The best books from my childhood

This was supposed to been uploaded on Tuesday, I only had one small part that I wanted to rewrite, preferably while eating some delicious pie. But when going to get my pie I managed squeeze the finger that I use the most while writing. So, instead of pie, writing and relaxation there was ice, tears and pain. So much pain.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember, but there are some books from my childhood that stand out, that was a part of defining me as a person. So, with the excuse of wanting to provide summer reading suggestions I’m going to talk about them all. 

And yes, this is actually how I sit when I read

Harry Potter 

J K Rowling 

We have to start with the books that started it all. I read Harry Potter in second grade and before that I was reading books aimed for my age group, books for eight years old children. Reading Harry Potter was like discovering a whole new world, a world with interesting stories, complex characters and books longer than a hundred pages! Truth to be told, I no longer feel as strongly for Harry Potter, as I did when I was a child. Part of that is the fact that J K Rowling is an ass. Part of it is that I have read way too much Harry Potter commentary and analyses, some of it makes Rowling seem like more of an ass, some of just put formerly thought nice characters in a new, bad, light (that’s Dumbledore). Part of it is just having read fanfiction way better than the original series. 

Harry Potter will always hold nostalgic value, and there is no denying that it is a classic. I don’t believe that we should stop reading and talking about Harry Potter just because the author is trash. Harry Potter will simply be another great book with a shity author, there is no shortage of those.    

Eragon 

Christopher Paolini

Yeah, I have already written about this series, not gonna do it again. So, if you want to read my thoughts on it you can click here.

Anache

Maria Turtschaninoff

I loved this book so much when I was younger, that I kept borrowing it over and over again. I have probably never read the same book as many times as I read Anache. At times I borrowed it not because I wanted to read it, I already knew all of it, I just liked having it home. That was how obsessed I was. 

Anache was one of the first books that I read where the main character was a female and the story was all about female empowerment. I loved how we got to follow Anache thru her entire childhood, see her struggle in a misogynistic world, and eventually grow up being a badass woman. She is an unwilling hero who saves the world not despite being a woman, but because she is a woman. One of the best parts of the book is that the big enemy is a very misogynistic man who she in the end completely obliterates. I believe that every girl needs this kind of book (or movie) as a child, but it is still good literature for grown ups. I know that for a fact, as my obsession with this book led to me getting my own copy. It stands proudly on the shelf, so that as many people as possible, shall look up on it when in my room. 

Another positive side note, this was the first book I read with the protagonist  in a queer relationship. 

Parvanas Vandring (Parvana’s Journey)

Deborah Ellis 

Our school library had a rather small fantasy section, so it did not take me long to finish them all. That posed a problem when we were required to read something from there in class. The solution? Have my teacher pick a book for me. And that is the story of how I came to read this truly, marvelous book that’s as far away from fantasy as one can come.   

Parvana is a girl living in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. When the book starts, her father has just died and Parvana, separated from the rest of her family, decide to find them. Disguised as a boy she starts a  journey that takes her across the war torn country. She encounters many horrors of the war, bombed cities, grown ups without hope and other children in the same situation as herself. 

This book is beautiful and haunting. It talks about war in a way that works for children (I was ten or eleven when I read it the first time), but it never sugarcoats it. I grew up in an incredibly privileged part of Sweden, I never knew problems. This was my first introduction to the humanitarian crises that others face, and that lesson has never left me. A lesson that others should revisit.

In honor of Star, Cayenne and my childhood home away from home

Sidenote: Pictures will be added when my father finally fixes the box where all of our old pictures are stored. His inability to do so is what has delayed me from publishing this, but now I can’t wait any longer.
Edit: Now with pictures, thanks dad!

When I was so young that I didn’t have opinions, my mother put me on horses and I started  horseback riding. When I  was somewhat older and had actual opinions I decided that horses really were fun and started riding for real with a friend from school. All of my riding took place at a riding school called Långeberga (funnily enough, it is located right next to a prison). 

Pictured taken the 6th of August 2009

For the first years our class was on fridays, it was often the perfect way to start the weekend. Some hours with horses, friends and fun, and if we were lucky we got some candy afterwards. The only times it wasn’t so good, was when either of us fell off, luckily it did not happen that often. After some time our class time changed and we now had riding lessons on Mondays, still, everything was fine. We spent so much time there, it felt like we knew the place like our own pockets. Except from the big, cool, private stable where we students weren’t allowed in. All of the time spent together also led to a very close friendship. 

Some time after I started horseback riding my mother, herself, took it up again. She had been riding during most of her childhood and adolescence. Due to Långeberga only having ponies it is not the place for grownups to ride, so she started riding at Clareberg, a stable where some of our friends also ride. So then I had two stables to explore. I would often come with my mother, help her make her horse ready and then watch the class or explore the stable or just hang with the horses. Sometimes my friend would come with me, those times were the best ones. 

