What I’ve Been Reading Lately (October & November 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

October was a slow reading month so I saved my two reads from that month to share this month. It’s been a very varied period of reading and listening: two children’s books about the Sámi Indigenous peoples of Northern Europe, an LA-based contemporary novel, two historical fiction both coincidentally about a village woman and a man of faith not from the community (luckily different settings, one England in the mid-1600s and the other Norway in 1880), and finally a contemporary crime fiction set in Oslo.

I still have a couple of categories on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge to cross off. Currently, I’m reading a Scandinavian classic, Sigrid Undset’s third book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. Still to read are a book by or about refugees to Scandinavia (planning Sara Omar’s Skyggedanseren translated from the Danish to the Norwegian) and a Scandinavian book with a film or TV adaptation (haven’t decided yet). Would love to hear about any Scandinavian/Nordic books you’ve read!

What have you been reading lately?


Samer by Sigbjørn Skåden, Illustrated by Ketil Selnes

This is a Norwegian children’s book for ages 9-12 that I discovered when researching Sámi culture and history for a special event I was helping plan at the elementary school where I work. (Special thanks to my mother who helped make it possible for me to read it here in the US!) It’s written by a Sámi author and is even available in the Sámi language. My knowledge of Sámi history was very limited. Reading this book was enlightening and provided a good basis on Sámi history and issues. However, I still have much to learn. Too bad it’s not available in English as it would be a good introduction to Sámi culture and history for English language readers.

Reading Challenges:


Children of the Northlights by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

This was another book I added to my reading list for my school project. It has been on my bookshelf for a long time and was a delight to finally read. First published in 1935, it was written after extensive visits by the authors to the land of the Sámi in the early 1930s. Interestingly, this newer edition published in 2012 includes a note in the beginning noting the authors’ use of the term “Lapp” which is now considered derogatory. The story follows Sámi siblings Lise and Lasse as they go about their daily lives during winter time. I especially enjoyed reading about their relationship with their reindeer and seeing all the pictures featuring Sámi daily life during winter. I question whether Sámi children’s school experience was as pleasant as depicted in the story since the book covers a time period when Sámi were forced to become and learn Norwegian (per an official Norwegianization policy).

Reading Challenges:


The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
(Narrated by Greta Jung)

I was drawn to this book because it was a contemporary immigrant story that takes place in Los Angeles with a family mystery to boot. It’s about Margot who returns to her childhood home in Koreatown only to discover that her mother, Mina Lee, is dead in the apartment. In the process of trying to find out the true cause of death, Margot learns about her mother’s difficult past. There’s a dual timeline: Margot in 2014 when she discovers her dead mother and 1987 when her mother arrived in Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant from Korea. I started this book as an audiobook but switched to ebook. I felt the narrator did not do justice to the characters. I enjoyed Margot’s and Mina Lee’s stories, and I got a kick out of the setting being here in Los Angeles where the characters visited familiar places, in particular Santa Monica Pier in both timelines, but the narrator’s rendition of the characters grated on me. Finishing the book by reading it made a big difference. I recommend this book but suggest you read it instead of listening to it.

Reading Challenges:


Tidelands (Fairmile #1) by Philippa Gregory
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

This was a book club pick that I wasn’t overly thrilled to read. I love historical fiction, but England in the 1600s didn’t really interest me as much as other times and places, or at least so I thought. It turned out I loved this book. It was not about royalty as I had assumed it would be. Rather, it was about an ordinary person, Alinor, a poor woman whose husband had left her and their two kids to fend for themselves in a remote village. The story takes places during England’s Civil War in 1648, and religious and political history (Royalists vs. Parliamentarians and Catholicism vs. Protestanism) play a role but not in a way that requires any background knowledge. I got so wrapped up in Alinor’s life and the hardship and judging she had to endure. I admired her strength, perseverance, and independence. The whole book club group enjoyed this book so much that we selected book number two in the series, Dark Tides, for our next read. The audiobook was an excellent listen.

Reading Challenges:


Death Deserved (Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #1) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger
(Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

Jørn Lier Horst is a favorite Norwegian crime fiction author with his William Wisting series, but Thomas Enger is new to me. Their joint project intrigued me. I always enjoy returning to my native Oslo through books, and this story really took advantage of Oslo and the surrounding areas as the setting. The main characters, veteran police office Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm, were smart and likeable, and the plot was very engaging with a satisfying end. I look forward to the next installment in the series, Smoke Screen, coming out later this month.

Reading Challenges:


The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
(Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)

I loved Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme so The Bell in the Lake, the first book in his new trilogy, was high on my TBR list. When it was released in English during the pandemic, I had the chance to listen in on a  virtual chat between the author and translator and became even more enthusiastic about it.

The story takes place in the 1880s in the valley of Gudbrandsdalen in central Norway (also the setting of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter). It’s about a young village woman who is torn between two outsiders in the community, the new priest who’s selling the village’s stave church to Germany and the German artist/architect who’s come to draw the church so it can be resurrected properly once it arrives in Germany.

I had mixed feelings about the book, much of it having to do with wanting and expecting to love it. I did love the setting and the historical aspect of the story. Getting a glimpse of life in Norway in the 1880s was intriguing, and stave churches have always interested me. Mytting’s descriptive writing really enhanced those aspects. However, I had trouble getting into the story itself. It was a little slow to get going, and at times the dialogue was a bit cumbersome. The dialogue was written in an old Norwegian dialect and it was also translated into an old English dialect. Another issue I had was not totally understanding the chemistry between the characters. Despite this, however, I am very eager to read the second book in the series, Hekneveven. It jumps ahead to the early 1900s and continues the legacy of the stave church, its bells, and descendants of the first book. It came out in Norway in October 2020 to great acclaim. The English translation’s release date is TBD.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a day or so. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone. My most recent read, Death Deserved, and many other recent books I’ve enjoyed are currently on sale for $0.99 (as of the publication of this post).

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.

Virtual Nordic Events for December 2020: The Christmas Edition

Virtual Nordic events continue to flourish with something for everyone, and this month many events are Christmas themed. Be sure to visit last month’s listing of virtual Nordic events; many of those events are now available to view as saved recordings.

Local LA readers, the Norwegian Church’s Julemarked, or Christmas Market, will continue until Christmas. This is an opportunity to stock up on Christmas food essentials, treats, and fresh baked goods, as well as Christmas decorations and gifts. The shop is open during regular church hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please confirm hours before heading to the store by emailing or calling.

A few new Nordic themed experiences that aren’t dated events have come on my radar recently:

   

      

  • For a daily dose of some Christmas spirit the Nordic way, check out Jacquie Lawson’s interactive, animated Nordic Advent Calendar. It’s full of games and amusements and daily surprises.
  • For a cozy Norwegian Christmas atmosphere with all the feels, watch the Norwegian Netflix original series, Home for Christmas. Season 1 dropped last December and Season 2 will be released December 18, 2020. It’s about a 30-year-old single woman trying to find a boyfriend in time to bring home for the Christmas family dinner. I watched the first season. I laughed and cried and loved the wintery Christmas setting in Norway. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second season.
  • On the other end of the seasonal spectrum is the movie The Sunlit Night (via Amazon Prime Video), a romance/drama set in Northern Norway, specifically Lofoten, during the summer. I read and enjoyed the book by Rebecca Dinerstein upon which it is based, and she wrote the screenplay for the movie. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the midnight sun and I’m sure that the setting of the movie will be spectacular since it was filmed on location.
  • Fans of Norwegian World War II history can watch The 12th Man (via Netflix), a movie which follows a Norwegian saboteur’s journey to reach safety after narrowly escaping a Nazi attack. (New to Netflix October 2020)
  • A new podcast, The Nordics Unveiled by Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing embarks on a journey to the North “exploring the themes of Nordic mythology, folk music, Sami tradition, discovery of forgotten Nordic works in music, philosophy, architecture and nature.”

Finally, mark your calendars for the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. (SFFLA) with Baltic Film Expo (@SFFLA) which will take place virtually January 7-10 and January 14-17 in cooperation with Scandinavia House in New York, NY. They will offer virtual screenings of films chosen by the Nordic and Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film. Explore the schedule and plan your weekends. Your can buy a festival pass for access to all screenings or individual tickets.


12 Days of Christmas Gifts – Silent Auction & Instant Shop (December 1 – 12)

Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, is introducing something new to the Gingerbread Wonderland spirit! This holiday auction serves as a unique opportunity to support Norway House AND check items off your shopping list at the same time. The majority of items will be available in a traditional auction style, closing at 8:00 p.m. CT on December 12. Alongside their auction, they will also have an Instant Shop of items, open and convenient for immediate purchases of Norway House special merchandise. Check their event page for a link to preview auction items.

The Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza (December 1 – 14)

The Norwegian American, North America’s oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, hosts its first ever Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza! They’ve compiled a collection of recipes to help you make the required seven kinds of cookie for the holidays. Check in each day from December 1 to December 14 for a new recipe. You will see many familiar names in this Christmas Cookie Extravaganza: cookbook authors, bloggers, professional bakers, shop owners, and other leaders in the Norwegian-American community. Recipes are Norwegian or Norwegian-inspired, and each contributor shared a bit about their recipe’s origins or special tips.

