Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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book of june: raska på alfons åberg 

Here he is again! Loveable Alfons Åberg! Since my first Alfons post (or Alfie if you’re reading the English translation) a lot has happened. Including the current residence of a small toddler in our home. K loves Alfons. She actually loves a wide myriad of books of all shapes an sizes. (She frequently brings me my textbooks for me to read to her – and sits for much longer than expected and listens as I read aloud). What we’re here today to talk about is my personal favorite Alfons book – Raska på Alfons Åberg! Which translates to Hurry up Alfie Atkins! 

Left: first post – Good night Alfie Atkins. Right: Hurry up Alfie Atkins!

Not to give away the plot of the ending, I do want to say it ends in a lot of laughs. Which means I laugh a little while reading (always the dutiful actress), K laughs a lot at me, and I start genuinely laughing. Just a jolly good show for all. I, yet again, recommend Alfons, Alfie, Mikko or whatever language you prefer to read in with your little one. 


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book of november: nudge

My dad gave me one dollar bill’
Cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
‘Cause two is more than one!
And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes — I guess he don’t know
That three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickles for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!
And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head–
Too proud of me to speak!

That’s a poem by Shel Silverstein entitled Smart, not the book Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. But it was referenced in Nudge, used to make a good point about libertarian paternalism. I didn’t know much (if anything) about libertarian paternalism prior to reading this book, but boy was I intrigued once I got started!

Nudge: Improving Decisons About Health, Wealth, and Happiness was recommended to me by my Goodreads app, based on previous books I’ve enjoyed. Which is also a great reason to actually fill in the books I’ve enjoyed on the app. (Previously seeming to me as a somewhat pointless activity). Back to the book. Nudge was a very fun read, despite the fact that the authors diss ABBA. They do go on to speak well of the Swedish retirement investment system, so they come out neutral in their views on Sweden. At least according to me.

If you are also interested or curious about libertarian paternalism definitely check this book out. If nothing else, by the end of the book I hope you will at least consider always checking the door mechanism when entering and exiting rooms and/or buildings.


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book of july: the paying guests

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Prior to reading this book I had read Waters’ first book Tipping the Velvet. If memory serves,  both books take a while to get into and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I didn’t find myself getting wrapped up in the plot of The Paying Guests until at least 6 or 7 chapters in. Though, once this book gets going it really gets going! I recommend just speeding through the first few chapters to get to the good stuff, you’ll be glad you did. Definitely a great summer read!

All in all The Paying Guests was a fun read, and I will definitely check out more books by Waters. This being the sixth book Waters has written I have a few to choose from, though I think I’ve already decided on reading Fingersmith next.

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book of march: modern romance

So many people I know were reading this book last summer, I just had to give it a go. And I am sure glad I did.

  
As per my usual I listened to the audiobook version, because Aziz is a funny guy and funny people are funny to listen to. I even noticed some parallels between this funny guy and other funny people. For example he opened his book, like Sarah Silverman, wondering what the listeners would be doing upon listening. Aziz painted a lovely picture of his listener being curled up in bed, enjoying a cup of tea by the fire. Sarah bet on pooping. I’m not saying one or the other is better…but I feel I should say for the record I’m in the first category.

From Aziz I learned that In the 30’s and 40’s people would go as far as they had to to find a mate, but no farther. The “girl/boy nextdoor” is a real thing, and many people clearly loved the ones they’re with already. What I took away from this is that I must have been terrible at finding a mate since I had to go all the way to Sweden to find her.

I also learned that average age of first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men, and 30 for men and women in big cities. So, again, I follow none of the norms. To be fai Aziz admits to focusing on heterosexual relationships in his book, so I guess I just don’t fit in here. Joking aside I do think there is a lot of fun stuff to take away from the book. But I’m not going to tell you any more about it, you’ll have to just go read it for yourself. 

I will say that there are robots and scientific studies in the book. If that doesn’t pique your interest I don’t know what you’re even doing here.


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book of february: essentialism: the diciplined pursuit of less

I really liked this book. Really a lot.


I’m not sure if it’s because we’re moving soon, or that we’ve just had a baby, but I feel the need to have less things. Not only have less things but do less things. Do less things more effectively. Which is what this book is about.

