What I’ve Been Reading Lately (April & May 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

It’s been a slow and unproductive reading period these last couple of months. My reading started strong with spring break in the beginning of April, but then work and family obligations took over and limited my time and energy to read. I’m grateful for my book club which provided incentive to finish two books at least, and bonus that they were both unread Book of the Month selections! With summer now upon us, I hope to get back on track and catch up.

I continue to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: April’s focus was the 1940s and I read White Shadow, the second book in Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy series. The first book in the series took place in the 1910s/1920s and this one jumped ahead a couple of decades to 1944-1945, the last year of the German occupation.

For the purposes of this challenge, I’ve decided that the 1950s prompt can include anything postwar (1945-1959) since World War II was such a significant time for Norway and it took years for the country to recover. I will continue the Barrøy series with Eyes of the Rigel which follows the main character as she leaves the island after the war on a journey during which “she will encounter partisans and collaborators, refugees and deserters, sinners and servants in a country still bearing the scars of occupation.”

For details on the reading challenge and insight into the past, current, and next decades, along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


White Shadow (The Barrøy Chronicles Book 2) by Roy Jacobsen
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)

The first book in the series covered Ingrid’s childhood on Barrøy, a remote island in Northern Norway, at the beginning of the 20th century. This book jumped ahead a couple of decades to the last year of the German occupation, 1944-1945. As Nazis withdrew from Northern Norway, they forcibly evacuated more than 70,000 people, including children, young people, the elderly and sick, and destroyed everything to delay the advance of the Russian forces. The book wasn’t directly about this (it happened further north than the setting of the book), but refugees made their way to the area and played a role in the story. It was a part of Norwegian World War II history that was unfamiliar to me so I appreciated the insight into it. I continued to enjoy following Ingrid’s journey in life and look forward to the next installment.


A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

This book was not at all what I expected, and sadly, I did not enjoy it. It started off fine introducing the two very different families who became neighbors, a newly rich white family who built a new house, and a single black mother, a professor of  forestry and ecology, and her biracial teenage son who lived next door. I thought the narrator of the story, a first person plural representing the neighborhood (a la Greek chorus), was interesting and unique, though the obvious foreshadowing annoyed me after a while. I assumed the focus of the story would stay on the relationship between the white daughter and the biracial son and the fate of historic oak tree affected by the new construction, which in and of itself would have been plenty (race, class, privilege, environment) for this little, tight-knit community, but it did not. A whole new element entered the picture which I did not enjoy (and won’t spoil). And the ending left me empty.

  • #unreadBOTMchallenge

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochilt Gonzalez

I don’t really know where to start with this one, but the bottom line is that I really enjoyed it. There were so many elements that resonated with me – a strong, complex female character; family drama and secrets; engaging storylines and writing; and most uniquely, a look at Puerto Rico, both its history and current status, of which I knew next to nothing. A very contemporary story (even a reference to the pandemic at the end!) that takes place in Brooklyn, it’s about Olga, a high profile wedding planner, and her brother Prieto, a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood. Their mother abandoned them at an early age to fight for a militant radical cause and their drug-addicted father died of AIDS leaving them to be raised by their grandmother and close family. It was refreshing to read a story of successful characters from a marginalized group. A lot of issues were packed into this book, but it worked for me.

  • #unreadBOTMchallenge

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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.

Summer 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & Scandinavian Festival

View towards Oslofjorden from Grefsenkollen, taken June 2019

Happy Summer! I’m combining June, July, and August events into one post and will update as new events come on my radar. Don’t delay in signing up for classes you may be interested in. They fill up quickly. Of particular interest for some may be the many online Nordic cooking classes offered by Vesterheim, American Swedish Institute, and The Nordic Heart this summer. Explore herring, gravlax, Scandinavian waffles and cakes, Nordic inspired cocktails and meals, and more!

Interested in joining other readers to discuss Nordic books? Find summer selections for online book clubs listed at the end of the post.

And finally, for Los Angeles area readers, I hope you’re planning to attend the 45th Scandinavian Festival in Thousand Oaks on June 4 and 5 at California Lutheran University. It’s the largest Nordic-themed event in Southern California celebrating the cultures and traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Sami people of the Arctic regions of Scandinavia. Enjoy historical craft demos, food demos, a Viking village and games, Saami camp, country crafts, a children’s stage in addition to the main stage (which will feature ABBA FAB – Tribute to the Music of ABBA both days), Nordic vendors, Nordic food booths, and more. See festival map.

What’s on your calendar this summer?


Family Friluftsliv Adventure with Vesterheim (Register by June 1)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule? Vesterheim’s June Family Friluftsliv Adventure is for you! Through hands-on activities and short videos, you and your family will explore the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, spend time outdoors together, and learn and practice Norwegian words and phrases, all on your own schedule. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these activities along with a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning and a yummy treat.

National Nordic Museum’s Virtual Meet the Author: The Border by Erika Fatland (Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. PT)

Join Dr. Scott Radnitz, the Herbert J. Ellison Associate Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, as he talks with Norwegian author Erika Fatland about her latest book The Border. “An astute and brilliant combination of lyric travel writing and modern history, The Border is a book about Russia without its author ever entering Russia itself. Erika Fatland gets to the heart of what it has meant to be the neighbor of that mighty, expanding empire throughout history. As we follow her on her journey, we experience the colorful, exciting, tragic, and often unbelievable histories of these bordering nations along with their cultures, people, and landscapes.”

Typiskt svenskt/Typical American Discussion (Tuesday, June 7, 9:30 a.m. CT)

What is assumed or generalized about Sweden and the United States? Compare and find out how different yet alike Swedes and Americans are in this fun and open discussion hosted by American Swedish Institute. This class is also offered Thursday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Scandinavia House’s The Border Virtual Book Talk with Erika Fatland (Tuesday, June 7, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House for a virtual talk with acclaimed Norwegian author Erika Fatland on her new book The Border: A Journey Around Russia Through North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and the Northeast Passage, out now from Pegasus Books. This event will take place as a Zoom webinar;  ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

ASI Nordic Table Demo: Family Camp Recipes with Emily Vikre (Wednesday, June 8, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Seeking some fun inspiration for outdoor drinks and snacks this summer? Look no further than the new The Family Camp Cookbook from Emily Vikre. Emily will share a little about her newest cookbook and talk about pinnebrød, a favorite camping bread from across the Nordic countries. And because Emily owns Vikre Distillery in Duluth, she’ll also show us how to whip up a couple beverages, one alcoholic cocktail and one family friendly option. Recipes will be shared in advance so you can prepare a drink alongside Emily if you like.

ASI Workshop: Intro to Papercutting (Thursday, June 9, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Papercutting is an art that spans history and cultures, from simple silhouettes to intricate designs. Join artist Anna Brones to learn the basics of papercutting and how to create your very own papercuts using a craft knife and cutting mat. This evening workshop will cover everything from paper and cutting techniques, to composition and design inspiration.

ASI Nordic Table Demo: Midsommar Made Simple with Patrice Johnson (Friday, June 10, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Whether you are going all out with a big celebratory smörgåsbord or taking a simpler approach, we could all use a few easy recipes for our Midsommar tables. Follow along as Patrice demonstrates simple preparations for gravlax, herring, potatoes and strawberries. You’ll feel totally ready to tackle some of these classic dishes at home after class!

Celebrate Midsummer with Aquavit and Herring with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, June 11, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. CT)

No Midsummer gathering is complete without aquavit and herring. Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen and learn how to make an aquavit cocktail to pair with three unique flavors of pickled herring, all starting with jarred pickled herring from the store. Students will be sent the ingredients list and class preparation approximately one week before the class in order to prepare. Enrollment deadline: June 3.

Workshop: The Fantastic Art of Paper Cutting (Sunday, June 12, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Join Scandinavia House and learn to create wonderful paper-cut beings with celebrated Danish paper-cutting artist Torben Jarlstrøm Clausen in a class held via Zoom. Clausen, who has held paper-cutting workshops in Denmark, Japan and the U.S., has created a magical paper-cut universe inhabited by beings previously confined inside the paper. In this online workshop, Clausen will share his techniques and guide viewers through creating their own paper-cut magic. Participants will also explore the paper-cut artwork of renowned storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, and hear about Clausen’s own journey to becoming a paper-cutting artist. The class will be limited to 30 participants to allow for audience interaction.

ASI Nordic Table Workshop: Knäckebröd Two Ways with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, June 16, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join Kristi for this cook-along virtual workshop where you will practice baking two different types of Swedish knäckebröd! Knäckebröd, or crispbread, is a classic part of the Midsommar table, but also a great snack to have on hand for light summer meals and picnics. Students will work in their own kitchens to make a batch of rye and oat-based crispbread and a gluten free seed-based crispbread. While the breads bake, Kristi will even share some ideas for tasty seasonal toppings for your homemade knäckebröd! This class is designed as a cook along experience, perfect for cooks who want a few extra tips and tricks while tackling a classic Swedish baked good.

Typiskt svenskt/Typical American Discussion (Thursday, June 16, 5:30 p.m. CT)

What is assumed or generalized about Sweden and the United States? Compare and find out how different yet alike Swedes and Americans are in this fun and open discussion hosted by American Swedish Institute. This class is also offered Tuesday, June 7, at 9:30 a.m. CT.