NRK’s “Julekalender” Christmas 2020 Series: Stjernestøv (December 1 – 24)

Every day leading up to Christmas, Norway’s national TV station NRK will release a new episode of its Christmas 2020 series Stjernestøv (Star Dust). It is about 9-year-old Jo who experiences a tough start to Christmas when his parents divorce. He is visited by Elly, the star child from the North, and together they have an unusual and exciting December. It is in Norwegian and available for worldwide viewing.

The Norwegian American’s Christmas Calendar (December 1 – 24)

There is no Christmas in Norway without a julekalender—a special treat to open each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. So this year at The Norwegian American, they are offering their own first annual julekalender, beginning with 14 recipes from the Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza and then followed by a special collection of holiday music to enjoy while you eat the Christmas cookies you just made!

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author with Lisbeth Zornig Andersen (Tuesday, December 1)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for the third talk in their new series Meet the Author. On December 1, Danish author Lisbeth Zornig Andersen will discuss her book Anger Is My Middle Name, an empowering memoir of resilience and redemption, and the rage that helped a girl escape the darkness of a harrowing childhood. The talk is in conversation with translator Dr. Mark Mussari and moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma.

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): Santa’s Littlest Helper (Thursday, December 3)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Finnish story Santa’s Littlest Helper by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson. After the story, Sara will teach kids how to make a craft with items found at home. Update: View a recording here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim (Fridays, December 4, 11, 18)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is going online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. Get ready to play and learn: make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Collaborate on “missions” in person with your household or pod, or invite your friends and family to join together as a team online. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (December 4 – 6)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person events. During the first weekend in December, join Virtual Holiday Market on Facebook to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are Going or Interested in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways. For more information, visit Virtual Holiday Market.

Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts (Saturday, December 5)

Join The Scandinavian School in San Francisco for their annual traditional Scandinavian Christmas arts and crafts event, this year virtual. They are planning some typical Scandinavian Christmas decorations like the clove covered orange, the classical candle lantern made out of sugar cubes, and a tomtenisse or two. Santa may even stop by for a visit. If you are unable to stop by to pick up materials, they will provide a list of what you need. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts.

Panel Discussion: Nordic Colonialism in the Caribbean (Saturday, December 5)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for this virtual panel including Professor Lill-Ann Körber from Aarhus University, Denmark, and Temi Odumosu, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Malmö University, Sweden, as they examine Nordic colonialism in the Caribbean. The talk takes place in connection with the current exhibition, La Vaughn Belle: A History of Unruly Returns. Update: View a recording here.

Virtual Book Talk: Swedish Chef Magnus Nilsson in Conversation w/ Chef Edouardo Jordan (Sunday, December 6)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for a virtual book talk as they welcome back world-renowned Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson for a special talk launching his new book Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End (2020, Phaidon). Nilsson recently closed his extraordinary Fäviken restaurant at the height of its success to, among other things, buy an apple orchard. In the book, Nilsson details his fascinating first-hand account of the restaurant’s evolution—candid, insightful and thought-provoking. Learn more about what it was like to run a restaurant like Fäviken, as well as all the lessons he learned along the way––from virtual obscurity to the bright lights of the world stage. Celebrated Seattle-based chef Edouardo Jordan will also join this talk.

Gingerbread Wonderland Virtual Exhibit (December 6 – January 2)

The entire Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit at Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, will be available online for the world to see. Check here for more information on how to view the exhibit from home.

Jardar Johansen: North Norwegian Christmas Concerts (December 6 – January 4)

Jardar Johansen offers two digital Christmas concerts from Tromsø in Arctic Norway: a live recording of his 19th traditional North Norwegian Christmas Concert from the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø in 2019 and a special recording of traditional Christmas songs from the charming Hillesøy Church on ‘yttersia’, the outer edge of the Tromsø region. English subtitles. Cost per concert is 350 NOK, approximately $40. One ticket allows you to enjoy one concert to be viewed as much as you want from one IP address for 30 days after purchase.

Online Nordic Book Club: The Brahmadells (Tuesday, December 8)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. At this meeting, they’ll be discussing The Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielsen, translated to English by Kerri A. Pierce, who recently moderated the virtual panel Faroese Authors You Should Know. One of the first Faroese books to be translated into English, The Brahmadells is an epic novel chronicling the lives of a particular family—nicknamed “the Brahmadells”—against the larger history of the Faroe Islands, from the time of Danish rule, through its national awakening, to its independence. Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Woven Hearts (Wednesday, December 9)

On Wednesdays this month, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. The first event on December 9 will feature woven hearts (flettet julehjerte). Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: The craft workshop is now available as a recorded video.

Classic Scandinavian Treats by Farm Table Foundation (Thursday, December 10)

Learn how to prepare Scandinavian holiday treats and hear some of the stories and history behind those delicacies. The evening will highlight four specialties: Swedish kanelbullar and Norwegian knots, which are two different techniques employed in making two delicious Scandinavian cinnamon buns; Lucia buns, a pretty, spectacular golden saffron bun traditionally served on Sweden’s darkest day of the year (December 13, St. Lucia Day); and the Danish kringle, the many-layered fruit-filled pastry that Denmark is famous for. Register here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 2 (Friday, December 11)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Scandinavian Christmas Baking Virtual Workshops (December 12 & 13)

Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco’s native Dane Leda Jessen for two traditional Scandinavian baking events: December 12 for Danish Christmas cookies called jødekager and finskbrød and December 13 for Swedish lussekatter. You can join for a single event or for both. On both dates, Leda will also be sharing her secret recipe for Glögg, a mulled drink enjoyed all over Scandinavia at Christmas time. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Baking Workshops.

Lucia Celebration with American Swedish Institute (Sunday, December 13)

This special concert is a wonderful annual tradition for both performers and audiences. Gather the family around the computer or tablet this year and celebrate light during the long winter with the youthful voices of the ASI Lucia Choir for a magical 20-minute performance over Zoom. $10 per connection. Register here.

Virtual St. Lucia Celebration with Scandinavia House (Sunday, December 13)

On Sunday, December 13, join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual St. Lucia celebration with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Each year, Scandinavia House has shared in this tradition with processions from members of the Swedish Church Choir in New York, who join in traditional Lucia gowns with candles to sing Scandinavian and American holiday carols such as the “Sankta Lucia” at various events. This year, They’ll be taking the tradition virtual with a discussion and Q&A on the St. Lucia celebrations with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, a singer in the Swedish Church Choir and actress with the Scandinavian American Theater Company, who has led the performances at Scandinavia House each year. Register here. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Virtual Panel Discussion: The US and the Nordics, 2021 (Tuesday, December 15)

Organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and the University of Washington’s Scandinavian Studies Department, this panel will examine current attitudes in the Nordic countries toward the United States. Thought leaders with backgrounds in journalism, government, culture, and business will also offer suggestions on how the US might strengthen its ties to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland over the next four years. For more details and to register, visit National Nordic Museum’s event page. Update: View a recording here.

Contemporary Folk Art at Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion (Tuesday, December 15)

Join master woodworkers Phil Odden & Else Bigton and master rosemaler Patti Goke, as they discuss their work on Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion at Epcot. Phil, Else, Patti, and their teams worked on all of the woodwork and painting in the recent Frozen remodeling of the buildings and will share how these different crafts have informed and influenced patterns, design decisions, and overall planning. These master artisans will also discuss what it means to make and share craft in today’s world and in a location like Disney that serves millions of visitors each year.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Yarn Tomte (Wednesday, December 16)

This December, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. In this second event, see how to make a yarn tomte! A Swedish tomte (known as a nisse in Denmark and Norway or tonttu in Finnish) is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Out Stealing Horses (Wednesday, December 16)

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 her in December to discuss Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, a novel beloved by readers the world over. Enrollment deadline is December 9. (Watch the movie afterwards, details below.)

