Lockdown Reading Recommendations | The Hospice of St. Francis

Lockdown Reading Recommendations

The wonderful thing about Chapter Two, and second hand bookshops in general, is that books are so reasonably priced you can take a chance on something you might not normally buy or read.

This book, “One of Us” by Asne Seierstad, came into Chapter Two and I bought it for £1.99. (All our books are very reasonably priced.) I thought if I don’t like it I can just donate it back, and it cost less than a cappuccino after all.

So far I’m gripped by it. When a tragic event occurs in the world we ask ourselves, how? why? It seems incomprehensible. This book goes some way to answering some of those often unanswerable questions. It is the psychological study of a man, Anders Breivik, who in 2011, in Norway, killed 77 people, most of them young adults, on an island in summer. It takes a close look at Norwegian society and politics at the time and delves into Breivik’s dysfunctional childhood, his key relationships, his obsession with fascism, his violent fantasies and his feelings of worthlessness. Unusually, equal space is given to the stories of some of his victims and after the tragic events, the subsequent trial.

The author, herself a Norwegian, and a distinguished journalist, (who also wrote “The Bookseller of Kabul”), scrupulously researched the book from police and court transcripts and from the accounts of survivors. We aren’t spared any details.

It isn’t exactly cheerful reading, it’s heart breaking and painful at times, but it does help us understand how the home environment and the political environment can combine to produce a deeply damaged individual.