søndag 27. januar 2008


Every year, just before Lent starts, some years during Lent, I read Joanne Harris' Chocolat. About Vianne and Anouk and their struggle to find a place to live and belong in a small French village.
Chocolate curls, white buttons with colored vermicelli, pain d'épices with gilded edging, marzipan fruits in their nests of ruffles paper, peanut brittle, clusters, cracknells, assorted misshapes in half-kilo boxes...I sell dreams, small comforts, sweet harmless temptations to bring down a multitude of saints crash-crash-crashing among the hazels and nougatines.....
Is that so bad?
Joanne Harris has been a favorite writer of mine for many years. I have all her books, and I read them and reread them again and again.
I always red with both my eyes and with a pencil. Last year I underlines colours, this year I follow the wind around Vianne.

lørdag 26. januar 2008

Books everywhere

I don't know about you and your reading habits, but I have books everywhere. And I read books everywhere. In the kitchen, in the bathroom, in bed, on the bus, on trains and planes, I even put a book in my backpack when we are out hiking or cross country skiing. You never know when you get an extra minute.......

On my nightstand these days I have
Darcy and Elizabeth by Linda Berdoll. This is a kind of continuation of Pride and Prejudice, but of course no one can write like Jane Austen. The book is very much about the passionate marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but as I read on very little happens......except from Mr. Darcy trying to surpress his passions and eagerness to make love to Mrs. Darcy after she has given birth to twins.

The book has spent a long time on my night stand, and will not be finished in quite some time still.

fredag 25. januar 2008

Not Another Book About Italy

I finished an article about Venezia today. I've been working on it for quite some time, not knowing exactly how I wanted it to turn out. A secret dream is to write a book about Venezia some day, but there are already too many books about the city around, I don't know if there is room for any more........at least I need a very good idea if I want to make one, and I am not sure of the perfect idea is here yet.

Ann Richard had the same idea about all of Italy, she wanted to write a book about her favorite country, but would people want to read any more....... Her solution is perfect, she simply names her book
Not Another Book About Italy.

torsdag 24. januar 2008

Celtic Daily Light

I've been to Lindisfarne on the north east coast of England several times, and there met celtic spirituality.
During one of my travels I bought Celtic Daily Light, A spiritual journey through the year, by Ray Simpson.
Yesterday I read:
Always keep God before your eyes; always keep the example of the holy Scriptures; and whenever you stay, keep yourself there long enough not to move on in a rush

onsdag 23. januar 2008

Instead of jewels, perfume, shoes and new clothes....

My passion is travel books. When other women buy jewels, a new bottle of perfume, shoes, chic clothes.....well, I buy another book or ten. And on top of my passion list are travel books.

It can be
an old paperback worn to pieces, or a full coloured coffee table books which makes me empty my wallet. It might be a book describing travels close to where I live, or the traveller's tales take me around the world. The dream lies in them all.

Looking through my fast growing book collection I can find tracks from early childhood. I have a book from 1941 which I've inherited from my father, the inscription on the first page tells that this was a Christmas gift when he was 9. It tells the story of two children travelling around the world and all through the book there are photos, maps, tickets and drawings illustrating the adventures of the kids. I have another book from a few years later, S.O.S. Arktis, which takes me to an icy cold world of hard days filled with challenges, and yet another from 1965, Kartet som vokste (The Growing Map) - the great explorer's tales told for youths. Add Jules Verne, stories from the first missionaries, National Geographic and other books and magazines, and you have enough to fill the mind of
a young traveller to be.

My collection of travel books is growing steadily. I know I should make a list of what I have, but that's a task for some coming future.

A couple of months ago I was browsing the travel section in one of the book stores here in Trondheim. I do this often, but my treasure hunting is not always successful. That spesific day I found the golden egg though: Burton Holmes
TRAVELOGUES, The Greatest Traveler of His Time, 1892-1952. Hardbound. Full coloured. Huge. Tempting. (Unfortunately amazon has no image available).

