Cheers to a holiday full of Norwegian Christmas streaming!

In the last few years, Norway during wintertime has become a popular setting for Christmas movies. If watching Christmas movies is on your list of favorite Christmas activities or you just want to armchair travel to Norway for some wintery, festive fun, then there’s a whole list of options to explore. Have you already seen any of these?


Christmas As Usual (Netflix Film, Released Dec. 6, 2023)

This is a new romantic comedy from Norway inspired by the true love story of the writer/director’s sister. Netflix’s description: To celebrate their engagement, Thea takes Jashan home — but his Indian roots and her Norwegian traditions clash in a chaotic Christmas. The story was filmed from February to March 2023 in and around Rauland, a rural area in Southern Norway.

 

My Norwegian Holiday (Hallmark Channel Movie, Premiered Dec. 1, 2023)

Hallmark’s description: JJ, grieving the loss of her grandmother and seeking dissertation inspiration, stumbles upon an unexpected holiday destiny. Meeting Henrik, a Norwegian from Bergen, their connection deepens when he discovers she has a troll figurine from his hometown. To explore the troll’s history and her grandmother’s ties, JJ agrees to join Henrik on a journey to Norway. In Bergen, they’re drawn into Henrik’s family Christmas and wedding traditions, with his sister’s wedding the day before Christmas Eve. JJ embarks on a holiday adventure, uncovering the troll’s origins and finding her own path to healing, love and family.

Home for Christmas (Netflix Original Series, 2 Seasons, 2020 & 2021)

I really enjoyed both seasons of this one! It’s a fun and atmospheric rom-com set in a Christmasy, winter wonderland in Norway. (It’s a bit raunchy at times, so beware if watching with young children.) Frustrated by all her friends being part of couples and families and her family constantly commenting on her single status, Johanna rashly and falsely announces at a family dinner on the first Sunday of Advent that she has a boyfriend. Now she has to find one to introduce on Christmas Eve.

A Storm for Christmas (Netflix Limited Series, 2022)

I was hoping for a third season of Home for Christmas, but instead came a spin-off of sorts with this limited series. The main character and her father from Home for Christmas return but in totally different roles. The story takes place at the airport in Oslo. Per Netflix’s description, “Destinies collide when extreme weather traps travelers and workers at an airport, forcing them to spend the final hours leading up to Christmas together.” I enjoyed this one as well.

Three Wishes for Cinderella (2021) (Available through Amazon Prime)

Apparently, it’s a Christmas tradition for many Norwegians to watch the Norwegian dubbed version (one voice for all characters!) of the 1973 Czech movie Three Wishes for Cinderella (entire film in Norwegian available on YouTube). In 2021, an updated Norwegian retelling was made by director Cecilie A. Mosli. The movie features spectacular shots of Norwegian winterscapes and architecture as well as glimpses of Norwegian culture. When Cinderella meets the Prince in the woods, they feel immediately attracted to each other, but he is expected to find a suitable bride at the next royal ball. Equipped with three magical acorns, Cinderella decides to determine her own fate.

The Crossing: Flukten over grensen (Released 2020, available through Kanopy)

This is not a Christmas movie, but it takes place during December during Christmas time. It tells the story of the adventurous 10-year-old Gerda and her brother Otto, whose parents are in the Norwegian resistance movement during the Second World War. One day, just before Christmas in 1942, Gerda and Otto’s parents are arrested, leaving the siblings on their own. Following the arrest, they discover two Jewish children, Sarah and Daniel, hidden in a secret cupboard in their basement at home. It is now up to Gerda and Otto to finish what their parents started: To help Sarah and Daniel flee from the Nazis, cross the border to neutral Sweden, and reunite them with their parents. Written by Maja Lunde and directed by Johanne Helgeland.

Journey to the Christmas Star (2012) (Available through Amazon Prime Video)

This is a remake directed by Nils Gaup, a Sámi film director from Norway, of the 1976 classic with Hanne Krogh. In this Norwegian fairy tale dubbed in English, a courageous girl sets out on a hazardous journey to find the Christmas Star in order to free the kingdom from a curse and bring back a long lost princess, but some mighty foes try to stop her.

Norwegian Television Julekalender: Snøfall (NRK, Premiered Dec. 1)

Does your family understand Norwegian? If so, then watch this year’s Norwegian julekalender, a TV series doled out daily in 24 short episodes leading up to Christmas. Start with Season 1 first released in 2016: “A wonderland full of magic and love. An orphan girl in a sad world. A secret portal separates them. Can Selma find the way?” Or join with Season 2 releasing this year: “Noah is 10 years old and has a very important Christmas wish, but what if the letter to Santa doesn’t arrive?” Interested in more Norwegian Christmas series? See a list of shows year for year starting with 1979 when the tradition first started.


I look forward to watching both of the new releases this holiday season. What will you watch? Are there other Norwegian Christmas films and series that I missed that should be on this list?

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (November 2023)

This past month, the quantity of books was lower than I had hoped (I try to aim for at least 4 books a month) but the quality of the reading experiences certainly exceeded expectations. They were all extremely enjoyable books. I continue to slowly check off unread Book of the Month selections, which is an ongoing reading goal. Unfortunately, my Nordic Literature Reading Challenge has fallen off my radar as I’ve pursued the Diversity Across Genres and Book Voyage: Read Around the World reading challenges. I will have to rethink that one for next year.

What have you been reading lately?


The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson (2023) 📖🎧

This book takes place in the 1950s in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, and follows two young Black women in separate storylines that converge over time. High school student Ruby hopes to be the first in her family to attend college through a program for young, promising Black students. Eleanor is at Howard University thanks to sacrifices by her working class family. Both women fall in love with men which threatens their planned futures and leads to some hard choices. I loved the insight into the time and place of the stories, much of it unfamiliar to me. In particular, it was fascinating and eye-opening to read about DC’s elite wealthy Black community. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Survivors by Jane Harper (2021) 📖

This book was my first introduction to Jane Harper as well as to Tasmania, an island state of Australia. The story takes place in a small fictional seaside town very popular with tourists during the summer season, but otherwise very quiet. At the heart of the book are some dangerous ocean caves and a tragedy that happened 12 years ago and still haunts the locals, especially when a visitor to the area is found dead. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Nothing to See Here (2019) by Kevin Wilson 🎧
Narrated by Marin Ireland

I’ve always been turned off by the cover and the premise of kids spontaneously combusting. When it was selected as a book club pick at work, I decided to listen to it. Lillian, a scholarship student, and Madison, from a wealthy family, were best friends at boarding school until a scandal separated them. Years later Madison needs Lillian’s help taking care of her 10 year old step-kids who erupt into flames when agitated. The story is from Lillian’s perspective. I loved her personality and relationship with the kids. The narration was fabulous, the delivery and tone of the narrator were spot on. Those of us who listened to it, seemed to enjoy it much more than those who read it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

December 2023: Nordic Events, Christmas Edition

Happy December and all that this month brings! This month I share both virtual events available to all and a few special events happening in the Los Angeles area that might be of interest to local readers.

Last month I shared the news of the arrival of Thomas Dambo TROLLS: Save the Humans to South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and since then, I’ve seen them for myself and the experience didn’t disappoint. Danish artist Thomas Dambo is considered the world’s leading recycle artist and is known internationally for his larger-than-life, folklore-inspired, whimsical troll sculptures made from reclaimed materials. I’ve been fascinated by Dambo’s work found around the world and was thrilled to be able to see it for myself now here in Southern California. I highly recommend a visit to see the collection of trolls on display through January 14, 2024.