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (Thursday, December 17)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for their virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to get a mini-virtual tour from one their docents, learn a cocktail recipe, and make a craft using supplies you have around the house. This month make paper woven hearts, perfect for your Christmas tree or to adorn gifts.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 3 (Friday, December 18)

This is the final game of Vesterheim’s online Norwegian Christmas Celebration. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Pepparkakor with the Bissell Family (Saturday, December 19)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Virtual Nordic Holiday Cooking & Glögg with Morten Sohlberg & Ulrika Bengtsson (Saturday, December 19)

This holiday season, see how to celebrate Scandinavian-style with a special cooking and glögg-making workshop! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, and his family will present an online demo of making one of their favorite holiday dishes — Swedish meatballs, a popular Smörgås Chef classic — as well as an introduction to his upstate Blenheim Hill Farm, with some live music from his sons Edvard and Erik Sohlberg. Following the food demonstration, Swedish chef Ulrika Bengtsson will present an online demo on how to make glögg. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Koselig Cocktails with Vesterheim (Saturday, December 19)

An important part of Nordic culture is the willingness to embrace the cold, dark winter. In this class, you will focus on hot beverages and the power they have to get us feeling koselig, or “cozy.” You’ll learn some new recipes while also developing the skills to create your own unique hot toddy. Take your warm cocktail outside and embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or getting outdoors. Skål! Cost includes the price of the kit, some spices, and an ingredient list you will need to source materials for your class. Registration deadline is December 9. Update: This class is now sold out, but they are offering another one on February 11, 2021.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Potato Lefse with the Kittelson Family (Sunday, December 20)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Julgranskaramell (Wednesday, December 23)

In this final holiday craft workshop, learn how to make a julgranskaramell. Meaning “Christmas tree candy” in Swedish, a julgranskaramell is a special type of ornament that Scandinavians hang on their Christmas trees, consisting of small tubes filled with candies that are then brightly decorated with colorful tissue paper. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival (December 25 – January 1)

Due to popular demand, Big Ears Festival is restreaming the entire Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival series over eight consecutive days during the holidays! The festival was a tremendous success garnering glowing reviews and acclaim when it ran November 6 – December 11. Starting Christmas Night, December 25, eight evening-length shows featuring 15 outstanding artists and bands will begin. You can purchase the festival bundle which gives you access to all 8 shows, or you can purchase individual show tickets. For schedule and ticket information, visit Big Ears Festival: Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival.

New Nordic Appetizers for a New Year (Sunday, December 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim to ring in the New Year with some New Nordic Cuisine inspired appetizers! Celebrated chef, cookbook author, food historian, and “Nordic Food Geek”, Patrice Johnson will demonstrate creative takes on classic appetizers, plus meatball canapes, a dessert, and a cocktail. She will also discuss classic Nordic recipes for gravlax, potato patties, and add some of her own Northern flavors. Enrollment deadline is December 20, 2020. For more information and to register, click here.

An extra/ordinary Holiday in Extraordinary Times (ongoing until January 10)

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, invites you to enjoy this virtual exhibition and video. Winding through ASI’s courtyard and the Mansion grounds, the Nordic story trail is an outdoor experience with story stations designed by community partners from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland telling five popular tales. From Sweden, come the timeless stories by author Astrid Lindgren about the playful Pippi Longstocking. In Denmark, a classic story by Hans Christian Andersen about a little fir tree encourages us to live in the moment. In Iceland, a gift of clothing protects children from the legend of the Yuletide cat. Across Finland, arctic foxes run over the frozen tundra, sparking fires that light up the sky. For Norway, storytelling is explored through song and nisse, the mythological protector of farms. View more information about each of the tales from these Nordic countries at the exhibition page.


Ongoing Special Events

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to host a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there is a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.


Which December events or experiences sound interesting to you? God jul!

Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Vesterheim

A highlight of this pandemic fall has been our Family Norwegian Language Adventures with Eddy. Early in September, I discovered Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center, in Decorah, Iowa, while researching virtual Scandinavian events. Through their Folk Art School, they offered an impressive range of classes and events! What really caught my eye was the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure focused on friluftsliv (“free air living” or “embracing the outdoors”), a virtual experience we could participate in here in Los Angeles.

The organizers promised a family-fun outdoor adventure while learning some Norwegian language along the way. This sounded perfect for our family. I had been teaching my 14-year-old son Norwegian over the summer, and with this “adventure” we could maybe review some of that and involve my 16-year-old son and husband too. Also, with all the screen time taking place, we could all benefit from a new incentive to get outside and have more family time.

The $20 registration fee included a kit “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 snack was what sealed the deal. If everything else was a bust, we would at least have a snack and the good feeling of supporting an institution promoting Norwegian culture. It was a quick and easy decision to register, even though I didn’t know exactly what I was signing us up for.

Our kit arrived at our doorstep towards the end of September. Per the instructions, we waited until October 1 to open it. The kit was such a treat to open. Prepared with great care and pride in a nice gift box, the kit went way above my expectations. The treat was a Kvikk Lunsj to enjoy on a hike. There was a journal to make notes and drawings of our language learning and nature observations along with bingo cards for a game of outdoor bingo. We also received cards highlighting objects from the Vesterheim collection connected to the theme of friluftsliv.

October 1 was also the day that the corresponding virtual game on the GooseChase app went live. The game included missions that would get our family outside and help us practice our new Norwegian vocabulary that we learned through the language videos created especially for this “adventure”.

We fell into a nice routine. One day each weekend we watched a video at dinner time and practiced the new content. Each video had a general language focus. The first video explored things you might see in nature. The next one covered weather. The third video discussed clothing. The final one delved into two sayings associated with friluftsliv (“Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær.” and “Ut på tur, aldri sur!”). I really appreciated how the adventure included some culture in addition to the vocabulary.

The videos were fantastic! Eddy, the instructor, was very engaging. She used movement, props, and humor to invigorate the videos. Music and special effects added to the fun. The content material and length were just right; each video was 5 to 7 minutes. Eddy ended each session with a suggested task to practice content covered and these corresponded to the missions in the GooseChase game.

  My teenage boys were not particularly thrilled about participating in all the GooseChase missions, but I thought the missions were a fabulous complement to the adventure. Our favorite was the family game of “natur bingo” to practice Norwegian words for things we saw in our backyard. Another highlight was “Ut på tur, aldri sur!” (a walk/hike), though sadly the whole family didn’t go, so I saved the Kvikk Lunsj for another tur. We earned points by submitting photo, video, or text evidence for the missions we completed. There was friendly competition with other teams to earn the most points.

When registration for November’s adventure with its focus on kos (coziness) opened up last month, I was quick to register our family. Once again, we were impressed by the kit. This month’s “yummy snack” was Swedish ginger thins and gløgg mulling spice. We have already watched the first two language videos and completed two of the missions (“What does kos mean to you?” and “Familie tre!”) and I see more points coming our way soon. Registration for the December jul-themed adventure just opened up and I’m already looking forward to it even though we haven’t finished November’s adventure yet!

Here’s Eddy introducing the December Family Norwegian Language Adventure

Virtual Nordic Events for November 2020 + Local Pop-Up Norwegian Christmas Market

Virtual events of all kinds continue to be popular. There are author talks and panels, film screenings, book clubs, celebrations, and children’s events. I was thrilled to come across two events about the Sámi, the Indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. One is a virtual film festival and the other is a panel of Sámi authors. It corresponds perfectly with a special event I’m helping plan at the school where I work. Be sure to visit last month’s listing of virtual Nordic events; many of the events are available to view as saved recordings.

For my local LA readers, I would be remiss not to mention the Julemarked, or Christmas Market, that the Norwegian Church in San Pedro is hosting Friday, November 13 – Sunday, November 22, this year instead of its traditional weekend Julebasar, or Christmas Fair. This is an opportunity to stock up on Christmas food essentials, treats, and fresh baked goods, as well as Christmas decorations and gifts. Unfortunately, visitors will not be able to spend time in the church other than for shopping, but the Julemarked organizers guarantee a true Christmas atmosphere and a great experience anyways!

I hope you find something of interest for November. Besides the Sámi events, I’m looking forward to the November Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Kos (Cozy Living) with Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center in Decorah, Iowa. We participated in the October Adventure focused on friluftsliv and it made for some fun family moments. I signed up for the November Adventure during the registration period in October and we received our “special adventure kit” in the mail the other day. We are eagerly awaiting November 1 to open it (per the instructions). In it we’ll find language activities, reference sheets, a hands-on craft activity, and a special snack. That is also the day that the corresponding virtual game on the GooseChase app goes live. Let the language learning and games begin!

Which November events or activities sound interesting to you?


Virtual Celebration of the Finnish Sauna – Through Songs and Stories (Sun, Nov 1, 2:00 p.m. PT)

In partnership with the National Nordic Museum, the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle presents the 44th annual Kalevala Day Celebration with a tribute to the Finnish sauna! This virtual event will feature kantele music, folk dance, sauna stories, folklore, and more in honor of this quintessentially Finnish tradition. Cost is free, but please RSVP to get the YouTube link for the celebration.

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author with Dr. Neil Price (Tues, Nov 3, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join the second talk in the new series Meet the Author. This month meet Dr. Neil Price, a distinguished archaeologist with decades of expertise who is recognized as one of the world’s leading international authorities on the Viking and pre-Viking periods. It will be a rare and special opportunity to hear him talk about his new book, Children of Ash and Elm, and the definitive history of the Vikings — from arts and culture to politics and cosmology. Visit Nordic National Museum’s event page for registration information.

Virtual Panel: Sámi Authors You Should Know (Tues, Nov 3, 11:00 a.m. PT)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Sámi literature with Johanna Domokos and Saami poet, musician and scriptwriter Niillas Holmberg, moderated by Harald Gaski. The panelists will discuss Sámi literature and culture today. Registration is required. Visit Scandinavia House’s event page for more information and registration information.

Online Nordic Book Club: Palm Beach, Finland (Tues, Nov 3, 6:00 p.m. ET)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. The first meeting in November will discuss Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston). Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): Moomin and the Birthday Button (Thurs, Nov 5, 10:00-10:30 a.m. PT)

Join Nordic National Museum’s special guest librarian for storytime featuring Moomin and the Birthday Button by Finnish author Tove Jansson. After the story, learn how to make a fun craft related to the book. Visit Nordic National Museum’s event page for registration information.