Pictured taken the 11th of May 2014, I spent about a year in the company of the lovely Miranda.

Riding school wasn’t enough for my mother so when I was twelve she bought a horse, Chasmin. She was stabled at Långeberga, and suddenly a new world opened for me. I was allowed into the private stable, we could go on long rides in the forest and explore the surroundings. We got new friends, all at least twenty years older than me, and there were new horses to per. It also came with a whole lot of new responsibilities. Helping feed the horses, and filling the barn with hay. Those late nights when it was only me and mom feeding the horses was some of the best nights. We also got the responsibility to restock the café, something that I loved. Which twelve year old would not love to fill carts with candy, soda and cake once a week? I also took the placing of the wares very seriously, the stock had never been as well organised before (or after). It resulted in the nickname “inköpsassistenten” (The purchasing assistant). That nickname was first coined by one of the owners of Star and Cayenne, two horses owned by a mother daughter duo and some of the people we got closest to. 

Of course nothing stays the same, during our time there, two horses died of old age and multiple people changed stable. The most hard hitting for me was when Lolo and her horse Lovley moved. Lolo was one of the nicest and funniest people in the stable and her horse was just as kind, as Lolo was fun. It was also the horse that Chasmin shared a field with. 

Chasmin and Lovley, 4th of June a few months before moving.

After about a year we moved too, and then it was not just the horse, it was also our house. I stopped with the riding classes, got a horse of my own and no longer had any reasons to be at Långeberga. In school we changed classes and when we no longer spent hours in each others’ company, me and my friend grew apart. 

The only reason we had to go back to Långeberga, was to see our friends, most notably the owners of Star and Cayenne. This we did reasonably often, although more so in the spring/summer time than during the winter. Going back felt a lot like going home, like I was finally back where I belonged. 

During these five years that has passed since we moved my relationship with horses has changed a lot. I have had to work through the fact that I associate the horses with my dislike of moving, something that has increased with time, not being reduced.

Things have not just changed here, it has also changed at Långeberga. Eventually Star and Cayenne were the only horses left from the time when Chasmin was stabled there. And that is why their passing away was especially difficult and heartbreaking for me. It was not just the death of two lovely and special horses, it was the last ties I had to a time when life was easier, the last ties to my childhood home from home.

This text is dedicated to Star and Cayenne, two very special horses.

My saddest birthday

I think it was around two years ago, that I realised that my eighteenth birthday was going to be on Easter Saturday. It was great news, last time my birthday really was during Easter was when I was very young but I remember it fondly. Easter has been my favourite holiday for a long time, partly because it often correlates with my birthday, meaning no school. But also because I see it as a great sign of spring and I love spring. So, I made a lot of vague plans of what I would do during the celebrations. My grandmother and Lars would be coming. Hopefully my uncle would show up and I would even invite my best friend to the party. 

Since it was Easter we would eat traditional Easter things, aka what Swedes eat for every holiday: herring, potatoes and some kind of holiday target drink. Also, lots of holiday teamed candies. Given that it was my eighteenth birthday and I would legally become an adult we would also have some champagne-like drink to celebrate and I would demande to drink some snaps just because I could. 

When I started school the plans evolved, I now also had to consider the fact that one of my friends really likes to celebrate birthday by singing. She would most likely make the class sing for me and I would have to suffer thru the embarrassment, I´m not a fan of attention. At a later time I would host a small get together, and my singing friend would finally get to taste good pesto. 

During summer I would force my best friend to celebrate midsummer with me, that would have included getting drunk. I was also looking forward to being able to finally go to all the concerts I wanted. Although, I would have to get some new friends for that, all of mine have different (bad) taste in music. 

Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan, but in no way could I ever had predicted that it would go so bad. A lot of things still happen as I had planned, most notably: it was still Easter.

 Quite early, I came to the realisation that my grandmother (and Lars) would not be able to attend, still, it hurt a lot. In order to make up for it, my best friend was invited to spend the night and be with me for the entire day. I got a champagne like beverage when waking up, it tasted bad, and nice gifts. Then we had eggs and egg painting for breakfast. My grandmother and Lars even showed up and gave me gifts. Except that they could not enter and I did not get to hug her. Still, it was a really lovely surprise. 

The closest we will ever get to a family portrait

We then had some herring for lunch, something my friend did not really like, and I drank snaps. It tastes exactly like my cough medicine from last fall, except it burned to drink. After lunch we had a traditional Easter egg hunt. It was a lot more fun than usually, because my horse got frightened and then my friend got frightened and briskly walked away, but then my horse got even more frightened and ran after my friend. She then retreated to higher ground where the horse could not follow.     

