awaited. It was a very welcoming and enticing place, but we had plans to eat lunch later on in our outing. It was too popular for me to search for the geocache that was there. Reluctantly, we continued on.

The next stretch of the promenade, through Filipstad, was not as appealing. The path was right next to the motorway with only industrial buildings in sight. The comic book artwork on the orange towers did provide some fun diversion along the way, though. Also, at Point #3, I was able to easily retrieve a geocache since there were no people lingering.

     

There are plans underway to develop this area into an attractive residential community which will make a huge difference!

Luckily, this uninteresting stretch didn’t last too long and soon we were at Tjuvholmen which was a stark contrast to what we’d just encountered. We were suddenly surrounded by a chic, happening waterfront with bright and bold artwork, modern architecture, and an active folk life. I could have just stayed there and people watched for hours. Any thoughts of more geocaching were quickly forgotten.

We chuckled at how the area reminded us of Los Angeles’ Venice Beach! We already had the palms in mind from Kongen Marina. Now we saw huge wall murals (art by Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner, 1940-2018), an outdoor workout area (complete with bare chested men and bikini clad women!), a skatepark (though indoors and practically empty because, as you’ll see, everyone is outside swimming!), stand-up paddle boarding, sunning, and swimming.

I was mesmerized by all the people swimming and hanging out by the edge of the fjord. Oslo has been unseasonably warm and dry this summer and people were taking advantage. And this wasn’t even a weekend day. It was a Monday.

In addition to alluring outdoor spaces and fascinating architecture, Tjuvholmen is home to the modern art museum Astrup Fearnley Museet and an outdoor sculpture park. We lost sight of that with all the swimming going on, but they were there right next to the sandy beach.

I realized too late that there is a lookout tower at Tjuvholmen as well, The Sneak Peak. It has a glass elevator that takes you up 117 feet for 360º views of the city, bay, and fjord. We’ll have to remember that for next time.

We wrapped up our promenade exploration just down the way at Aker Brygge (between Points #5 and #6 on the map), the original hotspot of the harbor area. Besides dining, shopping, people and boat watching to your heart’s content, you can visit the Nobel Peace Center in this area. It was actually on my wishlist for this summer because they are hosting the exhibition Generation Wealth (until August 21, 2018) which I missed when it was here in Los Angeles, but sadly we ran out of time.

We completed about half of the promenade this time around. The remaining stretch we’ll have to do next time we visit. Maybe we’ll do that with bikes since it brings us farther from home. Exploring Oslo’s Harbor Promenade has been on my Oslo bucket list for a while so I’m glad I finally had a chance to begin.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: July 2018

This past month I didn’t make too much progress on my reading challenges because I mostly read books for categories I’ve already checked off, but I did catch up on my Goodreads challenge number which I had fallen behind on! Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

My Book of the Month selection from February that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance to read! Alaska in the 1970s was a riveting place: an eclectic community so attuned to changing weather and seasons. My heart went out to the Allbright family, the father who came back from Vietnam so very damaged and whose wife and daughter had to endure the consequences. I did have some issues with the decisions that the mother and daughter did (or did not) make, but it’s easy for me to judge sitting on the sidelines. I wasn’t in their shoes. The book was tense and heartbreaking. I had to put it down a couple of times to take some deep breaths and sometimes even take a break before continuing. It didn’t disappoint. It was a great read that I highly recommend.

Reading Challenges:


Sunburn by Laura Lippman

This was a totally unplanned read, but I recognized the book at the library as a Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Summer Reading Guide pick and couldn’t resist picking it up since it was available. It took place in the 1990s in a small town in Delaware. It was about a woman whose mysterious past was revealed piecemeal through various third person perspectives. I had a little trouble keeping straight who knew what since there were so many secrets being kept, but otherwise it was a quick and enjoyable read (though I’m still processing the ending and deciding what I think about that).