 

On Saturday, December 2, the SWEA Los Angeles Christmas Fair returns after a few years’ hiatus, this time to Santa Monica, to celebrate Swedish heritage and Swedish food. Highlights include a diverse selection of Swedish vendors, Santa Claus ready to spread festive joy and listen to holiday wishes, Saint Lucia Celebrations, and Swedish delicacies such as Swedish pancakes, glögg, and baked goods.

The Norwegian Church in San Pedro hosts many Christmas events this time of year, the first of which is their annual Christmas Luncheon on Tuesday, December 5 (registration required). Visit their Facebook page for updates on Christmas events.

And finally, have you marked your calendars for the 25th anniversary of the Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA? The festival will be back at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for two weekends in January 2024 (January 13 & 14 and 20 & 21) with films from Scandinavia and their Nordic neighbors. Details about the programming will be released soon.

Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: December 2023 to see details about book selections and meeting dates for this month and into the new year.

What’s on your calendar for December?


Norwegian Television Julekalender: Snøfall (Premieres December 1)

Does your family understand Norwegian? Tune in to this Norwegian julekalender, a TV series doled out daily in 24 short episodes leading up to Christmas. Start with Season 1: “A wonderland full of magic and love. An orphan girl in a sad world. A secret portal separates them. Can Selma find the way?” Or jump ahead to Season 2: “Noah is 10 years old and has a very important Christmas wish, but what if the letter to Santa doesn’t arrive?”

Hallmark Christmas Movie: My Norwegian Holiday (Premieres December 1)

Hallmark Channel’s original Christmas movie My Norwegian Holiday premieres December 1. Grieving her grandmother’s death, JJ seeks dissertation inspiration. Henrik, drawn to her troll figurine, invites her to Bergen, Norway, to trace its origins.

Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program Winter Registration Opens (December 1)

Registration for Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program for the next trimester of classes (January – March 2024) is now ope. Each trimester, they offer a range of Norwegian classes for beginning learners to those that are more advanced, many of them online. Culture classes are designed to expand learners’ knowledge of traditional and contemporary Norwegian culture.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (Friday & Saturday, Dec. 1 & 2)

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market returns Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2, on Facebook. Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location. Join the Virtual Holiday Market to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are “Going” or “Interested” in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways and shop Nordic by visiting or contacting the businesses. For more information, visit their website.

Exploring Møre og Romsdal Style Rosemaling (Sunday, Dec. 3, 1:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Come learn about the various examples of rosemaling from the area known as Mǿre og Romsdal Fylke (County) in Western Norway! Join Nancy Odalen, Vesterheim Gold Medalist and a recipient of one of the 2022-2023 Folk Art Residency grants, for a lively discussion about the rosemaling that was created within the county of Mǿre og Romsdal. Odalen will have examples from the Vesterheim Collection and from the museum in Romsdal.

A Swedish Meatball Dinner with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Dec. 7, 1:00 p.m. CT)

A Swedish meatball dinner ticks every box for a winter meal: cozy and comforting, balanced and delicious! Join Kristi Bissell of the True North Kitchen blog for an afternoon demonstration of her dream meatball dinner menu – Swedish meatballs with a creamy gravy and lingonberries, an elegant celery root puree, and essential pickled cucumbers. Plus, learn the secrets of Kristi’s truly satisfying vegetarian meatball recipe, too! Whether you tackle the whole menu at once, or pull just a few of the recipes straight to your Christmas smörgåsbord, these are classic, fail safe recipes that will impress your loved ones this holiday season.

Norwegian Christmas Cookies Workshop (Saturday, Dec. 9, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Join Sunny Gandara of Arctic Grub to bake some of the most popular Norwegian Christmas cookies and to learn about the cookie evolution in Norway from the old times until today. Get your apron on and get in the Christmas spirit with this baking class! (And yes, you’ll be making krumkaker!) After registering and a few days ahead of the class, you will receive an email with the recipes so you can prepare if you’d like to bake along.

Online Cooking Class: Holiday Food (Monday, Dec. 11, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Join the Swedish American Museum for an online cooking class to learn how to make holiday food. You will receive the recipe in advance. You can then either cook alongside or watch and try later. This is an interactive Zoom so you will be able to ask questions.

Family Book Adventure: Now That Night is Near by Astrid Lindgren (Register by Dec. 16)

Beginning January 1 and available all month, join Vesterheim for this family-fun reading and outdoor adventure! Your family can be any combination of folks as long as there’s at least one adult to help navigate the online portion. Decorah schools librarian Shannon Horton will get you reading, thinking, creating, and even up and moving – indoors and out! A kit delivered right to your home contains supplies for book-reading, a fun craft, a snack, and a scavenger-hunt-type adventure.

Knit a Norwegian-Inspired Hat (Four Saturdays, January 6-27, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT)

Register by December 21 to join this online knitting class for intermediate knitters. Join Kate Running to learn how to work with two colors of yarn to make this patterned hat. Work with a Nordic-inspired motif and learn the cultural tradition of stranded knitting. Intermediate level, no colorwork experience necessary. Yarn is provided.  Students may choose to provide their own yarn to swap out with the yarn that is sent in the kit. A kit of materials including Strikkegarn yarn (a $40 value included in the cost of registration) will be shipped to your home. Enrollment Deadline: December 21.

Knitting Selbu Mittens (Three Sundays, January 7-21, 12:00-1:30 p.m. CT)

Register by December 21 to join this online knitting class for intermediate knitters. Dating back to 1857, Selbu mittens are one of the most iconic Norwegian garments. They have existed as currency, as souvenirs, and as a source of financial independence for women who had few options. In this intermediate knitting class, you will make a pair of Selbu mittens with live demonstrations as well as a prerecorded tutorial to reference on your own time. The instructor will discuss history, tips and tricks, and easy modifications as you knit a pattern inspired by pieces in the Vesterheim collection.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

 What I’ve Been Reading Lately (October 2023)

This was such an interesting diverse reading month for me which feels so satisfying. Of the four books I read, they were all different genres (autobiographical novel, crime thriller/supernatural horror, short story collection, and memoir). Two of them were books in translation (from France and Argentina) and the other two by voices that I don’t read very frequently (Indigenous and Muslim). This is all thanks to the #DiversityAcrossGenres reading challenge that pushes me to read diverse genres and perspectives. Sadly, it’s to the detriment of my personal Nordic Literature Reading Challenge which I will have to revisit and revise for next year.

What have you been reading lately?


The Postcard by Anne Berest (2021)
(Translated from the French by Tina Kover, 2023) 🎧

I loved this autobiographical novel based on the author’s own family history. The story’s seed was an anonymous postcard the author’s mother received in 2003 with only the names of Berest’s maternal great-grandparents and their two children killed at Auschwitz in 1942. That seed sprouted 15 years later when the author’s daughter experienced anti-Semitism at her elementary school.

From there began an ongoing dialogue between the author and her mother and an investigation into their family history that spanned five generations starting in Moscow in 1918. I really enjoyed getting to know the family members throughout time and place (Russia, Latvia, Palestine, France), getting insight into various aspects of life in France during World War II (Jews, Resistance fighters, and collaborators), and observing the relationship between the author and her mother throughout their investigation. I loved the structure of the novel. It jumped back and forth from contemporary to past times and included letters and emails. It kept the suspense going as the mystery around the postcard continued.

