16 books of 2016

16 books, 4 languages, 1 year. 2016 felt like a good reading year. My plan is to read through all the books in my bookcase and eventually, only keep the ones I love. It’s an ambitious plan, since I buy books all the time, both in print and e-book, making much list all the more longer. Here’s a review of everything I read during the past 12 months.

The 13th passenger

Yannis Maris

I don’t usually read non-fiction books, but when I do, it’s usually crime novels. I love a good mystery. This one is from a famous Greek writer, whose books became movies and TV series. It kept me guessing til the very end.

How to be Parisian wherever you are

Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan,
Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas

This book was everywhere on Instagram for a while and I thought I’d give it a chance, but it was actually not my kind of book. Way too superficial. Nobody thinks like that, not in Paris, not anywhere.

The festival of insignificance

Milan Kundera

I’m not a huge fan of Kundera, but I liked this book. I struggled finishing it and I didn’t find it that interesting. It wouldn’t be my first choice. Some loved it, some hated it. I was somewhere in the middle. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, just meh.

40 days of dating

Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman

You can find all content from this book online here, but be prepared to read it all at once. Do they finally get together? It was a real experiment between two people, that I would be too scared to try for myself. Also, I admire Jessica Walsh.

The lady from Zagreb

Philip Kerr

So, crime novels are my thing. This one though was a bad one. Half the book was way too long descriptions of things that had absolutely no point. The plot was good, but edit down man. Half the pages are filler. The end was good though and I didn’t expect it, so I’ll give him that.

Doppler

Erlend Loe

It all began in Trondheim’s theater last May, or was it June? I can’t really remember. I went to see Doppler as a theatrical play, having no idea about the book and I was blown away. It was funny and effortless, so much that I decided to read the book, which, of course, I loved. I’ve already bought the next two books in the series and can’t wait to find out what happens to Mr. Doppler next. Did I mention this was in Norwegian?

You are not the only one playing. There are also others!

Nikos Sideris

Moving onto some easy psychology. Some rules on how to properly behave around other people. The first in a long series of psychology books, that you’re probably going to read about next year. I wasn’t into fast psychology (this is not the proper psychology book) or self-improvement books, but why not?

Naive Super

Erlend Loe

After falling in love with Loe’s novel, I decided to read something more from him. I went for Naive Super, a weird book on the feeling of emptiness that many people get as young adults. I’ve never felt empty, but now I can understand how other people may feel.

Stories to think about

Jorge Bucay

No, no, no. I don’t like Bucay (gagging sound). I hate him to be honest. NO. Note: This was the book I gave to a guy I was flirting. Later on, I decided I didn’t hate him that much and asked him not to pass it on to someone else, preferably someone he hates.

The basic laws of human stupidity

Carlo M. Cipolla

Hands down the book I recommended more this year. Most of my friends read it (even some that don’t like reading books) and loved it, as much as I did. So well written, it can be read in an hour. If you’re just going to read one book in 2017, make it this one.

Forty tales from the afterlives

David Eagleman

Apparently, I hate collections of stories. Out of the forty tales, I only liked one. The rest I found boring, which I didn’t expect, considering that the writer is a neuroscientist. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but if you read it, come back and I’ll tell you about the story I liked.

The pencil factory

Soti Triantafyllou

I started reading this book just because it was sitting on my bookcase for a few months and after the first few pages, I just couldn’t put it down. It was fast paced, moving around different cities and generations. I shouldn’t have judged it by its cover, or its title for that matter.

 

Zazie in the metro

Raymond Queneau

A French book, that’s one of the first books I bought myself, over 15 years ago. And never read. I loved it. Think about a girl, whose uncle is gay, or is he? The whole book takes place in Paris, where Zazie can’t wait to ride the metro. Unbelievably well written and highly recommended. Also, that one I read in French. What took me so long?

Harry Potter and the cursed child

J.K. Rowling

A different book from the Harry Potter series, written as a theatrical play (how on earth are they changing scenes so fast?!), it made me miss Rowling’s writing in the rest of the series. I did like the plot, however… Oh, and I read it on a flight. Actually, half a flight. That fast.

Seven brief lessons on physics

Carlo Rovelli

A physics book for the curious reader who knows nothing about physics. It’s short and very easy to read, but will let you understand how breakthroughs happen in science. I read it as researcher and a teacher and wished that one day I’ll be able to write in such a compelling way about my field.

Human happiness

Blaise Pascal

Going on with some hardcore philosophy, a mathematician’s thoughts on happiness and God. It’s a good one if, like me, you’re struggling with religion. I bought it in London, in a museum’s gift shop, just because I couldn’t resist the cover. Now I want the rest of the series.

ps. Since I loved reading so many (for me at least) books in 2016, I’ll continue in 2017 with more books. Maybe 17, but who knows?

The last of Portugal

This is my last post from my trip to Portugal (finally!!) and it couldn’t be something other than the Atlantic. I don’t know why I felt I had to go to the ocean. I’ve spent so many years of my life by the sea, but it still excites me the same way. The water was too cold for me to take a dive and I am not the one to sunbathe, but I had a coffee and dipped my toes in the water. It was beautiful.

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10 things that made me happy: 12│2016

The first week of the year is already gone, today is my name day and I’m so fucking late. I realized this morning that I had totally forgotten about all the amazing things that happened this December. It’s a good thing I guess I was too busy living. Time to take a break (a break is always a good idea) to write some happy things down. In December, too many Christmas dinners happened in Trondheim and way too much Christmas shopping. We planned a vacation up in the Greek mountains, which was the highlight of the month. I spent the last part of the month in Greece, where I immediately came down with the flu. Christmas day in bed with high fever may not have been the best, but I was way too happy to even care. Then, we drove up to Pilio (a mountain in Greece, which is a very popular destination for winter vacations), stayed at an AirBnb and enjoyed some snow, lots of good food and each other. It was the best way to end 2016. May 2017 be a good one. We’ll do it ourselves anyway. Without further ado, here are the happy things of December.