Reading Challenges:


Love by Hanne Ørstavik (Translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken)

I first became aware of this author last summer when I was researching Norwegian female authors for Women in Translation Month (#WITmonth): Norwegian Women in Translation for WITmonth. Then the author came back on my radar when I was doing The Reading Women’s Instagram challenge this summer and needed a book with a one-word title. It wasn’t really on my immediate TBR list until I got a physical copy in my hands. It’s a lovely little book — slim, no bigger than my palm, with an elegant cover. I couldn’t resist reading it right away. It’s about an 8-year-old boy and his mother who had recently moved to a remote village in northern Norway. They live together but lead totally separate lives. The story takes place one very cold winter night in the space of only a few hours. The boy is eagerly anticipating his birthday the next day, but his mother is wrapped up in her own world and desires. It alternates between the boy’s and the mother’s separate outings during the evening. What I thought might happen didn’t, and what I didn’t anticipate happened. It was a sad but beautiful story. At times it actually felt somewhat surreal.

Reading Challenges:


The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

I love traveling to a different time and place through books. This book took me to Bombay, India, in the 1920s, which was extremely interesting to me. It was a very multicultural place with many groups of people I have little knowledge about, in particular Muslim women living in full purdah (seclusion) and Zoroastrian families. I enjoyed the mystery and getting a look at the lives of women during that time. I was not wholeheartedly a fan of the main character Perveen Mistry. I loved that she was an independent and modern woman (she was the only woman at law school and later the first female lawyer in Bombay). However, I felt she made some rash decisions occasionally which contradicted how smart I thought she was. Overall, I enjoyed the book and will most likely read the next one in the series when it comes out.

Reading Challenges:


Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

I thought I’d give Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick a chance since it seemed like the perfect summer read. Unfortunately, I was not a fan. Too many dumb decisions and paranoia leading the plot and too many unnecessary story points added to it. The whole novel is the wife Erin telling the reader what happened, similar to a stream of consciousness. The writing didn’t impress me. Even the setting of Bora Bora didn’t impress me. It wasn’t much of a thriller for me either. I predicted the main part of the outcome, though not exactly how Erin ended up where she began in the first chapter. I finished it quickly, mostly because I wanted to see if there was a redeeming factor at the end, but also because I wanted to move on to my next book. I’m curious to hear what others thought of this book.


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World Cup 2018: Time for Some Literary Connections!

World Cup season is the perfect time to make some literary connections with the countries playing! Lists have been published recommending books by authors from each of the World Cup countries. There have also been daily literary World Cup matches where participating countries’ books or authors have been matched against each other to see which book/author readers like best. Check out #literaryworldcup on Twitter for the latest match-ups and results.

Sadly, neither Norway nor the USA made it to the World Cup this year, but Scandinavian enthusiasts could still root for Sweden and Denmark and their Nordic cousin Iceland. Sweden and Denmark moved on to the knockout Round of 16. Good luck to them!

I thought I’d consolidate titles recommended around the Internet from the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland. It’s interesting to see which books and authors are repeated. Make sure to click the links to the sources to see suggestions for all World Cup countries.

Have you come across any lists with book suggestions from World Cup countries that I missed? Please share in the comments. I’ll update this post as I come across more lists.


Los Angeles Public Library recommends four books for each of the World Cup countries:

Denmark:

Sweden:

  • Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam (YA), translated by Laura A. Wideburg
  • Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö, translated by Lois Roth (Martin Beck Series)
  • Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, translated by Steven T. Murray (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1)
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch

Iceland:


New York Public Library recommends authors from each of the World Cup countries:

Denmark:

  • Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • Sara Blædel
  • Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen)
  • Peter Høeg

Sweden:

  • Fredrik Backman
  • Kerstin Ekman
  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri
  • Selma Lagerlöf
  • Stieg Larsson
  • Camilla Läckberg
  • Henning Mankell

Iceland:

  • Arnaldur Indriðason
  • Halldór Laxness
  • Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
  • Snorri Sturluson (13th c.)

