Thursday, February 17, 2011

There was a sale and I'm a woman.

Well actually, I did not buy all of these books at this year's book sale. Usually I buy more, but that's just because the Swedish book sales are actually cheap...

Speaking of Sweden, I visited a bookstore with my boyfriend the other day, and we went by the Swedish corner. There's always lots of Swedish crime novels in Norwegian bookstores, but this particular one also has a table with a sign saying "Swedish paperbacks are extremely cheap". And with paperbacks that cost 75NOK instead of the usual 100NOK, I guess that's true. For me, that's still a lot of money for a paperback. My boyfriend snatched up a book, went and paid for it and told me it was about me. It's the book in the picture that says "Duktighetsfällan", with a mirror on it. "Duktig" is one of those Swedish words that I always have some trouble translating; it's both "good" (as in "Good boy!"), "skillful", "dutiful"... lots of things! "Fälla" is much easier: trap. "The trap of being too good." The book deals with the problem of burning yourself out doing too many things, a problem that mostly affects women in today's Sweden and that leads to some only being able to work for seven or eight years before becoming permanently ill. It's about perfectionism and high demands. Even though I don't think all of it really applies to me, I do recognize many things, like for example how all the women in the book (patients) get annoyed by how little their boyfriends do, at how they can just exist. There are actually two sorts of "duktighetsfällor", the female kind and the male kind. The female kind is more about pleasing everyone, never saying no and neglecting yourself until it makes you break down. (Boring.) The male variant, however, is about measuring worth in achievement (you are what you achieve), and never being satisfied with the results - a sort of perfectionism that women are taking over. Quite appropriately, everyone I know who fits this description are women. But I've only read half the book so far, so I'm no expert yet.

During our three hours in Kiel on Tuesday, I naturally had to visit a bookstore. Again, my boyfriend just went and picked up a book that he liked the look of, Mängelexemplar by Sarah Kuttner, and suggested I get it. And I did, because I found the synopsis appropriate.

"Karo lebt schnell und flexibel. Sie ist das Musterexemplar unserer Zeit: intelligent, selbstironisch und liebenswert. Als sie ihren Job verliert, ein paar falsche Freunde aussortiert und mutig ihre feige Beziehung beendet, verliert sie auf einmal den Boden under den Füssen. Plötzlich ist die Angst da."

I love things that have something to do with anxiety!

Let's move on to my book sale shopping! I never buy hardcover books, simply because they are ridiculously expensive and there's always a paperback that's cheaper. But when there's a sale... Funnily enough, the last time I bought hardcover books was when my boyfriend entered a book club and got three books for free. I got (yes it was more like me joining the club) Per Petterson's Jeg forbanner tidens elv (I curse the river of time), Magda Szabó's The Door, and another book. What did I get this time? Per Petterson's Ut og stjæle hester (Out Stealing Horses) and Magda Szabó's The Deer! What a coincidence. I can't wait to read some more Szabó. I got a third book as well, perhaps the most spoken about Norwegian book in many years, after Ut og stjæle hester I guess. Min kamp by Knausgård. There are six or so books in this series, and everyone reads them. There's been lots of scandal around them, because they are based on the author's real life - and he hasn't gone too very much trouble to dissimulate the other characters in the book. It will be fun to finally read it.

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