Heartache.

I don’t know where to start. 2022 has really been a year of heartache. I was not in a good place at the beginning of the year and tried to figure out what to do next in my life. I felt really pressured and stressed, but also unmotivated. A lot of stuff happened, and in April my grandfather died. I spiralled. Kept spiralling. I stopped believing in anything good happening this year.

I feel like I have failed in so many ways. Personally. Professionally. And it’s hard to restart something you’ve failed at.

I am trying to create healthy habits, and to do things that makes me feel motivated. But it’s tough.

I am trying to write everyday though. I have been doing a lot of freelancing and hoping that it will ignite a spark in me again.

I guess to be continued is in order.

Bullet Journal

In recent years, I have started using a bullet journal to plan, structure, and keep track of everything in my life. I am not a fan of regular calendars and feel a bullet journal gives me the opportunity to be creative and to fuck up if needed.

In the beginning I was scared – so many of the bullet journals I saw was filled with drawings and perfect lines. But I soon realised that mine doesn’t have to look like those amazingly beautiful notebooks, instead I can fill mine with words, words, and more words.

I have had a few different ones, they’ve all looked different and had their own character, but my new one that I got in January is my favourite one yet. It is so pretty and contains all the things I need to keep track of life without it making me feel like it’s a chore.

I have created my own way of bullet journaling, and it is so freeing that there is no right way to do it. I don’t even have keys to follow!

In my bullet journal I have a Future Log, a “Hanna” section where I list my favourite books, places, podcasts, and restaurants, and a “Good Habits” section which is new for this year. This section is also included in all my weekly pages and includes good habits that I want to keep up with during the year. This year’s good habits include:

  • Sleeping 7-8 hours every night
  • Drinking at least 2 glasses of water (I am horrible at drinking water)
  • Running/going out for a walk
  • Not eating anything sugary
  • Spend less than 3,5 hours on my phone every day
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Going to therapy
  • Meditation

Every day, I go through the list and tick off the good habits I have been able to keep up with. I am specially proud of how little time I spend on my phone every day! Usually less than 3 hours, which is a big step in the right direction.

On my weekly pages, I also have to do lists that I tick off, and a grateful for column where I write 3 things I am grateful for every day. It can be everything from reading a good book, going out for a walk, or seeing a friend. I think it’s important to find things to be grateful for in everyday life.

Do you have a bullet journal and how does it work for you? Do you like to construct your calendars yourself or do you prefer already made ones, or maybe even *gasps* online ones?

Also, shout out to Linn who inspired me to get a bullet journal in the first place!

Bee-utiful isn’t it?!
My weekly pages!

The books I read in 2021

My 2021 started with a lot of reading and ticking off a lot of books. This is probably because I spent four months in Sweden where I had a lot of time to read in the evenings and taking turns reading books with my mum.

After this period, my reading slowed down a bit and stayed pretty low for the rest of the year. I did however manage to read 24 books, including some really great ones that I will recommend to everyone asking.

Here they are in order and with my Goodreads ratings:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – 5 stars. Loved it. Perfect first book of the year.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 stars. Entertaining, interesting, easy going.
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – 4 stars. Sweet, heart warming, tear jerking.
  • Nattsångaren by Johanna Mo – 4 stars. I love reading books about areas I know really well, and this one is all about where my family live – Öland
  • Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior – 3 stars. Cute and quirky.
  • Märkta för livet by Emelie Schlepp – 3 stars. Intense and thrilling. Good Swedish Crime.
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer – 4 stars. I am thinking about bumping this up to 5 stars, because I keep recommending it to people. Loved the language, the setting, the characters, and the way it described food.
  • Husdjuret by Camilla Grebe – 3 stars. Pretty good story. Good characters.
  • Skuggjägaren by Camilla Grebe – 3 stars. Similar to the one above, but the story was a bit better.
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron – 4 stars. It was one of the first books I read after returning to the UK in April last year, and I got it from my book bestie Steph. Such a cute, clever, and funny book with a bunch of good recipes.
  • Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior – 3 stars. When I look back, 3 stars feels generous. It was cute, just like Away with the Penguins which was written by the same author, but the story wasn’t at all as good.
  • And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman – 5 stars. Fredrik Backman is my favourite author, and of course this story made me sob like a baby. Beautiful, heart warming, brilliant, sad.
  • Hamnet by Maggie O´farrell – 5 stars. Brilliant story. Beautifully written and I loved learning more about Shakespeare’s life.
  • Skyddsängeln by Sofie Sarenbrant – 3 stars. Interesting thriller with good characters.
  • Vila i Frid by Sofie Sarenbrant – 3 stars. Same characters but slightly better story.
  • Andra Andningen by Sofie Sarenbrant – 3 stars. Sometimes I get into a crime story run, and all I do is listen to or read Swedish crime novels. At this time, I got into Sofie Sarenbrants books about Emma Sköld. Andra andningen was a pretty good read, too.
  • The Union of Synchronised Swimmers by Cristina Sandu – 3 stars. Very interesting read. Very different from what I’ve read before, but not amazing.
  • Ghosts by Dolly Alderton – 4 stars. Not quite as brilliant as her first book Everything I know About Love, but a great story with great characters. Funny, quirky and relatable.
  • All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle – 4 stars. Wonderful characters and a heart warming story which made me cry on the tube. A great description of loneliness and how damaging it can be. And how easy it can be to help.
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman – 5 stars. Funny, clever, exciting. I loved the first one and was so excited to read this one too!
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Taylor – 4 stars. Lowkey, clever, mellow and amazing. I actually love this kind of books, and know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s probably because it’s how I often write – no action, just thoughts and words and observations.
  • The Switch by Beth O´leary – 3 stars. Cute, funny, heart warming. Didn’t cut too deep and wasn’t too cliché. Just a little cliché.
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – 4 stars. Interesting story with some great characters. The story pulled me along and I couldn’t wait to hear how it’d ended. And then, the ending disappointed.
  • Benvittring by Johan Theorin – 4 stars. Again, I love reading books about places I know, and this book is also all about Öland. Exciting and well written thriller.