Emily Temple, senior editor of Literary Hub, recommends the following books:

Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, translated by Tiina Nunnally

Sweden: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, translated by Rod Bradbury

Iceland: Independent People by Halldór Laxness, translated by  J. A. Thompson


Penguin Random House suggests the following:

Denmark: The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen, translated by William Frost (A Department Q Novel)

Sweden: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (Millennium Series Book 1)

Iceland: Independent People by Halldór Laxness, translated by J. A. Thompson


CrimeReads recommends a crime novel for every country in the World Cup:

Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, translated by Tiina Nunnally

Sweden: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell, translated by Steven T. Murray (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1)

Iceland: The Shadow Killer: A Thriller by Arnaldur Indriðason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Flovent and Thorson Thrillers, Book 2)


Noteworthy: News from the University Libraries (Loyola University, Chicago) recommends:

Denmark:

Sweden:

Iceland:


Hodges Figgis, Ireland’s oldest bookstore, recommends the following:

Denmark: Mirror, Shoulder, Signal: A Novel by Dorthe Nors, translated by Misha Hoekstra

Sweden: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith

Iceland: The Shadow District: A Thriller by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Flovent and Thorson Thrillers, Book 1)


  

Three specific books were mentioned more than once:

  1. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg (Denmark)
  2. Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller by Guðbergur Bergsson (Iceland)
  3. Independent People by Halldór Laxness (Iceland)

Four series were referenced:

  1. Kurt Wallender Series by Henning Mankell (Sweden)
  2. Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson (Sweden)
  3. Department Q Novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Denmark)
  4. Flovent and Thorson Thrillers by Arnaldur Indriðason (Iceland)

Many authors were mentioned more than once for different works:

  1. Sweden’s Fredrik Backman
  2. Denmark’s Naja Marie Aidt
  3. Iceland’s Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
  4. Iceland’s Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
  5. Iceland’s Sjon

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these and how you liked them.

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Los Angeles Culture Challenge: July 2018

It’s summertime. Seize the opportunity to do something new! Is there a new event or excursion that you could add to your calendar to make this month a little different from the others? Explore another part of town, take in a cultural festival, watch a performance, or do an arts activity. How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 30 & JULY 1 *

Big World Fun: Le Ballet Dembaya, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, June 30, 10:00 a.m. Le Ballet Dembaya will take you on a journey to the country of Guinea on the western coast of Africa through their uplifting and energetic percussion and dance. At pre-show activities starting at 9:00 a.m., kids can make bows and bowties from traditional African wax fabric as well as explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals, such as birds of prey, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, along the Ford’s entryway gardens. Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended. Visit website for more information.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock.Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos during the summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs! Chinatown Summer Nights will also take place July 28 and August 25.

Sunday Funday: Tour of Santa Monica, Sunday, 7/1, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Santa Monica Spoke for the first Sunday Funday of the summer season! They’ll be taking in the cool coastal air as they explore the Michigan Ave greenway and get a preview of the 17th St corridor! They’ll be starting out at the 26th Street / Bergamot Station on the Expo Line meeting at 9:30 a.m., rolling at 10:00 a.m. There will be stops and water breaks along the way and is a perfect way to meet people and discover new neighborhoods. RSVP here. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace, and cover 12-15 miles.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/1, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