July Family Book Adventure: Lena, The Sea, and Me (Enroll by June 16)

Join Vesterheim for this family-fun reading and outdoor adventure! Your family can be any combination of folks as long as there’s at least one adult to help navigate the online portion. Decorah schools librarian Shannon Horton will get you reading, thinking, creating, and even up and moving – indoors and out! A kit delivered right to your home contains supplies for book-reading, a fun craft, a snack, and a scavenger-hunt-type adventure. This program has been designed for families to experience on their own schedules. There is no live Zoom event and no scheduled class time – your family can participate anytime during the month when it works for your schedule! On the first of the month, you will receive an email with the links and information about how to access.

Nordic Lit in Translation: Laxness’s Salka Valka with Philip Roughton & Doug McIntyre (Tuesday, June 21, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Translator Philip Roughton joins Scandinavia House with Doug McIntyre for a discussion on celebrated Icelandic novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate Halldór Laxness’s novel Salka Valka, out June 7 in new translation from Archipelago. “A feminist coming-of-age tale, an elegy to the plight of the working class and the corrosive effects of social and economic inequality, and a poetic window into the arrival of modernity in a tiny industrial town, Salka Valka is a novel of epic proportions, living and breathing with its vibrant cast of characters, filled with tenderness, humor, and remarkable pathos.”

Viking Metal-Weaving Bracelet Class (Saturday, June 25, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Dating back to the Viking era, this metal-weaving project is a great introduction to jewelry making. In this virtual class, learn the steps for metal knitting—a simple looping technique—using copper and silver wire over a round, wooden dowel. Once the knitting is made, a drawplate is used to pull the knitting through, which compresses and lengthens the wire into a beautiful hollow chain. Then, by attaching end caps and a clasp, you’ll transform the chain into a lovely bracelet. All bracelet materials are provided, including complete instruction from start to finish through discussion and demonstration of all steps in the process. Materials will be sent by mail upon registration.

Nordiska’s Book Club: Jansson’s Moomintrolls (Thursday, June 30, 6:00 p.m. PT)

Nordiska, a boutique specializing in Nordic-inspired goods and gifts in Poulsbo, WA, invites you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works the last Thursday of each month. For June’s meeting, they will be reading their first children’s novels featuring the Moomins, lovable hippo-like characters created by the talented Tove Jansson. Since the Moomin books are shorter in length, they have selected the first two books for June’s book club discussion: Moomins and the Great Flood (1945) and Comet in Moominland (1946).


JULY

Swedish Museum Series: Alma Löv Museum of Unexpected Art (Wednesday, July 6, 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT)

ASI’s Swedish Museum Series returns with a virtual tour of Alma Löv, the unique contemporary museum nestled deep in the forests of Värmland. This low-budget museum project, with high artistic ambitions, was founded by artist Marc Broos in 1998 and is today run by his daughter Stella Broos.

Summer Scandinavian Waffles with Patrice Johnson (Sunday, July 10, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT)

Nordic waffles are one of Scandinavia’s most iconic foods. They can be sweet or savory and are topped with a variety of (occasionally unusual) garnishes. Join the “Nordic Food Geek” Patrice Johnson as you create your own versions of Nordic waffles. Waffles aren’t just for brunch anymore! Enrollment deadline: June 24.

Book Talk—A Postcard to Annie with Ida Jessen, Martin Aitken, & Désirée Ohrbeck (Wednesday, July 13, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Acclaimed Danish author Ida Jessen joins Scandinavia House with translator Martin Aitken for a virtual discussion on the new book A Postcard for Annie, available June 28 from Archipelago. With moderator Désirée Ohrbeck, they’ll discuss the writing and translation of the prizewinning anthology hailed as an “insightful, original collection” (Kirkus Reviews) following the inner lives of several women on the brink, or sidelines, of catastrophe.

Introduction to Swedish (Wednesday, July 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour introductory workshop is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

ASI Nordic Table Demo: Blueberries in the Nordic Kitchen with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, July 14, 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT)

Blueberries are a classic summer fruit in the north, whether you gather them in the wild or find them at the market. Just in time for blueberry season, join Kristi as she demonstrates a trio of Nordic-inspired recipes featuring this fruit in different ways: Blueberry Rye Crumble Bars, Blueberry Cardamom Compote and a Blueberry Creme Fraiche Tart with Rye Crust. Students are sure to leave with new ideas and baking tips.

Summer Potatoes In The Nordic Kitchen with Kristi Bissell (Friday, July 15, 3:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Join Kristi as she prepares three delicious recipes for tender summertime new potatoes! Make an Herbed New Potato Salad with Pickled Golden Beets and Capers and a Savory Goat Cheese and New Potato Tart. Finally, Kristi will demonstrate a few ideas for potato open-face sandwiches on rye bread (smørbrød), which are very popular in the Scandinavian region and a great way to use up leftover potatoes. Enrollment deadline: July 1.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, July 17, 12:45-2:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Finland? This two-hour introductory workshop is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

ASI Nordic Table Demo: A Dip into Swedish Seafood with Patrice Johnson (Wednesday, July 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CT)

Summertime calls for casual seafood lunches and dinners in Sweden. Join Patrice for a fun demo of easy, breezy summer dishes inspired by the coast! Patrice will share three simple courses, including a caviar dip appetizer, a Skagen-inspired shrimp salad first course, and a stunning (but not so tricky to pull off) Västkustsallad, or West Coast Salad filled with vegetables and shellfish. With Patrice’s coaching, you’ll be ready to dive right into any of these dishes!


AUGUST

ASI Nordic Table Demo: Nordic Cocktail Hour with Patrice Johnson (Friday, August 5, 6:30-8:00 p.m. CT)

Whether you’re entertaining or not, sometimes we all just need a few fun recipes to play with for a Friday night. Join Patrice for some light bites that can stand alone as a snack or appetizer or can be combined for tapas style grazing for a summery dinner. And we won’t forget a few drinks with both alcoholic and N/A options, all taking their inspiration from a glorious northern summer, to complete our seasonal Nordic cocktail hour.

FamilieTid: How To Get Along With The Hulderfolk (Saturday, August 13, 11:00 a.m. CT, Free)

More than just stories from ancient folklore, the belief in the Hulder Folk is alive and well in the high grazing areas of Northern Gudbrandsdalen. It is a centuries-old belief that serves as an explanation for the mischief that occurs on farms as well as the practices for the protection of animals and farms. Instructor Arna Rennan met with Asta, Anna, and Ann Helen Brimi, shepherd girls on Brimi seter (mountain grazing farm) who shared their encounters with the Hulder Folk or “Hidden Folk.” She also learned local folk songs from Jarnfried Kjoek that the Hulder sing to wake up sleepy shepherd girls to milk their cows. Gather the family for this special program that includes images, folk songs, and stories and draws you into the special life in the high mountains of Norway! This event is perfect for the young and the young at heart.

New Nordic Light Summer Meal with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, August 13, 3:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready to wow your friends and family with this light and delicious Nordic-inspired summer supper! Kristi will show us how to make a Roasted Beet Salad with Whole Grains, Arugula and Creamy Skyr Sauce, Lingonberry Cordial, Gluten Free Seed Crackers (Norwegian Crispbread), and a stunning Summer Skyr Tart with Fresh Berries. Enrollment deadline: July 29.

ASI Nordic Table Demo: Scandinavian Summer Salads with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, August 18, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Make the most of your garden produce this harvest season with a bevy of inspiration for some Scandinavian summer salads! Watch Kristi prepare New Potato Salad with Pickled Golden Beets and Capers, Creamy Cucumber Salad with Lemon and Dill, and Warm Barley Salad with Fresh Garden Herbs. Students will get lots of inspiration for using up their late summer garden bounty or farmers markets finds.

New Nordic Cocktails Featuring Locally Sourced Herbs (Friday, August 19, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT)

Celebrate the herbs growing in your garden or your community’s local farms with this class via Zoom! Join instructor Hannah Garry to learn how to make four New Nordic cocktails featuring traditional Scandinavian flavors along with fresh summer herbs like basil, mint, thyme, and rosemary. Enrollment deadline: August 5.

New Nordic Brunch With Rye Bagels and Gravlax with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28)

Join Patrice Johnson, the self-titled “Nordic Food Geek,” for a delicious Nordic-inspired brunch! This two-day class via Zoom will have your kitchen smelling like a Nordic deli! We’ll make rye bagels topped with caraway and everything else, gravlax, a signature cocktail and mocktail, and other delicious bites perfect for your favorite weekend meal. Enrollment deadline: August 12.

Nordic Language Café (Sunday, August 28, 5:00-6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Join The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center virtually to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish, the choice is yours! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. All levels are welcome. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language according to their conversational skills, ranging from beginner to advanced. You don’t have to be a student at SSCC to join, but they are of course hoping to see both current and former language adult learners on the screen. Are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join them.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Sophie’s World By Jostein Gaarder (Wednesday, September 21 , 7:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join in September to discuss Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. This page-turning novel is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, and has fired the imagination of readers all over the world, with more than twenty million copies in print!