My singing friend called and when I answered she immediately started singing, it was really nice. She is the best singer that I know. We talked for close to an hour, but it doesn’t make the separation easier. 

For dinner we had more fish based food, but this time my best friend actually liked it. Few things taste as nice as my mothers’ salmon pie. And then it was cake time. The best time, I love cake. The only silver lining of this whole disaster is that in total I will get four birthday cakes: there will of course be a celebration with my grandmother and Lars when it is safe to invite them and my best friend always makes me a completely homemade cake. While cake-eating, me and my friend recalled memories about our past and laughed a lot. Afterwards she had to go home and I was left alone feeling melancholy and drained from all the social interactions. I went to bed early.

The day after I intended to spend bedridden or in front of a computer, instead I experienced my first ever surprise party. I pulled myself together, applied deodorant and really enjoyed it. I even got more cake. It was family friends that wanted to celebrate and had made plans with my parents to surprise me. Having people being that considerate of you, even though they aren’t related means a lot. It was perhaps the best birthday present of all.

On this surprise cake I was suddenly 118 years old, or is it an inverted J?
This is the fourth birthday cake for those of  you who are counting.

Except for when they left and I resumed with my gloominess. When me and  my best friend were planning the sleepover, I told her that I would try and plan my grief crying so it would happen before her arrival, I was only somewhat joking. Surprisingly I have not yet had a proper crying, My eyes have been tearing up while writing this but that doesn’t count. So I shall channel weeks of uncertainty and days of disappointment and have a really chartartic crying after finishing writing this. 

Happy Birthday to Me!   

Books of March

Turns out I do most of my reading on the bus or while waiting for school to start since I’m always there way to early. Due to the circumstances not to be named I have not been reading that much and everything I have read has been very lighthearted and easily read.    

The Bookshop on the Corner

Jenny Colgan


Bought this one on a sale because I wanted something really lighthearted to read during these trying times, it did not disappoint. This is exactly the type of book that should be read during a longer vacation or when forced to stay home due to a virus. But… Maybe it fits better to read it during a vacation, after reading it I really want to go to Scotland. Colgan knows how to describe the scottish highlands in an alluring way. A bit sad to read it when you aren’t allowed to leave your home, therefore stopping all plans to go to Scotland before they even could begin to form. Although the books was a lovely easygoing escape that I didn’t expect much from I can’t help but feel that it was somewhat rushed at times. Not in the overall plot, just certain sentences felt rough. I read the swedish version so I will never know if it how Colgan wrote or if it is the fault of the translator. I do wonder a lot about the title, first I just thought that the Swedish translation was bad but it really do say “on the Corner” despite the actual bookshop being in a van and not on a corner? Very confusing. Despite that it is a very cute book.

Ella Enchanted

Gail Carson Levine 

There is a movie based on this book starring Anne Hathaway that I have watched an embarrassing amount of times because I have terrible taste in movies and one of my favorite genres is anything based on Cinderella. The movie is nothing like the book, as it often is. Neither of them are bad, they just aren’t anything alike. The book is super duper cute, it is written for younger children, pre teens. It a heartwarming story about learning about consequences and standing up for yourself but most importantly, how important our own choices is, that no one should be allowed to take that freedom from us. Beside having some great life lessons it also has one of the cutest romances. Unlike the movie where the prince is arrogant, the book version is a complete gentleman (gentelboy) who only want the best for Ella. This is a book that I really wished that I had read when I was younger, but it still works for an older person.            

Kiss of the Royal 

Lindsey Duga

There are multiple reasons for why I liked this book. Firstly despite the lore being perhaps the most ridiculous one I have ever had the pleasure of reading it still felt well developed and thought through. Sure, having kisses be the catalyst for magic to work is a bit weird and having true love being the answer to all problems is maybe a bit cliche, but Duga makes it almost believable. And, you know, having true love being the solution to everything would be pretty nice right now. Secondly, I loved the character development. The relationships between the characters is good and really drives the story and the characters forward. I love the family bond between the main character and her page boy. I was in constant fear that the page would turn out to be in love with the main character and jealous of the love interest, a pitfall many authors fal in to (why do authors think that love triangles are fun?), luckily for me Duga avoided it. The only place where I truly think that Duga fails is in the romance, but now that I have written that out I realises that it may be due to the fact that the main character literally didn’t believe that love existed and there for made for a bad protagonist in that sense. When she finally accept that love is real the romance between the main characters is described fin. So, no the romance wasn’t bad. Lastly, unlike other authors, Duga chooses fantasy names that was not terrible or unpronounceable, although Lorena is a stupid name for a horse. In conclusion, this is yet another good escapism in a trying time.            

Salainis

I had learned already many of the Outland methods of communicating by forest notes rather than trust to the betraying, high-pitched human voice.