Luckily we live in the credit card area. I bought the books, and now it resides on top of my chest of creativity.

tirsdag 22. januar 2008

More Susan Howatch

I have finished the second book in the Starbridge Series, Glamorous Powers, and have started the third one, Ultimate Prizes. Howatch keeps on describing men of the church ands their struggle to keep up their glittering images, to strive for ultimate prizes. Fascinating reading about the church of England in the last century.
I have read this series before, but reading it for the second time I find them even better. Written by a writer who shows a deep insight in the human minds.

mandag 21. januar 2008

Used books at Salvation Army

I was in town today and decided to visit one of the Salvation Army's thrift stores, to browse for books. I was there also last week and saw two Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Thought about buying one of them for my son, but was too busy. Well, when I came today they were both sold. Alot of "new" used books filled the shelves though, and I found alot I wanted to buy.
Ended up with a Dostojevski for my son, and an old paperback for myself, Elliot Paul's The Last Time I Saw PARIS. A Bantam book printed in 1945, with tempting names of the chapters. Like

- a starway down to antiquity

- to the memory of a secondhand accordion

- excerpts from a series of letters

- a dead man on the sidewalk

........can't wait to eat the first bite.

søndag 20. januar 2008

VENICE a traveller's companion

In October I discovered a small bookshop near the Ghetto in Venezia, where they sell old, English books. I dug deep, deep in my wallet and bought several books there. One of them was Venice, a traveller's companion, selected and introduced by John Julius Norwich.

I have been fascinated by and collected travel litterature for a long time, and with Venezia as one of my favorites places, this book is pure joy. Here we meet Byron, Goethe, Ruskin, Wagner, Casanove, James and alot of others in chapters divided to follow the different parts of venezia; The Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Square, The Rialto......oh, I so much wish to go back.......

lørdag 19. januar 2008

The Stones of Venice

Ok, Ok, I know I have talked about Venezia and books from the city of my dreams for a long time. I promise I will soon write about other kind of books, but please jmust give me a couple more days......for this time.
The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin is a must for every lover of Venetian architecture, for every lover of Venezia, for every lover of architecture.
"Obsessed with the city to the point that he considered himself its adopted son, Ruskin abandoned thoughts of his native England and could be seen all over town - here measuring architectural details atop teetering ladders, there arguing with Venetian citizens about the restorative tactics of their city planners. His views on building and restoration have echoed through the centuries and remain critical to an understanding of architacture today."

fredag 18. januar 2008

Venetian Dreaming

I got out of the train, passed through bland, 1958's Santa Lucia station with its shops selling newspapers, knickknacks, and chewing gum. I walked down the broad, shallow steps to the pavement and was surprised by what I saw; surprised by one of the most often reproduced views in the world; a sight I myself had seen ten years earlier. Nothing - not photographs or movies, memories or paintings, nor all the words of Henry James - is a match for Venice in person.

Today's quote is from Paula Weideger's book
Venetian Dreaming which came in 2004. Weideger lived in the city for some time, and has written a very interesting book about her experiences. I bought the book at the international bookstore not far from Santa Lucia railway station, and has walked many a mile in Venice following Paula Weideger's steps.

torsdag 17. januar 2008

Death in Venice

Thus it was that he saw it once more, that most astonishing of all landing-places, that dazzling composition of fantastic architecture which the Republic presented to the admiring gaze of approaching seafarers: the unburdened splendour of the Ducal Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, the lion and the saint on their two columns at the water's edge, the magnificently projecting side wing of the fabulous basilica, the vista beyond it of the gate tower and the Giants' Clock, and as he contemplated it all he reflected that to arrive in Venice by land, at the station, was like entering a palace by a back door: that only as he was now doing, only by ship, over the high sea, should one come to this most extraordinary of cities.
Thomas Mann; Death in Venice

onsdag 16. januar 2008

Out of this Century

Art in Venezia is often connected with old, heavy places, to the many churches or to the Accademia and the several Scuolas. Or totally modern stuff like the Biennale. I love all this, but there is (at least) one more place I always visit when I am in Venezia;
The Peggy Guggenheim museum.