Virtual Summer Book Clubs

Scandinavia House Online Nordic Book Club

  • Tuesday, June 7: Quake by Auður Jónsdóttir, tr. from the Icelandic by Meg Matich
  • Tuesday, July 12: The Land of Short Sentences by Stine Pilgaard, tr. from the Danish by Hunter Simpson

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Illinois

  • Tuesday, June 14: Pole Raising and Speech Making: Modalities of Swedish American Summer Celebration (Ritual, Festival, and Celebration) by Jennifer Eastman Attebery
  • Tuesday, July 12: The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939-40: Stalin’s Hollow Victory by David Murphy
  • Tuesday, August 9: Power, Passion, and Faith: Emmy Evald Carlsson, Suffragist and Social Activist by Sharon M. Wyman

Swedish American Museum

  • Saturday, June 25: The Swedish Tailor and Adventurer: A historical novel by Rolf Johansson, tr. from the Swedish by Bonnie G. Pattison

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

May 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & Norway’s National Day 17. mai

Better late than never! We’re half way through the month of May, but many virtual events remain to be experienced. And for Norwegians and fans of Norway, the most important date of all is still ahead of us, Norway’s Constitution Day on May 17, known as Syttende mai in Norway.

Once again, Norway’s national TV station NRK will broadcast live throughout the day starting on Monday, May 16, at 10:50 p.m. PT and a recording will be available to view later. In addition to glimpses of celebrations from all over the country, viewers will enjoy delicious food, special guests, lively entertainment, and of course beautiful traditional costumes. For details on the program, visit Slik blir 17. mai på NRK (in Norwegian).

For LA-area readers, Norway’s national day will be celebrated in traditional style at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro on Tuesday, May 17, starting at 5 o’clock. For more details, visit the event page for Sjømannskirken’s 17.mai feiring.

Another in-person Nordic event is happening soon in the LA-area. I hope you’ve marked your calendars for the 45th Scandinavian Festival which returns to Thousand Oaks on June 4 and June 5 at California Lutheran University. It is the largest Nordic-themed event in Southern California celebrating the cultures and traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Sami people of the Arctic regions of Scandinavia. I’ll be returning as a volunteer!

And finally, are you interested in learning or improving your Nordic language skills? This is the time when some institutions are sharing new class schedules.

Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, recently opened registration for summer classes, both in-person and virtual. Offerings include a new slate of Norwegian classes starting in June (levels 1 through 4). For a peek at all classes to be offered this summer, visit Vesterheim Folk Art School Class Schedule: July -September 2022. Don’t delay in signing up because online classes fill quickly.

American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis has a series of virtual Swedish and Finnish language classes beginning in May. For a full overview of offerings, visit ASI: Lifelong learning in Swedish and Finnish.

What’s on your calendar this month as the summer approaches?


Syttende Mai with Vesterheim! (Tuesday, May 17, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Vesterheim invites everyone to celebrate Syttende Mai, Norway’s Constitution Day with them. In addition to their on-campus festivities, they will be offering an online presentation from Norway. At noon (CT), Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join from Ryfylkemuseet at Sand, Norway, to tell the story My Last 17 Mai in My Hometown, Now as a Red Russ. Last year, Anne Elisebeth joined this event to share her memories of her first Syttende Mai parade (view recording), and this year she will continue the story with her memories of russefeiring, a long-standing tradition for high school graduates in Norway. To watch from home, registration for the Zoom link is required and available here.

Family Friluftsliv Adventure with Vesterheim in June (Register by May 18)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule? June’s Family Friluftsliv Adventure is for you! You’ll get to explore the Norwegian tradition of friluftsliv as a family, and you can do it when it works for your family’s schedule. Through hands-on activities and short videos, you and your family will explore the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, spend time outdoors together, and learn and practice Norwegian words and phrases. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these activities along with a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning and a yummy treat.

Swedish Museum Series: Jamtli (Wednesday, May 18, 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT)

ASI’s Swedish Museum Series returns with a virtual tour of one of Sweden’s oldest and largest open air and country museums, Jamtli in Östersund. This museum features some of Sweden’s most spectacular pieces including The Överhogdal tapestries, which are over 1,000 years old. After the program, registrants will receive a recording of the tour.

Nordic Innovation Summit 2022 (Thursday, May 19, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT)

The Nordic Innovation Summit 2022 will be held in a hybrid format with a free live-streaming option from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p. PDT. Protecting the future of democracy is a principal theme in this year’s Nordic Innovation Summit. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the threat of cyberattack and the need for enhanced security and energy independence looms large in the minds of government leaders and corporations. This year’s Summit deals with the most important issues confronting the world today. Visit the website for information on keynote speeches, presentations, and panels.

Demo: Swedish Strawberry Rulltårta with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, May 19, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CST)

Learn to make this festive rulltårta cake filled with roasted strawberries and vanilla pastry cream just in time for your Midsommar celebration! Kristi Bissel of True North Kitchen will share some of her favorite cake baking tips to help students be successful in making a beautiful rolled cake at home. This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date. The recipe packet will be available for download one week in advance and a recording will be shared after class, available for re-viewing for one month.

Nordic Language Café (Sunday, May 22, 5:00-6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Join The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center virtually to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish, the choice is yours! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. All levels are welcome. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language according to their conversational skills, ranging from beginner to advanced. You don’t have to be a student at SSCC to join, but they are of course hoping to see both current and former language adult learners on the screen. Are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join them.

Nordiska’s Book Club: Anxious People (Thursday, May 26, 6:00 p.m. PT)

Nordiska, a boutique specializing in Nordic-inspired goods and gifts in Poulsbo, WA, hosts its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. They invite you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works with them the last Thursday of each month. For May’s meeting, they will be reading the dark comedy Anxious People by reputed Swedish author Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith.

Swedish American Museum Book Club: Swedish Again: a memoir of motherhood and identity (Saturday, May 28, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss Swedish Again: a memoir of motherhood and identity by Anna Dahland.

Writing as a Vehicle for Change: Swedish Women Authors (May 31 –  June 21)

With discussions and reading material in English, this program explores Swedish and Finnish-Swedish women writers—from Victoria Benedictsson to Lena Andersson. Learn about their historical and social contexts, reflecting on love, emancipation, social rights, class, and gender. Class will begin with an introduction and meets Tuesdays, May 31 – June 21, 5:30–7:00 p.m. CT.

Virtual Meet the Author: The Border by Erika Fatland (Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT)

Join Dr. Scott Radnitz, the Herbert J. Ellison Associate Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, as he talks with Norwegian author Erika Fatland about her latest book The Border. “An astute and brilliant combination of lyric travel writing and modern history, The Border is a book about Russia without its author ever entering Russia itself. Erika Fatland gets to the heart of what it has meant to be the neighbor of that mighty, expanding empire throughout history. As we follow her on her journey, we experience the colorful, exciting, tragic, and often unbelievable histories of these bordering nations along with their cultures, people, and landscapes.”

Celebrate Midsummer with Aquavit and Herring (Saturday, June 11, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. CT)

No Midsummer gathering is complete without aquavit and herring. Join Kristi Bissel of True North Kitchen and learn how to make an aquavit cocktail to pair with three unique flavors of pickled herring, all starting with jarred pickled herring from the store. Students will be sent the ingredients list and class preparation approximately one week before the class in order to prepare. Enrollment deadline is June 3.

Virtual Viking Metal-Weaving Bracelet Class (Saturday, June 25, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PT)

Dating back to the Viking era, this metal-weaving project is a great introduction to jewelry making. Using copper and silver wire, learn the steps for metal knitting—a simple looping technique—over a round, wooden dowel. Once the knitting is made, a drawplate is used to pull the knitting through, which compresses and lengthens the wire into a beautiful hollow chain. Then, by attaching end caps and a clasp, you’ll transform the chain into a lovely bracelet. All bracelet materials are provided, including complete instruction from start to finish through discussion and demonstration of all steps in the process. Materials will be sent by mail upon registration.


Looking ahead…

Want to plan your reading? Here’s a look ahead at virtual book events for June.


Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (March 2022)

I continue to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately. This month I really traveled the world through books and landed on three continents. I visited South Africa, Romania, Norway, and Antarctica.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: I’m on track with my reading for this year’s Scandinavian Reading Challenge. March’s focus was the 1930s and I read Chasing the Light by Australian writer Jesse Blackadder which featured Norway’s whaling industry at the time. It certainly was a great book for the challenge, but as I explain below, it wasn’t a favorite reading experience otherwise. For April’s 1940s, I chose to return to Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy series with White Shadow which takes places in the same area of Northern Norway but in a much narrower time frame than the first one, just the last year of the German occupation of Norway.

For details on the reading challenge and insight into the past, current, and next decades, along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


The Promise by Damon Galgut
(Narrated by Peter Noble)

This was a book club pick that I knew nothing about going in. Interestingly, what ended up intriguing me the most by the end was what bothered me the most at the beginning, the narrative voice and the narrator of the audiobook. At the beginning, I found the tone very annoying — strong, pronounced, and all-encompassing. However, once I realized that was the intended effect (and that the prose was written in free form without quotation marks with the dialogue and narrative merging, something I don’t like), I continued the audiobook with a new perspective and an open mind and found it very enjoyable. The story is about a white South African family and a promise that takes decades to fulfill. The dying mother wanted their long-time servant to receive the house on the property in which she lived. It begins during Apartheid and jumps by decades to the present. The narrator of the story has an attitude and opinions which they don’t hold back, making this a very unique reading/listening experience.


Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel (Narrated by Anne Bogel)

I’ve had this book by a favorite blogger/podcast host on my bookshelf for a couple of years but just never got around to reading it. When I discovered the audiobook was available at hoopla, I downloaded it immediately and decided to make it my next read instead of listening to a podcast. In a way, it would be like a podcast since the author, also host of a favorite podcast, reads it herself. It was a short and sweet listen which provided much useful food for thought regarding decision making. Some of the material was a good reminder of familiar concepts; other sections were new ways of thinking about issues.

 


I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
(Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini)

What an eye-opening and heart-breaking look into life in communist Romania under the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1980s. The story takes place over a span of only a few months in 1989 leading up to the revolution in December. All 17-year-old Cristian really wants to do is write and spend time with the girl he has a crush on, but the regime has other plans for him. He is blackmailed by the secret police into becoming an informer. It was shocking to see how deep and wide the “citizen spy network” worked and its effect on families. I’ve been a great fan of Ruta Sepetys’ previous historical fiction novels, and this new release didn’t disappoint.


Chasing the Light: A Novel of Antarctica by Jesse Blackadder

I so wanted to love this book. It was a book about three women competing to become the first women to set foot on Antarctica. Equally intriguing was that it was during a period of Norwegian history unfamiliar to me, Norway’s whaling industry in the 1930s. The historical aspect met my expectations, though did not exceed because it was very fictionalized. The characters were based on real people, but the voyage depicted in the book was actually an amalgamation of various voyages to Antarctica by the women involved. The afterword by the author was important in sorting out what was true and what was not. What turned me off the most, however, was the female camaraderie, or actually lack thereof. On this very long, tough journey in a very male-dominated environment, I was hoping/expecting them to be more well-intentioned towards one another and supportive of each other, but that was not the case, and that was frustrating to me.


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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.

April 2022: Virtual Nordic Events

Virtual events focused on Nordic cooking, books and authors, art, and film continue to be popular despite the return to in-person programming at institutions. Which virtual events or experiences happening this month look interesting to you?

Speaking of in-person events, Los Angeles area readers, the 45th Scandinavian Festival needs volunteers! The festival returns to Thousand Oaks on June 4-5, 2022, at California Lutheran University. It is the largest Nordic-themed event in Southern California celebrating the cultures and traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Sámi people of the Arctic regions of Scandinavia. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, please reach out to ScanFestVolunteers@gmail.com. They also offer sponsorship opportunities. Please visit Scandinavian Festival: Sponsors for more information, including a link to a sponsorship brochure.


Book Talk: Haymaker in Heaven by Edvard Hoem (Saturday, April 2, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT, Free)

Celebrate the launch of Haymaker in Heaven by Edvard Hoem, translated from the Norwegian by Tara Chace, with the author and Norway House in Minneapolis, MN. From one of Norway’s leading writers, translated into English for the very first time, comes a transatlantic novel of dreams, sacrifice, and transformation set at the turn of the twentieth century. Enjoy a discussion with the author, joining virtually from Norway, with an opportunity to ask questions.

Virtual Premier of In Conversation: The Photography of Edvard Munch (Saturday, April 2, 1:00 p.m. ET)

In coordination with their ongoing exhibition The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch’s Photography, Scandinavia House presents a virtual program celebrating the release of the illustrated book The Experimental Self: The Photography of Edvard Munch. In the program, renowned Munch scholar Patricia G. Berman will examine a selection of photographs featured in the exhibition. Next, MaryClaire Pappas will expand on her essay in the catalogue, examining a series of self-portraits (or “Selfies”) taken by Munch, also featured in the exhibition. Following these two presentations, Dr. Berman and Pappas will join ASF President Edward Gallagher as moderator in a discussion about the relevance of Munch’s photos today. The program will air as a Virtual Premiere on Saturday, April 2, via YouTube and will remain available to view throughout the weekend. It will later be available to stream on the Exhibition page.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—Trolls: A Retrospective; Episode 3: “Trolls out of Chaos” (Friday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. PT)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, presents a live virtual presentation about trolls by Britte Rasmussen Marsh, a writer and independent researcher based in Portland, Oregon. Beginning in the Modern Era, troll narratives sprung like dandelions from the scorched earth of World Wars I and II–as flowers or as weeds? In Episode 3 of Trolls: A Retrospective, investigate the ever-shifting influences of 20th century Europe: good, evil, neutrality, fantasy and fascism. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Virtual Cinema: Helene (April 8-17)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, presents virtual screenings of the new film Helene, directed by Antti J. Jokinen, based on true events in the life of Finland’s most acclaimed painter Helene Schjerfbeck.

Fastlavnsboller – Easter Buns with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, April 9)

On Shrove Tuesday and throughout the Lenten season in the Scandinavian countries, people indulge in fastlavnsboller (Norwegian) or semlor (Swedish), buttery cardamom buns filled with a rich almond filling and topped with a flourish of whipped cream. Join Vesterheim and Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen and learn how to make these buttery, almond-filled sweet buns at home! Class consists of two sessions on Saturday, April 9, 1:00-2:00 p.m. and 3:00-4:30 p.m. CT. Enrollment deadline: April 1.

Ejnar Nielsen and the Psychographic Image (Saturday, April 9, 11:00 a.m. PT, Free)

Join National Nordic Museum and Dr. Thor Mednick (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Toledo) as he considers the paintings of Ejnar Nielsen (Danish, 1872-1956). He will argue that in Nielsen’s work, the quality and character of human consciousness is primarily determined by the mind. Dr. Mednick is an historian of nineteenth-century European art specializing in Denmark and Scandinavia.

Book Talk: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting (Tuesday, April 12, 11:00 a.m. PT, Free)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual book talk with bestselling Norwegian author Lars Mytting on The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, his engrossing new literary novel about a family mystery, revenge and forgiveness, out April 5 from The Overlook Press. Winner of the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Prize, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, spanning a century and masterfully navigating themes of revenge and forgiveness, love and loneliness, displays the rich talents of Lars Mytting in a story that is utterly compelling and unforgettable.

Scandinavia House Nordic Book Club: To Cook a Bear (Tuesday, April 12, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House’s Nordic Book Club to read and discuss literature in translation from some of the best Nordic literary voices. This month, they will be discussing To Cook a Bear by Swedish author Mikael Niemi, a tale set in the far north of Sweden in 1852.

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center Nordic Book Club: The Copenhagen Trilogy (Tuesday, April 12, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois, to discuss The Copenhagen Trilogy, the acclaimed trilogy from Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, a pioneer in the field of genre-bending confessional writing.

National Danish Book Club: The Man in the Lighthouse (Tuesdays, April 12 & April 19, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with this nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author is discussed in two virtual settings: Book Club group discussions and accompanying Literary Events. This month’s selection is The Man in the Lighthouse by Erik Valeur in translation by Mark Mussari. The Literary Event will take place on Tuesday, April 12, while the Book Club group discussion will take place Tuesday, April 19.

Demo: Spring Meringue Cake with Patrice Johnson (Wednesday, April 13, 6:00-7:30 p.m. CT)

Seeking inspiration for a fun, spring-y dessert just in time for Easter and beyond? Join Patrice Johnson to find out more about Scandinavian style meringue cakes. Patrice will calm your fears by sharing all her tricks for working with egg whites, and talk through some of her favorite fillings for these festive but deceptively simple desserts. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom and is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date.

Virtual Cinema: A Writer Named Tove (April 15-24)

Scandinavia House presents virtual screenings of the animated documentary, A Writer Named Tove (Tove i stykke), based on the life of acclaimed Danish author Tove Ditlevsen. The screening will include a virtual introduction by author and translator Michael Favala.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Wednesday, April 20, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join in April to discuss Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Enrollment deadline: April 13, 2022.

The Nordic Heart Bokklubb Book Club: Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rölvaag (Saturday, April 23, 10:30 a.m. CT, Free)

In this meeting, participants of The Nordic Heart Book Club will be discussing the first half of Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by O. E. Rölvaag. O. E. Rölvaag (born 1876 in Helgeland, Norway; died 1931 in Minnesota) was a Norwegian-American novelist and educator noted for his realistic portrayals of Norwegian settlers on the Dakota prairies and of the clash between transplanted and native cultures in the United States. The second half of the book will be discussed Saturday, May 21.

Nordic Literature in Translation: Damascus, Atlantis (Saturday, April 23, 1:00 p.m. PT)

Join Scandinavia House for a Nordic Literature in Translation event with author Marie Silkeberg and translator Kelsi Vanada on Silkeberg’s 2021 book Damascus, Atlantis, which was recently longlisted for the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. With moderator David Rothenberg, the publisher of Terra Nova Press, they’ll discuss Silkeberg’s poetry collection and Vanada’s translation of her works, for which Vanada won ASF’s Nadia Christensen Translation Prize in 2018.

