The stories of our lives
 
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It is tempting, these days, to run for cover, to desperately try to escape the airwaves dense with toxic tweets and spiteful comments, but, thankfully, just as the skies are at their darkest something inevitably happens to let in the sunshine, offer perspective and remind us of our resilience.

In this case that something came in the shape of a story - or two.

In his memoir, Plot 29, Allan Jenkins tells the story of how he and his brother Christopher grew up in foster homes, bouncing from one to the next until finally settling with an elderly couple in Devon who decided to change Allan’s name to theirs, while leaving Christopher with his birth name. “We are predisposed to love the lovable”, says Jenkins in this love letter to the brother he never truly felt he could protect and explains how this early experience of the human inclination to avoid the awkward and the "less lucky" among us has led to a conscious choice to especially and always “love the unworthy”. 

I had the great pleasure of meeting Allan Jenkins last week at a joint event with Trine Hahnemann and was left with the indelible impression of a man whose every move, every decision, every life choice is directed by an urge to be the best person he can be, to always care and to always include. The loss, the hardships and the pain have in his hands and in his heart become a guiding force for good, for tenderness and for kindness.

His is truly a story of resilience and caring. 

“I learned, I think, to love from seed.“ Jenkins says in his tribute to gardening which became his solace and saviour. “I make sure that no one who is close to me ever doubts their importance, not just to me, but their importance per say, as human beings.”

Across the Atlantic, on a mountainside in Idaho, Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family focused mainly on preparing for the end of the world and staying as far away from the evils of Government as possible. This meant no school, no doctors and minimal contact with the outside world. 

Tara Westover’s memoir Educated describes a childhood rooted in survival. The physical hardships are rivaled only by the emotional scars that leave a young woman forever doubting her own worth as she ventures out into the “outside world”. Even as she catapults herself all the way to Cambridge and Harvard, she never feels comfortable in her new skin.

The beauty of Tara Westover’s story, as hideous as it is at times, is that she, much like Allan Jenkins, has found an inner strength and much like him is on a quest to find, to do and to be something better. She is, albeit at first confused by kindness, grateful for the generosity she has been shown and when looking back at her own life and the characters who inhabit it she is careful to gaze through a lens of understanding and love.

So yes, there are noise polluters out there, many more it seems today than yesterday, but listen carefully and you will find among them beautiful voices that will stave off the need to hide away and strengthen the urge to embrace.


On that note, we are thrilled to announce that starting in late August we will be offering our first fiction writing course aptly named, Get Writing, with British novelist Liz Jensen.

So if you're not sure where to start, if you have hit a wall, or are just keen to hone your craft, then this might be just the place for you.

An exclusive six-week course in creative writing, featuring workshops, discussions, and exercises designed to challenge and inspire you. 

Get Writing will help you discover your voice, structure a story, create compelling characters in vivid settings, and master the art of editing. Each two-hour session will include dynamic, on-the-spot writing exercises.  

Liz Jensen is the British author of eight novels including The RaptureThe Uninvited, and the Hollywood-adapted The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. A passionate advocate of writing groups and workshops, she has worked as an editorial consultant and creative writing teacher on courses across the world. 

The course will take place at Books & Company. To sign up, write a sentence about your writing ambitions and what you would like to take away from the course. Space is limited to ten students.  

For more information about the course, price and times, please email us at info@booksandcompany.dk.

Until then, we welcome any ideas and comments and look forward to seeing you at the shop.

Happy Spring!

Kind regards,
Isabella & the staff of Books & Company

 

Hannah Gough
Joining forces
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We are very excited to be joining our friend, cookbook author and frequent Books & Company speaker Trine Hahnemann at her new inspiring space for a very special book talk on Friday, March 16 @ 7pm.

Guest speaker and bestselling author Mark Forsyth will be discussing his latest book, A Short History of Drunkenness, which traces humankind's love affair with booze from our primate ancestors through to Prohibition, answering every possible question along the way.

It will be an evening of drinks, snacks and talk….but mainly drinks; cocktails by expert mixers from Balderdash, the legendary cocktail bar, fine wines by Osterreich Wine and beer from organic brewery Herslev Bryghus.

There will, of course, also be an opportunity to purchase signed copies of Mark Forsyth’s books which aside from the evening’s book includes The Etymologicon, The History of Eloquence and many more titles on history, tradition and the stories behind it all. 

So join us for what promises to be an unforgettable (depending on number of drinks) evening by booking tickets at hahnemannskoekken.dk 

 

Isabella Smith
Hit Refresh
 
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Hello and welcome to 2018!

Much has been and will surely continue to be said of 2017, but only time and perspective will allow historians to truly judge the events set in motion and the individuals responsible.

For now, most of us can probably agree that the year was notable in large part for its surprising and often unpredictable choices, declarations, movements and disclosures. 