None of these was of more use to me than the call for refuge. If any Outlier wished to be private in his place, he raised that call, which all who were within hearing answered.

Then whoever was on his way from that placed hurried, and whoever was coming toward it stayed where he was until he had permission to move on.

Salainis

I had learned already many of the Outland methods of communicating by forest notes rather than trust to the betraying, high-pitched human voice.

None of these was of more use to me than the call for refuge. If any Outlier wished to be private in his place, he raised that call, which all who were within hearing answered.

Then whoever was on his way from that placed hurried, and whoever was coming toward it stayed where he was until he had permission to move on.

A week of distance studies

Thursday

This was our first day of homeschool, and it was weird. First lesson was chemistry, we all connected to a google meets meeting where our teacher laid out the ground rules and then we were off to watch a youtube video explaining the electron transport chain. It worked, but it was really odd. The most off putting thing, is that the teachers are still in school, so we can see the classroom in the background, but I know that I’m in my room.

 Social science was fun, my teacher wanted to see our pets, so most of them have now appeared in a meeting. Also, I ate lunch during this lesson, which felt odd but also really nice. Normally we have really late lunch so it was good to eat when I got hungry and not when I was starving.

 Math was also odd, we were actually connected the whole lesson, but our teacher muted his mic and if we had any questions we were to call him on his phone. Occasionally we could see him talking on it, but most of the time he just sat there. It was kind of tragic. 

Biology went surprisingly good, most of the time my teacher has a lot of problems with the technology, not his fault, but now when he didn’t have to struggle with a faulty connection between the computer and the projector things went smoothly. It also felt the most like a normal lesson, so that was a nice bonus. 

French lesson was bad. We were to do a listening exercise that turned out to be way too difficult, the questions were also very vague. If we had been in class we would have noticed that all of us were struggling and our teacher would come up with a new plan. Instead we were all panicking on our own, until someone said it in our class chat after about 45 minutes. In the end everything worked out fine, but it was really stressful for some time.

Pros: Having lie-ins, a lot of them. No travel time. The possibility to utilize the lunch break for something different than lunch. Also, being able to eat whenever.

Cons: No friends :(. Weird to be home all the time. No walking or free exercise, can you believe that I actually miss all of the stairs? Being able to eat whenever. Having a ridiculous amount of tabs open on the computer. 

Friday

I had a big breakthrough, I realised that my teachers can’t actually see what I’m doing unless I have my camera on. That led to me hand sewing during most of my lectures. It actually helps me learn, since I can’t focus unless I’m doing something with my hands and sometimes note taking isn’t possible. Although I can confess to getting so into it, that I only did one math question. It was a difficult one! I did actually start on another but then I got stuck and since I’m socially awkward and it only was a few minutes left of the lesson, I decided against calling my math teacher. That just felt so weird. Also, it worked out in the end, I’ve realised what I did wrong and will most likely be able to solve it the next lesson. I can also confess to not caring whether or not, my socialsience teacher saw me sewing, but I figured it wasn’t important what I was doing considering all we did was talk about when we were going to have the test. We moved it from Thursday evening to Wednesday morning, a big upgrade in my book considering I no longer sleep, but do enjoy my evenings. 

Pros: Sewing in class. Not having to spend an atrocious amount of time waiting for my bus.

Cons: Not being able to ask my math teacher a simple question. Not seeing my friends.

Monday

I start at eight on Mondays and usually have to get up at six, that was no longer a necessity. I did not leave bed until half past seven, some people in my class did not leave bed at all. My first lesson was French, and we are doing group projects. We did it all by Google Meets, my new normal. They have now seen my dog, and I accidently did some ASMR when trying to eat some very toasted bread.

 I also had English seminars, which had some extra difficulties, aka my friend’s wifi connection was really bad and she was therefore impossible to understand at times. That would never happen if we were allowed to be in school. 

My two science teachers have very different approaches to watching videos during class. We got to watch a fourteen minutes video during chemistry, she gave us half an hour to finish it and we were supposed to exit our video call. During biology we were not supposed to leave the call, just watch the video on a different tab. That meant that when my teacher thought that a sufficient amount of time had passed he started speaking again. A sufficient amount of time had Not passed, when he started speaking…. That process was repeated another time, his timing did not get better. 

After school the news that all our national tests are cancelled came. That now means that we get to live in even more uncertainty, not knowing what our school is going to do or when the test will be. Because we will need to be tested. Also, really looking forward to my next English lesson, all we have  been doing for the last weeks, and all planned for the weeks to come, is practice for the national test. I feel kind of sorry for my English teacher, all he’s been doing this term is changes in his plans, nothing has gone his way.              

Pros: Not having to get up at six. Eating breakfast during class. Continued with my sewing. Eating lunch in bed.