Gingerbread Wonderland – Online Reception (Thurs, Nov 5, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Everyone is invited to join Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, in celebrating the opening of Gingerbread Wonderland! They’re spanning the distance from their gallery to your sofa with this online opening reception. All are encouraged to create a festive atmosphere, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and nestle in for the show! The free program features welcome messages and a skit involving this year’s wondrous North Woods and, of course, the gingerbread marvels within! Click here to register. (For the first time, Gingerbread Wonderland will be available online for the world to see. Starting December 6, the entire exhibit will be recorded and on display for public viewing.)

Virtual Sámi Film Fest (Nov 5 – 8)

The third annual Sámi Film Fest is a partnership between the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, Scandinavia House in New York, and Pacific Sámi Searvi in Seattle. The festival explores Sámi values, visions, and stories in the form of short films. Watch the films online at your leisure over the four days, and also join a free virtual panel discussion with filmmakers on Saturday, November 7, at 11:00 a.m. PT. For information on ticket packages and to see the program, visit National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival (Nov 6 – Dec 11)

Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival is a series of streaming concerts featuring 15 of the most important acts in Nordic jazz. You can purchase the festival bundle which gives you access to all 8 shows, or you can purchase individual show tickets. The festival is for viewing only within the USA, Canada, and Mexico. For schedule and ticket information, visit Big Ears Festival: Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival.

Sámi Film Fest – Virtual Panel Discussion (Sat, Nov 7, 11:00 a.m. PT)

This November, the 3rd Annual Sámi Film Festival explores Sámi values, visions, and stories, through a series of short films and documentaries from Sápmi, which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. On Saturday, November 7, join a panel discussion with Sámi filmmakers and scholars as they delve into Sámi film! Filmmakers Rebecca King, Elle Sofe Sara, and Silja Somby, and Sámi scholar Dr. Troy Storfjell (Professor of Nordic Studies, Pacific Lutheran University) will discuss Sámi values, vision, and stories — and why they’re able to speak to diverse audiences. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Amanda Doxtater, Assistant Professor, Scandinavian Department, University of Washington. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. The event is free, but RSVP required.

Magnus Nilsson Book Talk (Sat, Nov 7, 11:00 a.m. CT)

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, is the first venue on a virtual book tour and welcomes back world-renowned Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson for a special talk launching his new book, Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End (2020, Phaidon.com). Lee Svitak Dean, food journalist and former Star Tribune Taste Editor, will moderate. Nilsson recently closed his Fäviken restaurant at the height of its success to, among other things, buy an apple orchard. He and the book provide a fascinating first-hand account of the restaurant’s evolution – candid, insightful and thought-provoking.

With Restauration through Hell Gate to The Promised Land (Sun, Nov 8)

Join Vesterheim and the Slooper Society of America for this free 75-minute webinar, open to the public! Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join the webinar from Ryfylkemuseet at Sand, Norway, to tell the story, With Restauration through Hell Gate to The Promised Land, the story of the first organized emigration from Norway to the United States. There will be a host-led talkback following the performance. Registration is required. For more information and to register, visit Vesterheim’s event page.

Nordic Literature Week (Nov 9 – 15)

Nordic Literature Week is a read aloud event, where the same Nordic literature related to a chosen theme is read out loud at the same time across the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as other Nordic institutions around the world. This year’s reading books sparkle with life and ask big questions about life and death, privileges, rights, and responsibilities in the world. The books describe human characteristics that both unite us and, at the same time, separate us from each other and making us individuals. View more information on this year’s chosen literature and the project in general.

Virtual Panel: Swedish Authors You Should Know (Tues, Nov 10, 11:00 a.m. PT)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on literature from Sweden with Athena Farrokhzad, Johannes Heldén, Mara Lee, and Carolina Setterwall, moderated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel! The panel will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both the original language and in English, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Swedish literature today. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Visit Scandinavia House’s event page for more information and registration information.

Jo Nesbø in conversation with Harlan Coben – The Kingdom (Tues, Nov 10, 12:00 p.m. PT)

Third Place Books presents Jo Nesbø in conversation with Harlan Coben to discuss his latest release The Kingdom. “Roy and Carl have spent their whole lives running from the darkness in their past, but when Carl finally returns to make peace with it, the two brothers are inexorably drawn into a reckoning with their own demons.” This is a virtual event, taking place via Zoom Webinar. Register for this livestream event here.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): The Land of Dreams (Tues, Nov 10, 7:00-8:15 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. Join the bokprat in November to discuss The Land of Dreams, the first book in Vidar Sundstøl’s critically acclaimed Minnesota trilogy. The story centers around the murder investigation of a Norwegian tourist in a small town along the north shore of Lake Superior. For more information and to register, visit their event page.

Virtual Pippi Longstocking Celebration (Sat, Nov 14, 2:00-2:30 p.m. PT)

Pippi Longstocking is turning 75, and the National Nordic Museum in Seattle is throwing her a birthday party! Join in celebrating one of the most iconic and beloved children’s literary figures of all time at a virtual event that includes music, crafts, trivia, and games. Cost is free; RSVP required.

Jo Nesbø “The Kingdom” and Michael Connelly “The Law of Innocence” in conversation with Oline Cogdill (Sun, Nov 15, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., will host Jo Nesbø and Michael Connelly as they discuss their new books with Oline Cogdill. This event will be streamed online as part of their P&P Live! Series in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Instead of a set ticket price, they ask that you contribute what you can to support Politics and Prose Bookstore and their virtual event series by donating or purchasing a book from their store. Click here for more information and to register.

Barnetimen Children’s Hour at Vesterheim (Tues, Nov 17, 10:00-10:30 a.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim via livestream on their website or on Vesterheim’s Facebook page as Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim’s Youth Educator, explores objects in the museum’s collection and makes art inspired by those objects. This free, monthly program for preschoolers and their caregivers encourages exploration and creativity. You can also catch the recording any time after the event on Vesterheim’s YouTube channel. No registration is required.

Online Nordic Book Club: Companions (Tues, Nov 17, 6:00 p.m. ET)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. The second meeting in November will discuss Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett). Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Taste of Iceland: North America 2020 (Nov 18 – 22)

For the first time in its history, Taste of Iceland is going virtual! From November 18-22, Iceland Naturally invites you to experience Icelandic culture during the online Taste of Iceland festival. The festival highlights the very best of Iceland’s culture, showcasing the nation’s cuisine, music, literature, and film through several live streamed events. Throughout the festival, enter to win prizes such as a Blue Lagoon skin care pack or Icelandic Provisions skyr, plus the grand prize: a trip to Iceland! Visit Taste of Iceland for program details.

Taste of Iceland: Woman At War – Virtual Cinema (Nov 18 – 22)

As part of Taste of Iceland’s virtual festival celebrations, Scandinavia House is proud to serve as the virtual venue for a cinematic presentation of the acclaimed film Woman at War. Tickets to this event are free, but registration is required. On Sunday, November 22, at 4:00 p.m. ET, director Benedikt Erlingsson will participate in virtual film talk which will be streamed on Facebook.

Virtual Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration (Nov 19 – 22)

The National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, kicks off Julefest with a holiday-themed Virtual Crafts & Cocktails on Thursday, November 19. Then November 21–22, they’ll have three crafts for kids that you can stream online from home. You can shop an expanded selection of Museum Store goods online with special sales on lots of holiday favorites. Their friends at Sjöblom Winery are donating $5 to the Museum for each bottle of glögg they sell, too! For details on all the online fun, click here.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (Thurs, Nov 19, 6:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join the virtual Crafts & Cocktails event and get a mini-virtual tour from one of their docents, learn a cocktail recipe, and make a craft using supplies you have around the house. This month they are making paper Swedish stars, perfect in a festive holiday garland, as ornaments on a tree, or as fun decorations on a gift package. For registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Polar Tales: Virtual Book Talk with Melissa Schäfer & Fredrik Granath (Sat, Nov 21, 11:00 a.m. PT)

American-Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a virtual book talk with photographer Melissa Schäfer and producer Fredrik Granath on their new book Polar Tales: The Future of Ice, Life, and the Arctic out now from Rizzoli Press. Schäfer and Granath will discuss the book, as well as their work when they spent months in the field every winter living among the polar bears, establishing an uneasy balance and unprecedented access to the world of the kings of the Arctic. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Register here.

Woman At War — Virtual Film Panel with Benedikt Erlingsson (Sun, Nov 22, 1:00 p.m. PT)

As part of the Taste of Iceland festival, Scandinavia House presents a virtual film talk with director Benedikt Erlingsson of the Icelandic film Woman At War, streaming this weekend. The program will take place as a webinar via Zoom and will also be broadcast live directly to the @IcelandNaturally Facebook page. Register for the Zoom event here.