History has seen better years, but it has also seen much worse and the stroke of midnight offers, as always, an opportunity to hit refresh, learn from past experiences and carry with us across the finish line the good while leaving behind the bad.

The most serious danger posed by 2017 was the sense of impending dread and doom that covered us like a heavy blanket threatening to suffocate us with negativity and growing cynicism. Disappointment in our fellow men and women began to eat away at core values we hold dear and which are part of the makeup of any successful society: trust, respect and the belief in the goodness of others.

Fortunately, we are not yet too far down the rabbit hole to turn back, undo, start over and refresh. We can and must shift focus to the positive, to the fact that most people - by far - are good, want to do good and that good (perhaps even great) leaders are in our future and can indeed lead the way to a more inclusive, more tolerant and brighter year ahead.

That’s the beauty of a new year!

At Books & Company we would like to start the new year by thanking you for the old. As always, we are overwhelmed by and greatly appreciate your support and commitment to a small bookshop in Hellerup. We love the conversations, the shared stories and the laughs that make our days so bright, interesting and full of hope.

Thank you for loving books - and our company!

Happy New Year!

Isabella and the staff of Books & Company

 
Isabella Smith
Change is good
 
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In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater. In 2015! The prevailing thought being that it would be distracting for audiences to see dancers of colour on stage - and somehow this was acceptable and went uncontested for years. Some might argue that this is still the case.
 
On October 1, 2017, a man shot and killed 58 people and injured more than 500 from his suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This, the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States, was the 273rd mass shooting (defined as incidents where 4 or more people are shot and/or killed) in 2017. That is nearly as many mass shootings as there have have been days in 2017. Yet, millions of people and a strong gun lobby believe that the right to bear arms set out in the Second Amendment trumps the need to protect innocent lives by putting restrictions on the right to purchase weapons.
 
In her book “Lean in”, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook writes that the data show that for men, likability and professional success are correlated. The more successful a man, the more people like him. With women, it’s the exact opposite. The more professionally successful women are, the less people like them.

How often, when discussing the gender gap in the workforce, do we hear the argument: “The most important criteria must surely be to get a qualified applicant”, thus immediately revealing the implicit bias that a woman would not, could not be the most qualified applicant. That we still have these discussions is confounding - we need to not just catch up but leapfrog into a 21st century mindset.
 
Tradition, culture and a fear of the unfamiliar, such as black dancers in Swan Lake, restrictions on the right to bear arms, or equal opportunities for women, keep societies and in particular minorities in an iron grip. This works to the detriment not only of the minorities themselves and the safety of our communities, but also as a tripwire in the evolutionary path of society.
 
We tell our children to be brave, to stand up for those less fortunate, to fight for equality; we praise the unsung heroes and award Nobel prizes to the few among us who sacrifice careers, families and even their lives to save or bring attention to the plight of victims.
 
Yet, when we look at our leaders and our politicians today,  in Denmark, across Europe and the world, when we sit in our boardrooms and living rooms, those who defend the weak, who point out injustices and inequalities are often ridiculed and themselves branded as weak. Instead of looking at the facts and understanding the historical contexts, the blame for lack of success, lack of upward mobility and lack of inclusion is increasingly placed on the shoulders of the disadvantaged.
 
In his work “On the Basis of Morality” the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer declared that “compassion is the basis of morality”. That was in 1840. In 2017, there seems to be a deficit of compassion upon which to base a common morality.
 
Yes, everyone should take personal responsibility and yes, we must all work to the best of our abilities, but that does not relieve those of us more fortunate from our obligation to try to understand the plight of others and to offer a helping hand, not when it suits us, but when it helps others.


It’s been a busy Fall season at Books & Company. 

So many great books to choose from and so many exciting events to plan.

We will be taking a road trip through Americalearning to live and work in the Nordic countries, celebrating Christmas Scandinavian style - and Celtic style - meeting fascinating speakers in the Copenhagen Salon Series and singing our hearts out at our annual Christmas caroling evening in December.

So much to look forward to as the days get shorter and the leaves change colour.

Check out our events on the website, sign up and join us for inspiring, eye-opening and fun evenings at Books & Company!

We look forward to seeing you at the shop!

Kind regards,

Isabella and the staff of Books & Company

 

Hannah Gough
Re-entry
 
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Welcome back! 

We hope you enjoyed the boat rides and the bike rides; the beaches and the bazaars, the sunshine AND the rain. We hope you took lots of naps and read lots of books. We did (napped AND read)  - and you can catch our reviews online in the next few weeks.

There are as many ways to spend a summer as there are people, but one thing most experiences have in common is the opportunity to step back and reflect; on our choices and our voices, on elections and selections; on how we live our lives and spend our days.

So often it is the books and articles we find time to read - the ones crowding our bedside tables waiting for summer to roll around - that offer new opportunities for reflection. 