I highly recommend the book. The translation by Tina Kover was seamless. I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Barrie Kealoha. It’s not always an easy read with the atrocities against Jews during WWII and the resulting trauma upon survivors and descendants. But the fact that this book has been written and will forever keep the deceaseds’ memories alive is powerful. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Shutter by Ramona Emerson (2022) 📖

Rita, the protagonist, is an Indigenous forensic photographer with the Albuquerque Police Department. Not only does she have a great talent for capturing crime scene details, but she is also able to see and communicate with spirits of the dead. The story jumps back and forth in time between her upbringing by her grandmother on the Navajo Nation reservation and the present when the ghost of a murdered woman won’t leave her alone until the killer is brought to justice. I definitely enjoyed the Indigenous own voice narrative and Navajo cultural details. Might there have been too much graphic detail at some crime scenes and a couple of crime plot points that were too convenient, yes, but overall a great read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez (2016)
(Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, 2017) 📖🎧

This collection of short stories from Argentina certainly delivered a strong sense of time and place, which I love about books, especially books in translation. The twelve stories are set in the recent past with Argentina’s troubled history in the background, and they take place in various areas around Buenos Aires and beyond. The characters in each of the stories are all generally going about their regular business, but there’s always something unsettling and disturbing that happens. A very captivating read, but not for the faint of heart. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 


Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H. 📖

This is the coming-of-age memoir of a queer Muslim immigrant to the US. It begins with the author’s childhood in the Middle East (after having moved there from the South Asian country of her birth so her father could provide a better life for his family) and continues through her years at an elite college in the US and into her early adult life in New York City. She has always felt out of place. Her queerness would be intolerable and ostracizing to her Muslim family and community. Her journey to make sense of her identity is interspersed with her interpretations of stories from the Quran. This book was a very engaging read that provided insight into so much that is unfamiliar to me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

November 2023: Nordic Events in SoCal and Virtually

This month I’m happy to share two very special Scandinavian events happening in the Southern California area plus an assortment of virtual Nordic events as well.

First, thank you to Karen at Copenhagen Pastry in Culver City for putting this experience on my radar: the outdoor exhibit Thomas Dambo TROLLS: Save the Humans at South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes Peninsula. I’ve been fascinated by Dambo’s work elsewhere and am thrilled to be able to see it for myself now here in Southern California.

Danish artist Thomas Dambo is considered the world’s leading recycle artist and is known internationally for his larger-than-life Troll sculptures made from recycled wood. His sculptures can be found all over the world (visit www.trollmap.com) and now you can see six of them here in Southern California through January 14, 2024. “Thomas’ vision is to create art that inspires people to go explore, have adventures in nature, and demonstrates that trash can be turned into something beautiful.” Read more about the artist here.

Don’t forget, the Norwegian Church’s annual Christmas Fair takes place Friday, November 10, through Sunday, November 19, in San Pedro. Experience a Christmas atmosphere like no other with gifts for young and old, a bakery with Norwegian Christmas baked goods, a cafe with delicious food, and in addition, there will be raffles with great prizes.

And finally, a heads-up to readers interested in Vesterheim Folk Art School online classes in rosemaling and painting, Nordic cooking, weaving, jewelry, heritage and language, fiber arts, youth and family, and woodworking that registration will open November 10 for classes offered January through March. Classes are popular and spaces go fast, so don’t delay signing up if something interests you. View a PDF of the class list and get ready to register.

Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: November 2023 to see details about book selections and meeting dates.

What’s on your calendar for November?


Intro to Finnish (Sunday, Nov. 5, 12:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Finland? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Joona Sundström is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Supporting Multilingualism (Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7:00 p.m. PT)

Join the Scandinavian School in San Francisco to learn tools for encouraging and strengthening the language at home. Focus will be on language learning of children and teens, but much of the information will be useful for adult learners as well. This seminar is built to serve also those who do not share the language their children are speaking – finding ways to support their child’s learning. After sharing some information, discussions will continue  in smaller facilitated groups – sharing tips, exploring language learning methods and finding ways to test our just gained knowledge of multilingualism in our day-to-day lives.

Nordic Wafers and Tarts with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Nov. 9, 4:30 p.m. CT)

Bake along with Kristi as she makes Nordic Lemon Wafers and Scandinavian Almond Tarts (Sandbakkels). Kristi will also have some fun filling ideas for your almond tarts. This class is just what you need to kick off the holiday baking season! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. The class is currently sold out but you can join the waitlist.

Gift Guide Auction by The Norwegian American (November 10-20)

Beat the holiday rush and take some of the stress out of the Christmas season by shopping online with The Norwegian American at their Gift Guide Auction. Working with select vendors, they have tried to find something for everyone on your list: decorations, jewelry, books, clothing, treats, and more! Bidding will start on November 10 and end of November 20. All proceeds go to The Norwegian American. Are you a reader of The Norwegian American? If not, consider subscribing now.

Vesterheim Folk Art School Registration Opens (Friday, Nov. 10, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Registration for Vesterheim online classes in rosemaling and painting, Nordic cooking, weaving, jewelry, heritage and language, fiber arts, youth and family, and woodworking offered January through March will open November 10. Classes are popular and spaces go fast, so don’t delay signing up if something interests you. View a PDF of the class list and get ready to register.

Nordic Spirit Classics: Viking Age Roads to Power: King Harald Fairhair and the Control of Maritime Traffic in Western Norway (Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m., Free)

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation‘s Nordic Spirit Classics series continues with an online selection from the 2022 Nordic Spirit Symposium. For centuries, trade and traffic that passed through a narrow strait along the southwestern Norway coast, the “North Way,” was controlled by powerful princes and kings. The two speakers from western Norway will discuss the pre-Viking and Viking era of Avaldsnes and Haraldseid in western Norway, and one particularly powerful king, King Harald Fairhair. Contact nordicspiritclassics@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link.

Vesterheim Filmprat: John, the Last Cowboy (Friday, Nov. 10, & Saturday, Nov. 11, Free)

In a twist on Vesterheim’s bokprat discussions, join in November for a screening and discussion of the film John, the Last Cowboy. The documentary is centered on 92-year-old John Hoiland as he manages his large ranch in Montana all by himself. Although wealthy people are lining up to buy his property, John’s wealth is not in the value of the ranch but rather in the freedom to work his own land. View the film via livestream on Friday night and then join the discussion on Saturday afternoon. If you can’t join online for the Friday night screening, you can pay a small fee to view the film on your own schedule on Vimeo.

Webinar: Exploring Viksdal Style Rosemaling (Sunday, Nov. 12, 1:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Viksdalmaling is not fanciful with Telemark scrolls and imaginative flowers but instead with twisted tongues, elongated teardrops, moons and circles, and plenty of crosses. Viksdalmaling is rich in symbolism and history, yet perhaps on the verge of extinction again. This presentation is about history, trade, design, color, and symbolism in Viksdal rosemaling. Viksdal design is about the clash between Viking ideology and Christianity. Come watch and learn about this little-known fascinating style of rosemaling.

Intro to Swedish (Sunday, Nov. 12, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Jean Hanslin is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Cooking Class: Fish Dishes and Rulltårta (Monday, Nov. 13, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Join the Swedish American Museum for a cooking class to learn how to make fish dishes and rulltårta (Swiss roll). You will receive the recipe in advance. You can then either cook alongside or watch and try later. It is an interactive Zoom so you will be able to ask questions.

Knowing Selma Lagerlöf (Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Delve further into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with instructor Ingela Haaland. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from travels far and wide in the world. Learn what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day.

Holiday Baking: Traditional Rømmebrød and Brune Pinner with Nevada Berg (Saturday, Nov. 18, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Join celebrated cook and author Nevada Berg in making some of Norway’s most beloved holiday treats – sour cream wafers and brown syrup cookies! Rømmebrød are thin and crisp sweet breads doused with sugar and cooked over a hot griddle, while brune pinner have a strong hint of syrup and cinnamon and a topping of sugar and almonds to accentuate every bite. Both of these last a good couple of weeks in a cookie tin – unless they’re eaten up beforehand! Come ready to learn, eat, and have fun! The class is currently sold out but you can join the waitlist.