First Nations Now: Rhymes and Storytelling for Families, California Plaza, Downtown LA, Sunday, 7/1, 3:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. In conjunction with the First Peoples, New Voices series, MC RedCloud, Jessa Calderon, and Saginaw Grant (hereditary chief of the Sac and Fox Nation) will draw upon Indigenous elder and parental wisdom and traditions to share rhymes, words of wisdom, animal tales and origin stories from across Turtle Island. Family activities begin 30 minutes before each performance.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 7 & 8 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/7, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Le Ballet Dembaya, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/7, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. With Guinea being their primary country of study, Le Ballet Dembaya practices traditional percussive rhythms, typically played on djembe and dundun drums, accompanied by intricate, polyrhythmic dances from various regions throughout West Africa. In hopes of preserving a beautiful cultural tradition, Dembaya’s members have dedicated themselves to studying and mastering this art, while exposing its powerful healing qualities. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Bula, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/8, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Bula takes the amphitheater stage with Puerto Rican bomba music and dance. Started by Melody González and Hector Rivera, both previous recipients of Alliance for California Traditional Arts grants, the group strives to unite practitioners throughout the diaspora for educational presentations, performances, and community building. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 14 & 15 *

38th Lotus Festival, Echo Lake Park, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/14, and Sunday, 7/15, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Come take in the 38th annual Lotus Festival this year hosting the People’s Republic of China. Free entertainment for the whole family! Enjoy a food court, Chinese Pavilion, silent auction, children’s area, handcrafted artwork, gift bazaar, Japanese teahouse ceremonies, Japanese origami workshop, and dragon boat races. Visit website to see the entertainment schedule for both days and a map of festival grounds. Free parking and shuttles at Logan/Montana and Temple/Glendale.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Ina Buckner-Barnette and Chazz Ross, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/14, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Sing, drum, and “spread your wings” with Ina Buckner-Barnette (“The Sunshine Storyteller”) and Chazz Ross on a global storytelling adventure entitled We’re Better Together. Traverse the world with their multicultural stories, rhythms, and sounds. Their twenty-six djembe drums guarantee audience fun! Included with museum admission, no reservations.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Pinkturban Multibandi, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/15, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. These eclectic musicians—from the world music–inspired electronic record label Pinkturban—join forces to create a unique blend of Bengali folk, Indian classical, Bollywood, and electronic dance music. Dressed in their finest kurtas and iconic pink turbans, the Multibandi have become notorious for their diverse blend of cultural and musical influences and their shared mission for peace. Wherever they go, they always deliver, they usually bring glow-sticks, and they always bring the party. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 21 & 22 *

Family Amphitheater Performances: Dana Maman & Friends, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/21, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Entitled Ba’it, which means “home” in Hebrew, this performance by Dana Maman is an exploration of the different music, dances, and cultural expressions collected through immigration. Maman’s journey begins in Israel, the land of her parents, with musical influences from both Morocco and Iran. The story then continues to Brazil via Africa and finally concludes in the comfort of her home in America. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/22, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 28 & 29 *

2018 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival, Marine Stadium, Long Beach, Saturday 7/28, & Sunday, 7/29. In addition to hosting one of the largest dragon boat competitions in California, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese acrobats, traditional dance, hip hop, music, and martial arts performances. Dragon boat racing is an amateur water sport that has its roots in an ancient folk ritual held over the past 2,000 years throughout southern China. Come for fun, food, and excitement!

Big World Fun: Kim Eung Hwa Korean Dance Company, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, 7/28, 10:00 a.m. Experience the grace and beauty of Korea with Kim Eung Hwa Korean Dance Company. With their colorful costumes, vibrant music and elegant dance moves, this renowned dance troupe will perform traditional Korean dance and music – a true feast for the senses. At pre-show activities starting at 9:00 a.m., kids can make a kaleidoscope inspired by the dancers’ colorful costumes as well as explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals, such as birds of prey, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, along the Ford’s entryway gardens. Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended. Visit website for more information.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/28, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Takes place every last Saturday of the month.

