Sunday, August 20, 2006

Book list

Originally uploaded by digenis.
Lately I have read answers to the literature questionnaire from some of the blogs I follow regularly. I just realised that more or less a year ago I answered another list of questions on reading habits so this can be seen as the updated volume of that.

Just a short disclaimer first: I realised that my answers are books published mostly during the last few years. It has a lot to do with my habit of buying books from airports and on Saturdays from Amsterdam's Waterstone's. I just walk in with the purpose of buying a book and I end up buying something else than I expected.

1. One book that changed your life?
A rough start. I think it would be non-fiction. The books that have changed my life are not literary masterpieces but they offer new approaches on common subjects. I think during the last years the biggest switches in my thinking have been results of two books:
-Charles Leadbeater's Up The Down Escalator, which stresses individual responsibility and the need to take initiative to change things.
- Steven Johnston's Everething Bad is Good For You which made me into an even more passionate advocate for popular culture.

2. One book you’ve read more than once?
During every single holiday I reach a moment when I just cannot handle the presence of other people. I usually deal with it by taking a few hours for myself. My friend Maria knows well what I am talking about. In that sense I often relate to Tove Jansson's Moominpappa and the sea which I have read several times.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island?
I have a bad conscience from not having read many of the books considered as classics. In Finland I have The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde, I think I would take that one.

4. One book that made you giddy?
One book that kept me bursting into laughter awkwardly in cafés and buses was Mikko Rimminen's Pussikaljaromaani. It follows the day of three 30-ish men in the Helsinki district called Kallio. They spend the whole day drinking beer and planning to start doing things.

5. One book that wracked you with sobs?
There are two books that made me cry all through the last pages: John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany and Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated is far better as a book but E.L.A.I.C has a stunningly emotional and beautiful ending.

6. One book that you wish had been written?
This is superdifficult. What I would actually like to read would be a book - maybe an essay collection - breaking the myth of Finnishness into digestable pieces. This would help a lot of people in that country to understand what their country is about and why people act the way they do. I would like it to be a high-profile intergenerational collaboration with the goal to make it understandable for the general public. So no pretentious intellectual masturbation.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
Mein Kampf is too easy. I'll say Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilisations which has enforced the notion of a great and clear divide between us and them.

8. One book you’re currently reading?
I wrote in this blog a few weeks back about my fascination for London. Following that I went yesterday to Waterstone's and bought Monica Ali's Brick Lane, a book about a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London as a result of an arranged marriage.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read?
This is actually linked to number six. I maybe should read The Great Finnish Epic Täällä Pohjantähden alla by Väinö Linna and then see if more needs to be done. For instance Elina's praise for Täällä Pohjantähden alla motivates me once again to open the series.

10. Now tag five bloggers
Hmm...I would say Pinja, PG, Jurjen, Bettina and Ruben. They are not all bloggers but people who follow blogs regularly.

1 comment:

Tommi Laitio said...

Just went through this post and found a terrible amount of mistakes. Had to, had to, had to correct them. Is that something one should do (here it comes) in the Blogosphere (does that sound pretentious or pretentious)?

Had one of those highly inspiring chats today with a dear friend of mine. We talked about practical idealism and an individual's possibilities to change things. On my table at the office I have Tom Bentley's pamphlet on Everyday Democracy. I think I will read it once again.

We also talked about youth. Something that we agreed on was the need to create validating and recognition processes for people to understand that they do have something content-full and important to say. He is doing a big chunk of that in Coolpolitics (, I am doing it in theoneminutesjr (

The fight goes on.