Top 3 books of 2021 must be Where the Crawdads Sing, Hamnet, and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, with The Man Who Died Twice just outside the podium.

Swedish crime books tend to generate a 3 star rating – good but not great, unless they are based around Öland which usually bumps them up to 4 stars. (I promise it’s not only because of the setting, I have enjoyed these books more, too.)

Which was your top 3 books of 2021?

What I am leaving in 2021

For me, 2022 will be about moving on and moving forward.

And to do this, I have to leave a few things in 2021.

  1. Passivity – I need to start going for what I want
  2. Fear – trying doesn’t equal failure
  3. Thinking I can do it on my own – ask for help
  4. Not prioritising my mental health – book time for therapy
  5. My writing block – just write

I think passivity is the biggest one for me to overcome. This of course have a lot to do with fear and not asking for help. And yes I am terrified. I am scared just typing this right now. But going for it, reaching out to people, and start working towards what I actually want is my biggest goal this year.

Wish me luck!

30.

Today I turn 30 years old.

It feels like a big thing, and there’s so many things that will change.

From today, I won’t be a Londoner in my 20s anymore. Will I be able to relate to the articles I usually read? Will I feel more pressure? Will 30 be the age where I finally figure out how to be my best self?

So many questions. So much in the unknown.

But I am also ready. It feels like a sexy age. Thirty, flirty, and thriving right?

Anyway, here’s a list of things I want to bring into this year.

  1. Therapy
  2. More writing
  3. More reading
  4. Daily morning runs
  5. Baking
  6. Taking more photos
  7. A drink trolley

This sounds pretty sexy right? Dirty thirty, here I come!

Once upon a time, there was a writer…

Wow, wonder how many times I can start this blog again without it getting embarrassing… Who am I trying to fool, it is 100% already embarrassing.

It has been a couple of mad years right? With the big C still roaming around us and the world trying to learn how to live with it whilst denying the fact that we will have to.

I did really well the first year (2020) and truly enjoyed this new lifestyle. It was a lot less stressful. In 2021, I did less well and really struggled with getting back out into the world. I quit a job, got a new job, quit that job, moved into a new flat, attended two weddings, went to Glasgow for Sweden vs Ukraine in the Euro Cup, wrote a bunch of articles, and started reading frequently again.

I am currently (in this very moment actually) trying to figure out what my next steps are. I know I have to take them, but I am just afraid I’ll trip over myself and not get up again. Actually, I am terrified.

My first tiny little step is to say Hello here again. Hi world.

My next little step is to turn 30. Which I will tomorrow. God help me.

Book Review: Olive

Book review: Olive by Emma Gannon

This book review contains spoilers, but I have written SPOILERS STARTING so you can avoid them.

Olive is Emma Gannon’s debut novel. The book feels a little like a fictive version of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love (which I loved) and takes us on a journey through London and a young woman’s life.

The young woman is Olive; a pop culture journalist who finds herself outside the expectations from society as well as the life development of her friends. She does not want children, whilst that is what everyone around her seem to want to talk about. She feels a bit left out and start to wonder if she has to do what society says to remain close with her friends, with the possibility of losing herself.

The book discovers the possibilities and challenges that comes with not living a life according to “the norm” and invites us to see different perspectives with the help of Olive and her friends.

It is a great contemporary story of how it is to be a young woman. It is about friendship and about support. I think support is the key bit in this novel. It made me think of how I am as a friend, partner, daughter, and human being.

I also loved the bits in between chapters where the author included quotes about child free lives. There were funny, wise, and cute.

My favourite characters were Dorothy, and Jacob.