Family Amphitheater Performances: One Grain of Sand Puppet Theater, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/28, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. Celebrate the strength and beauty of LA’s cultural diversity with Roar! Tiger, a fun-filled puppet show about friendship by One Grain of Sand Puppet Theater. In the show, a curious young Korean tiger travels the world and meets a jaguar from the Americas. But the two animals run into trouble because they can’t understand each other. How will they learn to overcome their differences and get along? This tabletop puppet show uses a mix of folk art–style puppets with live drumming. Performed in English, Korean, and Spanish. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/28, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 1 1/2 hour walking tour takes visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/28, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs! The last Chinatown Summer Nights for this summer will take place August 25.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/29, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Santa Monica Youth Orchestra, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/29, 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. This year, Santa Monica Youth Orchestra’s Opus 5 Music Camp takes the Skirball amphitheater stage for their final performance, “Songs of the Land: Exploring the Many Voices of Our World through the Arts.” The camp hosts musicians from France, China, Russia, and the Pan African Youth Orchestra of Ghana to work with students from all over LA to build community and learn musical styles from one another. Included with museum admission, no reservations.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – Nom, Nom, Nom, California Plaza, Downtown LA, Sunday, 7/29, 3:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. The bilingual kindie music superstars return with a tasty and educational performance highlighting healthy eating. You’ll hear how Goldilocks and the Three Bears got their food portions just right, what to pack in Little Red Riding Hood’s healthy picnic basket, and more.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

18th Annual Los Angeles River Ride (2018): Finally My Chance

This year I was finally able to do the Los Angeles River Ride myself. Six years ago our family went to our first LA River Ride, but I wasn’t able to ride it since Doobie was too young for the Family Ride. I stayed with him in the parking lot for the younger riders’ mini-course and bike wash. Only Daddy and Sonny were able to ride along the river. Ever since that year I’ve wanted to ride along the river myself, ideally with the family, but other commitments always interfered. This year was finally my chance.

This year’s Los Angeles River Ride took place Sunday, June 3. Both kids had obligations, but I was able to get away to Griffith Park for the event. There were several rides to choose from: 2-mile Kids’ Ride, 15-mile Family Ride, 36-mile Ride, 68-mile Metric Century Plus, and Century Ride from Griffith Park to Long Beach and back, each ride starting at a different time in the morning. I chose the 15-mile ride since the next longer ride of 36 miles seemed a little daunting as my first experience (even though we’ve done that and more as a family on cycle tours in Europe previously).

There weren’t as many riders at the start line as I had expected, but then again this was the last of the rides to get started. Organizers started us in stages so we wouldn’t overwhelm the road or each other when we started. Due to construction, we had to ride about 3 miles on road through the park to get to the bike path. I had no issue with that, especially since my husband’s one complaint from our last experience was the interference with cars while riding over the freeway to get to the bike path. This year’s route was a little awkward just as we were getting to the bike path. We had to dismount, cross an intersection two ways, walk down a grassy slope, and then wind our way around tennis courts before joining the bike path. But it was not a big issue in the grand scheme of things.

Riding along the river was a wonderful experience. It’s really becoming a much more green space with lots of birdlife and opportunities for recreational use. Even though concrete still played a dominant role and at one point, but for a very short distance, the freeway buzzed by on the other side of the path, you could easily forget you were riding in the middle of big city metropolis.

The ride went from The Autry Museum in Griffith Park to Elysian Park and back. The turn-around point was not clear. Luckily, a volunteer had noticed that riders were continuing on and stationed himself so that he could tell us to turn around.

One of my favorite moments of the ride was coming upon Spoke Bicycle Café. It was a pit stop along the route. I thought the pit stop was going to be just a table with refreshments along the route so I hadn’t paid much attention to the details of it. It was indeed “just a table with refreshments” but the table was inside this very cool, laid-back, bicycle themed café. Spoke Café was its own little special world. I wished I wasn’t there alone so I could have hung out for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere, live music and all.

Another local discovery I made was La Colombe Frogtown, another café right along the bike path. This had a totally different vibe than Spoke Bicycle Café, much more modern and chic. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee, but the cold pressed juice by Liquiteria was perfect.

