Tag Archives: Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren Reading List

Every few weeks, a wave of nostalgia for Sweden hits me. With the current cold outside, I need not be afraid to miss out on that part of a Swedish winter, but apart from temperature I cannot help but dream of revisiting Sweden, and staying there for a few more months. At such times, I prefer to turn to Astrid Lindgren. But nostalgia for Sweden is not the only reason I feel such a special fondness for her stories.

Astrid Lindgren

I grew up watching movies based on Lindgren’s stories on TV on Sunday morning. They told me about this wonderful world where magic and reality and heartfelt stories intertwined. Obviously I loved Pippi Longstocking, but my bigger weakness were The Brothers Lionheart, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter and the Children of Noisy Village. I read all the Lindgren books I could find in the library. I loved the characters, I cried endless tears for them, and I copied many of the games played in Noisy Village.

Combining three things: my love for Lindgren’s stories, nostalgia for Sweden, and a fondness of children’s stories, I decided to add Astrid Lindgren to the “read the complete works of..” list. I had listed only Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell there, for over a year now, but Lindgren was always going to be on that list. And inspired by Buried in Print‘s long list of authors she calls “Must Read Everything”- authors, I decided I could add a few more.*

However, when I started composing the list, I found out there is no uniform list available of Lindgren’s works in Swedish, and the ones translated to English. No fear! I thought, I own most of her works in Dutch, so I’ll look for the Dutch translations, and figure something out. I did find a list of her works in Dutch translation, I also found one that lists titles translated to English. Combining those two, I have aimed to come to a more or less complete overview, but there are lots of titles on which I have little to no information. Here’s my list. If you have any idea about what should go on any of the gaps indicated by a question mark, please let me know. Also, please comment or email if you have any other reading suggestions about Lindgren, or find a work that I have not listed yet.

As for nostalgia for Sweden, are there any other Swedish children’s authors you would recommend?

* I implemented the “Complete works of..” list before finding out Buried in Print had a feature like it, called Must Read Everything Author lists. I wouldn’t like to delete my own list, but I wanted to give credit in some form. BIP’s lists are amazing, and so many authors listed! (I hope this is okay, BIP, if you feel I “copied” you, please let me know and perhaps we could discuss about another solution?).

Sunday Salon: Remember That Hiatus?

I sort of broke the book buying hiatus that I set myself a month ago. Except that I did not, since the book I bought was one of the listed exceptions.

Astrid Lindgren: Haar Leven in Beelden ("Her Life in Images")

My boyfriend had wanted to buy me this book for my birthday, knowing my small obsession with Astrid Lindgren. I did not know the book excited, but apparently it was released to commemorate that she was born hundred years ago. It is a book in three parts, one part of which was written by Lindgren herself. Astrid Lindgren, Haar Leven in Beelden is a biography with a heavy focus on photographs. It didn’t end up as a birthday gift, because he wasn’t able to find a copy that was in good condition. We agreed that if we happened to find it one day, we’d buy it anyway. So, last weekend, when we were visiting my parents, we happened upon a copy in a used book shop. I am so glad I decided to list this book as one of the exceptions to the ban. I cannot wait to start reading..

[Sadly, I haven't been able to find an English translation: it is available in Swedish (obviously) and German]

One of the pages in the book, featuring a photograph of Lindgren and her partner taken 6 months before their wedding.

Apart from this one book,the hiatus from book buying is going really well. I do notice that, at times, I consider stepping inside the book shop and buying something, but I never yet caved. It will get harder now that my sister’s birthday approaches and I will have to order her present through the bookdepository.

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In other, unrelated news: Amy is organising a Nigerian Literature Event around Nigerian Independence day on the first of October. She hopes bloggers will join her by posting on a Nigerian book between the 29th of September and the 3rd of October. She has lots of prizes on offer for those who participate too. I have made a selection of books and I hope I will finish at least one before those dates. Will you join? See Amy’s blog post for more information. The introductory post includes a review database full of suggested reading.

The Children on Troublemaker Street & Lotta on Troublemaker Street by Astrid Lindgren

Lotta Uit de Kabaalstraat - Astrid LindgrenLotta Uit de Kabaalstraat – Astrid Lindgren
Ploegsma, 2009*

I fear the posts about books by Astrid Lindgren will always be the same. Yes, I loved this book. Yes, it made me smile and even laugh out loud. Yes, this is perfect for children. Yes, I still enjoyed it as an adult.

This collection of the two books published about the children on troublemaker street is about three children living in a yellow house on a street that is not exactly called troublemaker street, but that is renamed by the father of these three children, because they are always so loud (in Dutch, the translation reads noisy-street, but I assume that since another title by Lindgren had already been translated as Noisy Village, they could not use it again. Also, the Swedish bråk apparently means both noise and trouble, so there you go). While the book is about three children, Jonas, Maria and Lotta, and include descriptions of the family atmosphere, the character that steals the show is Lotta. Lotta is stubborn, and naughty, but also sweet and funny and hard not to love. She is the youngest and is often left out of the games of her older sister and brother, and teased by them when she cannot do the same things they can, but she always comes up with a smart remark or alternative. It is incredibly charming to read about Lotta’s adventures.

The first book contains short stories about Lotta and Jonas and Maria. The second is a rendition of Lotta’s ‘move to a different house’ (she goes to live in the attic of her neighbour’s garden house) when her mother makes her wear an itchy sweater. It is hard to say which book I liked best. I think they work perfect together, because the first book allows you to become acquainted with the whole family and understand Lotta’s role in it, which makes the second more enjoyable.