Last year, in April, we took our 11 year old daughter to Venezia for a week. She did not have art museums high up on her list of places she wanted to visit, so we agreed that one museum would be enough, and the choice would be hers. Before the trip whe had listened to an audio about a crime mystery in Venice solved by two children. A Picasso painting from Peggy Guggenheim was stolen. So Marta's desicion was easy to make; Peggy Guggenheim was to be her museum. A choice I had no problem to accept :-)

After several visits to the museum I wanted to know more about this fascinating art collector, and last autumn I bought her autobiography in the museums souvenir store;
Out of this Century. Confessions of an Art Addict.

Peggy Guggenheim's life was totally different from the life I am leading, though reading her life story was enirely captivating. What a remarkably lady!

tirsdag 15. januar 2008

Miss Garnet's Angel

I have visited Venezia many times during the past years, and almost every time I go there I read Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers.

The book is about the old spinster Miss Julia Garnet. After the death of her friend she travels to Venezia for solace. There the life of this old, grey lady is totally challenged. She rents a flat near the church Angelo Rafaele and at once is intriguied by a series of painting in the church showing the apocryph story of Tody and the archangel.

The two stories, the one of Miss Garnet and the one of Toby and his dog, follows each other, and in both nothing is what they seem.

I know I will read this book again on my next visit.


A series of Venezia tales are unfolding in my main blog this week.

mandag 14. januar 2008

Portraits of Places.

I am working on an article about Venice, which hopefully will be used as background information for a guided tour there. The topic will be about going to Venice with all senses open, with a backpack filled with litterature, music, art, food..........

I have quite a collection of books from and about the city, and use several of them in the article.

I plan to translate bits and pieces of the article into English and make a series of "a week in Venice" over in The House in the Woods. Will start tomorrow.

The first Venice-book out is Henry James'
Portraits of Places.
The place seems to personify itself, to become human and sentient, and conscious of your affection. You desire to embrace it, to caress it, to possess it; and finally, a soft sense of possession grows up, and your visit becomes a perpetual love-affair.

søndag 13. januar 2008

Airport Bookstores

The most severe temptations I meet in my life must be airport bookstores. Why is it that I can never pass one without stopping to flip through a few books, look at the shelves, breathing deeply the fragrance of newly printed paper, reading titles and dreaming up stories......

Friday afternoon I was in a hurry when I came to Oslo airport to fly home to Trondheim. Lucky for me the cheking in of my suitcase and the security went quite fast. Finally inside I ran to the toilet before looking at my wristwatch - "yes, I still had three minutes"! Walking into the airport bookstore I went right to the counter. I knew what I was looking for and also knew that I had no extra time to search for the book myself.

"Excuse me" I said to the young man behind the counter. I was sure he would have no idea about the book I wanted but I still gave it a try. "Do you have The Boy Who Could Answer Everything, or as it is called in English-
Q and A?" The young man looked at me smiling, "Yes, madam, I unpacked this book only minutes ago. Please come with me."

Two minutes later I boarded my plane, the lucky owner of a wonderful book set in India, telling the story of India in a totally new way. Q&A is Vikas Swarup's first book.

lørdag 12. januar 2008

Spiritual reading

I try to start every morning with some spiritual reading, a chapter from the Bible, a few pages from a book.
Together with the Holy Scripture these days I read from Organic Spirituality - A Sixfold Path for Contemplative Living by Nicki Verploegen Vandergrift.

This book was sent me some time ago from Christina at
Abbey of the Arts, a very generous offer which gives me alot of guidance on the path God is creating for me every day.
An important thread through the book is the task to awakening people to the sacred, an useful toil for us working on this is the sharing of stories. The sharing of stories is for me very much what life is about, when meeting people is about, writing letters and blogging, it is all about sharing of our life stories.

fredag 11. januar 2008

Promoting my book

I have been at a meeting today where my book about Lent was promoted during one of the breaks. Afterwards people could buy the book and I sat down to sign copies. I felt I was in heaven.