Eventually, it was time to pedal my way back to the start of the ride. I’ve decided that next time I do this event I’ll sign up for the longer ride. This 15-mile ride only took 1 ½ hours (excluding café stops). I would have loved to spend more time along the river. Who’d like to join me next time?

The yearly Los Angeles River Ride is organized by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) which is a membership-based nonprofit organization that works to make all communities in LA County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride a bike through advocacy, education, and outreach. You can help by becoming a member, donating, or joining a bike ride (see below for one coming up soon in Santa Monica!), plus more.

Coming up soon… Sunday Funday: Tour of Santa Monica on Sunday, July 1, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join LACBC and local chapter Santa Monica Spoke for the first Sunday Funday of the summer season! They’ll be taking in the cool coastal air as they explore the Michigan Ave greenway and get a preview of the 17th St corridor. They’ll be starting out at the 26th Street / Bergamot Station on the Expo Line meeting at 9:30 a.m., rolling at 10:00 a.m. There will be stops and water breaks along the way and is a perfect way to meet people and discover new neighborhoods. RSVP here. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace, and cover 12-15 miles.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: June 2018

My goal of completing three reading challenges this year is progressing slowly but surely: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge, and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge. And just for the fun of it, I’m seeing how many of the Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge tasks I can complete, too. I love the challenge of finding books that fulfill tasks in more than one challenge.

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter #1) by Sigrid Undset (Translated from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally)

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! It was nothing like what I expected. Kristin is quite the rebel and the book seems quite risqué for its time (first published in 1920). Broken betrothals, premarital rendezvous, poison, suicide, and coverups – so unexpected. It was interesting to learn about life in medieval Norway, and the descriptions of the setting are especially beautiful. I am eager to continue the trilogy to see how Kristin fares in her marriage to Erlend, the handsome man who wooed her away from her betrothed. This is a classic I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. I tried to read it years ago, but it was the original translation (Charles Archer and J. S. Scott) and I couldn’t finish. The Nunnally translation was much better.

Reading Challenges:


Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

This was a tough read, not because the writing or the story was bad, but because the circumstances of the setting were so horrendous. Also, my background knowledge of the geography and history of the area was very limited. The story takes place in Burma, now known as Myanmar, in Southeast Asia starting in 1939. It’s about a mixed race couple, Benny (Jewish British officer) and Khin (member of Burma’s Karen ethnic minority group), and how they and their children endure years of war, occupation, persecution, and brutality. Interestingly, the story is based on the lives of a local author’s mother and grandparents. I’m glad I powered through it because it opened my eyes to a chapter of world history I had no knowledge of, but I recommend it with reservations.

Reading Challenges:


Still Lives by Maria Hummel

This was my latest pick from Book of the Month. Not only did it sound interesting (mystery in the art world of Los Angeles, my hometown), but also the author was coming to a local bookstore to discuss the book (which is always an interesting experience). It’s about a young editor at a small, prestigious art museum in Downtown LA who takes it upon herself to investigate when an artist never shows up for the opening gala of her exhibition. The story was a bit slow to get going and I had some issues with the main character’s decisions and actions. It did get more suspenseful later on. Overall, it didn’t quite pack the punch that I was hoping for, but I still enjoyed the book. I especially liked that it took place in Los Angeles and referred to many places I know. (Sadly, the author event was canceled, but I am hoping they reschedule because I would love to hear her thoughts on the book.)


Knots: Stories by Gunnhild Øyehaug (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson)

This collection of short stories is the author’s English language debut — 13 years after its initial Norwegian publication! I chose to read it in English because the Norwegian publication was in nynorsk, a written standard for Norwegian which I don’t read as easily. The book is an eclectic collection of stories all of which explore the mind and thoughts of people in a variety of situations. Many are surreal; others are realistic. There is little action. They mostly deal with the characters’ consciousness. I was oddly transfixed by the stories. The book is small and short, and the stories are short so I just kept turning the pages to see what creative and unique story would come next.

