“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library” from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I am a great fan of books, old as well as new. I have nothing against technology, but it just isn’t the same staring at a screen or relying on battery power/electricity. I’ve never had a lot of gadgets myself, but I used to know quite a bit about them. I don’t pay much attention to that anymore. I believe there are many different players in the e-book market, and Barnes & Nobles lost almost half a billion US Dollars on their NOOK tablet in 2012. It’s not that I oppose progress, but I am a bit oldfashioned and I like stability.
I like carrying a paperback in my backpack or in a pocket, and fish it out whenever I need to. I read at the beach in summer, when I’m hiking in a park, when I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, when I take my daughter to ballett and choir, during a train ride or when I’m sitting in my favourite chair at home.
I like holding the book in my hands. I like feeling and hearing the paper between my fingers as I turn the pages. I like the way I enter the world of the story and the way the characters follow me long after I finished the book. I like what this is doing to my world within and I like being able to drop the book without having to worry about breaking it. I like knowing that some of the great storytellers in the past (such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain) acquired knowledge as well as amusement the same way. I like the fact that some of the books I’ve been reading lately were given as a Christmas present to my grandparents 70-80 years ago. If I buy an e-book today that is not going to be very useful to my grandchildren. They will have to buy something new, something totally without any link to the family.
I also like audio books, which I find very useful when I drive long distances. Technology is very useful, but low tech is also very nice. That never fails to entertain me, like when we moved into this apartment in August last year. We had to abandon everything we owned except for a few belongings we could get into our car. It took a few days to get cable (not to mention a TV-set) and internet service, and during that time the oldfashioned books still made me quite content.
I am not going to write about all the six books I read in February, but three of them are quite interesting:
Reisen til London/Journey to London
Dik Lehmkuhl, 1946
The story of the Norwegian government at war. Based on interviews with leading Norwegian emigrants in London during World War 2.
I came across this book at my mother’s house. My grandfather got it as a Christmas gift in 1946 (he always wrote this information inside the book). This is a fascinating account of how the Norwegian Royal family and government fled through most of the country in 1940, and eventually made it to England. The Nazis wanted a Norwegian capitulation and met with representatives of the government several times during this wild chase, but although the government had been very naive before war broke out, they made a wise decision. They were under no circumstances going to welcome Hitler.
There are still some people with the attitude that Norwegian politicians and the royal family fled like cowards and thus failed the people, but this book gives a different impression. The parliament, government and the king must have known that capitulation was the only sensible decision they could make. It was impossible to resist Germany with the limited resources Norway had available. The Norwegian attitude was, however, that resistance, even against this overwhelming power, was better than giving in to Hitler’s demands.
In addition to this resistance, perhaps the most important decision the government made during the flight was taking control of the Norwegian merchant fleet, which was the fourth largest in the world. 900 of the nearly 1,200 Norwegian vessels of over 500 gross tons were either out at sea, in allied or neutral ports at the time. I think this revenue made it possible to resist. Norway had an underground army, Spitfire pilots were trained in Canada and they later established a base outside London. That was the start of the Norwegian Royal Airforce. I’m glad it happened of course, but it still amazes me that the Nazis lost the war. They seem to have had an overwhelming amount of fire power and technology, but their own arrogance and their enemy’s determination eventually changed the outcome.
I have been critical to Norwegian remembrance culture and myth building, and although this is probably a part of the mythbuilding, it was truly a fascinating read. I might come back to this book again later because this is almost unbelievable. Sometimes the truth is actually more incredible than a Hollywood film.
SPISS, a small business that offer lectures, guidance and education within the topic autism,especially asberger syndrom.
This book is a collection of texts written by people with an autism spectrum disorder. Through poetry and prose of different length they tell about how it is being them. Most of the authors are between 12 and 23 years old, and the oldest is 72 years.
Different was quite a bit of work. The texts were apparently printed without much editing. Some of the texts could have benefited from some structure, but perhaps that added something useful. This gives you an impression of what some aspies struggle with. Another thing I liked about the book was that it presents so many different experiences. One of the things I have addressed myself is that psychologists tend to be too rigid. One of the girls in the book describes how she wasn’t diagnosed at first because her asberger wasn’t exactly according to the guidelines, and even with help from the professionals from SPISS, it took some work to get a new evaluation. The problem was that she obsessed on certain narrow topics, like aspies tend to do, but because she had stopped talking about it to everyone she encountered, they decided it couldn’t be asberger.
It’s the same with me, and I believe that’s why they decided I didn’t meet enough criterias to get the diagnose asberger.
The Pilgrim’s Progress
John Bunyan, published 1678
This is available on The Project Gutenberg, a site that offers free books because they are not protected by copyright laws anymore. The copy I read was published in Norwegian in 1908. I’m not sure who the first owner was, but I’m guessing it was my great grandmother. My grandmother had it later, but she was only 5 years old when this book came into the family. It was an interesting read, but I’m going to get a modern edition because it was quite hard work reading this arcaic language.
This is one of those books I have known about for almost as long as I can remember, but haven’t read. I believe most people have a list of books like that, books they may even refer to, but don’t really know anything about. I suspect that books like Moby Dick and War and Peace are on many people’s list. This is one I can remove from my list.
The protagonist (Christian) is trying to persuade his familiy to leave their home because the city they live in is going to be destroyed. All names in the story describe the person or place that carry this name, and this city is thus called the City of Destruction. His family thought he had gone bunkers, so he had to leave them behind in this doomed city. He wanted to leave the life of misery to get the inheritance promised to him in 1 Peter 1, 3-4:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
New International Version, Biblegateway
He wants to find the Celestial City (Heaven). He is carrying a huge bag on his back, this is the wages of sin. This was after all a time when the church was full of brimstone and you were promised nothing less than eternal suffering in hell. This was a time when only ordained priests were allowed to preach, and as John Bunyan didn’t abide, he was jailed for it. I believe he wrote this book in jail, so they didn’t exactly silence him. To put it short, this is an allegory of life. Christian encounters people that want to help and people that clearly lead him astray. The other characters have names giving us hints about what type of people they are: Obstinate, Worldly Wiseman, Pliable, Formalist, Hopeful etc.
This reminded me of something I believe C.S. Lewis has addressed, where should a christian’s loyalty lie? There is a pressure to be patriotic, in other words show completely blind loyalty. If you don’t support the government when it does something wrong, you are more or less a traitor. “You are not one of us. We can’t trust you.”
This is a difficult question of course, but when christians in Iraq and Syria are being slaughtered, should we be ok with that? It’s getting harder and harder to be a Christian, and in 2014 more Christians were murdered for their faith than ever before. There is also more prejudices against Christians than before, in South Korea for instance. This comes into conflict with patriotism because our democratic governments have very undemocratic allies.
The Bible tells us to support the government, and I believe the general advice is that we keep this support even when the government fails to do its part. That sounds like a contradiction and blind loyalty. I will always abide by the laws, but I still intend to speak out against the evil my own government is doing, and it’s doing plenty.
I like A Pilgrim’s Progress because it tells you that God didn’t promise us an easy life. I have come across a few people that have told me I could have an easy life. God wanted me to have an easy life, and if that didn’t happen it was because the problem was me. That wasn’t especially helpful. I believe God will guide us to the Celestial City, but that doesn’t mean life will be hunky dory all the time. I have no doubt that Gods wants me to have a better life, but I seem to be attracting a lot of boneheads, creeps and low-lifes to use the most flattering terms I could think of. I wonder, could it be that I’m not a people person? No, surely not! I’m taking the long road to the Celestial City.
I have some more Christian books that I intend to read in March, as we approach Easter.