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

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.

Cixin Liu, Harvey, Dahlen, Keyyo

  1. Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu

    At times hard to grasp but so worth the time spent. Science fiction with crazy yet realistic ideas blended with accurate physical theories. Global perspectives on the world and evolution. Plenty of smart quotes that I wish I could remember. Here’s one favourite: “In China, any idea that dared to take flight would only crash back to the ground. The gravity of reality is too strong.”

    Elena’s rating: 4 out of 5.
  2. En liten bok om lycka, Micael Dahlen

    A tiny book where Micael, in a non-consistent form, gives a bunch of advises to the reader based on statistical studies. Break the rules, eat Christmas candy year round, plan ahead, be spontaneous, skip classes, etc. The book was given to the school teachers of my kids from the class as the end of term gift so I read it to get an understanding what we gave. Neither novel nor entertaining for me, which could mean that I did think about the subject long enough myself. And, btw, isn’t Micael Dahlen a vegan? What’s up with skumtomtar in that case? They are not vegan. Or did he go that crazy that we went for breaking two rules at the same time?

    Elena’s rating: 1 out of 5.
  3. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey

    Now that was a great short read! Very entertaining and with some nice hints. I do not entirely agree with the recommendations (being an atheist) which is OK. A fun read for ladies. Not for men.

    Elena’s rating: 4 out of 5.
  4. Mitt Livs Buffee, Keyyo

    I sympathise with Keyyo being born in Russia just like me and spreading a very positive image of my home country in Sweden. She released a cookbook mixed with stories from her life. A short and fun read.

    Elena’s rating: 3 out of 5.

Spring 2020 with Lars Kepler, Ida Warg, Anders Borg, Camilla Läckberg and Extreme Ownership.

  1. Ida Warg – Min Egen Väg.

    My 12-year-old daughter comes to me and says that I need to read Ida Warg’s book. I am hesitant after being disappointed with Margaux Dietz book. Still, being curious about young successful influencers and of respect to my daughter I go for it and enjoy it, to my surprise. Ida has a drive to get inspired of that brought her success, she is a hard-working person focused at winning and finding own ways of doing things. As a bonus you get confessions from someone with eating disorders which is a must for every little girl to know.

    Elena’s rating: 3 out of 5.
  2. Lars Kepler – Lazarus.

    I used to be a big fan of Lars Kepler but it felt like I have become more spoiled. Same brutal detailed crime scenes, and an annoying feeling of knowing what happens next. After having read all their previous books and having The Hypnotist as one of my favourite novels I got disappointed with Lazarus, as it felt like more of the same but with a lower quality.

    Elena’s rating: 2 out of 5.
  3. Anders Borg – Finansministern.

    For someone not working with neither finance not politics this was a fascinating though heavy reading.

    Elena’s rating: 4 out of 5.
  4. Jocko Willink – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

    The book is based on one idea – as a leader you have to own it, the decisions and actions of anyone being led by you. Never blame on someone else, take full responsibility. The book is based on real-life stories where extreme ownership was a game-changer. This is not a novel idea for me, as I have learnt to both give extreme freedom and take extreme ownership for my organisations. Moreover, in every role I was aspiring for, I took the ownership even before getting it. When working in a global company one needs to start taking ownership even beyond your sphere of direct influence.

    Elena’s rating: 3 out of 5.
  5. Camilla Läckberg – Vingar of Silver

    I was really waiting for it after Camilla’s “En Bur Av Guld” that i loved. This one is an easy read, on one breath, girls-only. The story was not worked though as good as in the predecessor, and there were some inconsistencies in the book that I reacted upon (when Faye met the guy at the bar and fell in love immediately (which is not her thing to start with) the readers immediately realize there is something fishy with the guy). BUT the details, and the empowerment that the book gives you is priceless!

    Elena’s rating: 3.5 out of 5.

January 2020 with Olga Tokarczuk, Anne-Britt Harsem, Martina Haag and Margaux Dietz.

1. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (by Olga Tokarczuk)
Elena’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
From “what am I reading” to completely hooked in a second. If I did not know that Olga won a Nobel Prize in literature I would have given up on the book before reaching it’s midpoint. But i was decisive to get through it and take it like a pill since good books are good for you – you don’t need to like them. This one was almost like a fancy dinner that you long after while being very hungry, while the cooks take their time! It’s a painful wait, but in the end you get your reward. I got my reward after approximately 70%. The language is exquisite throughout the book. And it plays with an interesting philosophical question: what do you do if you disagree with the law?

2. Mammas svek: den sanna historien om ett fruktansvärt brott (by Anne-Britt Harsem)
Elena’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
I started reading this one accidentally, being curious about the title. And then I could not stop reading until the end. It’s a hurtful read so don’t do it unless you are in a very happy and stable state and have good margins to handle the pain of this book. It’s based on a true story – so called “Alvdalsfallet” in Norway 2011. About the role and the power given to us as a parent, and a terrible case of misusing this power. The most scary part of the book is that the kids had a skewed concept of right or wrong, and also had a Stockholm syndrome – a sympathy to their worst enemy, their own mother.