SPOILER STARTING (and continues until it says SPOILER FINISHED)

The chapter where she is meeting up with Jacob got to me in a way I was not prepared for. It was brutal, and honest, and brilliant. I cried so much.

The only thing I would have liked to see more of was character development. Olive found her way in life, and her own way to love and care for a “family”, but I wish I could see more of the same from her friends. Poor Isla was bitter the whole time, and it didn’t feel like she actually accepted anyone’s apology nor reflected on her own issues at all. I wanted to see why Cecily was so in love with her dick husband, and I wanted to see more of Bea who definitely could have been one of my favourite characters.

Instead, the book focused, in my opinion, a bit too much on trending topics. There is this bit about a cab driver talking about gender and basically that boys should be boys and girls should be girls. I would have been ALL FOR that if the characters then would have discussed this. Instead, the characters in the cab basically called him a dick and got on with it. The topic was raised and killed again. It didn’t feel like it had a purpose except for the topic being included.

SPOILER FINISHED

Overall, a lovely read with some lovely characters and unexpected moments. I also love any book that takes me through London so that I can feel at home. It is such a nice feeling recognising places and the sensations that come with them.

Book Review: The Midnight Library

This review contains spoilers, but not until the very end where I have documented my initial thoughts.

Nora Seed has lived a life full of regrets and misery. A life where none of her dreams came true, and all her relationships fell apart. When she doesn’t want to be a part of it all anymore, she finds herself in The Midnight Library – a place between life and death. Here she gets to discover what would have happened if she made different choices, if she didn’t have any regrets.

The first book I read by Matt Haig was How to Stop Time, and the feelings I felt then matches the feelings I have now. I understand. I understand why Matt writes in the way he does, I understand why he creates a world where you can experience a million different lives. I understand why he wants to discover all the possibilities and all the different versions of ourselves. I understand why he wants us to be able to discover our possibilities. This is how I want people to feel after reading my writing too.

It is uncomplicated, relatable, insightful, and reflecting. Matt Haig knows human connections, maybe better than anyone else, and he knows how to explain it.

I love this book and what it represents. It is an important book and I highly recommend it.

I finished the book, very appropriately, at midnight, and wrote down my initial thoughts:

I felt like there was something off the whole time Nora spent in the library. I was unease with her situation and it just felt wrong. All those lives that was “her” didn’t feel like her. She didn’t feel like someone who needs to have it all. She felt like someone who just needs a purpose. And potential. And possibilities. When she came back to her root life, things felt right. She was back where she belonged. It was a little life, but it was her life.

Review: The Psychology of Time Travel

In 1967, four female scientists invent time travel. One of them suffer from mental health issues caused by the stress, which leads her to break down in television and her departure from the project. The other women continue without her and create an organisation which become highly successful, but not without keeping a close eye on their employees and their mental health…

My first thought was: Girl power. I loved the female characters, their relationships and that I could almost assume that most characters were female. They felt strong and inspiring, and I wanted to get to know them more.

I really like the concept of time travel (two of my favourite books of all time are Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley), and I think that the time travelling was fun to figure out, and not too complicated. I loved the Time Travel Glossary, and especially the term “Legacy fuck” which means “Intercourse with one’s past self”.

I kind of wish there were more character development, and I really wish I got to know the characters better. I want to know more.

Finally, I felt that it was so exciting and intriguing in the beginning that the suspense was lost in the end – I knew what would happen. But maybe that was because I was supposed to feel like a time traveller too? Maybe I got to experience a “Completion” which according to the glossary means “To live an incident you’ve already read or heard about”.

I would still give it 4 stars – a great debut novel, and I recommend it.

Have you read The Psychology of Time Travel? What did you think?

Write they said… It will be fun they said…

So apparently, I celebrated my birthday in January, went to Dublin, and then I stopped writing…

And during this time, this thing called corona happened and the whole world went upside down. Kind of like if the world would have been stuck in a plastic bowl and someone put down an electric mixer in there and pressed play.

I went into lock down in March, and have been working from home since then. It has been going surprisingly well. I don’t mind working from home, and have learnt how to not go mad (which I totally thought I would). For me it takes routine, books, good food, making sure I move around during the day, and a lot of walks around our area.

Then I was lucky enough to be able to go to Sweden for two weeks in August. It was like fleeing reality. I read loads, played card games with my siblings, talked about books with my mum, watched football with my dad, went swimming almost every day, and ate all the ice cream.

And then I was in quarantine for two weeks after coming back to the UK.

And here we are now.

My first weekend of freedom back in the UK I went book shopping for the first time in over 6 months. It was a very happy moment. And with this I have also created another Instagram, where I will post about books, feature my own writing, and connect with others within the writing community.

It is, conveniently enough, named after this blog – writerhannaandersson

Check it out if you are on Instagram, but if you prefer the blog world, I will start updating this space too. With longer versions of my Instagram posts.

Until next time,

Hanna