What I’ve Been Reading Lately (August 2022) & #WITmonth Wrap-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.

For me, August was all about reading women in translation for Women in Translation Month. As I’ve written before, I usually focus on female authors outside of Scandinavia for this reading event, but this year I actually focused on Norwegian female authors since I had read so few of them so far this year. Of the two novels I read, one was a recently released debut novel and the other by a favorite author. Both were 5-star reads. Both were also longer books, so I wasn’t able to read as many as I would have liked to.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update:

Neither of the novels I read for #WITmonth worked for August’s decade for the reading challenge, the 1980s. I was unable to find one by a Norwegian female author so I started reading Gunnar Staalesen’s Fallen Angels translated by Don Bartlett, a crime novel that takes place in Bergen in the 1980s. For September’s 1990s prompt, I plan to remain in Bergen with Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Present Tense Machine: A Novel translated by Kari Dickson. 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?


Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen, Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie 📖
(Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson)

I’m always curious about Norwegian children’s books that are translated into English. What aspects of Norwegian culture are present, if any? There’s nothing particularly Norwegian about this one besides a mention and illustration of heart waffles as a snack. However, noticeable is that the little girl is not your stereotypical white, blonde Norwegian, but instead she has darker skin and black hair. Diverse characters are also featured in the apartment building’s residents. It’s a very sweet book about a 5-year old girl who yearns to connect with a new girl who moves into her apartment building. The illustrations are lovely with lots of detail. This would make a great read-aloud with a young child — so much to observe in the illustrations and to discuss regarding Agnes’ feelings. (Currently available for free via kindle unlimited.)


Reptile Memoirs: A Novel by Silje Ulstein 🎧
(Translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough)
(Narrated by Julie Maisey)

I really enjoyed this one — the characters, the storylines, the structure, the settings, the writing/translation, the twists. It all came together for a great ride. But it’s certainly not for everyone. Not only do you have to keep track of different settings and multiple perspectives (including the snake’s!), but also trigger warnings abound. It’s a thriller that takes place in western Norway – Ålesund in the early 2000s and Kristiansund over 6 days in 2017. In Ålesund, Liv and her housemates spontaneously decide to buy a python and Liv becomes obsessed with it. In Kristiansund, Mariam’s 11-year-old daughter disappears and detectives immediately suspect Mariam. Over time, the two plot lines intersect. As the book jacket says and I can’t say it any better, it is “a brilliantly twisty and unusual literary thriller.” I highly recommend the audiobook. It was an excellent narration.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A mystery; Takes place in a country other than the US

The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde 📖
(Translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley)

This is the third book in Maja Lunde’s The Climate Quartet. The fourth one is coming out this fall in Norway (English translation TBD). I loved the first installment, The History of Bees: A Novel, and enjoyed the second one, The End of the Ocean: A Novel. When I heard the fourth one was expected soon, I was very eager to read the third one that I already had on my shelf in Norwegian. I actually alternated between my Norwegian physical copy Przewalskis hest and the English ebook depending on my reading situation/mood. I really enjoyed this one. It jumped between Norway in 2064, Mongolia in 1992, and St. Petersburg/Mongolia in 1882. The thread among the three storylines is the extinction of wild horses, and each of the storylines explores complicated relationships with those closest to us. There were also ties to the first two novels in the quartet which I really appreciated (and caused me to like the second one even more). I highly recommend the quartet and am eagerly anticipating the fourth and final installment.

  • Summer Book Bingo: Takes place in a country other than the US

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit 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.

September 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & Vista Viking Festival

It’s with mixed feelings that I observe the shift from virtual back to in-person events. These last couple of years I’ve discovered many amazing new-to-me Nordic institutions around the country and participated in cooking and crafting classes, watched film screenings and listened to concerts, and attended author talks, book club meetings, and lectures that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Now, the variety and frequency of such virtual opportunities is decreasing as in-person events are returning, but luckily there’s still much to share.

While many institutions are cutting back on virtual events, I do want to highlight two institutions and a particular area of interest that are continuing strong with virtual events: Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum & Folk Art School, in Decorah, Iowa; the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and book clubs around the country! Visit Vesterheim and ASI for information on their offerings, many of which fill up fast. For upcoming book selections by online book clubs, visit my page to see if there’s a Nordic book you’d be interested in reading and discussing with fellow reading enthusiasts.