Now I definitely think you should go read this for yourself, but my big take home was that whenever a choice presents itself to you, in life, love, business, whatever, ask yourself if/how this will help you make your biggest contribution to the world. This is some difficult stuff, it requires one to be a grounded and informed individual. But, something I think is important to remember is that nothing is written in stone, and you should never not do something because of the time it takes. The time will pass anyway. If an opportunity you deem to be important enough to pursue presents itself, then it’s an easy: Yes.

After finishing the book I find myself often asking myself two questions (in my quest to have less possessions and to use my time more effectively):

  1. If I didn’t already own this, how much would I pay for it?
  2. Do I want this enough to struggle for it?

I feel the second question needs some explaining. By combining what I read in this book, and the contents of this article, I ask myself this question for two reasons. If I think I want something I need to first examine the hinders/obstacles ahead of me that may prevent me from getting there. After I have determined the obstacles I need to then determine if I am willing to overcome them. The answers to these questions help me decide if whatever I’m pondering about is truly worth pursuing.

As I said, wonderful book. Go read it!


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book of november: the girl with the dragon tattoo

Stieg Larsson wrote a trilogy. You may be familiar with the books and subsequent Hollywood movie. I hope you’re also familiar with the Swedish trilogy of films and pre-existing mini-series.

I had tried to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when it was a hot item, but that didn’t go so well. I even bought the book before I saw all those movies. However, the beginning was a little hard to get through. I mean it was interesting, and now that I’ve read it, I’m so glad I did, but the first time around I took a little break at around page 60. This time things went a lot better.

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Usually I try to read the book before seeing the film, but in this instance I watched the Swedish films, then the Hollywood version and then read the book. As I’m sure you can tell by the photo above I read the book in English. I’ve heard rumors that the translation could have been better, and I vaguely recall the translator saying he wish he had more time to do a better job. To be honest, at times I did get a good chuckle from the translation. This is probably partially because I now know Swedish to some degree and can clearly see what the initial Swedish would have been.

This book definitely comes highly recommended. I’m definitely reading the next book (The Girl Who Played with Fire) only this time in Swedish. Flickan som lekte med elden.

Side bar: Did you know that in Swedish they only capitalize the first letter of
book and article titles? Fun fact for you on this fine Monday. Also, days of
the week are not capitalized in Swedish. That was the last fun fact for today.

I’m excited to see if I enjoy the book more in its native Swedish. I’m testing a theory on whether or not a book is usually better in the native language of the author. I’ll keep you posted.

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book of october: the bedwetter: stories of courage, redemption, and pee


You may want to sit down for this one. Sit down on the toilet that is. This much at least I have gathered from Sarah’s humerus opus, you can totally be on the toilet for the duration of her book. Though if that were to be the case you might want to get that checked out.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, listening to audiobooks of funny people is a great way to spend time. Provided their voice doesn’t drive you up the wall, as luckily is the case here.

Sarah Silverman is hilarious. I didn’t actually know this before listening to this audiobook. Complete disclosure: this isn’t the first time I listened to the audiobook. It was equally hilarious now as it was the first time around.

The same two things struck me the second time listening. First Sarah’s repeated recommendation to make things a treat. I’ll let her explain the finer details to you, but it was quite interesting to hear Sarah get almost serious with us listeners. I will certainly be making some things in my life more of a treat. Good advice, good advice.

Second, I know a lot of Jews. To clarify I know a lot of Jews for a non Jew. I’m sure many Jewish people know more Jewish people than I do. But I digress.

Sarah Silverman is Jewish, as she mentions a time or two in her book. Near the end she states that (as of 2010) 2.2% of the American population is Jewish. I had no idea. Maybe it’s just my small Massachusetts hometown skewing my world view again, but I totally expected that number to be higher. When I was a teenager I went to 20 bar/bat mitzvahs. And I didn’t even go to all of the ones I’d been invited to, sometimes there were scheduling conflicts. Didn’t think anything of it until I met people in college who had been to ZERO bat/bar mitzvahs. I had friends from high school who went to far more celebrations of adulthood than I! Who knew.

If you’re looking for a laugh (and shocking statistics about Judaism in America) give Silverman a listen.

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