Cons: Having every lesson start with our teachers telling us how empty school is and how much they miss us, miss you too. Eating lunch in bed.

Tusday                                             

I finally faced timed one of my friends, during class but still. Do you know how ridiculously much easier it is to do French if you have someone to talk to, someone to share ideas and knowledge with. We did more in half an hour this morning than I did during the entire class last Thursday. 

English class was very fun. That was irony. Due to the decision to cancel our national tests the entire lesson was spent planning for futures that might happen. No one knows if the school will have some kind of school wide test, no one knows if we even will be allowed back to school after Easter break when the tests are supposed to happen. I hate living in uncertainty. At least my teacher promised us that we no longer can lower our grades with the tests, only improve them. Honestly, that was really helpful and took a lot of pressure of my back. I only have one criteria that I truly want to improve, so I can now place all of my attention there. Fun side not, one of my classmates used some typical slang in the chat and my teacher, who isn’t that much older than us, was very confused. It was wild. Does older people not know what yeet means?   

Swedish was really nice, we are writing a speech and I wrote something that I was really proud of. Really makes me remember why I enjoy writing in the first place. Sadly that argument was way more serious than my others, that and a positive comment from my teacher really makes me want to make the rest of the speech mach in seriousness. So I guess I’m rewriting it all. I have until Friday, it will be fine.                  

My physic teacher took a different approach than the rest and uploaded a video where he was talking through a video. It was fine, the sound was off sometimes, but over all the lesson was great. The only problem was that I usually works really closely with one of my friend during physics, she always makes the lessons extra fun and I really missed her today.

Despite being at home we managed to have a PE lesson, it was odd. We had to talk a walk and send screenshots of a steep counter to my teacher to prove that we really went out. Walking around where I live is perhaps the most boring thing I have ever been forced to do in school. It’s possible to take around two thousand steps and then it becomes way too repetitive, or I get so deep in to the forest so I become paranoid and think every sound is a bear, or worse, a moose. My teacher made us take five thousand steps. To cure the boredom I went back home and took the dog with me for the last two thousand. It helped somewhat, but instead of walking in the forest we walked on an open field and it was windy. I have not yet recovered from the wind induced coldness and fear I may be developing a cool. It could also just be symptoms of wearing my classeys to long, I don’t understand how people survive without contacts.              

Pros: I vacuumed my floor during a break. I wrote something really fenomenal. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. My cold hands made my father scream. 

Cons: No physic friend:(. Forced walking in unfavourable conditions.   

Although this was technically not a week of school I think this have been the longest I have ever written, so hopefully I will be excused. This has been a nice way for me to work thru the changes in my life, so I will probably continue with it and you will all get more than one week of distance studies described. I expect the texts to shorten when this is no longer new and confusing.

Until next time

Johanna

Wash your hands

I did not want to write this, but apparently it is rather hard to not write about something that is suddenly affecting every part of my life. 

I was in Stockholm when the news of the first confirmed case of corona in Sweden hit. Back then I told a acquaintance that there was no need to panic, that it was only one and that it would soon blow over. I was super wrong. Now all they talk about on the news is the new disease and every time my phone chimes I expect it to be told that the schools are closing and that the government are putting us all in isolation. They should close the schools just so that we no longer have to walk around in tense expectation and nervous uncertainty. I’m tired of having no clue what is going to happen to me in the immediate future. I’m tired of having to plan for to outcomes. I’m tired of getting messages of potential plans and status quo updates of what is happening with the school. But most of all I’m tired of hearing the word “corona” everywhere I go.        

My school cafeteria no longer allows the students to take their food themself, the personal server us instead. Today was the first day implementing this, it was a catastrophe. To be fair to the personal I have to mention that beside being their first day it was most likely also their most busy day. Beside the normal monday queues there was a scheduled breaking test for all second graders adding to the line. Anyway, I stood in line for ten minutes and moved almost  a meter. In the end we had to drop out of the queue and go to the local grocery store to buy lunch in order to make it to the test in time. I ate garlic bread for lunch.

Less than twelve hours after I wrote this they decided to close the schools leaving me with the dilemma about what to do with this text. I have decided to keep the paragraphs above and just add my new thoughts and feelings. Distant studies will be weird, but I have been mentally preparing for days and think that I will manages. The most important thing is to not forget to go outside and exercise, so I will work a lot on that. How knows, maybe this isolation is what I need to start riding again. I have also stocked up on fabrics and art materials so I should good to go for a while.

Speaking of stores, my dad went grocery shopping yesterday and they were out of potatoes. This means that I will go a week without potatoes! That has never before happened to me. Generally I’m not even that much of a potatoes fan, but something about being denied it really upsets me. I will never take you for granted again.