On the topic of the return to in-person events, this fall Southern Californians will see the triumphant return of the family friendly Vista Viking Festival. California’s premiere Viking festival and Norse heritage event takes place September 17 and 18 just north of San Diego. Visitors can mingle with Vikings and the Norse gods at the living history Viking Village, play and craft in the KidZone, splurge on Nordic goods at the marketplace, learn all things Norwegian with cultural demonstrations, indulge in festive foods and drinks, and enjoy live entertainment including the Viking band KRAUKA, straight out of Denmark. Will you be there?

This Labor Day Weekend, take advantage of the last discount opportunity and save 10% by buying your tickets with promo code LABORDAY (through midnight 9/5). Buy tickets here.

What’s on your calendar for September?


Demo: Swedish Breakfasts (Thursday, September 8, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Swedish breakfasts capture many traveler’s imaginations; whether you stay in a home or at a hotel, you’re sure to get a selection of open-faced sandwich ingredients as well as cold or hot cereals, juice, fruit and more. These spreads are not complicated to put together, but it can be helpful to have a formula ready to go for both casual mornings and more elaborate hosted affairs. Nordic Table coordinator Erin Swenson-Klatt will share her go-to Swedish breakfast table collections and a few simple recipes to deck out a perfect frukost buffet in this virtual class inspired by the exhibit, The Morning Dip.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—Trolls: A Retrospective: “Trolls of the Millennium” (Friday, September 9, 7:30 p.m. PT)

Britte Rasmussen Marsh, writer, educator, and researcher from Portland, Oregon, returns live for her fourth and final retrospective presentation on trolls. As Scandinavian immigrants set sail for new beginnings on the North American continent, so too do their troll stowaways. Trolls globalized and commercialized in the new Contemporary Era. Sometimes their shape and form resurged as nostalgically Nordic, other times they were redefined to reflect the cultural landscape of changing times. In any case, trolls dispersed along with the rapid expansion of media and found their germination through film, sculpture, marketing, gaming, and the arrival of the Internet Age. What does it mean now to be a 21st century troll? Why do trolls still resonate across demographics, and what’s next? Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.

Nordic Book Club: The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde (Tuesday, September 13, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Scandinavia House’s online Nordic Book Club. Each month they select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On September 13, they’ll be discussing The Last Wild Horses by Norwegian author Maja Lunde, out in translation by Diane Oatley. Maja Lunde’s heart-wrenching new tale, set in the distant past and the dystopian future, explores extinction and survival, family and hope.

National Danish Book Club Series: Justine by Iben Mondrup (Tuesday, September 13, 5:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with this nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author is selected and discussed in a virtual setting via Zoom and YouTube. This month’s selection is Justine by Iben Mondrup in translation by Kerri A. Pierce. “A personal meditation on artistic identity, the creative process, and the male-dominated art scene, the novel veers between the erotic and the savage, resulting in a spellbinding read from one of Denmark’s edgiest contemporary feminist writers.”

October Family Norwegian Language Adventure: Vikinger og Mytologi with Evelyn Galstad (Register by September 16)

Join Vesterheim for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language and culture 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 treat. The theme for October is Vikings and Mythology. These videos and activities are geared towards all ages, but most appropriate for families with school-age children.

New Nordic Tapas and Cocktails with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, September 17, 4:00-5:30 pm CT)

Join the self declared “Nordic Food Geek” Patrice Johnson and throw a Nordic-inspired cocktail party that will dazzle your friends! Inspired by seasonal, local, and tasty New Nordic trends, you’ll spend a happy hour together preparing small bites that pair with aquavit and tasty cocktails/mocktails.

Swedish Princess Cake with Kristi Bissell (Sunday, September 18, 1:00 pm CT)

Swedish Princess Cake is a showstopper of a dessert but can be an intimidating project for a home baker. Fear no more! Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen and learn how to make a foolproof Swedish Princess Cake at home. Kristi will walk you through the process step-by-step so that you can confidently make this gorgeous Scandinavian cake in your own kitchen. This class is currently sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

Virtual Book Talk: The Viking Heart by Arthur Herman (Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 p.m. ET, Free)

This September, join Scandinavia House for a new virtual book talk on The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World with Arthur Herman, a New York Times historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist. In a follow-up to his 2021 talk at Scandinavia House on the book’s release, Arthur Herman returns to discuss themes that have gained new relevance over the past year — including recent archeological discoveries regarding the Viking legacy, Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO, and the Viking context to the Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder.