Virtual Play Reading: Pippi Longstocking (Sat, Nov 28, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pippi Longstocking with a live, digital performance that takes you on an an immersive theatrical adaptation! Scandinavia House and Scandinavian American Theater Company invite you to a live play reading of Pippi Longstocking, a story that introduced the most iconic character of the celebrated Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren. A fun activity guide for audiences of all ages and strengths will be added here closer to the performance. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Opening Event for New Nordic Cuisine Exhibit (Sat, Nov 28, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Vesterheim invites everyone to a free online opening event for the exhibit, “New Nordic Cuisine.” During the online opening event, Dylan Reed-Maxfield, owner of Decorah’s Courtyard and Cellar, will present a Scandinavian craft cocktail demonstration, and Tova Brandt, Museum of Danish America Executive Director, will give a gallery talk. This will be followed by a live Q&A. “New Nordic Cuisine” is an innovative new exhibit on loan from the Museum of Danish America about one of the most influential global food movements of the 21st century. Find out more about the exhibit here. For more information and to register for the online event, please visit Vesterheim’s event page.


Still Ongoing Special Events

Virtual Cinema: The Blinding Sea (until November 5)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to offer virtual screenings of The Blinding Sea, a new film by George Tombs that explores the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). “The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen hungered for ice-choked seas and desert places — but more than that, he had a passionate interest in acquiring new knowledge… Shot on locations including an icebreaker wintering in the Beaufort Sea, a tall ship on the Southern Ocean, on dog-team in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, as well as the glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, the film combines factual accuracy with bold story-telling, a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and the refreshing eye-witness perspective of an acclaimed biographer.” Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. Watch a talk with Director George Tombs here.

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to host a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there is a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.


Which November events or activities sound interesting to you?

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (September 2020)

My unintentional travel around the world via books continued in September with visits to China, Norway, and Rwanda, along with seven neighboring African countries.

My reading also continued to be influenced by the opportunity to hear authors talk about their work. The Seven Doors written by Agnes Ravatn and translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger jumped to the top of my TBR pile when I learned that Orenda Books, the English publisher, was hosting an online launch event with the author and translator (paperback was published September 17, 2020, in the United Kingdom). I had enjoyed Ravatn’s previous English release, The Bird Tribunal, and was curious about this one. It’s always interesting to get some insight into the behind-the-scenes of the writing and translating processes, and their discussion did not disappoint. (Are you curious about other virtual bookish events, in particular related to Nordic authors? Check out my Virtual Nordic Events for October 2020.)

Here are my latest book experiences. What have you been reading lately?


The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

This book first came on my radar when I saw it was a Book of the Month selection in April 2018. I didn’t pick it then, but I did buy it earlier this year when I had some ebook credit. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would be appropriate for a 13-year-old so it became a must-read for me this summer when it turned up as my 8th grader’s required reading for school.

Clemantine is an inspiring woman. She endured tremendous loss and hardship when, at the age of 6, she and her 15-year-old sister Claire fled from their family in Rwanda in 1994 due to civil war and the impending genocide. They spent 6 years traveling between 7 African countries trying to find safety and meet their basic needs — and later the needs of Claire’s young children. At age 12, Clemantine and her sister were granted asylum in the United States and began new lives in Chicago. The story of the two sisters is heartbreaking and eye-opening and important to be heard. However, it was told in a vacuum. There was little context provided about what was going on in the country they left and the countries in which they sought refuge. I found the first half of the book the most interesting. It alternated between Clemantine and Claire’s experiences in Africa and their new lives in Chicago. The second half when Claire was at college and beyond was less engaging. Even though the book felt a bit disjointed, I appreciated how it opened my eyes to a world event I knew little about. Now on my radar is the movie Hotel Rwanda.

Reading Challenges:


The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
(Translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu, narrated by Luke Daniels)

This award-winning science fiction novel by “China’s most beloved science fiction author” was certainly an interesting listening experience. It was totally outside my comfort zone (not just science fiction, but also alien encounter book!) and way above my head (a lot of complicated science that I didn’t understand), yet the plot and structure were engaging and intriguing enough to carry me along so that I finished the book. It was a complex and sophisticated book with many layers and made for a good book club discussion. This book is the first in a trilogy, and Netflix recently bought the rights to the trilogy for an adaptation into a series. I’m not up for the rest of the trilogy, but I may give the Netflix adaptation a try due to curiosity.

Reading Challenges:


The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn
(Translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger)

This was a very enjoyable, slow-burning psychological thriller that takes place in contemporary Bergen on the west coast of Norway over the course of about a month and a half during winter. Nina, a middle aged university literature professor, is in a bit of a mid-life crisis. She questions the importance of her profession, is going through a forced sale of her home, and has a somewhat strained relationship with her adult daughter. In the middle of all this, the tenant of one of their properties suddenly goes missing. When the police hit a dead end, Nina takes on investigating the mystery herself due to a sense of guilt that a recent visit by her and her daughter had something to do with the disappearance. I enjoyed the setting, in particular the visits to a small nearby island, and I was intrigued by the mystery and slow reveal of details surrounding the missing tenant. The tension grew as the story progressed and even though I had an inkling about the perpetrator as the end neared, the ending itself caught me off-guard but in a satisfying way.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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Virtual Nordic Events for October 2020

Virtual events continue to flourish. There are author talks and panels, film and documentary screenings, cooking workshops, art talks and craft workshops, and festivals on the schedule for October that can all be experienced from the comfort of your own computer. Be sure to visit last month’s Virtual Scandinavian Events for events that happened in September. Many of them are available to view after the fact as saved recordings.

For me, September was a busy month of virtual events. I particularly enjoyed the launch event for Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn’s new psychological thriller The Seven Doors which translator Rosie Hedger also joined. I found the Dual Citizenship Webinar hosted by Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis, MN, very informative and helpful. Of particular interest to me were the discussions on reinstating Norwegian citizenship (for me) and retention of Norwegian citizenship (for my kids). If either of these topics are of interest to you and you missed the webinar, you can view a recording of the webinar.

I hope you find something of interest for October. Among other things, I’m looking forward to the October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv with Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center‘s Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa. I signed up during the registration period in September and received my “special adventure kit” in the mail the other day and am eagerly awaiting October 1 to open it (per the instructions). In it we’ll find language activities, reference sheets, a hands-on craft activity, snack (!), and directions for using the Goosechase app.

Don’t forget that October 4 is Kanelbullens dag or Cinnamon Bun Day. Seize this opportunity to make your own cinnamon buns! I can recommend Daytona Strong’s Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns.

I would love to hear about any events or activities you attend in October!


Ongoing Events

The Painter and the Thief at BFI London Film Festival (Starting October 8)

Winner of the Creative Storytelling Prize at Sundance, Norwegian documentary filmmaker Benjamin Ree’s “expertly plotted, genre-blending documentary explores the personal repercussions of an extraordinary art heist… The sheer audacity of the theft of artist Barbora Kysilkova’s enormous paintings from the windows of an Oslo gallery immediately piqued documentarian Benjamin Ree’s interest. Neither he, Kysilkova nor the perpetrators could have predicted what happened next.” Available starting October 8 on BFI Player. Visit BFI London Film Festival’s film page for details.

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is hosting a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

The medieval Baldishol tapestry from 1180 is the oldest known Norwegian tapestry and one of the oldest in Europe and is a national treasure familiar to most Norwegians. This exhibit features 26 works by local, national, and international fiber artists who draw inspiration from the Baldishol. Enjoy the Baldishol exhibit, along with accompanying artist statements and bios, in this virtual exhibit.


Date-Specific Events

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): The Fat Cat (October 1, 10:00 a.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and a craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Danish folk tale The Fat Cat by Jack Kent, and then after the story Sara will teach kids how to make their own cat with items found at home.

Virtual Book Talk: The Bell in the Lake with Lars Mytting (October 1, 6:00 p.m. ET)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Norwegian author Lars Mytting joins us for a virtual book launch event on The Bell in the Lake, an engrossing epic novel and #1 bestseller in Norway about a young woman with a mystical fate, available in English translation from The Overlook Press beginning September 29.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Fall Folk Festival (October 2-4)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person festivals. Friday, October 2, – Sunday, October 4, join Virtual Fall Folk Festival to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win give-aways! For more information, visit Virtual Fall Folk Festival on Facebook.

Leif Eriksson International Festival (October 2-11)

The Leif Eriksson International Festival was formed in 1987 to establish an annual festival to celebrate Nordic cultural roots in the United States. Over the years, the events have brought top-ranked Nordic talent to Minneapolis. This year’s event will be virtual and feature a variety of programming including both live-streaming and pre-recorded musical performances, online worship services, and daily “destinations of the day”. Click here for the 2020 LEIF Program.

Scandinavian Crisp Bread Baking Workshop (October 3, 11:00 a.m. PST)

Ever wonder how that extraordinary crisp bread is made? Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco and native Dane Leda Jessen for a traditional baking event and get the chance to learn the secrets to how the bread gets its crisp. You will be sent a list of ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away. For more information and to register, visit The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center’s event page.

Virtual Documentary Screening: We Carry It Within Us (October 4-18)

We Carry it Within Us by director Helle Stenum investigates collective memory and different perspectives on the shared colonial past between Denmark and U.S. Virgin Islands. In We Carry It Within Us, the legacy of slavery, the memory of the Danish presence, the sale of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, and the relationship of the islands to the U.S., are told through interviews conducted on St. Croix, in New York, and in Copenhagen. You can view the movie online October 4–18.

