Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Fredrick Backman knows how to get readers attention and make it hard to stop reading. That did not happen to me from the start of the book since I have not been exposed to team sports in the way the book describes, and it was hard to get motivated to read about all the small nuances of a hockey team that the first half of the book was about. The author was setting the scene in the first half of the book, getting us acquainted with the characters to execute the main part of the plot with the full strength in the second part of the book. It’s gripping and telling a hard and realistic story that would speak close to a heart of any parent.

Elena’s rating: 4 out of 5

2022 to 2023

“When the going gets tough the tough gets going”.

An abstract paining of a busy blond woman generated by DALL-E.

It’s time to reflect and make new plans. “How was your 2022?”, Paul said. “Probably the worst year of my life”, I replied. He looked shocked. “Oh, I meant on a macro-perspective. On a micro-perspective, it’s been a good year”. I already talked about the macro-perspective in my previous blog post. On a micro-perspective, it’s been an exciting first year in California for me and my family. It’s been the year of taking tons of vaccinations because we did not have our records from Sweden, buying furniture for the new house in the times of global shortages, choosing courses in the new school system, getting a car after eight years of being proudly car-free, and getting a drivers license for the fourth time in my life. It’s been the year of understanding and getting used to the new – the new school system, the new workplace, the new neighbours and the new traditions. It’s been a year of exploration, and exploration is exciting. We’re locals now; we’re from Palo Alto, California, when we get the question: “Where are you guys from?”. In 2022 we met many new friends who will be our friends for life, I’m sure. And we have strengthened our bond with the friends that we left in Sweden – luckily we meet quite often. I accidentally became a snowboarder. Elin join the swim team and water polo team, Alexander decided not to go for American football (what a relief) and went for soccer instead. Paul Jr is fluent in English and started to correct mine. We spent plenty of time with our amazing friends but that’s never going to be enough.

Work-wise 2022 has been an exciting year. After a long time working from home, we finally returned to the office. I never though that I would be missing going to the office but that’s a fact. 2022 was a year of many changes in my organisation, and 2023 will be the one where we can run faster. I have co-authored a book, together with Paul and Thanos – looking forward to its release in 2023! 2022 was my first full year as a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences in Sweden.

My resolutions for 2023:

  • Less shopping!
  • More time with my mom!
  • More time with my friends!
  • Write!
  • Speak-up!

Books I read since last time…

Reading has different purposes, just like any other consumption, like eating or looking at screens. At times, I need a book to relax and think about something else than my day-to-day life. Those books are easy to consume, and normally the don’t give you a lot of long-lasting impressions. Some books give you a lot of new knowledge, and other books give you a lot of new thoughts, and some are just for comfort. This was a disclaimer for my somewhat mixed reading style.

Kazuo Ishiguro: Klara and the Sun. This was the best thing I have read in a long time. Just read it and tell me how you felt about it. Ishiguro did not receive his Nobel prize for nothing – he is a genius author with a very innovative touch. It’s a sci-fi book, which is not at all far from being seen just as fiction because the characters described in the book can in fact be our reality in a short time. The book made me surprised a couple of times when the story let you realise how it would develop. It does provide a number of ethical questions without giving answers to them. A must-read!
Klara and the Sun: 5 out of 5.

Camilla Läckberg and Henrik Frexeus: The Box and Cult. The Box was great – scenes where you cannot breathe started to catch me directly after the first pages (listening minutes). This was a great entertainment, and as a bonus I loved the interview of Camilla and Henrik at the end of the book where they describe the way two different authors collaborate to achieve a smooth experience for the reader with only one writing style. The book is a complex criminal story where the authors plant clues and false clues for the reader to start guessing who the bad guy is, keeping it exciting until the end of the book. I couldn’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy – Cult – and when it finally came out i got disappointed. Kult was not at all as exciting as the Box, and even as i write this review i can memorise a lot of scenes from the Box but nothing from Kult.
The Box: 4 out of 5.
Kult: 2 out of 5.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. I love reading biographies of interesting people and Elon is surely a fantastic innovator, disruptor, a person with a can-do attitude when everyone else is saying that something is not possible. He is a challenger or many traditional concepts, including the concept of family. The book is not a biography but rather described the path of building the companies, with ups and downs, with almost not references to Elon’s private life which is certainly hoped for. Still, exciting to learn about the smart steps and the mistakes on the way, especially after our move to Silicon Valley and buying a Tesla after eight years of being car-free.
Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future: 4 out of 5.

Sophie Danell and Pia Sander: Priset Jag Fick Betala. A very well described drama story of a woman cheating on her husband with all its consequences. A read for women only, and can be categorised by a Swedish term “tantsnusk”. The book is written in a very personal way which makes me wonder if it’s based on a true story. An at-the-moment entertainment that does not persist.
Priset Jag Fick Betala: 2 out of 5.

Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing. I liked this book even though at times I did not have patience to read the low-paced story that was supposed to get the reader in the right mood, almost in a meditative fashion. The book is describing the challenging life of the main character, Kya, and towards its second part grows into a murder mystery. The book provides the reader with a certain feeling of presence in the main character’s life that remains with you long time after reading it.
Where the Crawdads Sing: 3.5 out of 5.

Björn Natthiko Lindeblad, Caroline Bankler, Navid Modiri: Jag Kan Ha Fel. A life story of Björn Natthiko Lindeblad of his life as a buddhist munk, with its internals and specifics. Fascinating story but not something that inspires me. The question of discipline, however, is interesting as we face it every day. On the other hand, it must be easier to be disciplined under strict conditions and rules. Another interesting aspect of the book is that munks living under such strict conditions are happy people, which is something to remember.
Jag Kan Ha Fel: 3.5 of 5.

Ernst Hemingway: A Movable Feast: Restored Edition. I re-read this one. In my opinion, it’s the best book ever written. It’s a pure joy and something that gives you energy, motivates you and remains with you. This book became a moveable feast for me.
A Movable Feast: 5 out of 5.

I did try to read a couple of more books that I did not like, or they did not like me and did not stick. I won’t rate those.