Webinar: Making Folk Costumes: A History of Craftsmanship, Patience and the Love of Traditions (Sunday, Nov. 19, 11:00 a.m. CT, Free)

Join Barbro Tronhuus Storlien for a lecture on Norwegian folk costumes. Norway has a variety of more than 450 different folk costumes, and many of these have intricate embroideries. Many of the folk costumes are easily recognizable while others are more unknown. In this lecture, Storlien will talk about the differences and similarities between the Norwegian areas, show some of the techniques and raise the important question – how do we keep this knowledge alive for future generations?

Intro to Northern Sami (Sunday, Nov. 19, 2:00 p.m.)

Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!

Nordic Pizza Party with Patrice Johnson (Sunday, Nov. 19, 4:00 p.m. CT)

How does immigration influence the pizzas served in Norway and Sweden? Join us for an  evening of surprising tastes and fun twists on Nordic pizza. We’ll make our own dough, and then top it with the modern flavors of Scandinavia: kebab, banana curry, and filet-hollandaise. We’ll also toss a traditional pizza salad and shake up a couple of New Nordic-inspired beverages. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. Enrollment Deadline: November 5

Virtual Studio Visit with Ole Brodersen (Premiering Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Scandinavia House invites you to a virtual studio visit with Norwegian artist Ole Brodersen. Brodersen’s photographic practice focuses on landscapes and how they are affected by the forces of nature. A 12th-generation native of Lyngør — a car-free island off the coast of southeastern Norway — Ole’s heritage and experiences are deeply entangled with the sea. His father was a sailmaker; his grandfather was a sailor; as a child, Ole rowed to school, and as an adult, he circumnavigated the Atlantic in a pilot cutter built in 1894. This heritage influences and forms the basis for Ole’s pictorial experiments.

Genealogy Session: Forest Finn Ancestry (Saturday, Nov. 25, 10:00 a.m. CT)

This presentation by Robert Johnson begins with an overview of Forest Finns in Sweden and Norway, describing their migration, life, and acculturation into Swedish society. He will discuss ways to identify Forest Finn ancestry, including locational, documentary, and DNA. And finally, you will look at records specific to Forest Finn research.

Typiskt svenskt / Typical American Discussion (Wednesday, Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. CT)

Gunn Edberg-Caldwell leads this fun, open discussion about the similarities and differences between Sweden and the United States. What do people generalize or assume about each country or culture? What can one learn from the other? Participants will compare and discover how different yet alike these two countries really are.

Sparkly Pewter Thread Earrings with Liz Bucheit (Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Explore a new “twist” on a traditional craft! Using pewter wire thread and a macramé style weave, students will create a pair of hoop earrings with a silver drop and sterling silver French hook ear wires. Finished hoops are approximately 1 inch in diameter and display a soft shimmery sparkle in sunlight and candle light. No previous experience is necessary, but a willingness to use hand tools is required. Enrollment Deadline: November 15

Looking Ahead to December

(Enrollment deadlines are in November; spots are still available as of publication date.)

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (Friday & Saturday, Dec. 1 & 2)

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market returns Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2, on Facebook. Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location. Join the Virtual Holiday Market to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are “Going” or “Interested” in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways and shop Nordic by visiting or contacting the businesses. For more information, visit their website.

Needle Felting with Laura Berlage: Nisse Family (Two Fridays, December 1 and 8, 2:00-5:00 p.m. CT)

Needle felting is fun! Learn to transform hand-dyed wool from the instructor’s flock of sheep into your very own adorable family of nisse. Laura will take you step-by-step through the process via Zoom. No previous experience is necessary. Experience the magic of needle felting or learn some new tips to add to your growing skillset. Enrollment Deadline: November 17

 

A Swedish Meatball Dinner with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Dec. 7, 1:00 p.m. CT)

A Swedish meatball dinner ticks every box for a winter meal: cozy and comforting, balanced and delicious! Join Kristi Bissell of the True North Kitchen blog for an afternoon demonstration of her dream meatball dinner menu – Swedish meatballs with a creamy gravy and lingonberries, an elegant celery root puree, and essential pickled cucumbers. Plus, learn the secrets of Kristi’s truly satisfying vegetarian meatball recipe, too! Whether you tackle the whole menu at once, or pull just a few of the recipes straight to your Christmas smörgåsbord, these are classic, fail safe recipes that will impress your loved ones this holiday season.

Wet Felted Soaps (Sunday, Dec. 10, 1:00 p.m. CT)

From your own kitchen, tackle a simple wet felting project by covering a bar of soap with a colorful layer of felt. These “felted” soaps are perfect for traveling or keeping next to the tub, as they work as a washcloth and soap all in one. Plus, they’re a great starter project for learning the basics of wet felting! And (hint, hint) these are the perfect easy stocking stuffer! Suitable for ages 16+.

Felted Folk Ornaments (Thursday, Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Create a festive, quick decoration with needle felting this season! This fun project makes use of cookie cutters you may already have at home, or walks you through using cardstock to create a needle felting form to work in, to make a felted ornament with clean lines, even shape, and adorable details. Students will receive a kit with materials to make two average cookie cutter sized ornaments. These are the perfect last minute gift to decorate a present or tree!

Needle Felted Gnome with Laura Berlage (Friday, Dec. 15, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Create a jolly felted gnome ready to bring home some holiday joy in this afternoon-long class. Students will follow step-by-step instructions to transform hand dyed wool from instructor Laura Berlage’s own sheep into a felted festive gnome (known in Sweden as a tomte, or in Norway as a nisse) complete with long cap and beard! Students will get tips for shaping a cheerful face as well as hear stories from Laura’s farm and discuss gnomes in Scandinavian culture and beyond. Suitable for all skill levels, ages 14+.


Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (September 2023)

In September, my main focus was nonfiction, but I threw in some fun fiction genres outside my comfort zone as well. Last September I was introduced to a new reading challenge, #sakprosaseptember, a nonfiction reading challenge hosted by Norwegian bookstagrammer readygoread during the month of September  (“sakprosa” means nonfiction in Norwegian). I didn’t used to read a lot of nonfiction, but in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed I’ve been drawn to it more and more and welcome the opportunity to read more of it. So once again I participated in #sakprosaseptember (running through October 15) with its various nonfiction reading prompts.

#sakprosaseptember pairs well with another reading challenge I’m already participating in, #DiversityAcrossGenres, which challenges me to read various genres by diverse authors. One of those genres is nonfiction. Therefore, September’s focus was nonfiction and anything of interest that remains unread this month will be options for #NonfictionNovember.

What have you been reading lately?


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, narrated by the author (2013) 🎧

This book had been on my radar for a while. Thanks to reading challenges with nonfiction prompts, I finally read it. Sweetgrass has come up in various recent North American Indigenous-authored books I’ve read, and I haven’t really known what it is nor its significance. Not only did this book educate me about sweetgrass and its significance to Native Americans, but the book also delved into the vast differences and disconnect between Indigenous and modern day beliefs and practices in regards to the natural world. I greatly appreciated and enjoyed that aspect, even though it was sad and discouraging. Kimmerer’s language was very poetic and beautiful, but over time, it did become too much for me and additionally, the book began to feel too repetitive and long. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (The audiobook, which she narrated herself, I had to speed up to 1.5x because it was a very slow listen otherwise so I recommend reading it over listening to it.)