The 46th Annual Kalevala Event: Finnish Kantele: Remembering Wilho (Sunday, April 24, 3:00 p.m. PT, Free)

The National Nordic Museum together with the Finnish Choral Society invites you to the 46th Annual Kalevala Day Festival—Finnish Kantele: Remembering Wilho. The Kalevala Day tradition goes back to 1835, when the national epic of Finland, the Kalevala, was published for the first time by Elias Lönnrot. The Kalevala epic played an important part in developing Finland’s national identity and Finnish language, art, and music. This 45-minute YouTube program will feature the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle, the Evergreen Livakat Kantele players, and Arja Kastinen, kantele player and first Finnish folk musician to earn Doctor of Music at Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland.

Nordic Language Café (Sunday, April 24, 5:00-6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Join The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center virtually to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish, the choice is yours! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. All levels are welcome. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language according to their conversational skills, ranging from beginner to advanced. You don’t have to be a student at SSCC to join, but they are of course hoping to see both current and former language adult learners on the screen. Are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join them.

Nordiska’s Book Club: The Mercies (Thursday, April 28, 6:00 p.m. PT)

Nordiska, a boutique specializing in Nordic-inspired goods and gifts in Poulsbo, WA, hosts its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. In April, join them to discuss The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, a book set in Vardø, Norway, far above the Arctic Circle, which depicts the lives of two women during the witch trials in the 1600s. The book is based on true events.

Swedish American Museum Book Club: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Saturday, April 30, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

Walpurgis Feast with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, April 30, 5:00-6:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and Patrice Johnson to celebrate the end of winter and beginning of spring on Walpurgis Eve, known in Sweden as Valborgsmässoafton. Learn about the traditions of this special night and prepare a traditional menu of Tunnbrödsrulle (hotdogs served in flatbreads with mashed potatoes, shrimp salad, and other fun condiments). Round out the menu with a cocktail, a mocktail, and a light spring dessert. Enrollment deadline: April 22, 2022.

Family Friluftsliv Adventure with Vesterheim (Register by May 18)

Looking for a fun way to explore Norwegian culture with your family on your own schedule? June’s Family Friluftsliv Adventure is for you! Through hands-on activities and short videos, you and your family will explore the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, spend time outdoors together, and learn and practice Norwegian words and phrases. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these activities along with a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning and a yummy treat. Enrollment deadline: May 18, 2022.


Looking ahead…

Want to plan your reading? Here’s a look ahead at virtual book events for May.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (February 2022) & Reading Challenges Update

Once again I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately. I always get reading ideas from there and hope to return the favor here.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: I finished Roy Jacobsen’s The Unseen for the 1900s/1910s prompt (but it actually goes into 1920s as well) and I completed The Assistant, the historical fiction thriller by Kjell Ola Dahl, for the 1920s (which takes place in 1938 as well). I’m now moving on to the 1930s with Chasing the Light: A Novel of Antarctica by Jesse Blackadder for a slightly different Norwegian history reading experience. This one takes me away from Norway, but it keeps me in an arena where Norway still plays a role, whaling in the Antarctic.

For details on the reading challenge and insight into the past, current, and next decades, along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


The Yield: A Novel by Tara June Winch

This was not the easiest book to get into, but I’m glad I stuck with it because suddenly (at about 25%) it all began to fall into place and ended up being a very rewarding reading experience. I started by listening to it, but I had a hard time following the story with its three narratives. I switched to the ebook and that made a huge difference. I did not have any background knowledge for this book, not about Australia in general and definitely not Australian indigenous history in particular, which probably hindered my comprehension at the beginning also. I thought the structure of the book with the dictionary by the grandfather, the letter written by the missionary, and the narrative of the granddaughter returning to her homeland for her grandfather’s funeral worked very well together. I really enjoyed seeing how it all came together by the end and it opened my eyes to a whole new chapter in world history, in this case effects of the British colonization of Australia.


In Every Mirror She’s Black: A Novel by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
(Narrated by Rosemarie Akwafo and Sara Powell)

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel, three very different Black women whose lives unexpectedly intersect via a very rich, white man in Stockholm, Sweden. One is a Nigerian-American top marketing executive in the United States, another is an American model-turned-flight-attendant flying trans-Atlantic flights, and the third is a Somali refugee in Sweden. I was drawn into their stories and struggles and eagerly followed their journeys. I did get frustrated with their actions at times, but I appreciated that they were honest with themselves. The ending was not what I had hoped nor expected for them, but I understand why the author did it (per “A Conversation with the Author” at the end, the setting of Sweden had a lot to do with it). These characters will stay with me for a long time, and I certainly walked away with much to think about. So many social issues were raised. I think this would make a great book club pick. I highly recommend the audiobook!


The Unseen (Ingrid Barrøy #1) by Roy Jacobsen
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)

This is the first in a tetralogy about Ingrid who lives on the fictional island of Barrøy along the coast in Northern Norway. She is three when the book opens and it’s the beginning of the 20th century. She and her parents, aunt, and grandfather are the only inhabitants of this very remote island. The novel chronicles their life on the island, a life very tied to geography and weather. They survive off their crops, livestock, and fishing with occasional visits to the mainland. Mother, father, and Ingrid all have their dreams and it’s interesting to see how their lives play out as the outside world encroaches upon their own world. The old dialect in the dialogue is a little cumbersome, but there’s not too much of it. Looking forward to seeing how the future affects the inhabitants in the rest of the series.


The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)

This is a standalone historical fiction thriller by the noted Norwegian crime fiction author of the Oslo Detective series. This book introduced me to a time period of Norwegian history I’m very unfamiliar with, the interwar period. The storyline jumps between the 1920s, during the Prohibition era, and 1938, just before World War II breaks out, and follows two characters who at first are on opposite sides of the law as an alcohol smuggler and police officer and then later work together as private investigator and assistant. Their case that sets off the series of events is simple, but the circumstances become complex mixing both past personal history and the then-current situation of secret Nazi officials on Norwegian soil. It was an enjoyable way to learn about a new-to-me historical time period, and especially fun for me was that it took place all over Oslo and very specific place names were mentioned, many of which were very familiar to me. As a thriller, though, it didn’t quite hit the spot for me.


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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.

March 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & New Online Language Classes

In addition to a variety of virtual Nordic events, this month welcomes the start of new online language classes at certain institutions as well.

Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language and Culture Program has opened registration for the spring semester and offers online classes featuring language and literature starting at the end of March and continuing through the beginning of June.

The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center in San Francisco also offers online Norwegian language classes as well as Danish, Swedish, and Finnish classes starting at the beginning of March. In addition to classes, they offer a virtual monthly Language Café to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, or Swedish.

For Los Angeles area readers, the 45th Scandinavian Festival returns to Thousand Oaks on June 4-5, 2022, at California Lutheran University. It is the largest Nordic-themed event in Southern California celebrating the cultures and traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Sami people of the Arctic regions of Scandinavia. If you are interested in volunteering at the 2022 Scandinavian Festival, please contact Karen Ashim at ScanFestVolunteers@gmail.com.

What looks intriguing to you this month?


Nordic Lights Film Festival (February 25 – March 5)

The Nordic Lights Film Festival is devoted to celebrating Nordic cinema—this year, once again, virtually. All films are available to watch during the run of the festival. You may choose your own viewing schedule but once you start a film, you will have 72 hours to finish it. Some of the feature films have been geo-blocked by their production companies and will only be viewable in the state of Washington.

Celebrate Laskiainen with Scandinavia House (March 1 – 6)

Join Finnish singer Ida Metsberg as she shows you how to make your very own laskiaispulla, while sharing her own childhood memories of Laskiainen/Shrovetide! This event will take place as a virtual event premiering on March 1 via YouTube and Facebook. It will remain available to stream through Sunday, March 6. Laskiainen (Shrovetide) is often described as a “mid-winter sliding festival”. Associated with Shrove Tuesday, it is a celebration of the beginning of Lent that takes place before Easter, but includes both pagan and ecclesiastic traditions.

Nordic Literature in Translation: The Land of Short Sentences (Saturday, March 5, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House for a Nordic Literature in Translation event with this year’s American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prizewinner Hunter Simpson and the author of the work in translation, Stine Pilgaard, moderated by Shimanto Reza. Now in its 43rd year, ASF’s Annual Translation Competition awards prizes for outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose written by a 20th- or 21st-century Nordic author. In today’s event, Pilgaard and Simpson will discuss the writing and translation of the book.

Scandinavia House Nordic Book Club: Adorable (Tuesday, March 8, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

This month, Scandinavia House’s Nordic Book Club will be discussing Adorable by Ida Marie Hede, out in translation by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg, which was recently discussed by the author in the virtual panel “The Familiar & The Absurd: Literature from Copenhagen,” now streaming here.

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center Nordic Book Club: Hotel Silence (Tuesday, March 8, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois, to discuss Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon.

National Danish Book Club: Mirror, Shoulder, Signal  (Tuesday, March 8, 5:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with a new nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author will be selected and discussed in two virtual settings: Book Club group discussions and accompanying Literary Events. This month’s selection is Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Spejl, skulder, blink) by Dorthe Nors, translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra. The Literary Event, an interview with Dorthe Nors, will take place on Tuesday, March 8, while the Book Club group discussion will take place Tuesday, March 15.