My swedish teacher made me aware of the fact that disease dystopias will probably be the next big thing in literatur (and films?) and I’m sad. I don’t particularly like dystopias to begin with, and those about diseases are just terrible. I have only read one good disease based book, Conversion, and it was certainly not a dystopia. 

On a similar topic, how many people do you think will become so interested in viruses and the immune system after this so that the choses to make that their field of study? Quite a lot, is my guess. I’m happy to have chosen not to study any more biology after this so that I won’t have to try and make my namn known in a sea of qualified persons. 

Viruses, however, are kind of cool, they aren’t even living things and yet they manages to paralyze whole societies. Their destructive power is off the charts. A lump of RNA1 that takes over your cells and make them reproduce2 for you. How did that even become a thing. Some of them don’t even have proper membranes3

This is where I leave you, 

Until next time, remember to wash your hand.

1. Covid-19 has RNA, but there are viruses with DNA as well.    

2. Reproduce is perhaps not the most correct word, but my first language is Swedish, that includes science terms.  

3. Covid-19 has one, that is why soap is a good protection, it repels the lipids in the membrane causing it to open up and the virus “dies” (Technically they can’t die, since they never lived in the first place.)  

Sources on this is a mix of things learned in class and things read on reliable sites on the internet, please do look up more trustworthy sources than me if you want to get the best facts.  

Hopefully interesting rambling

I have apparently developed writers block, a first for me, jippi(what is the correct way to say jippi in English?)! Therefore this jumble may be what you get to read today, congratulation, it may be a complete waste of time. But I read somewhere that the best way to cure writer’s block is to just write, and beside it is kind of nice to just write down exactly what is on my mind. 

Fun fact; due to learning French I always want to add an extra E at the end of my words, even in English, it is very frustrating. It has also rendered me unable to write the word positive in any language on the first try, unless I spend an abnormal amount of time considering exactly how it is spelled. Another bilingual fun fact, in English the norm is to have le, in Swedish it is more normal to have el in a word, that is now something that I mess up in Swedish but not in English. Also, the capitalization in English is really weird.

Apparently that is something that I often get wrong in my texts for school. When I had my development talk with my English teacher he told me that, and then I was going to reply something and started saying “Capitalization…” and then I trailed off because I hadn’t finished my thought. And then he explained capitalization to me, something that I am very well aware of what is is! It was a strange experience, but to be fair towards my teacher I think that he was just confused about me sounding confused, I like to think that he knows that I’m a proficient English speaker, even tho my spelling is abysmal (I had to look up how to spell it:)). I also like to think that I have the best vocabulary out of all my classmates, it would be a shame if all of my reading didn’t pay off.

I am not sure if this exercise has cured my writers block yet, although I feel better. It could be that the quality of my work is worsened by the late hour. After ten on a Tuesday is perhaps not the best time to write. But I have been so busy in school lately that that I have not gotten the time to write. Most of my teachers wanted to be nice and lay their big test before easter so that we wouldn’t have to have all of them at the same time in late spring. Turns out, that if all of the teachers try to be nice it backfires. So now all of the students are super stressed in Marche instead of May, but we are still stressed. Nice thought, bad execution. 

I could of course stop study and live on the hope of schools getting closed due to the virus before any of the test happens. Sadly, I’m way too much of a control freak for that to be a working plan. 

Viruses are fascinating, they aren’t even considered living beings, and they still manages to destroy so much. I have always been interested in viruses and diseases, but living during what could potentially become a pandemic makes it more horrific than interesting. I hope that school doesn’t close, it would be really inconvenient. 

I really have to sleep now, so this is the end to my ramblings, thanks to sticking with me for so long. I apologize for all of the unnecessary commas in this text, my mother has not had a chance to read thru and correct all of my mistakes. Shout out to her for making my writing readable!

Goodnight

(Did you know that the French doesn’t have a word for “good morning”, it is seriously disturbing)

A Celebration of Life

Do you know how many books there are in the world?

According to an google calculation made in 2013 the number is around 129.864.880, but the uncertainty around that number is great, and hundreds of thousands would have been added in the year since.  There is so much to read, so many stories to consume, ideas and things to experience. How can you not be overwhelmed by the possibilities? I fear that I will miss out on a wonderful book just due to me being to set in my ways. There is nothing better than to walk into a library full of opportunities. And it is not just books, there are so many other wonderful forms of art. I believe I have already found my favourite painter and favourite painting.  But what if there is something better, or just equally great, waiting for me in some other museum? The only proper way to find out is to spend hours looking at art in museums. I can’t wait till I get the chance.     