Reading Challenges:


The Reading Women’s Photo-a-Day Challenge

This month I’ve also been dipping my toes into many miscellaneous Scandinavian books as I participate in The Reading Women’s photo-a-day challenge on Instagram (#ReadingWomenMonth). I’ve been matching their daily prompts with books by Scandinavian female authors (mostly Norwegian, it turns out). Check out my Instagram account @AVikingInLA to see my selections and follow along.

What have you been reading lately?

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: June 2018

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States, and summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. Make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 2 & 3 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/2, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures — not to mention great bargains — to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. This tour takes place every first Saturday of the month.

Family Festival: Ancient Egypt and India, Getty Center, Saturday, 6/2. Explore the ancient and contemporary art and culture of Egypt and India at this interactive festival inspired by the exhibitions Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India and Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World. Enjoy classical Indian dance, make crafts inspired by the Nile and the Pharaohs, or get up and dance Bollywood style. Free, no ticket required.

Spain: Spanish Tile (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

18th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, 6/3. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders, and enjoy a great day of bicycling along the LA River and through DTLA to Long Beach. With five rides to choose from, ranging from 2 to 100 miles, there’s an experience for everyone at the LA River Ride. Bring out the little ones for a free 2-mile Kids’ Ride, or pedal with the whole family at our 15-mile Family Ride (one registration covers a family of 5!). Want a bigger challenge? Train up with our 36-mile Ride or dig into the Metric Century Plus, covering 68 miles. For those wanting to push it to the limit, the Century Ride will go from Griffith Park to Long Beach – and back – and is a great, flat route for first-time Century riders!

Kids in the Courtyard: Sculpting, Molding, Forging, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 6/3, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Discover the history of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform iron into objects of life-changing utility and empowerment. Find inspiration in the Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths exhibition and learn how to mold clay using the same techniques in African iron forging.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 9 & 10 *

The Big Irish Fair & Music Festival, Orange County Great Park, Irvine, Saturday, 6/9, & Sunday, 6/10. This family fun festival features 16 entertainment areas with over 1000 performers providing the fair visitor with hundreds of musicians, dancers, and bagpipes, plus sports, dogs, sheep, performers, and plenty of booths featuring imported Irish goods and displays. For the young folk, there will be a Children’s Leprechaun Kingdom with games, rides, Irish storytelling, and contests such as Freckle Face Kid, Red Haired Kid, and an Irish Baby contest. And not to leave out the old guys, there’ll be a Knobby Knees contest. And of course, there will be plenty of Irish food and beverages.

India: Ganesha Painting (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Makers Fest, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 6/10, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Let your creativity flow at this all-ages affair featuring maker stations led by local artists. Learn from the pros of the community, including Yrneh Gabon, who uses raw clay vessels and sculpture to discuss water issues; Silas Munro, whose lettering design exercises will map and image our city; and Cole M. James, who will present a collage workshop centered on the narrative of preparing to breathe. Take home several creative treasures of your own! No prior art experience necessary; art materials provided.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 16 & 17 *

Film Screening and Discussion—The Ito Sisters: An American Story, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/16, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Watch the 2017 documentary from director Antonia Grace Glenn which focuses on the experiences of Issei and Nisei women whose voices have largely been excluded from American history. At the heart of the film are three Nisei sisters who were born on a farm in the Sacramento River Delta and whose lives were directly impacted by significant historical events such as the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Great Depression, and World War II. The screening will be followed by a discussion. For more information, click here.