Panel: Jon Fosse’s SEPTOLOGY (Wednesday, March 9, 4:00 p.m. PT)

Community Bookstore (Brooklyn, New York), Brazos Bookstore (Houston, Texas), and Third Place Books (Seattle, Washington) invite you to an evening celebrating the release of A NEW NAME: SEPTOLOGY VI-VII by Jon Fosse, one of Norway’s most celebrated authors and playwrights. This event, co-sponsored by the Norwegian Consulate General in New York, will take place on Zoom Webinar. Click here for more information and to register.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—1000 Year History of Iceland in One Hour: From Viking Settlement to Recent Times (Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m. PT)

A fascinating thousand-year history of Iceland, land of fire, ice, Vikings, Icelandic horses, puffins and much more, is ably described by Dr. Elisabeth Ward. Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link. The monthly series of Nordic Spirit Classics is a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia hosted by The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, March 13, 12:45-2:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not yet ready to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited about a new language? This two-hour introductory workshop is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish — pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Introduction to Swedish (Sunday, March 13, 1:00-3:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about learning Swedish, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? In this two-hour introductory workshop, students will get a feel for the Swedish language, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Wendy Swallow’s Searching For Nora: After The Doll’s House (Wednesday, March 16, 7:00-8:30 p.m. CT)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Following February’s discussion of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, join in March to explore Wendy Swallow’s Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House. Author Wendy Swallow will join the event, and following the small group discussions in breakout rooms, there will be a Q&A with the author. Enrollment deadline: March 9, 2022.

Workshop: Scandinavian Fish Pie with Patrice Johnson (Friday, March 18, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

If you’ve never tried a savory Scandinavian fish pie, this winter is the perfect time to do so! Grab some family members or friends to prep and cook this one dish meal – cod or haddock in a creamy filling topped with mashed potatoes. While our main dishes cook, we’ll prep a salad and simple dessert. This class is designed as a cook along experience, perfect for cooks who want a few extra tips and tricks while tackling classic Scandinavian comfort food at home. This program is sold out, but you can ask to be added to a waitlist.

Hearty Nordic Meal with North Wild Kitchen (Saturday, March 19, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and celebrated food writer and author Nevada Berg from North Wild Kitchen in making a hearty meal highlighting the traditional flavors of Norway. In this class, you’ll be making the Reindeer Stew (beef or other game meat can be substituted for the reindeer) with Samisk Bread “reinsdyrgryte med Samisk brød”, and the Light and Fluffy Cheesecake “ostekake” from her cookbook. The class is currently full, but you can be added to the waitlist.

The Nordic Heart Bokklubb Book Club: Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg (Saturday, March 19, 10:30 a.m. CT, Free)

In this meeting, participants of The Nordic Heart Bokklubb Book Club will be discussing the second half of book 2 in The Emigrant Novels series by Vilhelm Moberg, Unto a Good Land, as well as reviewing the whole book. Considered one of Sweden’s greatest 20th century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people’s lives is a major strength of The Emigrant Novels.

Virtual Book Talk: Swedish-American Borderlands (Saturday, March 19, 10:00 a.m. PT, Free)

Swedish–American Borderlands studies connections and contacts between Sweden and the United States from the seventeenth century to today, exploring how movements of people have informed the circulation of knowledge and ideas between the two countries to produce new understandings of what we perceive as Swedish, American, and Swedish American.  The volume investigates multiple transcultural exchanges between Sweden and the United States. Rather than concentrating on one-way processes or specific national contexts, Swedish–American Borderlands adopts the concept of borderlands to examine contacts, crossings, and convergences between the nations, featuring specific case studies of topics like jazz, architecture, design, genealogy, and more. In this virtual book talk, editors Dag Blanck and Adam Hjorthén present the volume’s contribution to the history of Swedish-American relations.

Nordic Language Café (Sunday, March 20, 5:00-6:00 p.m. PT)

Join The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center virtually on March 20 to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish, the choice is yours! This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. All levels are welcome. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language according to their conversational skills, ranging from beginner to advanced. You don’t have to be a student at SSCC to join, but they are of course hoping to see both current and former language adult learners on the screen. Are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join them.

Extreme North: Virtual Programming with Bernd Brunner and Eric Jaronski (Thursday, March 24, 1:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Scandinavia House and Deutsches Haus at NYU present a virtual program with acclaimed author Bernd Brunner and renowned Germanist, writer, and mastermind of @neinquarterly, Eric Jaronski. In today’s program, hear a reading by Brunner from his latest book, Extreme North (W. W. Norton, February 2022), translated by Jefferson Chase – an entertaining and informative voyage through cultural fantasies of the North, from sea monsters and a mountain-sized magnet to racist mythmaking – followed by a conversation with Jarosinski.

Swedish American Museum Book Club: Pakkis by Khalid Hussain (Saturday, March 26, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss Pakkis by Khalid Hussain, translated from the Norwegian by Claudia Berguson and Ingeborg Kongslien. Khalid Hussain is a Norwegian-Pakistani writer and film producer. Hussain was born in 1969 in Pakistan and moved to Norway without his parents in 1975. He came to attention after writing the book Pakkis in 1986 when he was 16 years old. Drawing upon his own life experiences, Hussain voiced in Pakkis the unique challenges of many young immigrants in Norway.

Nordiska’s Book Club: The Real Valkyrie (Thursday, March 31, 6:00 p.m. PT)

To celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) and National Women’s History Month in March, Nordiska has decided to highlight women’s lesser-known roles in Nordic history. Women’s histories have historically been marginalized, but due to the work of researchers and writers like Nancy Marie Brown, incredible stories are finally being spotlighted. Join in reading and discussing Brown’s latest publication, The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women. Receive a 15% discount on the book club pick by using the code “bookclub22” when purchasing the book through Nordiska’s online store.


Looking ahead…

Want to plan your reading? Here’s a look ahead at virtual book events for April.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (January 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

It was a surprisingly strong reading start to 2022 and even more surprising was the fact that most of my reads were Nordic books (Icelandic and Norwegian). The high number of books is due to binge reading/listening to the last 2 books in an engrossing crime fiction trilogy as well as reading a short novel and a middle grade book. Future months are not likely to be this full of books.

The 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge is underway. I’m currently reading the first book for the challenge, Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s The Unseen, a book I’ve had both in original language and in English on my shelf for a while (2022 Reading Intentions, read off my shelf!). This book takes place in the time period 1910s and 1920s and chronicles the life of a family living on a remote island in Northern Norway, a life very tied to geography and weather. For details on the reading challenge and insight into this time period along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
(Narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber)

I love historical fiction that opens my eyes to a period of time or an event that I have little to no knowledge of, and this book did just that in a big way. The book is based on a real-life scandal in the Memphis, Tennessee, area in which poor children were kidnapped and sold to wealthy families (1920s-1950). Just the thought of that is unbelievable and then seeing it from the perspective of a child experiencing it was heartbreaking. The structure of the book was unique. The story jumped between 1939 when 12-year-old Rill and her younger siblings were kidnapped to the present when a successful daughter returns home to help with her father’s illness and begins to dig into her family’s history. I followed both storylines with equal interest and engagement eager to find out the connection. A 5-star listen and read for me. (I generally listened to it but had to have the ebook available too so I could read in the evening.)


The Island (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #2) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

After finishing the first book in the Hidden Iceland trilogy last month, I decided to jump on the second book. The ending of the first book was a cliff hanger and the cover of the second book was too enticing to postpone. The structure of the series is unique in that it is in reverse chronological order. In this book, we learn more about investigator Hulda’s past and follow her as she investigates a murder that takes place on the island pictured on the cover. If you’re fascinated by Iceland’s geography, this book is for you. You are immersed in the setting.


The Mist (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #3) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

I just decided to binge read/listen to this trilogy while I was at it, and I have no regrets. Iceland’s geography continues to play a significant role in the story, and I am fascinated by it. I will keep Ragnar Jónasson on my list of authors to return to, but I will take a break from his crime fiction for the time being. There are other Icelandic crime authors I’d also like to read. I’d like to return to Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Children’s House series and try Eva Bjorg Ægisdóttir’s The Creak on the Stairs (Forbidden Iceland Book 1).


Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day that I Was Born by Mona Høvring (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson and Rachel Rankin)

I was drawn to the cover (stunning fjord) and title (so odd and unique) of this one. However, when I started reading, there was a disconnect because I had thought the setting would be spring or summer time in a mountain village. Instead it was winter, and every time there was a reference to snow and cold, I was thrown a little. Minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but still an issue for me. It’s a short novel about two sisters in their early twenties who go to a mountain hotel to reconnect. Growing up they had been very close but then the older one abruptly left home to marry and ended up at a sanatorium after a nervous breakdown. This is their opportunity to find the relationship they had when they were young, but circumstances arise making it hard. It had a dreamlike quality and the writing/translation was lovely. A very enjoyable book! (But the title is still a mystery to me.)

#SlothyWorldReads2022: Book from the country you’re from (Norway)


Our Own Little Paradise by Marianne Kaurin (Middle Grade)
(Translated from the Norwegian by Olivia Lasky)

I came across this Norwegian middle grade book in translation at Netgalley and couldn’t resist since I was familiar with the author, was drawn to the cover, and liked the premise. On the last day of 6th grade when Nora’s classmates share all sorts of foreign vacation plans for the summer, Nora ends up lying about an upcoming trip to the tropics. However, she is outed by a new boy in class who lives in her apartment complex. The summer spirals into much more than she ever expected in so many ways. It was a very enjoyable and heartwarming book about a 12-year-old’s desire to fit in and make friends with the added difficulty and pressure of social media and socio-economic differences, all with a touch of Norwegian culture thrown in.