Min skyld: En historie om frigjøring (My Fault: A Story of Liberation) by Abid Raja (2021) 📖

This is a very honest and open memoir – he shares difficult things! – by a Norwegian lawyer, liberal party politician, and current Member of Parliament with a minority background. It’s about his “liberation from shame, guilt, and outsiderness” as the book jacket states. Born in Norway in 1975 to Pakistani immigrants and with a rare birth defect, he faced great challenges growing up. This is the story of how he overcame those challenges, which included a few years in the child welfare system, and went on to study law at the University of Oslo and found the love of his life, a fellow Norwegian Pakistani. I admired his honesty when revisiting his past and confronting his opposing cultures – the patriarchal Pakistani culture and Islamic religion in which he was born and the liberal Norwegian society in which he lived. It was an eye-opening look at a segment of Norwegian society which I am not familiar with and that I greatly appreciated. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The book won the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize in 2021. It went on to be the most sold nonfiction book in Norway in 2021 og 2022. It even sold more than all other books in Norway in 2021. Unfortunately, it is not available in English translation.


The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córcova (2021) 🎧
(Narrated by Frankie Corzo)

This was a fun ride. Fantasy is not a genre I’m normally drawn to, but I’ve read some magical realism that I’ve enjoyed and this one sounded intriguing for the #DiversityAcrossGenres challenge. Orquídea Divina, the matriarch of the Montoya family, is dying and sends out a summons for family members — grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from five marriages — to return home to collect their inheritance. But this is not a regular family, instead one with a mysterious history and unexplainable happenings. The story has a dual timeline jumping between contemporary times and Orquídea’s past. At one point the number of characters became a little overwhelming and the family tree was helpful, but that passed and the character focus became narrower and more manageable. I really enjoyed the characters and settings, especially the trip to Ecuador both in the past and present. Did the magical realism get a little too much for me at the end? Maybe, but overall a great story, and the audiobook was very well narrated. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1) by Helen Hoang (2018) 📖

This was another book that I wouldn’t necessarily have read if it hadn’t been for the #DiversityAcrossGenres challenge since I don’t generally pick up romance books. So glad I did because it was a very fun and heartwarming read. The story is about Stella, a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s who’s most comfortable in front of her computer using math and statistics to predict economic outcomes. However, she decides she needs help in the dating and romance areas of her life and hires Michael, a Swedish and Vietnamese escort, to teach her. I was so surprised by his understanding and respect of her and really enjoyed watching their relationship take its turns. I also really enjoyed the focus on Michael’s Vietnamese family life.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

October 2023: Virtual Nordic Events

Hope you’re enjoying fall wherever you may be. The special Nordic events that have been happening around the country this past summer are coming to an end soon. However, there’s still a chance to experience Edvard Munch in Massachusetts, Sámi Dreams in Iowa, and Icelandic book arts and textiles in Oregon.

I highly recommend the Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth exhibit in Williamstown, MA, if you or any friends or family are anywhere nearby (last day October 15). Munch has a large body of work and might be best known for depicting emotions in figures, but my favorite paintings are his landscapes so this exhibit was right up my alley and didn’t disappoint at all. I was very impressed with how the exhibit was curated. “The exhibition is organized thematically to show how Munch used nature to convey human emotions and relationships, celebrate farming practice and garden cultivation, and explore the mysteries of the forest even as his Norwegian homeland faced industrialization.” I saw favorites presented in a new light and was introduced to new ones from private collections.

If you miss this exhibit, you can catch it November 18–April 1 in Potsdam, Germany; and April 27–August 24, 2024, in Oslo at Munchmuseet. Or consider buying the book/catalog, Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth (pictured above), that accompanies the exhibit.

Selections for Online Nordic Books Clubs, October 2023

Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: October 2023 to see details about book selections and meeting dates.

Are you a Nordic film enthusiast in the Los Angeles area? AFI Film Fest 2023 (October 25-29 in Hollywood) will screen films from around the world, including Best International Feature Film submissions for the upcoming Academy Awards from Denmark and Finland. On October 26, you can see Finland’s Fallen Leaves (Kuolleet Lehdet), and on October 28, you can see Denmark’s The Promised Land (Bastarden) which will be followed by a conversation with director Nikolaj Arcel and actor Mads Mikkelsen.

And finally, Southern California readers, mark your calendars for the Norwegian Church’s annual Christmas Fair which is taking place Friday, November 10, through Sunday, November 19, in San Pedro. You will experience a Christmas atmosphere like no other with Christmas gifts for young and old, a bakery with Norwegian Christmas baked goods, a cafe with delicious food, and in addition, there will be raffles with great prizes. On the weekends, sandwiches and Norwegian hot food will be served.

What’s on your calendar for October?


Vesterheim Museum’s Benefit Auction (Oct. 7-15)

Vesterheim’s Benefit Auction is open for bidding. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Vesterheim Annual Fund in support of Vesterheim’s Folk Art School. This year, the auction includes 78 items of one-of-a-kind folk-art by artists working in the Norwegian tradition. There are also incredible getaways offered – an 8-day European River Cruise for two in 2024 from Viking and a stunning stay in Colorado.

Concert by Gangspil (Oct. 11, 7:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join Vesterheim for the first live streamed event in the Vesterheim Commons. Danish folk duo Gangspil will take you on an entertaining and varied journey through the traditions of Danish folk music. These lively musicians perform old dance tunes and songs from every corner of their Scandinavian home country. Performing live from the newly completed Vesterheim Commons, this performance will be live-streamed and allow you to join the music-making happening in Decorah!

Cooking Class with Sunny Gandara: Spud-tacular Potatoes (Saturday, Oct. 14, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Potatoes are the lifeline of Norwegian cuisine, and many Norwegians can’t imagine what a meal would be like without them. In this class with Sunny of Arctic Grub, you’ll learn four Norwegian classic potato dishes employing four different cooking methods: Hasselback poteter (a crispy baked potato sliced into fan-shape like slices, drizzled with garlic butter and fresh herbs), purre-og potetsuppe (a creamy leek and potato soup, a classic in Norwegian cuisine and completely dairy-free), fløtegratinerte poteter (sliced potatoes baked in cream and cheese a la potatoes au gratin), and potetpannekaker (fluffy potato pancakes served with cardamom-scented sour cream and a blueberry coulis). From appetizers to dessert – this class has it all!

Handcraft at Home: Carving a Snowman (Enrollment deadline Oct. 15)

Beginning November 1 and available all month, this beginner wood carving class will allow you to create your own snowman character inspired by Olaf from Disney’s Frozen, right down to the carrot nose and stick arms. Folk Artist and Youth Educator Steph Hughes will guide and show you how to carve a wooden snowman through a warm video demonstration. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore carving whenever it is most convenient for you. Enrollment Deadline: October 15, 2023

Cooking Class: Flygande Jakob and Apple Dessert (Monday, Oct. 16, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Join the Swedish American Museum for a cooking class where you will learn how to make Flygande Jakob, a Swedish chicken casserole, and an apple dessert. You will receive the recipes in advance. You can then either cook alongside or watch and try later. It is an interactive Zoom so you will be able to ask questions.