Father’s Day: Matisse Inspired Printmaking (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 23 & 24 *

32nd Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, 6/23, & Sunday, 6/24. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Canada: Totem Poles (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/24, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

CicLAvia – The Valley, Sunday, 6/24. For its June 2018 edition, CicLAvia is returning to the northeast San Fernando Valley to revisit the communities of Panorama City, Arleta, and Pacoima. CicLAvia – The Valley is a 4-mile route that travels along Van Nuys Blvd where public art, murals, vibrant local commercial corridors, and cultural venues invite you to experience the city’s northeast San Fernando Valley. Whether by bike, by foot, or by skateboard, you’ll get to know Pacoima, Arleta, and Panorama City in a new way.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 30 & JULY 1 *

Big World Fun: Le Ballet Dembaya, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, June 30, 10:00 a.m. Le Ballet Dembaya will take you on a journey to the country of Guinea on the western coast of Africa through their uplifting and energetic percussion and dance. At pre-show activities starting at 9:00 a.m., kids can make bows and bowties from traditional African wax fabric as well as explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals, such as birds of prey, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, along the Ford’s entryway gardens. Children 12 and younger are free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants. Buy tickets here. This tour takes place every last Saturday of the month.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock.Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/30, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos during the summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs! Chinatown Summer Nights will also take place July 28 and August 25.

LACBC’s Sunday Funday: Santa Monica, Sunday, July 1, 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join LACBC and Santa Monica Spoke for the first Sunday Funday of the summer season! They’ll be taking in the cool coastal air as they explore the Michigan Ave greenway and get a preview of the 17th St corridor! They’ll be starting out at the 26th Street / Bergamot Station on the Expo Line meeting at 9:30 AM, rolling at 10 AM. There will be stops and water breaks along the way and is a perfect way to meet people and discover new neighborhoods. RSVP here. This ride is a no-drop ride (no rider left behind) with LACBC Ride Marshals. Riders should be able to keep a 10-12 MPH pace, and cover 12-15 miles.

First Nations Now: Rhymes and Storytelling for Families, California Plaza, Downtown LA, Sunday, 7/1, 3:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. In conjunction with the First Peoples, New Voices series, MC RedCloud, Jessa Calderon, and Saginaw Grant (hereditary chief of the Sac and Fox Nation) will draw upon Indigenous elder and parental wisdom and traditions to share rhymes, words of wisdom, animal tales and origin stories from across Turtle Island.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

Proud to Be Norwegian at LA Galaxy’s Norwegian Heritage Night

I have many interests and I love it when there’s an overlap. In the latest case, it was Norway and soccer, in particular LA’s Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy. Earlier this year LA Galaxy signed two Norwegian players, Jørgen Skjelvik and Ola Kamara, and in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day (which was May 17) and the signing of these two Norwegian players, LA Galaxy showed its Norwegian pride with a special Norwegian Heritage Night at the StubHub Center in Carson.

My oldest son and I were thrilled to attend. There were limited tickets available for the event, and fans who scored tickets received a commemorative LA Galaxy/Norwegian flag scarf as well as a chance to attend a post-game session with the Norwegian players.

After the match, Kamara and Skjelvik joined fans for an intimate meet and greet. Fans were able to ask some questions, which mostly centered on being Norwegian in LA — such as how they celebrated the 17th of May (they were at the Seamen’s Church in San Pedro) and their favorite Norwegian food in LA (none yet!) — before the line began to move for autographs.

When we approached, Kamara admired Sonny’s Norwegian national team jersey. We had bought the jersey specifically for this occasion. Both Kamara and Skjelvik have played on Norway’s national team in the past and worn this jersey (and we’ll be cheering on Kamara when he plays with the Norwegian national team again on June 2 in Iceland and June 6 in Norway vs. Panama). Unfortunately, Sonny hadn’t had a chance to show the jersey during the game since it was too cold and he had to keep his sweatshirt on, so we were glad the opportunity presented now and it was noticed!

Skjelvik and Kamara were very gracious and friendly with everyone. They were happy to accommodate various photo shoots and items for signing. We were grateful for the commemorative scarves because they were the perfect item for signing.

And thank you, Miguel Magana at LA Galaxy, for the tickets and opportunity to attend Norwegian Heritage Night. It was a very well planned and executed event. We will gladly attend another.