Thanks to Netgalley and Arctis Books for an advance copy of this! It will be released on April 12, 2022.


Dálvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra by Laura Galloway
(Narrated by Laura Lefkow)

I’m not usually drawn to memoirs, but the cover and premise of this one intrigued me. A woman from Indiana finds she shares some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and plans a trip to visit the area. This first visit eventually leads to a 6-years-long stay there. The memoir is an absorbing account of her time in Sápmi interspersed with reflections on her childhood and early adult life in the US. It provides a fascinating, unique look at the modern culture of the Sámi and their relationship with outsiders. I was captivated by this book. Going to the Scandinavian Arctic is now even higher on my bucket list.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Arctic & Antarctic


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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.

February 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & Sámi National Day

While Nordic organizations around the country are transitioning to more and more in-person events, there are still many virtual ones to enjoy!

February is a month to bring awareness to the only indigenous group of Europe, the Sámi. Saturday, February 6, is Sámi National Day celebrated by the indigenous peoples of Sápmi, an area consisting of land in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The first Sámi National Day was celebrated in 1993. It commemorates the first Sámi congress which was held February 6, 1917, in Trondheim, Norway, when Sámi from Norway and Sweden met to discuss common issues. Sámi National Day didn’t become an official flag day in Norway until 2003.  (If you’re interested in more information on the history and culture of the Sámi, visit Life in Norway’s “The Sami People”.)

Marking the day has become increasingly popular with celebrations and programs not just taking place domestically in those countries but also abroad. In the virtual community this month, there are many online events – celebrations, a movie screening, book events, craft workshops, presentations, and more. Look for events marked with ❤️💙💛💚. Happening now in Tromsø, Norway, is Sámi Week (January 31-February 6). Highlights usually include an Arctic Market, the Norwegian Championship in Lasso Throwing, and the Norwegian Championship in Reindeer Racing, but unfortunately they are canceled this year due to national restrictions. View pictures from previous years here.

And finally I share an in-person event for readers in the Los Angeles and New York City areas. Today the Norwegian Oscar submission for Best International Feature, The Worst Person in the World, opens in limited release in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang calls it “a funny, melancholy dazzler from Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier… [a] charming, wistful, ineffably tender movie… It’s time well spent.” Will you see it, or have you already?

Which events look intriguing to you this month?


Book Talk: River Kings with Dr. Cat Jarman (Friday, February 4, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual literary talk with bioarchaeologist Dr. Cat Jarman to celebrate the release of her new book River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads out on February 1, 2022, from Pegasus Books. Learn about an epic story from the Viking Age that traces the historical path of an ancient piece of jewelry—found in a Viking grave in England—to its likely origin thousands of miles east in India. Update: The virtual talk is available now for streaming.

Sámi álbmotbeaivi – Samenes nasjonaldag (Sunday, February 6)❤️💙💛💚

Norway’s national TV station NRK celebrates Sámi National Day with celebrations from all of Sápmi. This recorded program is in Norwegian and Sámi, but you’ll still enjoy the unique joik music, traditional Sámi dress and jewelry, and impressive landscapes. View the program now.

Exploring Arctic Highways – Celebrating Sámi National Day (Sunday, February 6, 3:00 p.m. PT) ❤️💙💛💚

Join a Facebook Live virtual celebration of Sámi National Day. During the celebration, enjoy some of the Sami National Day celebrations taking place outside of City Hall in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, learn more about Sámi National Day, and enjoy a performance by Sámi artist Sara Ajnnak. The celebration will also include an introduction to the new exhibition Arctic Highways, which is currently on its way over the Atlantic to make its world debut at House of Sweden, Washington, DC, next month before continuing to tour North America and Europe.

Nordic Book Club: The Book of Reykjavik (Tuesday, February 8, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

This month, Scandinavia House’s Nordic Book Club will be discussing The Book of Reykjavik: A City in Short Fiction, an anthology edited by Becca Parkinson & Vera Juliusdottir, which was recently discussed by authors and translators in a virtual panel.

Nordic Book Club: The Nordic Theory of Everything (Tuesday, February 8, 6:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois, to discuss The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Finnish author Anu Partanen.

Movie Screening: Älven min vän (Thursday, February 10, 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT, Free)❤️💙💛💚

Älven min Vän (The River, My Friend) is a portrait of the lives of four Sámi women and their relationship to the Lule River in Sweden. The film shows the consequences of the forced resettlement of Sámi people who were displaced from their land because of the construction of river dams and were alienated from their indigenous culture and way of life (such as reindeer husbandry, clothing, language, food and music). At the same time, the film shows the deep relationship between the women and the river. Register for this free event and receive a link to the movie. Then join the Zoom event to meet the director Hannah Ambühl.

Nordic Spirits Second Friday: Are You What You Wear? (Friday, February 11, 7:30 p.m. PT, Free) ❤️💙💛💚

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, California, invites you to a virtual presentation presented by Prof. Thomas DuBois of University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn about Sámi traditional dress. There are clear norms about how Sámi dress in different regions of Sápmi – the areas of Norway, Finland, and Sweden where Sámi people traditionally reside. But the actual components of the dress vary and they are often made at home by family members rather than purchased from a professional seamstress. This presentation will explore the ways the Sámi use dress to express their identity and the many variations and expressive choices that come into play. Particiaption is free. Registration is required.

Fika på svenska! Swedish Language Table (Saturday, February 12, 10:00-11:00 a.m. CT, Free)

Vill du ha mer svenska i ditt liv? Häng med på Fika på svenska! Vi träffas virtuellt på den andra lördagen varje månad och diskutera ämnen kring det svenska språket, svensk kultur, historia och mer. Kom och prata svenska med oss! Fika på svenska is a conversation table held entirely in Swedish every second Saturday each month. New topics each month explore Swedish language, culture, history and connection to Minnesota.

Norwegian Family Language Adventure: Explorers (Register by February 15)

Join Vesterheim in March for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language along the way! Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light-hearted games, and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy snack. The adventure starts on March 1 and will focus on Oppdagelsesreisende, the Norwegian word for explorers! Register by February 15.

Duodji Reader: Virtual Book Talk (Tuesday, February 15, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT, Free)
❤️💙💛💚

American Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a virtual panel on Duodji Reader: A Selection of Twelve Essays on Duodji by Sámi Duojárat and Writers from the Past 60 Years, produced by Sámi Allaskuvla / Sámi University of Applied Sciences and Norwegian Crafts. Edited by Gunvor Guttorm and Harald Gaski, Duodji Reader explores the Sámi duodji, the artistic crafts form of the Indigenous people of the European Arctic, through essays written by 11 prominent Sámi scholars, duojárat, and writers from North, South, and Lule Sámi areas. Duodji demonstrates a holistic circle of creation, how nature and humans collaborate in recognising, visualising, and shaping items that serve the need for both practical use and aesthetic form.

National Danish Book Club: The Liar (Tuesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with a new nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author will be selected and discussed in two virtual settings: Book Club group discussions and accompanying Literary Events. This month’s selection is The Liar (Løgneren) by Martin A. Hansen. The Book Club group discussion will take place Tuesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m. PT. The accompanying Literary Event is unscheduled at this time.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (Wednesday, February 16, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat at Vesterheim, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Henrik Ibsen remains the second most often played playwright in the world behind William Shakespeare. Join Vesterheim this month for a conversation about the play A Doll’s House, significant at the time for the way it addressed the fate of a married woman living in a male-dominated culture.

ASI Workshop: Swedish Meatballs with Patrice Johnson (Friday, February 18, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Cook up a Friday dinner at home with this fun virtual class! Grab some family members or friends to prep and cook a menu of Swedish meatballs, plus potatoes, lingonberries, quick pickles and a super simple dessert in two hours. Patrice will offer both a meat based and vegetarian version of the main course, and she’ll talk about the differences between Sweden’s preferred meatballs and those from other Scandinavian countries – you may be inspired to seek out even more versions after class! This class is designed as a cook-along experience, perfect for cooks who want a few extra tips and tricks while tackling a classic Swedish meal. This class is sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

The Nordic Heart Bokklubb Book Club: Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg (Saturday, February 19, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join The Nordic Heart‘s book club to discuss the first half of book 2 in The Emigrant Novels series by Vilhelm Moberg, Unto a Good Land. Book 2 opens in the summer of 1850 as the emigrants disembark in New York City. Their journey to a new home in Minnesota Territory takes them by riverboat, steam wagon, Great Lakes steamship, and oxcart to Chicago County.  Considered one of Sweden’s greatest 20th century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people’s lives is a major strength of The Emigrant Novels.

Knife Skills in the Nordic Kitchen with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, February 19, 1:00-3:00 p.m. and 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

In these online classes hosted by Vesterheim, instructor Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen will share tips and tricks for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing quickly and safely and discuss how to care for your knives. Best of all, at the end of the class, you’ll have a delicious Nordic soup and salad prepped and ready for dinner. These classes are sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

The History of Norwegian Sweaters (Saturday, February 19, 7:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Learn about the history of different types and styles of Norwegian sweaters, including Setesdal, Fana, Marius, and Olympic from textile expert and Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson. Laurann will also discuss the symbolism behind some of the patterns and colors on sweaters made today. This is an open meeting of the Washington D.C. Sons of Norway Lodge. Visitors wishing to attend should contact Bill Deroche at programs@norwayDC.org for a Zoom link .