Nordic Appetizers for Autumn and Winter (Thursday, Oct. 19, 5:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and Patrice Johnson as they celebrate the flavors of the season with an evening of Nordic appetizers. Create fun Nordic bites like salt-brined cucumbers topped with creme fraiche and honey, lingonberry-brie bites, salmon spring rolls, and other delicious appetizers. Recipes for a signature cocktail and non-alcoholic beverage will also be included. Enrollment Deadline: October 05, 2023 (still available as of publishing date)

Introduction to Joik (Saturday, Oct. 21, OR Sunday, Oct. 22, 3:00 p.m. CT)

What is a joik? What does it feel like to joik? The joik is the traditional form of Sámi song, and has its own musical rules and a very special connection to nature and all living beings. In this class with instructor Ailloš and facilitator Elisabeth Berg, you will learn about this traditional way of singing and learn a couple of joik-melodies yourself. Offered two days. Enrollment Deadline: October 12, 2023 (still available as of publishing date)

Genealogy Session with Swedish American Museum (Saturday, Oct. 28, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Dr. Joy Lintelman is a U.S. social historian specializing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with special interests in Swedish American immigration, food history, local history and public history. She serves as a full professor at Concordia. In addition to a number of journal articles and book chapters published over the past three decades, her book, I Go to America: Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson was released in 2009 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Her current research examines the urban experiences of Swedish Americans, focusing on a historic neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota called East Side Flats.

Telemark-Style Rosemaling Welcome Sign (Oct. 28 & Oct. 29)

Welcome! (Or should we say Velkommen?) Come try your hand at the Telemark style of rosemaling and make a welcome sign to greet visitors to your home! The class, instructed by Lise Lorentzen, includes demonstration and plenty of hands-on practice. You will have the opportunity to choose between making a sign reading “Welcome” in English or the Norwegian “Velkommen.” This class is designed for beginning painters with previous experience, as well as more advanced painters and will be taught using acrylic paints. A complete kit of materials shipped to your home (a $60 value) containing paints, brushes, woodenware, and more is included in the cost of registration. Enrollment Deadline: October 14, 2023

Scandinavian Figure Carving: Tomte (Wednesdays, Nov. 1, 8, & 15)

Interested in carving a “Scandi Classic” to help spruce up your home for the holidays? Join carver Charles Banks as together you carve a tomte, the Swedish cousin to Norway’s beloved nisse that is often associated with the winter solstice and Christmas! Students will experience the history, traditions, and steps involved in the creation of this folk art classic. Emphasis will be placed on the introduction and skillful use of traditional cuts, stylized shapes, and painting techniques to bring your tomte to life. The face design will allow for explorations of your own skill for other faces in the future. Your registration fee includes a complete kit of materials shipped to your home. Enrollment Deadline: October 18, 2023 (Currently sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.)

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

 What I’ve Been Reading Lately & #WITmonth (August 2023)

Another big reading month for me in which the summer book bingo happening at work continued to be the prime motivating factor. Needless to say, I’ve got some catching up to do this fall for other reading challenges!

August was Women in Translation Month. I was able to read two books by women in translation, but they were not ones on my initial TBR list. I had pulled out a stack of three Scandinavian books – a Norwegian one, a Swedish one, and a Danish one – but none of them were the ones I ended up reading. I did begin the Norwegian one but had to set it aside because it wasn’t working for me at the time. Instead I picked up a collection of short stories by an Argentinian author which hit the spot. And then I moved on to a different Norwegian author with a book that unexpectedly met a prompt for my 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge. Both of those were great reads, and I look forward to revisiting the original stack this fall.

Bonus for the month, I did recommend the prompt “A book by a woman in translation” for the summer book bingo at work. I was happy to know that I encouraged others to read women in translation this summer.

How did your summer reading go?


El Deafo by Cece Bell (2014) 📖

I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, but they’re a great change of pace when I want to mix up my reading a bit. This is an autobiographical “only slightly fictionalized” (author’s own words) account of a girl who becomes deaf due to illness and comes to terms with her disability by thinking of herself as the superhero, El Deafo. I had high hopes for this one, but I was a bit disappointed. I definitely appreciated the window into an unknown world by seeing and hearing the world from the main character’s eyes and ears (well done through catchy illustrations and dialogue muffled through the hearing aide), but certain aspects rubbed me the wrong way. ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Sula by Toni Morrison (1973) 📖

This book has been on my shelf for years, along with Beloved, and I’m so glad to finally have read it. Taking place in a small Ohio town in 1920s-1960s, it follows two Black women, Nel and Sula, from childhood into adulthood. Raised very differently and having very different personalities, they are best friends growing up but take very different paths as they grow older. Nel stays in their hometown, and Sula ventures out in the world only to return later. It’s a complicated friendship made even more fraught with Sula’s actions upon her return. It’s a short book; the story of the town and their friendship is told in snippets from year to year. Morrison’s writing is beautifully direct. The setting and characters really come to life. I greatly enjoyed Sula and look forward to reading Beloved soon. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (1998) 📖

This was a fun coming of age story about best friends who grow up spending summer vacations together. It all begins at the end of 6th grade when popular Caitlin unexpectedly invites reserved Victoria to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer. It is a world of privilege and freedom that Victoria is unaccustomed to. One summer becomes every summer, and Victoria becomes more and more a member of Caitlin’s family. Their friendship is strong and complicated. They end up following separate paths after high school, but still staying in touch and eventually reuniting. I really enjoyed the summer setting, nostalgic feeling, and complicated relationships all around. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As I wrote this review of Summer Sisters, I noticed striking similarities between this and Sula — best friends, different personalities, complicated friendship, different paths, reunification, betrayal — but of course in very different worlds. Always fun to discover overlap between reads!

  • Summer Book Bingo: Re-read a favorite book & a book about best friends & a screen adaptation (soon to be)
  • Book Voyage: Read Around the World: North America (Massachusetts, USA)

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (2022) 🎧
(Narrated by Charlie Thurston)

I loved everything about this book. It takes place in Southern Appalachia in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Demon is telling his own story from some time in the future – but it’s also the story of whole region of the US. He was born to an addicted, single mother who couldn’t take care of him. He ends up in the foster care system where nothing is easy or good for him, but he is resilient and perseveres. Thankfully, he also has some stable people in the background. Demon has a talent for drawing and with his perspective on the world and Kingsolver’s writing talent, the setting of Appalachia and the people’s struggles really come to life. His story is heartbreaking but also at times humorous and overall inspiring. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was fantastic. The reading experience gets bonus points for teaching me about melungeons and providing insight into the toll of the opioid crisis on rural America. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book recommended by a colleague & a book read read at the same time as someone else
  • Book Voyage: Read Around the World: North America (Southern Appalachia, USA)

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin (2015) 📖
(Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, 2022)

This was a unique and engaging collection of short stories, a welcomed pivot from what I had been reading. Each story was about an ordinary household  in which something unsettling occurred. There was no horror or terror, but instead a creeping feeling of dread and unease – grandparents playing naked outside, woman going out alone at night, young girl walking off with a stranger. I always wondered, How will this end? One thing I was hoping for but didn’t get was a sense of place. Though the author is from Argentina, only a couple of stories mentioned anything specific to place (pesos and street names). But it’s understandable since the themes of the short stories are universal and not specific to a place. (Winner of the 2022 National Book Award for Translated Literature)  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Summer Book Bingo: A book by a woman in translation
  • #WomenInTranslationMonth

Seven Days in August by Brit Bildøen (2014) 📖
(Translated from the Norwegian by Becky L. Crook, 2016)

This novel takes place in Oslo eight years after the horrendous July 22, 2011, terrorist attack on a youth camp on the island of Utøya. A mother is still struggling with the loss of her daughter. The extent of the grief and sorrow becomes apparent as she and her husband deal with a series of unlucky events that happen over the course of a week — a tick bite, a storm, a fall, among other things. Throughout the days, details trigger memories of the day her daughter was killed. It’s about how grief takes hold and never completely goes away and affects the relationships around you. The main characters, their relationship, and the situations they find themselves in are so realistically portrayed. It’s an engaging, page-turning reading experience despite its heavy and difficult subject matter.