Virtual Nordic Art Crash Course: Discovering Artists Emil and Dines Carlsen (October 4, 2:00 p.m. PST)

National Nordic Museum’s Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Leslie Anne Anderson will trace the career of Danish-American artists Dines Carlsen (1901-66) and his son (Søren) Emil Carlsen. This behind-the-scenes virtual talk will share the plans for an upcoming exhibition devoted to the artist and display selections from the Museum’s newly acquired collection of 943 drawings by Dines Carlsen. For more information and to register visit National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Icelandic Authors You Should Know (October 6, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Icelandic literature with The Imposter Poets, a poetry collective made up of members Thórdís Helgadóttir, Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir, Fríða Ísberg, Ragnheiður Harpa Leifsdóttir, Sunna Dís Másdóttir, and Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, moderated by author and translator Larissa Kyzer. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Icelandic, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Icelandic literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Cinema: The Blinding Sea (October 9 – November 5)

This October, Scandinavia House is excited to present virtual screenings of The Blinding Sea, a new film by George Tombs that explores the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). “The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen hungered for ice-choked seas and desert places — but more than that, he had a passionate interest in acquiring new knowledge… Shot on locations including an icebreaker wintering in the Beaufort Sea, a tall ship on the Southern Ocean, on dog-team in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, as well as the glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, the film combines factual accuracy with bold story-telling, a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and the refreshing eye-witness perspective of an acclaimed biographer.” Director George Tombs will join a virtual film talk to accompany the release on October 13. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Leif Erikson Day with Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation (SACHF) and Norseman Lodge, Sons of Norway (October 9, 7:00 p.m. PT)

Dr. Samuel Claussen, Assistant Professor of History at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA, will examine Leif Erikson’s activities and family in light of the intersections of law, feud, and vengeance. The Erikson family members, especially Leif’s father, were encouraged in their exploring lifestyle due to problems with the law and society in which they operated. Also, Howard Rockstad will briefly discuss the history of Leif Erikson Day and the annual presidential proclamations, including the southern California Leif Erikson Association responsible for congressional authorization of the presidential proclamations. Join the Zoom meeting on October 9.

Kransekake Class with Norway House in Minneapolis, MN (October 10, 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. CT)

A kransekake is the commanding centerpiece dessert at Norwegian weddings, graduations, baptisms, and other major life events. Made with ground almonds and consisting of tiers of wreath-shaped layers, the cake has a rich taste and texture that is uniquely its own. Learn to make this impressive cake with Brenda Lewis. Brenda will walk you through the steps of making a kransekake in this hands-on class and give you the confidence to bake one on your own. On Saturday, October 10, Brenda is teaching two sessions of the same class. For more information, visit Norway House’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Finnish Authors You Should Know (October 13, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Finnish literature with Selja Ahava, Rosa Liksom, Johanna Sinisalo, and Antti Tuomainen, moderated by author and translator Lola Rogers. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and in Finnish, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Finnish literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Film Talk: The Blinding Sea with Director George Tombs (October 13, 7:00 p.m. ET)

In coordination with the virtual cinema presentation of The Blinding Sea, a new film exploring the life and loves of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), director George Tombs joins for a discussion on the film on Tuesday, October 13. Tombs will discuss the explorer as well as the making of this film, which was shot on locations ranging from icebreakers in the Beaufort Sea to glaciers of Antarctica and Norway, as well as his focus on incorporating a cross-cultural approach, oral histories, a focus on physical and psychological health, and eye-witness perspectives to the film. Registration is required; visit Scandinavia House’s event page for more details.

IWR An Introduction to Icelandic Authors (October 14, 9:00 a.m. PDT)

Hosted by Iceland Writers Retreat and Reykjavík Bókmenntaborg UNESCO, this panel will feature writer, poet and former IWR faculty Gerður Kristný, crime writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir, poet and former IWR volunteer Fríða Ísberg, and writer and poet Mazen Maarouf. Moderated by IWR Co-Founder Eliza Reid. Co-presented with Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature. The event will be broadcast on the Facebook page of @Icelandwritersretreat.

Braid and finish a beautiful bracelet inspired by the Sámi art of tenntråd, or pewter wire art. Students will receive a kit with all the materials to make a bracelet out of natural materials including pewter wire, reindeer leather and an antler button, plus a reusable clamp for future braiding projects. This is a live virtual class taught over Zoom. This is a participatory class and spots are intentionally limited to allow interaction between students and the instructor. The class is currently sold out, but you may call to be added to a waitlist. Please visit American Swedish Institute’s event page for more details.

Meet the Author—A Nordic Book Series: The Man Who Played with Fire (October 18, 12:00 p.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for an intimate series of virtual book talks where you get to “meet the author”! Each talk is moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma and will include an opportunity to ask questions to the authors. For the first talk meet Jan Stocklassa who will discuss his book The Man Who Played with Fire, translated by Tara F. Chace. For details about the book and registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel: Faroese Authors You Should Know (October 20, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on literature from the Faroe Islands with Rakel Helmsdal, Carl Jóhan Jensen, and Marjun Syderbø Kjælnes, moderated by translator Kerri Pierce. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both the original language and in English, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Faroese literature today.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): Jo Nesbø’s The Redbreast (October 21, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CDT)

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 October to discuss The Redbreast, the third book in the Harry Hole detective series by Jo Nesbø. For more information and to register, visit their event page.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (October 22, 6:00 p.m. PST)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum’s virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to learn a cocktail recipe and make a Nordic craft using supplies you have around the house. For registration information, visit the National Nordic Museum’s event page.

Virtual Panel — Norwegian Authors You Should Know (October 27, 2:00 p.m. ET)

“Nordic Authors You Should Know” at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues with a focus on Norwegian literature with Jan Grue, Roy Jacobsen, Kaja Kvernbakken, and Ruth Lillegraven, moderated by author and translator Karen Havelin. The event will begin with short readings of each of the authors’ work in both English and Norwegian, followed by interviews with the authors and a conversation on Norwegian literature today. For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.


Online Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. It now meets bi-weekly online. Here are their upcoming meetings. Click the dates for more information and to register.

  • October 6: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies)
  • October 20: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting (translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)
  • November 3: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston)
  • November 17: Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett)

I hope you found something of interest for the month ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (August 2020) & #WITMonth

August Was Women in Translation Month!

I spent much of July planning my stack for August’s Women in Translation Month, a yearly monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I tend to read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I usually focus on female writers from other parts of the world for this event. Originally, my TBR pile for August included Chilean, Mauritian-French, Franco-Moroccan, Thai, and Japanese authors. However, my reading took unexpected turns when special author experiences presented themselves, so it wasn’t just female authors from far away lands this month as planned.

Here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?


The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I had been meaning to read this for a long time. It was my Book of the Month selection in October 2016! After reading author Nic Stone’s article, “Don’t Just Read About Racism—Read Stories About Black People Living,” in Cosmopolitan (June 2020), I decided there was no time like the present to read it and I convinced my book club to join me. Also, I wanted to join LA Times’ Book Club with Brit Bennett on August 25 which added an extra incentive to read it sooner rather than later. It didn’t disappoint. The story takes place in a contemporary, tight-knit Black community in Oceanside, California, and is about a decision that 17-year-old Nadia makes in her senior year of high school before she heads off to college. It’s about how that decision affects her and those around her in the years to come. We follow not only Nadia as she becomes an adult, but also her high school boyfriend and best friend. The title is spot on. The book features mothers of all kinds – missing mothers, present mothers, stand-in mothers, wannabe mothers, and a Greek chorus of mothers, the last of which I thought added an interesting layer to the story.

Reading Challenges:


Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
(Narrated by  Cassandra Campbell, Jenna Lamia)

This was another unread BOTM pick that jumped to the top of TBR pile in August when I learned that I would have the opportunity to hear the author participate in a virtual event (Creating Conversations with Literary Women). I read and listened to this one – both were excellent experiences. The story takes place in West Texas oil field country in the mid-1970s. It explores the aftermath of a brutal attack on a 14-year-old Mexican-American girl by a white boy through the perspectives of seven women in the community. The women range in age from 10 to 70s and have such unique and engaging personalities. It explores inner conflict as well as outer conflict in regards to the crime committed and how it’s handled by the community. It features women’s courage and strength. I highly recommend this book. This was a 5-star book for me.

Reading Challenges:


The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán
(Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes)

This was my first read for Women in Translation Month. It appeared on my radar last year at this time when it was released in English (originally published in Chile in 2014). I’ve been wanting to read more literature from South America so I thought this would be a good choice. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I did appreciate getting a glimpse of Chile’s history, in this case Pinochet’s dictatorship and its legacy, but that was about it. The story of the three childhood friends who go on a road trip to retrieve the body of one friend’s mother who was being repatriated to Chile but ended up in the neighboring country instead due to volcanic ash disrupting air traffic in Santiago was uninteresting. It didn’t help that half the story was told through one character’s stream of consciousness that made little sense. I am in the minority regarding my opinion of this book, though, because it was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.