Norway is a small country, so getting a first book, where the topic is religious, printed in 1500 copies, is very good I have been told. Now I am crossing my fingers that the first printing will sell out, but I have not allowed myself yet to start dreaming of a second printing.

You can read more about "40 dager - fra karneval til oppstandelse" following the links
here and here.

torsdag 10. januar 2008

A Late Christmas Gift

I still find Christmas letters, cards and gifts in my mailbox. Today there was a packet from Joan with a book she mentioned when I in late December over in The House in the Woods asked about favorite Advent and Christmas books, The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger.
Though Christmas is now history for yet another year, the Christmas spirit can live on all year, and the love showned in this beautiful story is never out of date.
Thanks Joan. This book will not be stored away with the rest of my Christmas books. I'll find room for it somewhere here in my study where I can be reminded of its message all year.

onsdag 9. januar 2008


I am going down to Oslo for two days of working. Will take an early train tomorrow, so tonight I am packing. And when I pack, for two days or two weeks, I always starts with books.

There is one book in my shelves that I have wanted to read for a long time, Swan by Frances Mayes. For many years I have
enjoyed and reread Mayes' Tuscany books. I have them at our cabin and every time we go there I read a few chapters from one of them. And I dream about living in the Tuscan countryside. Some years ago I found a novel written by Frances Mayes, Swan, bought it and then it disappeared in between some other books. Tonight I have digged it out, and tomorrow, on the plane, I plan to start reading it.

tirsdag 8. januar 2008

Planning India!

A few years ago I got a postcard from an Indian penpal. She was in Rome visiting her daughter and wrote:

.......I am afraid this is the closest I will ever get to Norway - why don't you come and visit us here......

What my friend didn't know was that exactly the same day I had a phonecall from a friend and colleague. He was organising a bus trip from Norway to Rome, he had an extra seat in the bus and waondered if I wanted to come along. I had never been to Rome before, but it didn't take me long to tell both my Indian friend and my colleague - I'M COMING!

Now, several years later I have been to Rome every year since that first time, and I am climbing the next step of the ladder. I plan a trip to India this coming autumn. Making travel plans means reading books about and from the places I will visit, and my list of books about India is getting longer every day. During Christmas I finished a Norwegian book, India, by Torbjørn Færøvik, and today I started an old classic, Mother India by Katherine Mayo. I came upon this book quite by accident.....or may be the book was calling my name......... But that's another story which you can read here. (you have to follow the links to get the full story)

mandag 7. januar 2008

What the Heart Already Knows

A few weeks before Christmas I got a surprise in the mail. A packet from a reader of House in the Woods. Tucked in between a handknitted scarf and other goodies was a book, What the Heart Already Knows, Stories of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany by Phyllis A. Tickle. Starting the first Sunday of Advent I have followed the stories one by one till the last one on Epiphany yesterday. Verses from the Bible, reflections and tales from the author's life as a mother of seven living on a farm in Tenessee with her husband. The book is filled with traditions, lived from year to year, right after my heart, told with creative and loving words. This book will follow me for many Christmas seasons to come. Thanks Laura.

We took Christmas down on Saturday, one day early since Epiphany came on a Sunday. All Christmas books are again stored away, and my reading table has a new pile of books waiting to be read.

søndag 6. januar 2008

Finished Glittering Images

After a busy though funny day yesterday, I am enjoying a quiet day today. Or may be I shall say quiet morning. We will celebfrate Terje's birthday this afternoon with family and friends, so there is some food preparing to do, and some house work to take care of. But in between this the time is perfect for reading.

I just finished the first novel in the Starbridge sequel, Glittering Images. I love Susan Howatch's style of writing, though sometimes I believe she uses too many words to get to the point. I have really enjoyed following half a year in the life of Charles Ashworth though, and can now start the second novel, Glamorous Powers, knowing that Charles is happy and safe.

My oldest son has started a bookblog.
You find him over at
I can't think of anyone who read as much as he does:-)

lørdag 5. januar 2008

The Wild Duck

My husband and I went to the theatre tonight to see The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen.