I especially appreciated the very strong sense of place. Besides the terrorist attack being a main element, the story touches upon many issues particular to Oslo, like neighborhood changes, the effects of climate change, and the local the Roma population. Also the main character works at MUNCH, the new Munch museum. (Interestingly, though, the new Munch museum wasn’t even completed yet when the book was published in 2014. It opened in October 2021.) The book had unique timing. Originally published in 2014, only 3 years after the terrorist attack, the story actually takes place in 2019 which is 8 years after the attack.


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

September 2023: Nordic Events (Virtual & SoCal In-Person)

Welcome, Fall! Even though it’s not officially fall yet, it still feels like that since students are returning to school. I wonder if any of you had the chance to enjoy any virtual programming over the summer or visit any of the special Nordic events happening around the country (some of which are still going on!).

Southern Californians, have you marked your calendars with the family friendly Vista Viking Festival happening this month? California’s premiere Viking festival and Norse heritage event takes place September 16 and 17 just north of San Diego. Visitors can mingle with Vikings and the Norse Gods at the living history Viking Village, play and do crafts in the Kids Village, splurge on Nordic goods at the marketplace, learn all things Norwegian with cultural demonstrations in the Heritage Hall, indulge in festive foods and drinks, enjoy live music and battle demonstrations, and even try your hand at axe throwing and hone your Viking skills in various competitions.

New this year, there will be an exclusive tasting event with Viking Spirits. Viking Spirits will be offering two flights of selected products, either 4 spirits or 4 wines. Each of the four daily seatings is limited to 25 participants so get your tickets now. These tickets are in addition to the Vista Viking Festival tickets.

For ticket and parking information to Vista Viking Festival, please visit Tickets and Parking. Save 10% with early bird pricing which ends September 7. Buy tickets here.

Also happening this month is the Norwegian Church’s fundraiser Shrimp Party and Pier Dance on Saturday, September 16, in San Pedro. The Church will serve a 3-course meal along with drinks, and there will be live entertainment and good times, all in support of the Norwegian Church ($100 fee). If interested, reach out quickly as there are limited spots available.

Interested in joining other readers to discuss Nordic books or just want some book suggestions? Visit Online Nordic Book Club Meetings for details on reading selections and meeting dates for September.

What’s on your calendar for September?


SEPTEMBER EVENTS

Intro to Swedish with Jean Hanslin (Thursday, Sept. 7, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Jean Hanslin is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—Sven Hedin: Great Explorer, Feckless Adventurer, or Self-Promoting Foreign Devil on the Silk Road? (Friday, Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. PT, Free)

Join the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation for a Second Friday presentation from the past Nordic Spirit Symposium, “The Nordic Explorers: From Polar Frontiers to the Silk Road”. Professor Emeritus Daniel C. Waugh, Dept. of History, University of Washington, Seattle, shared about Swedish explorer Sven Hedin and his exploits on the Silk Road. Participation is free, but you must be registered to receive the link.

Intro to Finnish with Joona Sundström (Sunday, Sept. 10, 12:45 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Finland? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Joona Sundström is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.

Virtual Arctic Watercolor Class with Willow Heath (Tuesday, Sept. 12, 6:00 p.m. PT)

Celebrate the Arctic landscape with a watercolor project led by Willow Heath. Willow will give step-by-step instructions on creating your own masterpiece, inspired by the landscape of the Arctic Circle. See class description for required materials.

Webinar: Knitting Nordic Heroes (Saturday, Sept. 16, 1:00 p.m. CT, Free)

From Merit Emstad who designed the first Selbu mitten to emigrants from the Nordic countries, knitters made an economic impact. These women helped give a sense of national pride, they hired women who at the time could not work out of the home, they set standards for the way we read knitting patterns, and they helped restore their economies. This talk with Steph Anderson will bring light to these heroes, some of whom are famous and some who had to fight to get credit for their work. Registration required for this free event.

Painting with Wool – Rosemaling (Sundays, Sept. 17 & 24, 1:00-3:00 p.m. CT)

Try out needle felting to create a unique wool “painting” in the style of Scandinavian folk art! Students will explore the magic of needle felting to recreate a motif inspired by rosemaled designs on a flat felt base. To begin, students will learn how to stretch a felt backing onto an embroidery hoop, then use needle felting techniques to transform a beautiful array of hand-dyed roving from the instructor Laura Berlage’s own sheep. Kits ($33 value) are included in the class fee. Each kit includes felt backing, wool, and needles.

Dr. Jenni Haukio and Eliza Reid – the First Ladies of Finland and Iceland – with Neil Gaiman (Wednesday, Sept. 20, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Dr. Jenni Haukio and Eliza Reid, the First Ladies of Finland and Iceland, engage in a talk with bestselling author Neil Gaiman exploring the globally captivating traditions and themes of Nordic literature, rooted in a rich cultural heritage. Notable authors in their own right, Dr. Jenni Haukio and Ms. Eliza Reid have published a number of titles in the past years on a variety of themes, including their multifaceted roles as First Ladies of their respective countries. In this conversation with fellow author and master storyteller Neil Gaiman, Dr. Haukio and Ms. Reid reflect on how literary storytelling has historically shaped the national identities of the two Nordic countries and continues to work as an essential tool in amplifying equality and democracy in contemporary societies. A livestream of the event will be available on this NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register.

ASI Demo: Baking Norwegian Skoleboller with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Sept. 21, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for the new school year with a favorite Norwegian baked good, the skolebolle, or Norwegian School Bun! Of course, this vanilla custard flavored bun is a treat for all ages. Kristi Bissell will walk students through the cardamom flavored yeasted dough, the vanilla custard, and the rising and baking process. This lovely bake is sure to be a fall favorite for young and old alike, and students will be ready to tackle the recipe at home after this demo! This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the recipe at home at a later date.

Intro to North Sámi (Sunday, Sept. 24, 2:00-4:00 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!

Webinar: Kayaking the Lofoten Islands: Norway’s Craggy Crown Jewels (Wednesday, Sept. 27, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT, Free)

The Lofoten Islands are a surreal seascape of soaring, snow-speckled peaks rising steeply from deep fjords, white sand beaches, and aquamarine bays. Amidst this natural splendor are historic fishing villages, small cities, and picturesque farms – all bathed in 24-hour daylight during summer months and forever changing in the moody weather of the islands’ arctic location. It’s a kayaker’s dream destination. Dan York, a lifetime paddler and traveler, will share images and stories from two kayaking expeditions he has led to these magical islands, the first in 2017 and the second in 2023. Registration required for this free event.

Rosemaling in the Os Style: Scrolled Box (Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 1:00-4:00 p.m. CT)

In this 4-day class, students will be painting a modern version of Os boxes, which can be used for all sorts of treasures. The Os style of rosemaling developed in the west coast of Norway about 1875. Annanias Tweit perfected this style and created a workshop at his farm where he and his apprentices painted tiner, sending baskets, trays, chairs, ale bowls, and delightful small boxes in the bright Os Style. They were sold in the Husflidens of Bergen and even now you can find small antique boxes from that period. A complete kit of supplies shipped to your home (a $105 value) containing paints, brushes, the wooden box, and sandpaper is included in the cost of enrollment. Enrollment Deadline: September 14, 2023


LOOKING AHEAD TO OCTOBER

(Enrollment deadlines are in September; spots still available as of publication date.)