Virtual Book Talk: W. A Novel by Steve Sem-Sandberg with Saskia Vogel (Sunday, September 21, 2:30 p.m. ET, Free)

On September 21, August Prize-winning Swedish novelist Steve Sem-Sandberg and translator Saskia Vogel join Scandinavia House for a virtual discussion on W. A Novel, out on June 28 from The Overlook Press. They’ll discuss the writing and translation of this new literary reimagining of one of modern literature’s touchstone texts, the play Woyzeck.

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 Norwegian author 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.

ASI Demo: Easy Kanelbullar (Thursday, September 22, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for kanelbullendag (Cinnamon Bun Day) on October 4 by watching how Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen completes all the hands-on steps for a batch of easy Swedish cinnamon buns in just an hour. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to mix and knead the sweet yeasted dough, prepare the cinnamon filling, shape a pre-risen batch of dough into the typical knots, and bake the buns until golden brown. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of buns at home!

The Morning Dip Virtual Exhibit Tour (Tuesday, September 27, 5:00-5:45 p.m. CT)

Unable to explore the American Swedish Institute in person? Discover featured exhibitions The Morning Dip: Photography by Peggy Anderson and Birger Sandzén: Distant Horizons through a live, virtual tour led by an ASI educator. Get up close with Peggy Anderson’s large-format photos and Birger Sandzén’s captivating paintings while hearing stories of the artists’ techniques and their artwork. Have the opportunity to ask ASI educators all your questions about these exhibitions.

Symbols in Bandweaving: The Emojis of Traditional Handcraft (Wednesday, September 28, 7:00-8:00 pm CT, Free)

Join folk artist Kathleen Almelien for a webinar exploring the symbols used in bandweaving, the “emojis” of their time. Woven bands played an important role in traditional Norwegian clothing. Used to close or support clothing (the way we use zippers, buttons, and snaps), they also added beauty and interest to clothing. Additionally, the symbols woven into the band communicated that the person came from a particular area of Norway and imbued the band with meaning to the wearer. Almelien will highlight her own bands as well as those in Vesterheim’s collection and will draw parallels with the symbols used in other traditional Norwegian handcrafts. This program is free of charge. Registration is required.

Nordiska’s Book Club: Ronia (Thursday, September 29, 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 September’s meeting, they will be reading Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren translated from the Swedish by Patricia Crampton. Receive 15% off your purchase of the book at Nordiska’s website by using the code “bookclub22”.


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 (July 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

July was a fun reading month! I had time to read and each book was so different from the others. I caught up on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge which I had fallen behind on, and a reading challenge happening at work gave me the incentive I needed to read some middle grade and YA that had been on my TBR list for a while.

2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge Update: In July, I finally completed June’s 1960s prompt with the Norwegian book Bare en mor, the fourth book in The Barrøy Chronicles by Roy Jacobsen, which takes place along the coast in northern Norway. This reading experience was even more meaningful since I was on vacation in the same area at the time of reading it. For July’s 1970s prompt, I read Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø which took place in Oslo. Details on both books can be found below.

I am unsure what to read for August’s 1980s prompt. Ideally, I would love to find a book by a Norwegian female author that takes place in the 1980s, but I’m having trouble finding titles. 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.

TBR List for WITMonth 2022

August is Women in Translation Month so this month I’m enjoying just that, women in translation, and I have many titles on my TBR list for the month. Normally, I focus on female authors outside of Scandinavia for WITmonth since I usually read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, but that has not been the case this year. I’m off to a great start with Reptile Memoirs: A Novel by Silje Ulstein translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough (listening to audiobook narrated by Julie Maisey) and The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley, which I’m alternating with the Norwegian version, Przewalskis hest.

What have you been reading lately?


“Bare en mor” (The Barrøy Chronicles, 4) by Roy Jacobsen

I loved the fourth and final book in Roy Jacobsen’s The Barrøy Chronicles series. I was sad to leave Ingrid’s world behind when it ended. Ingrid is a smart, independent, admirable woman born, raised, and living on a fictional remote island in northern Norway (south of Lofoten which is where we were visiting at the time of this reading). This final installment takes place when Ingrid is in her 50s and covers a time period of about 15 years. It’s been five years since she returned from her trip at the end of WWII seeking the father of her child in vain (book #3). The island is now alive with people, all ages, both immediate family and found family. The book chronicles their lives which includes the men leaving for winter fishing in Lofoten, a dangerous and risky endeavor, while the women stay home tending to the household. This may have been my favorite book of the series. (The English translation, Just a Mother translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw, will be released on March 7, 2023.)


Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

I really enjoyed this reading experience. This is a middle grade book written in verse about Jude, a 12-year-old Muslim girl, who leaves Syria with her mother as unrest and violence escalate around the country and encroach upon their town by the sea. Leaving her father and older brother behind, they travel to Cincinnati to stay with family until it’s safe to return home again. Jude has to learn how to get along with her American cousin, navigate her new American school, make new friends, improve her English, and make sense of her place in this new world. It’s a moving and hopeful story of a brave, strong girl.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book from my school’s reading list; A book that won a Newbery award (Medal or Honor book)

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This graphic novel has been on my shelf for a while and this summer’s book bingo was the just the right nudge to finally read it. It’s an eye-opening look at Japanese internment in the US during World War II. George Takei recounts his childhood when he and his family were forced to leave their home in Los Angeles and spent the next few years in “relocation centers” around the country only due to their Japanese ancestry. I learned quite a bit from this book: the process of how it was carried out, what living conditions were like, and how Japanese-Americans had to make difficult choices along the way that made the experience even worse.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A graphic novel; A book from my school’s reading list

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

This is a young adult novel that’s been on my TBR list for a while. It’s the story of Julia, daughter of Mexican immigrants, who has other plans than being the perfect Mexican daughter. She wants to leave town after graduation and go to college. At the same time, she’s dealing with the sudden death of her older sister who had been the perfect Mexican daughter, staying close to home once she was done with high school. It’s written in the first person perspective of Julia. Julia has a strong, at times brusque and confrontational personality, which I wasn’t a fan of. However, at the same time, she’s a voracious reader and a writer, so her language was at times very impressive. It was an interesting combination.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book with a Hispanic or Latina main character

Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon by Tucker Malarkey (Narrated by Cassandra Campbell)

I wasn’t thrilled when this nonfiction book was picked as our book club read, but I knew it would be good for me to read beyond my comfort zone. It turned out to be a five-star read for me. It was a surprisingly fascinating and engaging read about Guido Rahr and his passionate, lifelong mission to save the world’s wild salmon by protecting their rivers. In particular, I really enjoyed learning about his childhood and young adulthood, his travels all over the world to explore the natural world, and his passion and persistence for his work. A bonus was learning so much about salmon, a fascinating fish. I have a totally new understanding of and respect for wild salmon.

  • Summer Book Bingo: A nonfiction book on the subject of your choice

Blood on Snow (Blood on Snow, #1) by Jo Nesbø
(Translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith)

Norwegian author Jo Nesbø is best known for his Harry Hole crime fiction series, of which I’ve read two. One, The Snowman, I really enjoyed, but the other, The Bat, not so much, so I was curious about some of his other non-Harry Hole work. Blood on Snow is a standalone book and not a typical crime fiction novel but more of a “crime fiction adjacent” one. It is Nordic Noir in the sense that it takes place in a bleak setting (dark, cold days during wintertime in Oslo), the plot includes brutal crimes, and the protagonist is troubled. However, the protagonist is not a police detective but instead the fixer of a crime boss and the story is from his perspective. Even though he kills for a living, he has a conscience, in particular with regards to the treatment of women. Despite having dyslexia, he enjoys reading and writing. It’s an interesting take on crime fiction which I enjoyed and I would consider reading the companion book in the series, Midnight Sun (mostly because it takes place in northern Norway which intrigues me).


What have you been reading lately?

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.

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

With summer now upon us, I am back on track with my reading. My goals for the summer are to catch up on reading challenges, play along with a summer reading bingo that is happening at work, and prepare and participate in Women in Translation Month #WITMonth in August.

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: I’m not quite up-to-date on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge at the moment. In June, I finished Eyes of the Rigel, book 3 of The Barrøy Chronicles, for the postwar/1950s period (May) and then decided to begin book 4, Bare en mor (Just a Mother out in English November 10, 2022) right away hoping it would cover the 1960s as well (June). I’m only half way through and have yet to find out.