3. Det är något som inte stämmer (by Martina Haag)
Elena’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
You know sometimes you get this urge of reading something light. With that thought I decided to read a Martina Haag-book since they are always so fun and light. And at the same time, maybe it was an unconscious decision after I laughed so hard at the scene with Strömstedts in Rapport från 2050 (the scene starts at 41:53), without realising the connection. I must say that I love all three of them: Martina Haag, Erik Haag (her ex) and Lotta Lundgren (her ex’s new girlfriend). And the book was anything but light. I can imagine that for a Martina it was a therapy to write it. She is screaming out her feelings. I cried several times while reading and could not sleep afterwards.

4. Your best life (by Margaux Dietz)
Elena’s rating: no rating. 
I am not in the target group so it would be unfair to set any rating. I was curious about Margaux-phenomenon which triggered me to reading it. One thing I liked is the importance of friends around you and the importance of making an effort and meeting them in person from time to time and giving them a hug. Another thing to pick from the book is the importance of having good timing (cannot be controlled), and having a plan and being prepared (Margaux has planned to film and stream the brith of her child well in advance which was a bold and unique move and made her very popular).

The Books I read 2019

1. Scener ur Hjärtat (by Malena Ernman and Svante Thunberg).
Elena’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Greta Thunberg’s parents open their hearts in an honest naked story of tough side of their life, explaining Greta’s path. Hair-raising to read for a parent.  Strengths: the “behind-the-scenes” story of glamorous Malena, one of the top Swedish opera signers.  Weaknesses: the text is not always consequent. For example, in the scene with Greta jumping up and screaming that the prime minister on TV is lying when he is saying that all of us have had some negative effect on the planet, while at the same time using generalisations throughout the book.

2. Becoming Michelle Obama (by Michelle Obama)
Elena’s rating 3.5 of 5 stars.
Michelle tells the story of her childhood, supporting parents, how she and Barack met each other, and how it was to be the first lady. Lots of ground covered, but a real sleeping pill for myself, especially when listening to Michelle’s monotonic tone of voice. Also, felt almost like bragging with all the extraordinary things that she’s been doing.   

3. Gott om Tid (by Bodil Jönsson)
Elena’s rating: 5 of 5 stars.
I loved her “Tio Tankar om Tid”, and I loved this one as well. Bodil is on the mission of slowing down the time, which is exactly what I need in my life as well.  

4. Folk med Ångest (by Fredrik Backman)
Elena’s rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Very entertaining, takes turns and you get fooled by the author all the time. Does not require too much of brain power and a nice read after a hard working day.         

5. Hjärnstark (by Anders Hansen)
Elena’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.
The original version was too slow for me, and the short version was just right. My rating is for the short version, including some extra points for the fact that I have started running more thanks to this book.  

6. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (by John Carreyrou)
Elena’s rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Breathtaking from the beginning to the end and based on a true story of a med-tech startup in Sillicon Valley.

7. Factfulness (by Hans Rosling)
Elena’s rating: 3 of 5.
The facts were good, the repeated reasoning around them too trivial.  

 8. Weapons of Math Destruction (by Cathy O’Neil)
 Elena’s rating: 4 of 5.
A book about artificial intelligence and it’s negative effects due to biased data.       Interesting real-life examples.  

9. En Bur av Guld (by Camilla Läckberg)
Elena’s rating: 4 of 5.
The first book of Camilla Läckberg that I really liked. Read on one breath. The only thing that I did not understand is why she had to make the main character a murderer; unnecessary in my opinion, hence lower rating.  

10. Miljardmakarna (by Emma Ahlén Pouya)
Elena’s rating: 4.5 of 5.
Inspiring story of two immigrants who built a commercial imperium in Sweden written by wife of one of them.   

11. Den extraordinära berättelsen om Jonas Paulssons plötsliga död (by Alexander Karim)
Elena’s rating: 2 of 5.
Alexander is a great actor but has a way to go when it comes to books. This was his debut that from the beginning felt entertaining but in the end turned out to be a copy-cat of stories such as Groundhog Day, Memento or Benjamin button.  

12. Britt-Marie var här (by Fredrik Backman)
Elena’s rating: 3 of 5.
A predecessor of Folk med Ångest that I read after it. Cute at times but too slow.  

Elena’s Book Club

Inspired by my colleague and friend Didem I’m hereby starting a book club. I can’t keep Didem’s pace of one book per week, but in 2019 so far I have read these books:

  • Scener ur Hjärtat (Malena Ernman)
  • Becoming Michelle Obama (Michelle Obama)
  • Gott om Tid (Bodil Jönsson)
  • Folk med Ångest (Fredrik Backman)
  • Hjärnstark (Anders Hansen)
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (John Carreyrou)
  • Factulness (Hans Rosling)
  • Weapons of Math Destruction (Cathy O’Neil)
  • En Bur av Guld (Camilla Läckberg)
  • Miljardmakarna (Emma Ahlén Pouya)
  • Den extraordinära berättelsen om Jonas Paulssons plötsliga död (Alexander Karim)

I’ll tell you what I thought of these some time.