There is one thing that I feel I need to mention. One of the stories is called “Lotta looks like a negro slave” when she becomes blackened from soot in the chimney, which sounds incredibly offensive now. I know that this was not considered offensive during the time this was written in Sweden, but it is hard not to notice now. I just wanted to mention it, because I can imagine some people would like to ignore the book because of it, or perhaps be warned so they may skip over the story when they read it in the title. Personally, I think discussing the ideas behind the remark would be best. Despite my misgivings about that story, I still loved the rest of this collection.

* Dutch translation of the books Barnen på Bråkmakargatan & Lotta på Bråkmakargatan, translated in English as indicated in the title above.

I read this book as part of the Nordic Challenge hosted by Zommie. I cannot wait to read more Scandinavian lit, I am planning on reading a lot of it in the autumn and winter. It helps alleviate my melancholic wish to return one day.

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

De Kinderen van Bolderburen - Astrid LindgrenThe Children of Noisy Village – Astrid Lindgren, or, in this case:
The Dutch translation “De kinderen van Bolderburen”, which is a collection of 3 original Swedish titles: “Alla vi barn i Bullerbyn”, ‘Mera om oss barn i Bullerbyn”, & “Bara roligt i Bullerbyn”
Published by Ploegsma, 2010

I am starting to think Astrid Lindgren may be my favourite children’s author out of all the ones I love. With every book I read, or rather, revisit, my respect for her grows. Actually, reading the short introduction to her life included in this book, I realised I am curious to know more: refusing to marry the father of her child, when she got pregnant at 18 and had to move homes because of the scandal? I might sound like someone who is only looking for juicy details, but rather, combined with the love for the countryside and the Swedish life she knew, I am intrigued and definitely want to know more about this woman.

What shines through in “The Children of Noisy Village” (I really wish there would be a more perfect name for Noisy Village, it just seems.. wrong, somehow) is Lindgren’s respect for children. I can just picture her smiling while writing these stories, smiling about the world as children perceive it, smiling about how children can be “naughty” in small ways. Lovingly remembering those days by the creek, by the lakes, celebrating midsummer night and Christmas’ evening.

Reading this book feels like one big journey down memory lane. The memories of Astrid Lindgren, maybe. But certainly my own, even if I had never been to Sweden as a child, never played near lakes, nor celebrated midsummer. But I grew up with these stories and rereading them, I realised how much I wanted to be Lisa, as the main character is called in the Dutch edition. How much I wanted to live in a small village, close to the mountains, lakes and woods, as she did. How much I dreamed of friendships like the ones depicted. How I tried to copy they way she sent messages to the neighbouring children. I did that, with the two girls in my street, and I remember thinking of doing so after reading the story in which Lisa does so.

But it aren’t just my own memories which makes reading this book such a melancholy and yet cheerful experience. You can feel how Astrid Lindgren must have loved to depict a life like she did in here. And how, she may have been writing to preserve this kind of life, in a changing world. (I am unsure if this is true, but I think someone told me this, was it you, Zee? So I might be reading into things, but the feeling wouldn’t let me go while reading).

I cannot tell you more than that I loved revisiting this, and that, as I always feel after finishing a book by Astrid Lindgren, after finishing this one I felt that I need to make reading all of her works my next project. And owning all of them, of course. I know this post is not very useful to any who haven’t read this book yet. But I hope it might convince you to pick this book up, to read it to your children. To give the Astrid Lindgren beyond Pippi Longstocking a try.

This book counts towards Zee’s Nordic Challenge. Do you see a pattern here? I seem to become super sentimental when it comes to books read for the Nordic Challenge.

Short Explanation & Books as Comfort Food

Some of you may have noticed that I posted Book Acquiring Guidelines on Saturday, and then deleted them again. You see, I felt so uncomfortable sharing my ideas on how many books I will or will not allow myself to buy. I do still intend to follow through on most of them, as in: buying books that I specifically want, not so many impulse buys, not so many Wordsworth classics now that I have an eReader. And I do intend to read from my shelves this year. But then, I know I won’t be able to slink down my TBR pile to next to nothing. And I know that at times I buy books for comfort, and it works. For example, last saturday, after finishing up something that was very high pressure and had been grating on me all week, my boyfriend took me to the city centre with the express purpose to buy two Astrid Lindgren books from the book certificates I have had for forever. I want to collect all Astrid Lindgren books, in the Dutch series of books published called The Astrid Lindgren Library. I only have four at the moment, 2 of which I bought this Saturday, but I like the idea that I can ask them for birthdays and that I now have books I can buy if I receive gift certificates (I often find it hard to turn them in, I want the books I buy with them to be extra special, books in stores are often 2 or 3 times as expensive as online and I often simply forget to bring them).

De Gebroeders Leeuwenhart - Astrid Lindgren

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The ones that I own are:

  • The Brothers Lionheart
  • Ronia the Robber’s Daughter
  • The Children of Noisy Village (I far prefer the Dutch term: “Bolderburen” to “Noisy Village”)
  • Mardie (Again, the trouble of translated fiction in which names differ everywhere, in the Netherlands this is called “Madieke van het Rode Huis” [Madieke of the Red House], while in Swedish it is “Madicken” – apparently, it are mostly the Dutch that like to change titles or add to them).

De Kinderen van Bolderburen - Astrid Lindgrenwit

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This means, I will add Astrid Lindgren to my list of authors of which I want to read everything. I haven’t made the page yet, so I cannot link back to it, but I will sometime in the future.

In other news, I recently finished A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Finally! And to my surprise, the University Library owns a copy of So Long a Letter, so I will try to finish that one this month as well. I will also start The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood this week, for Virago Reading Week, organised by Carolyn and Rachel. I hope this title counts, my copy is published by Virago, but does not have the official Virago Modern Classics  green border. And it appears in some of the lists, but is not on the VMC website. Very confusing.