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 Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan
(Narrated by Leila Buck, 14 hrs 15 min)

Last year I read the author’s debut novel Salt Houses, which I really enjoyed, so when her second novel was recommended on a recent podcast with an aside that the listening experience was amazing, it quickly became my next listen. It didn’t disappoint. It’s the story of Mazna and Idris, a Syrian woman and a Lebanese man who married and emigrated from Beirut to a small town in the California desert, and their three adult children who have dispersed to Beirut, Brooklyn, and Austin. They are all brought together in Beirut when the father decides to sell the family ancestral home. It’s full of family drama – deep secrets and fraught relationships – with the added layer of the Lebanese Civil War and its legacy. Told through different perspectives and storylines that go back and forth in time, it was a very engaging and absorbing listen, which once again brought a part of the world unfamiliar to me closer to home.


One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
(Narrated by Lauren Graham, 6 hrs)

I needed a light and easy audiobook that I could wrap up before our summer trip, and what better choice than one that would take me to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Sadly, this book wasn’t for me. Yes, I escaped to Positano and vicariously enjoyed delicious food and fabulous views, but I was not a fan of the storyline. Thirty-something Katy’s mother, who was her best friend, just died of cancer and Katy decides to take the trip that they had planned to do together anyways. She’s distraught and lost, and on top of that, questioning her marriage. While in Positano she meets two Americans, Carol, who is just like her mother, and Adam, who is totally unlike her husband. There’s a lot of self-reflection and I’m not sure whether time travel or mental breakdown, but she finds herself actually with her mother as a 30-year-old. At that point, I almost stopped listening, but curiosity and the fact that it was a short listen got me to finish it.

  • Summer Reading Bingo: Takes place outside the US

Unhinged (Alexander Blix #3) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger
(Translated from the Norwegian by Megan Turney)

I needed a book that would jump start my summer reading so I finally read the third and latest English language installment in this Norwegian duo’s crime series. Like the others, it took place in Oslo and there were many places I recognized and knew, but the structure was very different, at least for the first half. It alternated between the interrogation of police office Alexander Blix about why he had shot someone, the interrogation of journalist Emma Ramm who saw what had happened, and the storyline of how the person was killed, so a lot of telling with jumps to actual action. The second half returned to a more traditional structure, but with a change in the focus of the investigation and a change in role for Blix. Unfortunately, the book was a bit of a disappointment for me. I wasn’t a fan of the structure of the first half and I didn’t like the new role for Blix.

  • Summer Reading Bingo: One-word title

Eyes of the Rigel (The Barrøy Chronicles Book 3) by Roy Jacobsen
(Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)

This is the third in a series of four about Ingrid, an independent woman born, raised, and living on a remote island in Northern Norway in the 1900s. This installment takes place just after World War II. Ingrid leaves the island with her baby girl and travels throughout Norway on foot/train/bus to track down the father, a Russian prisoner of war who spent a short while on the island towards the end of the war as Ingrid nursed him back to health after he had  survived the sinking of the prisoner ship Rigel. All sorts of people help her find the way, provide shelter and food, and share information on the father providing an interesting picture of postwar Norway. The writing style and dialogue are spare and minimal, but Ingrid’s journey and determination to find him kept me engaged. Book 4 is already purchased and ready to be read (in Norwegian since it is not available in English translation yet, but expected November 10, 2022, by MacLehose Press, UK).


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.

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.

New in-person event addition!  Norwegian 80s band a-ha has two concerts scheduled in California in July. On Friday, July 29, they will perform in Napa at Oxbow RiverStage (ticket information). Then on Sunday, July 31, they will perform at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (ticket information). Will you go see them?

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!

Nordiska’s Book Club: The Cold Song (Thursday, July 28, 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 July’s meeting, they will be reading The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann, translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland.


AUGUST

Run Like a Viking Virtual Challenge (August 1-31)

From August 1-31, let the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, inspire you to keep moving and remain active, while having fun with your friends and family! Choose between a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon challenge race. International participation is encouraged! All entrants will receive a custom Run Like A Viking T-shirt, racing bib, and two (2) general admission tickets (expire August 2023) to the National Nordic Museum. For more information about the National Nordic Museum, visit www.nordicmuseum.org.

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
  • Tuesday, September 13: The Last Wild Horses by Maja Lunde, tr. from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Illinois

Swedish American Museum


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.