Our favorites make us question “the slippery slopes” of life - the habits and patterns we have unwittingly fallen into - and the best of such pieces strike that fine balance of simultaneously making you smile, cringe and think twice - all in the short span of a column and a cup of coffee.

One such article is David Brooks’ The Golden Age of Bailing published in The New York Times in July. We encourage you to read, smile (maybe cringe a bit) and consider whether this sounds familiar: 

“All across America people are deciding on Monday that it would be really fantastic to go grab a drink with X on Thursday. But then when Thursday actually rolls around they realize it would actually be more fantastic to go home, flop on the bed and watch Carpool Karaoke videos. So they send the bailing text or email: “So sorry! I’m gonna have to flake on drinks tonight. Overwhelmed. My grandmother just got bubonic plague.…”

Enjoy!
 

Isabella Smith
Hoping for the Afterthought
 
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It is easy these days to feel overwhelmed by world events - and underwhelmed by the powers that be; easy to succumb to fears and frustrations. The eye of the storm is indeed a disorienting place to be. It was therefore truly inspiring last week to be reminded of the value and simplicity of choice and the strength of conviction. When asked by a reporter if his quest for sustainability was driven by a desire to be trendy, chef Matt Orlando of restaurant Amass in Copenhagen calmly replied, “I do it because it is the right thing to do” -plain and simple.

We were recently treated to a behind the scenes look at the ideas and ideals of Matt Orlando and Amass. The evening was peppered with inspirational, mind-blowing, fun and quirky ideas of how a business - in this case a restaurant - can have an impact on the environment and the community within which it lives and works. As inspiring as the ideas themselves was the humility with which they were presented. In a world where self promotion is increasingly “the name of the game” it was a welcome breath of fresh air to meet someone who was all about the work and the desire to improve life.

The world stage may be dominated by a cacophony of booming voices of doom, but listening to Matt Orlando was a poignant reminder of the many calmer, yet equally strong voices out there conducting a quiet revolution on behalf of us all and in return merely “hoping for the afterthought”.

And the afterthought is also what we hope for with our events at Books & Company. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all the incredible speakers who give so generously of their time, knowledge and expertise to expand our horizons, challenge our beliefs and make us smarter about the world we live in. Thank you!

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is here and with it lots of new and exciting books. Novels and non-fiction alike seem to reflect our need to make sense of our lives, our times and our place in history. It may be a coincidence, but this year, it seems, authors, publishers and readers all agree that literature is the place to go not just for answers and explanations, but also for calm, for reason and for sanity.

We look forward to seeing you at the shop and showing you our selection of books to weather the storm!

Kind regards,

Isabella & the Staff of Books & Company

Isabella Smith
Mystery Week
 

The New York Times recently published a wonderful little piece about rereading favorite books - in this case ones by the doyenne of mystery writing herself, the late, great Agatha Christie. Click on the image above to go straight to the piece. Have a "chilling" weekend!

 
Isabella Smith
Happy Easter!
 
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We will be closed Thursday April 13 thru Monday April 17 and look forward to seeing you again on Tuesday April 18 at 8:30.

We wish you a very happy Easter with lots of good books, a comfortable chair and delicious chocolate eggs!

The Books & Company Team (off to Ireland, Jordan and Fyn)

 
Isabella Smith
An All New Chapter for Books & Company
 
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Hello Friends,

It is with great pleasure, much excitement - and a few butterflies - that we hereby announce the launch of our new website. Change is never easy and, as comfortable as we were with our old booksandcompany.dk, we knew it was time to update our site in order to make more room for community engagement, regular blog posts, and lots of book news and reviews!

So, with a little help from our dear friends Austin Sailsbury (web design) and Anne Prytz Schaldemose (photos), we now have an all new virtual home for our little independent, international bookshop.

Just as we prefer real books over “those other ones," we would, of course, always prefer to see you here in the shop on Sofievej. However, we are all aware of the realities and limitations of time, space and geography. With that in mind, we hope that this new virtual Books & Company effectively reflects the essence of the real shop and, in turn, reflects our commitment to our beloved community. 

We will skip the introductions to the new features of the website and let you explore on your own, however, we would like to direct your attention to the fact that due to the immense popularity of our book clubs, we have now decided to host four book clubs a month at the shop! 

We are also thrilled to announce several amazing new events in April and May which, in keeping with the Books & Company tradition of diversity, will focus on discussions that cover a wide variety of subjects and are hosted by visionaries and top experts in their fields.

Thank you all for your continued support of Books & Company. It's been a wonderful journey so far and we have nothing but excitement and enthusiasm for what is coming next.

We hope you will continue to join us on this adventure in books, ideas, and community. 

Best Regards,
The Books & Company Team

 
Isabella Smith