I’m 17 and soon supposed to choose what I want to work with when I’m a proper adult. If I’m to be honest, I want to do everything. I want to study literature and read for a living. I want to study chemistry and discover something new and helpful. I want to win three Nobel Prizes and beat Marie Curie’s record, two would have to be science awards for it to properly count, but the last one could be literature or peace. I want to travel and experience the world. I want to go to a true middle of nowhere and lie under the stars. I want to change the world for the better, to make sure that everyone has a chance to freak out over art. It scares me that I soon will have to start making real choices that will affect my future forever.      

Staring up at a cloud free night sky. There is nothing that makes you question your existence as much as looking up at the stars, realising just how big the world really is. There is something calming with sitting outside alone in the dark looking up at the same stars as our ancestors looked up to. It’s a reminder that not everything changes, which can be sorely needed in this stressful life we all live. Also, it is really pretty.    

I just love being alive so much. There is so much beauty in the world, so much opportunity and sometimes this is a bit overwhelming. I would not want to have it any other way.

Books of December

Not pictured, Don Quixote and Singoalla

Traitors Kiss

Erin Beaty 

This book suffers from I’m-not-like-other girls-syndrome, but other than that it is enjoyable. The main character is at times annoying, she considers herself better than other girls due to not being interested in fashion or marriage. Given that she lives in a fantasy world where matchmaking is everything this do make her odd. Beside the matchmaking part of the story it is quite an ordinary YA fantasy. That doesn’t make it bad, it was a fun read, but it is not something that I’m going to remember. Side note, I appreciate that the author fulfill basically all american stereotypes.  

Everything Everything 

Nicola Yoon

This book was fine. It wasn’t out of the ordinary good, but it wasn’t bad either. I mostly read it because I knew a lot of people did in fact like it, it was even made into a movie, I haven’t watched it. I found the whole story to be quite tragic and I felt a bit unsatisfied with the ending. I think that Maddy (the main character) deserved a better fait that the one her mother gave her and that the author could have written more about how Maddy adjusted to normal life. Also, I hate the name Oliver, especially when called Olly. That is the name of The Boy, who is perhaps the most stereotypical teenage love interest. A bit of a bad boy, always dressed in black, fit and good at some form of athletics (parkour in this case). Overall, this book is a fun and easy read, and it gets kudos for having a main character of colour (yay for inclusivity), which is sadly still a rarity everywhere.

The sun is also a star   

Nicola Yoon 

Her second book was much better that her first (Everything, Everything). This one managed to be both a good YA romance and tackle difficult subjects in a very education way. She writes about racism, both conscious and unconscious, pressure from parents, fear of the future and deportation. Deportation is and always will be an awful thing, it is not fair to uproot someone from their home. I liked how Yoon wrote short chapters from supporting characters POV, it made them more humane and easier to understand. It also added something extra to the storytelling. This book managed to be both fantastical and realistic, something that is not an easy feat. It’s fun, it’s relevant and it’s good. Definitely a worthy read. 
  

All the bright places

Jennifer Niven

I cried when reading the ending, but then I always cry when someone dies. It is a curse, never a blessing. The book takes up some more important and difficult subjects, that seems to have become an accidental theme of my YA books (I did manage read one that was so bad I won revive it, there is nothing to say). Instead of discussing racism, Niven writes about mental health, a subject that is a bit more relevant for my life. The story is sweet until it isn’t, and then it is tragic. It’s well written and probably a good read for people that have no knowledge/experience with mental difficulties. That is not me, and therefore the message of the book felt a bit irrelevant to me, I already know that mental health improves if you talk about it. Nevertheless, a good read                

Don Quixote

Miguel Cervantes 

Somehow it took me longer to read these 900 pages than the 900 pages of torture that was Ulysses. I blame November on it. The book was delightful, though I prefered part one over part two. Part one was lighthearted and fun, Don Quixote interacted with many different characters with fun stories to tell. And while it did get a bit annoying to have all the female characters either described as the most beautiful person in the world or ugly as hell, it was still fun to read. Cervantes wrote what was at the time a rather forward thinking piece, and parts of what he wrote is still very much relevant. Due to the forward thinking it was almost comical when he casually threw in some rasisme in the text, it was very clashing. The second part of the book was a worse read. Not due to a decline in writing skill, but due to Don Quixote and Sanso Pancha being ridiculed by the nobility. Cervantes probably wrote it that way in order to chritesise the upper class, the one group of people that constantly needs to be chritesised, but that does not mean that it’s fun to read about about a genuinely nice character getting mocked and humiliated.  

Singoalla 

Viktor Rydberg

I read this book for school, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it. Actually, that is a lie, the book was so short and easy read that I probably would have finished it. Still wouldn’t have enjoyed it. The thing about this book is that I can’t pinpoint what it is that make me not like it. The concept is fine, the storytelling is okey, the characters are average, there is just something about the composition that does not work for me. Beside not enjoying the book itself I really don’t like the fact that Rydberg writes about the Romani in a discriminatory way. Rydberg portrays the Romani as thieving, uncivilized and exotic, all of that is just harmful stereotypes that should be stopped. If you want to write about a people that faces discrimination then the least you can do is to reachers and not spread future lies. Also, I would have liked it more if Erland had died in the end.                        

