Posted in Autumn, Book review, Books, Finland, Reading Challenge, Winter

Book Review: Talvikirja by Maija Tiensuu and Annabelle Antas

Talvikirja is a Finnish book about winter, and how to best enjoy the winter months. It’s a combination of beautiful photographs and tips for wintery things to do, recipes and just short tales of how the winter months are experienced by the authors.

It was sleeting a bit here in Southern Finland, so winter is definitely on its way. It’s getting darker and darker every day and soon we will have only limited hours of daylight time and that continues for a couple of months. It’s depressing to some, but for me this season has always been very cozy. I love early autumn’s colors and when that’s done I love the feeling of staying inside and doing things I enjoy with good conscience ,when the weather doesn’t favor going out. And of course, since I’m a Christmas person, I like the “preparation months” when it’s not yet hectic, and one can dream of a calm Christmas before the hassle really starts in December. 🙂

Ota aikalisä arjen kiireistä ja opettele nauttimaan vuoden pimeimmästä ajasta niin sisällä kuin ulkona.

Rough translation from Finnish: “Take a timeout from the everyday hustle and learn to enjoy the darkest time of the year both inside and outside.”

This book was very enjoyable to me and it very gently sets the mood for this season. This season is all about adjusting your attitude and making the best of the dark and cold months.

Autumn and winter months can be harsh in Finland. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark and it seems to take forever. The darkness especially can feel like a strong contrast to the summer months when you have some daylight all through the night. In December the sun goes down at around 3pm already here in the South, and even though the situation sounds quite harsh, at least we do get some sunlight during the days. If you go to the North, there is a time period called “kaamos”, when the sun doesn’t actually rise above the horizon at all for a couple of months.

So finding the right attitude and nice things to do during the winter months is essential, if you want to live here. It happens every year and being negative about the creeping darkness and coldness certainly doesn’t help time pass any faster. 🙂

The book covers moths of November, December, January and February with various advice for activities or just relaxing.
My favorites are November and December, not least because they are Christmas preparation months but also because there is a lot of things that I can do this time a year, just like the book says. Staying inside with a good book or spending extra time with your loved ones are all easy to do. For me it’s all about slowing down before the few hectic weeks before Christmas and then again slowing down during Christmas.

The book is very atmospheric and has pictures that go from melancholy to coziness and pure bliss of the snowy landscapes and I think it gives a very realistic picture of what the winter months can look like here. Sometimes there is very little snow, and it’s horribly dark, grey and muddy for weeks or months. Sometimes it’s so snowy and sunny that you feel more alive than in weeks in the middle of all that beauty.
When I tell to non-Finnish people about how having snow is sort of like having substitute sunshine in winter, they laugh and think I’m joking. That is, until they experience it themselves. 🙂 The difference during the long winter months is huge when you have a light, frozen and snowy environment compared to a dark, wet ground and grey sky. Snow brightens the day, literally.

Talvikirja is a very cozy and visual book. While there isn’t that much written text, to me the familiarity of the beautiful photographs of Finnish nature and cultural things combined with the few words accompanying them, made this book a lovely experience. The only small complaint I have is that some of the text was printed on top of the pictures making it hard to read everything. This was just on a couple of pages though.

As for the practical tips of the book: I have already knitted a pair of slippers based on the book’s instructions and will most likely try out some of the baking recipes too!

Talvikirja is added to my Reading Challenge list and completes the prompt of:

7. A book about a place you have visited

Finnish nature, snowy forests, sauna, mulled wine by the fire, winter sun, darkness and serenity. They are all “places” I have visited in my homeland. And if winter months are a state of mind, that too is a “place” I have visited many times as I curl up to enjoy the slower months.

Author:

I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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