In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Norwegian Immigrants Brought to the United States (Tuesday, February 22, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson to explore the immigrant experience through stories associated with artifacts in Vesterheim’s collection. Between 1825 and 1980, nearly one million Norwegians left for new lives in America. She’ll discuss the reasons for leaving, what they brought, and where they settled. This is an open meeting of the Denver Iowa Public Library. Visitors wishing to attend may contact Kelly Platte at kplatte@denver.lib.ia.us for a Zoom link.

Lapskaus Soup: From our Kitchen to Yours (Wednesday, February 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PT)

This online demonstration hosted by Nordic Northwest in Portland, OR, will warm your heart. It’s the perfect time for the wintery and hearty Norwegian meat and potatoes soup “Lapskaus”. Learn how to make this traditional recipe, along with options to suit your particular taste buds. This demonstration features Broder Söder’s chef along with Nordic Northwest’s Cook & Eat committee. Whether you have made this recipe for years or are brand new to it — you won’t want to miss the opportunity. You will appreciate an “ancient classic” that is still relevant and practical today.

Nordiska’s Book Club: Black Fox (Thursday, February 24, 6:00 p.m. PT) ❤️💙💛💚

For the month of February, Nordiska will be celebrating Sámi National Day (February 6) by reading Barbara Sjoholm’s book Black Fox: A Life of Emilie Demant Hatt, Artist and Ethnographer. Though she was not Sámi herself, Emilie Demant Hatt became closely acquainted with a variety of Sámi cultures during her travels in Sápmi, the Sámi’s traditional territory, in the early 1900s. Emilie Demant Hatt lived an extraordinary life which has been retold by Barbara Sjoholm in this first English-language biography.

Nordic Lights Film Festival (February 25 – March 5)

The Nordic Lights Film Festival is devoted to celebrating Nordic cinema—this year, once again, virtually. All films are available to watch during the run of the festival. You may choose your own viewing schedule but once you start a film, you will have 72 hours to finish it. Full schedule and individual tickets will be available in early February. Some of the feature films have been geo-blocked by their production companies and will only be viewable in Washington State.

ASI Workshop: Bake Your Own Semlor with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Friday, February 25, 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. CT)

This online class meets in two sessions, first from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and then 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT. Once the provenance of a single holy day, Fat Tuesday, Swedes now enjoy semlor from Christmas until Easter. These sweet, yeasted buns are perfumed with cardamom, stuffed with marzipan, filled with whipped cream, and dusted with powdered sugar, a real treat. Join Erin for a baking day from your own kitchen. Start by mixing and kneading the dough, then step away from your devices while the yeast does its work. After lunch, return to shape, bake, fill, and decorate semlor. Finish with a fika in true Swedish style.

Vesterheim’s Primstav Murals (Friday, February 25, 8:00 p.m. CT, Free)

The murals in Vesterheim’s Gathering Room were created in 1999 by Norwegian rosemaler Sigmund Aarseth and Iowa rosemaler Sallie DeReus. The murals are an example of interior painting, relatively common in Scandinavia, in which every surface is decorated. The murals are inspired by the primstav, a calendar stick widely used in Norway during the Middle Ages. The initial purpose of the primstav was to help keep track of Saint’s days and the church year when Christianity was adopted in the eleventh century. Over time, however, the primstav acquired worldly calendar associations that had to do with seasonal agricultural and domestic activities. Vesterheim’s Martha Griesheimer will give this online presentation in an open meeting of the Boulder Sons of Norway group. Everyone is welcome! Visitors wishing to attend may contact Erik Sirnes for a Zoom link: eriksirnes@hotmail.com.

Book Club: Antiphony (February 26, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT, Free) ❤️💙💛💚

The Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois, hosts a book club that reads a wide range of books from the Nordic countries. The February read is Antiphony by Laila Stien translated from the Norwegian by John Weinstock, a novel about a woman who goes to Northern Norway and becomes acquainted with three generations of Sámi women.

Fastelavn Buns – Scandinavian Baking Workshop (Saturday, February 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PT)

It is that time of year again to celebrate the Danish tradition of Fastelavn! Native Dane and baker extraordinaire Leda Jessen is ready to bake the traditional yummy Fastelavn buns together with you. You will be sent a list of the ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away.

Sámi-Inspired Bracelets with Norma Refsal (Saturday, February 26, and Sunday, February 27) ❤️💙💛💚

In this online class of three sessions over two days offered by Vesterheim, you will learn to make a Sámi-inspired, iconic, three-strand braided bracelet using traditional materials of reindeer leather, pewter thread, and a reindeer antler button. The pewter is nickel-free and contains 4% silver. Each session will be accompanied by a short video that will help you see the hand-work techniques up close. In between each session, you will have time to complete the steps that instructor Norma Refsal has discussed and demonstrated before moving on to the next part of the bracelet construction. The three class sessions are Saturday, February 26 (12:30-2:30 p.m. and 6:00-7:30 p.m. CT) and Sunday, February 27 (1:00-2:30 p.m. CT). This class is sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

Nordic Book Club: Psalm at Journey’s End (Sunday, February 27, 4:00 p.m. PT)

Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco for a discussion about the book Psalm at Journey’s End by Norwegian author Erik Fosnes Hansen.

Koselig Nordic Dinner with Patrice Johnson (Sunday, February 27, 4:00 p.m. CT)

The acclaimed Nordic cooking instructor and self-proclaimed “Nordic Food Geek” Patrice Johnson has prepared an inspiring winter Nordic-style meal that will have your family and friends salivating as you reveal this creative menu! Join this intimate cooking class to prepare an appetizer of brandade (Nordic style), a seasonal soup (apple, pumpkin, squash, or gjetost with cider), plus rye crisps, a special surprise dessert, and a cocktail/mocktail to pair with the delicious food! As you are cooking, Patrice always shares her extensive knowledge of Nordic cuisine, revealing both the history of these dishes and her own personal family traditions along the way. The cooking class is sold out but you can join the waiting list.


Looking ahead…

Want to plan your reading for next month? Here’s a look ahead at virtual book events in March.

And finally, Vesterheim Folk Art School registration for April through June 2022 opens on Thursday, February 10, at noon (CT) with new online and in-person classes in rosemaling, woodworking, metalworking, jewelry, cooking, fiber arts, weaving, and heritage and language, plus special youth and family programming. They can’t wait for you to see what’s in store, so they’re sharing the class schedule now so you can start making your February 10 registration plans.


Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

My Reading Intentions for 2022

There’s no time like a new year to set some intentions, in this case related to reading. 2021 saw many wonderful reading experiences (see my Goodreads list of completed books). Highlights included completing the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, listening to the 40-hour-plus The Eighth Life, discovering new Scandinavian authors to return to (in particular Norwegian Ingvild H. Rishøi and Swedes M.T. Edvardsson and Stina Jackson), and reading around the world. In the hopes of having an equally satisfying and fulfilling year in 2022, I’ve set some intentions to help guide my reading. Otherwise, I might find myself in a state of limbo due to indecision.

Continue with my Scandinavian reading 🇳🇴🇸🇪🇩🇰

This is a no brainer intention, one that I’ve had for several years now. For the past 4 years, I’ve done it by creating a Scandinavian Reading Challenge with prompts to complete in no particular order, and I’ve really enjoyed expanding and diversifying my Scandinavian reading that way. This year, however, instead of creating my own prompts, I will be participating in The Book Girls’ Decades Reading Challenge and reading a Scandinavian book, most likely a Norwegian one, that takes place in each of the decades from the 1910s through the 2010s finishing with a book spanning multiple decades – 12 books in total. I’m very excited about the new iteration of my Scandinavian Reading Challenge. You can read more about it on its page, 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

Read off my shelf 📚

This year I would really like to make progress on reading books I already have on my shelf. I look forward to doing the research and finding appropriate books for my 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, but I will prioritize books I already have on my shelf, which includes many in Norwegian. I also have many unread Book of the Month selections waiting patiently and I want to work on reading those as well.

Read from more places in the world 🌍 🌎

I’ve always enjoyed reading from around the world, but I haven’t necessarily kept track of places I’ve visited through books. Last year I discovered and worked on The Book Girls’ Book Voyage: Read Around the World reading challenge. I didn’t follow their timeline, just their map. I read books for every area of the world, many times multiple books for an area, but moving forward I would like to read more from certain areas: Central and South America, Middle East, and Africa. In August, Women in Translation Month returns, a favorite reading event, and I will continue to focus on authors from outside Western Europe for that.

Improve with sharing on Instagram

I enjoy the bookstagram community very much. I have my favorite accounts that I follow. My intention when I set up my account a few years ago was to share my interest and love of Scandinavian books and other books in translation and interact with fellow readers and participate in the community. It hasn’t quite worked out that way so I’ll see how I can improve with that this year.


I am excited about the new reading year ahead, in particular my 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge. Have you set any reading intentions for the new year?