Reading Challenges:


The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani
(Translated from the French by Sam Taylor)

This was another book for Women in Translation Month that’s been on my radar for a while, and unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations either. It’s a murder mystery that starts with the ending. We know the “who” and “how” right from the beginning (and it’s horrible) but not the “why” so the author takes us back in time to get to know the family and the nanny. Why did this supposed perfect nanny kill the two young children? It’s billed as a psychological thriller. I was engaged and enjoyed the development of the story, but the ending was unsatisfying and disappointing.

Reading Challenges:


Alt er mitt by Ruth Lillegraven
(Written in Norwegian but to be released in English in March 2021 as Everything Is Mine translated by Diane Oatley)

I had not done my research on this book, and I’m glad I hadn’t. If I had, I may not have read it and missed out on a fun reading experience. It turned out that half the book was written in New Norwegian, and historically I have avoided such books and read them in translation later. This book is about a couple, Clara and Haavard, who seem to have a perfect marriage. The story is told in alternating perspectives mostly from them. Clara is from Western Norway and speaks New Norwegian, and Haavard is from Oslo and speaks standard Norwegian. Luckily, their two different “languages” wasn’t a problem for me and I thought it a clever way to add a distinction between the characters. When I read it, I also did not know it was the first in a planned trilogy. Initially, I was very disappointed in the ending, but then I listened in on an Instagram event with the author and learned of the planned trilogy. I immediately changed my opinion of the book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. English readers, look out for the release of the English translation next year!

Reading Challenges:


Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah
(Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachen)

This book took me to a place in the world I’ve never been in my reading life – Department of Mayotte, a French island in the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and Madagascar. When Marie suddenly dies, her 14-year-old adopted son Moïse is left to fend for himself. He ends up involved with a gang in the largest slum on the island. The book explores hard issues – illegal immigration, poverty, race, class, youth gangs, and violence – through the perspectives of not only Marie and Moïse, but also the gang leader, a police officer, and an aid worker. This was a tough read, not a feel good book at all, but definitely an eye-opening and thought-provoking reading experience about a new-to-me part of the world, exactly why I like participating in Women in Translation Month.

Reading Challenges:


Before I leave you, I want to make sure readers interested in Nordic literature (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland) are aware of the many virtual bookish events, such as author talks, panel discussions, and book club meetings, now available to a wider audience. See my post Virtual Scandinavian Events for Fall 2020 for details!

What have you been reading lately? Did you read any women in translation in August?

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.

 

Virtual Scandinavian Events for September 2020

One silver lining of the pandemic is that organizations are pivoting to online events allowing interested folk from all over to attend. I have certainly taken advantage of that in the past few months and look forward to continuing.

Here are some Scandinavian virtual events and entertainment (plus some Icelandic and Finnish) that have popped up on my radar for the fall. I will continue to add events as I learn of them.

If you are interested in Nordic literature or Scandinavian TV and film, scroll to the end for information on a Nordic Book Club now available online and Scandinavian shows recently added to Netflix.


Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway) – Ongoing

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is hosting a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there will be a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland) – Ongoing

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s Facebook event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

October Family Norwegian Language Adventure – Friluftsliv
(With Vesterheim Folk Art School, Decorah, Iowa)

Join this adventure anytime between September 12 and September 21. The adventure starts October 1 and will focus on friluftsliv, the Norwegian concept of embracing outdoor living. “Join us for this family-fun outdoor adventure and learn some Norwegian language along the way! Your “family” could be any combination of adult or adults and child or children, all who are ready to have fun and learn some norsk are welcome! Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light hearted games and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills both indoors and outside. 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.” These activities are designed for families with children ages 5-15. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Baldishol: A Medieval Norwegian Tapestry Inspires Contemporary Textiles
(Virtual Exhibit at Norway House, Minneapolis, MN)

The medieval Baldishol tapestry from 1180 is the oldest known Norwegian tapestry and one of the oldest in Europe and is a national treasure familiar to most Norwegians. This exhibit features 26 works by local, national, and international fiber artists who draw inspiration from the Baldishol. Enjoy the Baldishol exhibit, along with accompanying artist statements and bios, in this virtual exhibit.

Virtual Book Talk: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (September 9)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Jonas Hassen Khemiri, the acclaimed author of Montecore, joins us for a Virtual Talk to discuss The Family Clause, a novel about a family on the verge of collapse, which will be released in English translation beginning on August 25.” For more information and to register, visit Scandinavia House’s event page.

Virtual Nordic Cooking with Morten Sohlberg: Zucchini & Squash (September 10)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Join us for a special Nordic virtual cooking event! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, will present an online demo of making one of his favorite late summer dishes — roasted zucchini and squash coated with ricotta, parmesan, and various herbs and spices.” This event will take place as a YouTube Premiere on Thursday, September 10, at 6 p.m. ET at the link: https://bit.ly/2GeVGvv.

ABBA Salute Concert Online! (September 13, 2:00 p.m. PT)

“ABBA Salute is quite literally the most accurate tribute band on the planet. With painstaking attention to detail, they’ve recreated an ABBA experience that comes to life in a Las Vegas style show. Join the Swedish American Museum in Chicago and Vasa Park for a special online concert that is free but we do appreciate donations to help us through this time.” For more information and to get the link for the event, click here.

Dual Citizenship Webinar (September 15, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Join Norwegian Honorary Consulate General, Minneapolis for a free webinar to learn about Norway’s new dual citizenship law and how it may affect you. Topics include reinstatement of former Norwegian citizenship, how to apply for US citizenship, and more. The presentation will conclude with a Q & A session. Questions must be submitted in advance. For more information and to register, click here.

Equity, Inclusion, and Immigration in the Nordic Countries (September 15)

This online event is hosted by ASF (American-Scandinavian Foundation) and Scandinavia House in New York, NY. “Nordic countries are often seen as models of equity, equality, and social justice. But what are the ways that the Nordic countries are approaching the inequalities that they still face? In this virtual panel, four distinguished guests — Swedish hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Danish author Simon Pasternak, and Swedish-Ethiopian chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson — will join us for a discussion on recent cultural contributions and voices who continue to discuss inequality both in the Nordic countries and the U.S.”

Vista Viking Festival Online (September 19 & 20)

This year, experience Vista Viking Festival Online. “We are living in a new age, and we are not able to gather this year. So we are expanding our virtual territories beyond the festival gates. Bringing our family closer to yours. Set sail with us online, September 19 & 20, 2020.”

Sweden’s Response to the Coronavirus with Lars Trägårdh (September 23)

American-Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a follow-up online discussion with Swedish historian, author and social commentator Lars Trägårdh as he discusses the current situation in Sweden in controlling the coronavirus. Sweden adopted a controversial approach to the pandemic, avoiding mandatory lock-down and instead stressing voluntary distancing and keeping the country open, most importantly pre- and primary schools. Initially Sweden experienced higher numbers of infection and death rate than many of their Nordic counterparts; since June, however, both infection and mortality rates are radically down. Hear how this strategy has evolved in Sweden as Europe at large is experiencing, or bracing for, a second wave.

Launch Event for Agnes Ravatn’s The Seven Doors (September 23, 7:00 p.m. UK)

“To celebrate the launch of Agnes Ravatn’s exquisitely written psychological thriller The Seven Doors, Orenda Books is delighted to present Tartan Noir author Michael J. Malone interviewing critically acclaimed Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn and her translator, Rosie Hedger.” The event is free and will take place on Zoom, For more information and how to get the link, visit Orenda Books’ event page.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group) to Discuss The Nordic Theory of Everything (September 24, 7:00 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. Join on Thursday, September 24, at 7:00 p.m. CDT to discuss Finnish journalist Anu Partanen’s The Nordic Theory of Everything. Read more about the event and register here.

Virtual Panel — Danish Authors You Should Know (September 29, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Scandinavia House’s new series Nordic Authors You Should Know begins with a focus on Danish literature with Shadi Angelina Bazeghi, Jonas Eika, Maja Lee Langvad, Dorthe Nors, and Ursula Andkjær Olsen, moderated by author and translator Katrine Øgaard Jensen. For more information, visit Scandinavia House’s page.

Policing & Police Reform in the Nordic Countries: Virtual Panel (September 30, 1:00 p.m. ET)

This virtual panel is hosted by ASF + Scandinavia House. “In contrast to the United States, the Nordic countries have their own unique approaches to law enforcement that have evolved out of histories with different racial and economic politics. As calls for police reform continue to be debated at every level of government in the U.S., three panelists from the Nordic countries join us to discuss policing and police reform in those countries: Lars Holmberg (Professor of Law, JUR Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, University of Copenhagen), Kimmo Himberg (Senior Researcher, the Police University College, Tampere, Finland), and Margrét Valdimarsdóttir (Assistant Professor of Police Science at the University of Akureyri).”