Write for Rights

The 13th of December, 2019

Dear Mr. Raisi, 

May I draw your attention to the urgent case of Yasaman Aryani. She was arrested on the 10th of April 2019 after a peaceful protest during the international Women’s day (Amnesty, 2019a). She was taken to an unknown location and not allowed to contact her family until five days later (Amnesty, 2019b). In total she was held in solitary confinement for nine days. During those days the security forces threatened to arrest the rest of her family, if she did not come out in public and express remorse for her actions. In the end she was sentenced to 16 years in prison and is currently incarnated in the Evin Prison (Amnesty, 2019a). The Evin Prison is notorious for keeping prisoners in solitary confinement and denying them access to their lawyers (Hislop, 2019, october). So what did she do to get this cruel treatment? She took off her headscarf. 

Aryani was detained for expressing her opinions, that the Iranian government should not be allowed to dictate what people wear. She expressed her believes in the most peaceful of ways, she took her scarf off and handed out flowers. By arresting her, the Iranian government has violated both articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948). 

Article 19 states that every human has the right to express their opinions (UN, 1948). Aryani was doing that, by protesting against Iran forces women to cover their hair according to Islamic tradition. She was using that right to protest the violation of another Human Right, namely the right to freedom of religion, article 18. By arresting her, Iran has infringed on her right to opinion while she proteste the violation of religious freedom. Both religious freedom and freedom of speech encourage creativity, by stifling the rights you cripple people’s imagination. A country without creativity makes no forward steps, neither in society nor science.        

Unlike silencing someone for expressing their beliefs, arresting a person is not a violation against Human Rights, but the way they are treated in arrest can be. According to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights everyone is entitled to a fair trial (UN, 1948), the one Yasaman Aryani had was anything but that. Being threatened and having your family threatened is not something considered fair, rather it is inhuman. Using intimidation as a way to force a confession is nothing but disgraceful. Besides it is compromising the integrity of your Rule of Law, it undermines Iran’s place in world politics. No one wants to negotiate with a country that does not endorse the legal system, it makes you seem untrustworthy and trust is the first step for a successful partnership.   

While I do understand that she broke one of your laws by removing her headscarf, the fact remains that you violate her Human Rights by making her wear one in the first place. In fact you violate the entire populations’ right to religious freedom with the Sharia laws (Globalis, 2016). They are the laws dictated by Islam, you are therefore forcing an entire population to abide by a religion that they have perhaps not chosen.

Yasaman Aryani was fortunate enough to be selected by Amnesty International’s write for right campaign. This means that she and Iran will get a lot of publicity in the following months. In Aryani’s case it is a good thing, for you Mr. Raisi, not so much. All of the negative attention can lead to a lot of stigmatization about Iran. I can already hear my classmates discussing Iran and Islam, and not in a good way. That is not how it should be, and hopefully you do not want it that way either. Iran has the potential to be a great country, you even signed the declaration in 1945, a whole year before Sweden did (UN, 1945). It is time to show everyone what a great country you can be, you just have to stop fearing changes.    

In conclusion, Yasaman Aryani was wrongly arrested and given an unfairly long sentence. The treatment she received while arrested was barbaric. Making people follow a religion they do not want too is a violation against the Human Rights. I urge you to release Yasaman Aryani immediately and unconditionally. Until the day she is a free woman I will worry for her safety, and I will continue to advocate for her release. Yasaman and her family deserves to live in freedom, without the fear of being persecuted or harassed.                            

Yours sincerely, 

Johanna Torstensson 

Here is a link for signing the petition for her release.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/w4r-2019-iran-yasamin-aryani/

Reference list

Amnesty. (2019a). 16-years prison term for speaking up for women’s rights. Retrieved   2019-11-12 from   

Click to access Iran-Case-Card-min.pdf

Amnesty. (2019b). Iran: Release women’s rights defenders detained for peacefully protesting against forced veiling. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from  

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/04/iran-release-womens-rights-defenders-detained-for-peacefully-protesting-against-forced-veiling/

Globalis. (2016). Iran. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from 

https://www.globalis.se/Laender/Iran

Hislop, M. (2019, October).Yasaman Aryani took off her headscarf & was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Women’s Agenda. Available at  

UN. (1945). Growth in United Nations membership, 1945-present. Retrieved 2019-12-09 from 

https://www.un.org/en/sections/member-states/growth-united-nations-membership-1945-present/index.html

UN. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved 2019-11-12 from 

https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/