Scandinavian Loom Beading: Green Bookmark, Level 1 (Four Fridays, Oct. 6-27, 2:00-4:00 p.m. CT)

Explore the beauty and fun of beading on a loom in the Scandinavian tradition! Inspired by designs from Nordic bandweaving, this class will take you from start to finish for making your own sparkly beaded bookmark. Learn about the historic use of loom beading and how a remarkably simple process can transform seed beads into delightful designs. The class kit includes a handmade loom designed by the instructor and enough beads, silk thread, needles, and patterns to make two projects, if you wish. Enrollment Deadline: September 22, 2023

Webinar: Exploring the Art of Sámi Joik (Saturday, Oct. 7, 3:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Iŋgor Ántte Áilu Gaup (artist name: Ailloš) grew up in a reindeer-herding family on the Norwegian side of Sápmi, a region that stretches over Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula, traditionally the home of the indigenous Sámi population. Ailloš and joiking are inseparable. He has been joiking as long as he can remember, and it has become key to his work as composer, actor, and teacher. The joik is the traditional form of Sámi song. It has its own musical rules and a very special connection to nature and all living beings. Join Vesterheim to hear Ailloš tell about his life in the far North and hear him joik.

Sparkly Pewter Thread Pendant (Wednesday, Oct. 11, 6:00 p.m. CT)

Are you ready for a new twist on tradition? Using pewter wire thread and a macramé style weave, you will create a beautiful pendant with a silver drop. Kit materials will provide you the option to create either a round or V-shaped pendant suspended from enough leather cord to accommodate your preferred necklace length, or you can use a chain of your own! No previous experience is necessary, but a willingness to use hand tools is required. Enrollment Deadline: September 27, 2023

Høstlige Frukt: Divine Flavors of Fall Cocktail Class (Friday, Oct. 13, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Join Malina Bickford, National Brand Director for Sweden’s Åhus Akvavit, for a delightful fall cocktail class to celebrate the rich bounty of autumnal fruits and flavors! From juicy apples to luscious figs, you’ll discover how to transform these seasonal treasures into captivating creations. Bring your favorite aquavit! Malina Bickford will discuss Nordic folklore associated with the autumnal ingredients and guide you through creating two fruit-forward, crowd pleasing cocktails plus a spirit-free “mocktail.” Enrollment Deadline: September 29, 2023

Nordic Appetizers for Autumn and Winter (Thursday, Oct. 19, 5:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and Patrice Johnson as they celebrate the flavors of the season with an evening of Nordic appetizers. Create fun Nordic bites like salt-brined cucumbers topped with creme fraiche and honey, lingonberry-brie bites, salmon spring rolls, and other delicious appetizers. Recipes for a signature cocktail and non-alcoholic beverage will also be included. Enrollment Deadline: October 05, 2023

Handcraft at Home: Carving a Snowman (Begins November 1, available all month)

This beginner woodcarving class will allow you to create your own snowman character inspired by Olaf from Disney’s Frozen, right down to the carrot nose and stick arms. Folk Artist and Youth Educator Steph Hughes will guide and show you how to carve a wooden snowman through a warm video demonstration. The best thing about this class is that you can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore carving whenever it is most convenient for you. Enrollment Deadline: October 15, 2023


Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (July 2023)

July was vacation month for me with lots of air travel to, from, and within Europe and down time to read. As I always do when traveling, I try to read a book that takes place where I’m going. It provides insight that I would otherwise not get and sometimes I feel like I get to know some locals while I’m at it.

This summer that destination was Italy. One book I planned in advance, The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani, and the other, In Sardinia: An Expected Journey in Italy by Jeff Biggers, was a last minute addition to my summer reading. Just by chance, I came across this newly published book (May 23, 2023) at the airport bookstore. It was an instant purchase, despite carry-on being at capacity, since we were going exactly there and I knew next to nothing about the island.

August is Women in Translation Month (#WITmonth). Every year I normally set aside August to read women in translation from outside Scandinavia since I normally read a few during the year. However, this year I haven’t read as many Scandinavian books as I normally do, so I’m prioritizing that. I have Norwegian Vigdis Hjorth’s Long Live the Post Horn! (a prolific author I’ve been wanting to read for a long time), Dane Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen’s Island (takes place on Danish Faroe Islands), and Swede Kerstin Ekman’s Blackwater (for the 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge) on my TBR pile for August and going into the fall.

How is your summer reading going?


The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
(Narrated by Adjoa Andoh)

A fascinating but also disturbing look into contemporary Nigerian society! Adunni is a 14-year old village girl whose biggest wish in life is to get an education. Her mother believed in this and worked hard to pay her school fees, but when the mother died, the father sold her as a third wife to an older man because he needed the money. She was soon forced to flee her husband’s household and became a domestic servant in a wealthy Nigerian household in Lagos. Life was tough for Adunni, but she persevered and had unexpected people along the way who helped her. I highly recommend the audiobook. Adunni’s voice and personality really shined. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


The Cipher (Nina Guerrera Book 1) by Isabella Maldonado

This is about FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera who escaped a serial killer at age sixteen, and now eleven years later, she is brought back to his universe through a series of murders of vulnerable girls. While she and her team travel cross-country investigating, the perpetrator uses the internet and social media posting complex codes and riddles to invite the public to play along. I enjoyed the fresh and updated aspects of the book, including the strong Latina protagonist and inclusion of social media. Jennifer Lopez is going to star in a Netflix adaptation of the book (dates TBD). I would see it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk and Robot #1) by Becky Chambers

This novella takes place far in the future when robots have long since gained self awareness and wandered off into the wilderness. A nonbinary monk who has dedicated their life to serving tea and listening to humans in times of need suddenly meets a robot who has come back to fulfill a longstanding promise of checking in on the humans. The robot is there to find the answer to the question “What do people need?”. I loved the world building and really enjoyed the relationship between the monk and the robot, but overall it was too philosophical for me. ⭐⭐⭐

  • Work Book Bingo: A book with a protagonist that isn’t human & a book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This was my first Emily Henry book, and I really enjoyed it. It was a fun summer romance. I had no expectations of anything going in, and for me it was actually deeper than I thought it would be. It’s about a disillusioned romance writer and a literary fiction writer with writer’s block who find themselves living next door to each other on a lake in Michigan one summer. They make a deal to swap genres for the summer and go on field trips to learn about the other genre. I was confused by the title until the very end when it made total sense. I’ll read another Emily Henry. Book Lovers is up next but not until next summer. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Work Book Bingo:  A book set in summer & a book borrowed from a friend

The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani

This book features the women of the Cabrelli family, a jewelry making family that lives in Viareggio, a seaside town in Tuscany, not far from Florence where we visited this summer. It’s a dual timeline story that jumps between “now” when Matelda, the matriarch, is nearing the end of her life and revealing a life-long family secret, and “then” when her mother Domenica is growing up and World War II arrives. I haven’t read a WWII novel from the perspective of Italians before and certainly was not familiar with “Britalians” and their history in the UK, especially during WWII. I greatly enjoyed that insight. I got to know five generations of the Cabrelli family, at times a little hard to keep track of without a family tree (made one myself), and they’re a vibrant lot with a very interesting past. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


In Sardinia: An Expected Journey in Italy by Jeff Biggers

I knew nothing about Sardinia other than it being an Italian island with beautiful beaches and having harbors full of luxury yachts. In this book, an American author and his family (Italian wife) are based in Sardinia for a year (2017) and travel the whole island exploring its history, culture, and people. I gained a much greater appreciation for the island, especially in regards to its prehistoric beginnings and the Nuragic civilization from 4,000 years ago. We made it a priority to visit one of the 7,000 nuraghe ruins that are on the island. My one big issue with the book, however, was its very frequent reference to the many authors of the past who had written about the island. I much preferred the contemporary stories of past and present.


What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in purchasing Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, visit my Scandinavian Ebook Deals page. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

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