– Have a cold and someone to take care of you

– Be impulsive and not regret it afterwards

– That Trondheim is a village and you end up seeing the same people ALL THE TIME

– People with genuine smiles (no matter what)

– When someone tricks me into eating Nutella that I pretend I don’t like and haven’t eaten in many years

– When I wake up in Greece and there’s snow outside

– Receive books as presents

Sell my first drawing

– Get the window seat on a plane (or a train or the bus)

Hugs and neck kisses

How was your December?

ps. In December, I realized the life-changing power of “So what?” as a response to most of our everyday thoughts and troubles. You have to try it!

New Year’s Resolutions 2017

Happy New Year! 2016 was not the best one for me and I was so glad to start 2017. This year I’ll try to run a half marathon (again) and try to get that PhD I’ve been working on for so long. Here’s my overview of last year’s goals and my plans for the new one that just began.

Last Year’s Resolutions

Find my signature dishes.
Meat and spinach or butternut squah lazagna, fennel seed and parmezan chichen breasts with a light salad, pasta with basil homemade tomato sauce or pesto, omellette, apple/fruit crisp, fruit salad and chocolate brownies. Success.

Be present.
I was present, but not always. I still spend way too much time not being present. Fail.

Work smarter, not harder.
Actually the secret is to have a specific task list of what needs to be done when and follow it through. Also, I figured out that when I’m less productive, I should stop working alltogether and spend some time meditating or doing something else. It’s my brain’s way of telling me I need a break. Success.

Be punctual.
I was punctual 50% of the time. Need to try more, so fail.

Have (a moderate amount of) fun.
I had a more than moderate amount of fun and I’m quite happy about it. Success.

Be kind and gentle to myself. Accept myself.
In 2016, I went from my 2015 bossy self to someone who is “not sweet enough”. Then I stopped caring alltogether. It became a bit too much to become who others wanted me to be, so I stopped trying an I began accepting. I’ve been much better at it. I notice that I’m not justifying my choices anymore and I don’t feel the need to be accepted by anyone. Success (but don’t be surprised if you see this reappearing in next year’s resolutions).

This year’s resolutions

Become better in small talk. Beat the awkward silence. And for the love of Gods, become better at flirting.

Finish that PhD. Keep working smarter, not harder. No comments.

Be present and spend quality time with myself. I need more structure in my me-time. There are many things I like to do when I’m on my own and the first one seems to be waste time. But I’m much happier when I meditate, read a book, take a walk or take some good care of myself (I mean putting on body lotion and making my hair look nice, people).

Read 17 in 2017. I read 16 in 2016 and one of my goals for 2017 is to read through the books I own, donate the books I don’t want to read again or that I don’t like*

Be kind and gentle to myself. Accept myself. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Even though I’m doing a good job in general, sometimes I’m beating myself over things. As part of this resolution, I also want to not let myself get affect by other people’s mood or struggles. It’s great to be compassionate and understading, but it’s another thing to take someone else’s struggle and make it your own. That goes as well with other people’s stress. People feel better when they convey their own stress to others (somehow this is very applicable to bosses), but it is our own choice to accept it or be unaffected by it (and still do what we have to do but remain calm).

Be punctual. Is this the year I beat this beast?

Have fun. Or keep having fun, as much as needed and whenever needed.

your-list-2016

* I tend to steal books from other people’s bookcases, especially people I get romantically involved with. I’ve been also known to successfully flirt by giving one of the 16 books of 2016 to a guy I really liked instead of asking for his phone.

Christmas as an expat

It’s my fifth year of coming back home for Christmas and even though I’ve never spent Christmas day in Trondheim, I’ve lived here long enough to experience true Norwegian Christmas. Now, it’s all a mix in my mind, Greek and Norwegian traditions.

On celebration

Celebration, for me, is time spent with loved ones, making delicious food late at night, putting on a sparkly dress, fancy make up and high heels, drinking something special and making super loving toasts.

On Norwegian Christmas traditions

My favorite Norwegian Christmas traditions are julebord, baking gingerbread cookies and advent calendars. These are things that I never used to do in Greece. And while I still love, unboxing Christmas decorations, putting up a Christmas tree and singing Christmas songs while cooking dinner, these new traditions have gained a soft spot in my heart. Another good one is hanging Christmas stars on the windows. They make the whole country look festive.

On the one tradition I want to bring
to my own family’s Christmas celebration

My favorite part from a true Norwegian celebration is the part where after dinner, someone thanks for the food. The practice of giving a “takk for mat” (thanks for the food) speech is not something we do in my family, but it’s such a loving tradition. Acknowledging all the hard work that is involved in preparing a festive dinner (or any dinner for that matter) is the simplest way to show some love.

Oh, soon it’s Christmas once more…

Trondheim’s Christmas market

These are the darkest days of the year. With four and a half hour days and the weather alternating between snow and rain, we need all the coziness we can get here in Trondheim. This is why we need as many fairy lights we can get and the best Christmas market, not too big or too small, cozy and always filled with people.

Every year, I find some time to scroll through the food tent and taste whatever each seller has to offer. Then, I buy what has become my traditional Christmas butter, as a gift to my mother, to eat with flatbread (a traditional Norwegian bread) and jam, along with chocolate and confections. I love to take photos of everything that’s going on (even though winter light is horrible). In the end, I treat myself to some hot chocolate at Kafelavvo, while trying to breathe through all the smoke. If there’s one thing to love about Christmas in central Europe, Christmas markets must be it.

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