Politics & Prose Live! Vigdis Hjorth | Long Live the Post Horn! with Sheila Heti (September 30, 4:00 p.m. ET)

Hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., this event is presented in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Norwegian author Vigdis Hjorth sits down with fellow author Sheila Heti to discuss her new novel, Long Live the Post Horn! For more information and to register for this free event, click here.


Online Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. It now meets bi-weekly online. Here are their upcoming meetings. Click the dates for more information and to register.

  • September 8: The Summer House by Philip Teir (translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally)
  • September 22: Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon)
  • October 6: The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies)
  • October 20: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting (translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)
  • November 3: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston)
  • November 17: Companions by Christina Hesselholdt (translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett)

Borderless Book Club 

In response to the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown order, Peirene Press, in collaboration with several other small presses, created the Borderless Book Club. Meetings are held on Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m. UK time via Zoom. Participation is free. They exclusively discuss translated literature. For more information and to view the current fall program and to access previous meetings (which includes books by Scandinavian authors), visit Borderless Book Club.


New to Netflix: Scandinavian Movies & TV Shows

Borgen (Seasons 1-3) – A Danish political thriller, available in your preferred audio language. Netflix description: As Denmark prepares for parliamentary elections, Moderate Party leader Birgitte Nyborg makes a shocking move with surprising results.

Rita (2020, Season 5 Available) – A Danish comedy in Danish with English subtitles. Netflix description: Independent, outspoken and adored by her students, schoolteacher Rita fares less well with adults in this comedy-drama from Denmark.

Young Wallander (New, Season 1) – A Netflix original series in English based on the Swedish and British series Wallander. Netflix description: An incendiary hate crime stirs civil unrest, fast-tracking rookie cop Kurt Wallander to detective in this origin story for the popular character.

For more Scandinavian films and TV shows:


I hope you found something of interest for the months ahead. Feel free to reach out to me if you have events to share.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (July 2020) & #WITMonth Plans

I’m back with my monthly round-up of what I’ve been reading lately inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly Quick Lit where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. My reading rhythm hasn’t changed much since last month. I continue to enjoy listening on my early morning walks and reading while lounging outside in the late afternoon/early evening. I’ll continue this as long as I can.

A highlight of my reading life this past month was an in-person book club meeting! Our book club last met in person in February. Since then we’ve been meeting via Zoom. In July, we got together for a physically distant picnic so we could say goodbye in person to a member moving east this month. It was a lovely day in the park, not only being social in real life but also seeing so many people enjoying the park as well. Reminded me a little of park culture I’ve seen in Europe.

August Is Women in Translation Month!

I spent much of July planning my stack for August’s Women in Translation Month, a monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I tend to read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I usually focus on female writers from other parts of the world for this event. On my TBR pile for August are Chilean, Mauritian-French, Franco-Moroccan, Thai, and Japanese authors. We’ll see how many I manage to read in August. My effort and interest will likely extend beyond August.

Here are my latest reads and listens. How has your reading life been lately? Will you be reading any women in translation in August?


Hjemlandet og andre fortellinger (The Homeland and Other Stories)(In Norwegian, Edited by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Geir Gulliksen)

This anthology attempts to answer the question “What does it mean to be Norwegian today?”. The editors (I love that one of them is the crown princess of Norway; I’ve always admired her love of books and reading and her dedication to promoting Norwegian authors) asked 12 authors to contribute texts answering that question. What resulted is a collection of essays, short stories, and a poem by contemporary Norwegian authors, some of whom I’m already familiar with and others who are new to me. While I definitely enjoyed this as a collection of works, I did not feel it really answered the core question. I would have liked it to include more underrepresented voices, like immigrant and Sámi perspectives, to really provide a more complete picture of what it means to be Norwegian today. But I did enjoy the opportunity to “return” to my homeland while stuck in the US during the pandemic and it gave me the opportunity to discover new authors, which I appreciate, and read New Norwegian, which wasn’t as daunting as I thought it might be.

Reading Challenges:


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
(Narrated by Tom Hanks)

This was a 5-star read for me – and especially enjoyable since I read it with my sister on the East Coast. I loved the characters, the story, the structure, and the writing. The Dutch House is the house in which siblings Danny and Maeve grow up until both, one after the other, are forced out by their new step-mother. The story spans decades and it’s interesting to see how their lives evolve and how the Dutch House keeps pulling them back. I alternated between reading and listening. The audiobook is a real treat with Tom Hanks narrating it. He even says the titles, just numbered, with the perfect emotion.

Reading Challenges:


So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
(Narrated by Bahni Turpin)

This was the perfect book to start my antiracist reading journey. The author introduces and explains terms and concepts that are mentioned and discussed frequently these days and that you may feel you should know and understand but don’t really or have questions about. I started with the audiobook (currently always available at Los Angeles Public Library and available for free at hoopla) but then decided to get the physical book also so I could reread and underline and highlight as needed. There was too much good stuff that was just going in one ear and out the other. I needed to digest it more which I do when I read with me eyes. I will be returning to chapters about concepts that still aren’t crystal clear to me, but it was such a good starting point. I highly recommend it.

Reading Challenges:


The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Another book in my antiracist reading journey, this one about “Black people living” (per Nic Stone’s article in Cosmopolitan stating that “[T]he more we see Black people living—loving and doing and being and feeling and going on adventures and solving mysteries and being the heroes—the more we come to recognize our shared humanity.”) I wonder if I might have enjoyed this book more if I were 20 years younger? I liked the setting. It takes place in Los Angeles, specifically East LA. Areas and places are mentioned that I’m familiar with. I liked the girlfriend group. I appreciated the diverse cast of characters in the book. The love story, however, was not my cup of tea. The boyfriend was way too perfect. He’s a pediatrician, and he’s caring, kind, and thoughtful all the time. He even shops at an independent bookstore when in need of a gift for a bedridden pregnant cousin. That, and the interior dialogue, wasn’t right for me.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately? Will you be reading any women in translation in August?

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 & Another Virtual Book Event (June 2020)

Now that I’ve been at home for four months and summertime is here with more relaxed schedules, I think I’ve finally fallen into a more regular reading rhythm. My favorite time of day is when I can sit outside and read in the very late afternoon/early evening. The light is lovely and the sun warms my body perfectly without it being too hot. My hourlong neighborhood walks also provide lots of audiobook listening time.

Once again, a virtual book event inspired the reading of a book. My reading of Afterlife by Julia Alvarez started with a book discussion hosted by my alma mater, Middlebury College. Both Alvarez and the host, John Elder, were faculty members at the college while I was there. I also knew college friends were watching, so it felt like a reunion of sorts. The book takes place in an unnamed rural town in Vermont where the protagonist has just retired from teaching at the college. I couldn’t help but visualize my college town while reading.

Here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?


The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
(Audiobook narrated by Zehra Jane Nacqvi and Sneha Mathan)

I really enjoy books that introduce me to new times and places. In this book, I was taken to contemporary India through the story of two girls who grew up as sisters but then were torn apart by a kidnapping. The one left behind, Tara, soon moves to Los Angeles with her father, but after her father’s death returns to India to try to find her missing sister, Mukta. The timeline jumps back and forth starting in 1986 in Bombay when the two girls are brought together and become great friends and 2004 when Tara returns to look for Mukta. Besides getting a glimpse of life both in a small village as well as a big city, I learned about the Devadasi system of dedicating young girls to a temple, which really means forcing them into prostitution. It was a heartbreaking yet at times heartwarming story.

Reading Challenges:


A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

This was a fun, page-turning read! It’s a murder mystery/legal thriller that takes place in Brooklyn, NY, in an elite private school community. A mother is found dead at the bottom of the stairs and the husband is charged with her murder. He calls Lizzie, a law school friend, to represent him. Despite reservations, she takes the case. The structure is unique. Not only are there alternating timelines and perspectives – post-murder through the 1st person narrative of Lizzie and pre-murder through the 3rd person narrative of the murder victim – but also included within are grand jury testimonies and confidential memorandums. So many secrets and twists. Highly recommend it!

Reading Challenges:


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

This was without a doubt a 5-star read for me. I loved the setting, new-to-me Kentucky in the 1930s. I loved that it was a story of strong and independent women on the fringe of society coming together and supporting each other and making their own family of sorts. I loved that it was about an historical event that I knew nothing about, a female-run packhorse library delivering books to remote families in the mountains. I don’t think I have a single thing to critique about this book. Highly recommend it!

Reading Challenges:


Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
(Audiobook narrated by Alma Cuervo)

The story takes place in an unnamed rural town in Vermont where the protagonist, Antonia Vega, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, has just retired from teaching English at the college. The same evening that Antonia is going to celebrate her retirement with her husband, he dies en route to meet her. This is the story of Antonia learning to live without him while his presence is still very much with her. Unexpected events challenge her grieving process. A young, pregnant, undocumented immigrant arrives in the community, and a sister goes missing and sisterhood drama ensues. The book has an interesting ensemble of characters, in particular a grumpy farmer next door along with his two undocumented workers, the endearing sisterhood, and the sheriff. The book is about so many things – loss, family, immigration, mental health, and new beginnings – but none of it in an overbearing way. It’s a lovely little book with beautiful writing and thoughtful take-aways.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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