As a Norwegian I know partly most of Ibsen's plays, at least the most well known ones, but I really can't say that I am an Ibsen conneiseur. I have a collection of all his writing, but find the old words and sentences hard to read. Seeing the play last night have raised my appetite though, so tomorrow, inbetween planning a birthday party for my husband, I plan to read some Ibsen. Starting of course with The Wild Duck.

We did more than theatre last night though. Take a look here :-) to follow our night.

fredag 4. januar 2008

The Last Harry Potter.

Yes, I admit it. I am a Harry Potter fan. All since Rowling's first book about the amazing boy named Harry came out I have been an avid reader. I first heard of the book through reading groups on yahoo, but it didn't take long before they came to the Norwegian bookstores. First only in English, then in Norwegian translation as well.

As soon as Marta was old enough I started to read the books for her, and of course my extra book gift for her for Christmas was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We started to read it a few nights ago. This one take some time to get into, sometimes Rowling's writing flow quite freely, but I know Marta will love it as soon as we "are there".

I have been in Oslo today and tonight we have celebrated my husband's birthday, so we found no time for our aloud reading. But tomorrow we will be there again.

torsdag 3. januar 2008

Books for Christmas

Books are the best gifts I can get for Christmas. This Christmas I got quite alot and have hours of great and interesting reading ahead of me. During the past summers I've spent more and more time out in the garden, and this growing interest takes me to garden books and magazines during the cold months. Therefore it was a wonderful surprise to get a garden book from a good friend spending a year overseas. Digging Deep, Unearthing your Creative Roots through Gardening by Fran Sorin.
The garden is dead and frosen these days. Even my garden blog is almost sleeping. But reading about Sorin's six stages of creative unfolding - imagining, planning, planting, tending, enjoying and completing..........I am counting the weeks now till I can start gardening again.

onsdag 2. januar 2008

The Devil and Miss Prym

Down in the basement we have an exercise bike. I try to bike for 15-20 minutes almost every day. Near the bike I have a pile of my Paulo Coelho book and I read while biking. Coelho's writing is perfect to take my mind away from the boring excercise :-)
For the moment I am reading The Devil and Miss Prym, a book which dramatize the struggle which can be found in all of us, the struggle between light and darkness. Do we dare to follow our dreams, do we have the courage to be different and to master the fear that prevents us from truly living?

....the people of Viscos always believed that every stranger would be fascinated by their natural, healthy way of life, and they would repeat and expand upon their benefits of life away from modern civilisation, even though, deep in their hearts, every single one of them would have loved to live far from there, among cars that pollute the atmosphere and in neighbourhoods where it was too dangerous to walk, for the simple reason that big cities hold an enormous fascinations for country people.

Happy reading!

tirsdag 1. januar 2008

Welcome to The Blue Bookshelf

It is Christmas time, and time for reading. I pile of books has followed me during this holiday, and I have enjoyed hours on the magic carpet which has taken me around to visit far away places, far away times.

Staring a reading blog has been on my mind for quite some tiem, but with three other blogs to manage I have been hesitant. Reading is my main pasttime passion though, and our house is filling up with books. A couple of weeks ago my oldest son started a bookblog, and my mind was set. The Blue Bookshelf is my New Year's gift to myself.

This blog will be different from my other blogs. There I always post photos, some days the photos are even the main focus. The Blue Bookshelf will be my personal reading journal, where I, hopefully on a daily basis, discuss, or rather write about, books I read. Links will be given to where you can buy the books yourself if you want to read further on.

As I've already mentioned I always have a pile of books in progress, and a huge variety of different style of books. I will eventually write about them all, but today I want to briefly mention a reread I am doing, Susan Howatch's The Starbridge Sequence. This series consists of historical novels based on the life of the church of England, and the first book,
Glittering Images, takes us to the fictional cathedral Starbridge the years before the Second World War broke out. "Beneath the smoth surface of an episcopal palace lurks the salacious breath of scandal. Charles Ashworth is sent to untangle the web of self-delusion and corruption only to become emboiled in a strange ménage à trois that threatens to expose the secrets of his own past......"

Happy reading!