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January Wrap-up

In January I read seven books, which I considered fine since I somehow had a dip in my reading inspiration. The books were:

  • The Discipline of Desire by Ryan Holiday (NF)

  • From IX to V. Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World by Vicki León (NF)

  • Romarrikets undergång by Dag Sebastian Ahlander (NF)

  • Doctor Copernicus by John Banville

  • Aldermans arvinge by Gabriella Håkansson

  • Tankar efter en pandemi - och lärdomarna inför nästa by Anders Tegnell (NF)

  • A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr

Four of them were nonfiction and three fiction. The nonfiction mostly related to the Roman Empire, leading me into the Stoics. The other nonfiction is Anders Tegnell's book about the pandemic. He was the face outside from the Public Health Authority and became world known, mostly because Sweden took another way than most other countries. Very interesting and a review will follow.

Of the fiction books Banville and Håkansson will come up in another post I am preparing (even the posts are slow these days). Watching a Swedish evening program there was a review of J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country which has been translated into Swedish (finally one could say). A wonderful book to read, especially when you feel a little bit down, the world seems to going to pieces and turbulences everywhere.

Tom Birkin, A World War I veteran is employed to uncover a mural in a village church in Yorkshire. He suffers from PTSD after his experiences in the trenches. His wife has left him for another man and his life is somewhat low. There is a sense of loneliness as he arrives at the village where he sees no-one. His first meeting with the vicar is strained and he spends his first night in the bell tower of the church in a somewhat depressed mode.

Soon he befriends another veteran who has been hired to look for a grave outside the churchyard walls. In the old days not everyone was allowed to be buried inside the walls. There is a little bit of mystery there. As the days pass by he befriends other people in the village and becomes involved in village matters. He is fascinated by his work and the mural he discovers under the whitewashed ceiling.

The novella deals with the times after a war when people have lost their beliefs, melancholy and nostalgia is prevalent. As he uncovers the mural and becomes part of the small world around him he is healing from his wounds. The narrator writes the novel many years later and looks back at those days which he still remembers like the best months of his life. It is a slow, meditative novella, but fascinating and you go through it with a sense of calmness, people caring for each other, and another pace of life. Maybe that is what we need sometimes.

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