Happy camper

Twelve years ago, Wife and I shook hands in the little kitchen of our little apartment in downtown Helsinki, on a closed deal. She’d start up a Swedish-language site and a discussion forum for expecting and new parents, and I would start up a Finnish-language site and a discussion forum for … hockey fans.

Wife’s site was up and running a few weeks later, and it turned into a big success.

Meanwhile, I was still working at my day job, while trying to get my writer friends to contribute to my new magazine that was going to come out that fall, still six months away. I wrote several articles myself, translated the ones my buddies – and brother-in-law – had written in English and Swedish, traveled to Sweden to meet with the designer who donated his time for my cause, negotiated with the printers, and the distribution channels, while trying to be a father and a boyfriend.


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Risto reads – the archives

“Jonesy,” by John Buccigross and Keith Jones.
An inspiring and funny story of an improbable career in the NHL. A testament to the toughness of the NHL, and the NHLers.
Risto rating: R R R

“King of Russia,” by Dave King, Eric Duhatschek
Dave King’s diary of his first year coaching Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the Russian Super League. The cultural shocks, the language barriers, the mystery shots and vitamins, it’s all in there. Great read.
Risto rating: R R R R R

“Who stole the funny,” by Robby Benson
Halfway through the book, I was asking the same thing. Some good quips, and ideas, maybe some of the work better for somebody in the industry. Risto rating: R R

“Saved,” by Jack Falla
I really loved Home Ice by Falla, so I had high expectations about this one. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Shallow characters, phoney dialogue. Really a shame, because bits of the book are brilliant writing.
Risto rating: R R R r

The Best American Sports Writing 2007
These are always good. Need inspiration? Read this.
Risto rating: R R R R R

“The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote, and the New Journalism Revolution,” by Marc Weingarten
A great journey through the history of new journalism, and creative non-fiction. It’s a thrilling story, and a captivating lesson on the craft.
Risto rating: R R R R R

The Understudy, by David Nicholls
A story about an actor and a wanna-be star who gets tangled up in a triangle drama that also gets him his break. Funny and British. Heh.
Risto rating: R R R r

Rebel League, by Ed Willes
The story of the original World Hockey Association, and what a story. I laughed, I cried – but mostly I laughed. I truly couldn’t put this book down. Risto rating: R R R R R

Gretzky to Lemieux (the story of the 1987 Canada Cup), by Ed Willes
The same storyteller, but a different story. Again, Willes spins the yarn of “the greatest game ever played” with a warm and funny voice that takes you straight back to 1987, The Era of The Mullets.
Risto rating: R R R R r

Sinuhe The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
A must-read for all Finns, and those who want to be Finns (or Egyptians), and those who just want to read an epic book. Waltari moves you in every possible way: time, space, and you know, emotionally.
Risto rating: R R R R

Open Ice: Reflections and Confessions of a Hockey Lifer by Jack Falla
After “Saved”, Falla returned to beautiful essays, and I’m happy he did. Falla heard the clock ticking, and several of the essays, maybe all, have a sense of him entering the third period in his life. Only, he didn’t know he had eight seconds remaining. Jack Falla died in September 2008 but we have this beautiful collection of hockey stories to remember him by.
Risto rating: R R R R R

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
It took me about 100 pages to get into the world, but then I coudn’t let go. Diaz tells several stories in one, and tells them in a style that’s just … cool.
Risto rating. R R R R

Born To Run by Chris McDougall
Couldn’t put it down, but once I had to, when I came to the end, I went for a run. Today, I ran barefoot. Excellent book about running, a running tribe, and the colorful personalities in the ultradistance running community.
Risto rating: R R R R r

Dispatches from the Sporting Life by Mordecai Richler
Very funny stories by Canadian author. Richler’s stories cover a lot of ground, ranging from boxing to golf to hockey, from the 1960s to the early 1990s.
Risto rating: R R R R R

Ford Country: stories by John Grisham
Half-baked story ideas instead of short stories with a point. Too bad. I like Grisham. A couple of great stories do not a book make.
Risto rating: R R r

Just One More Thing by Peter Falk
One of the best memoirs I have ever read. Of course, I am a huge fan of Columbo, and Peter Falk. Not his life story, simply stories from his life.
Risto rating: R R R R R

Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
Found and recommended by Wife, who’s judgment never fails. Amusing story of a young woman in Paris. Adventure and funny lines and descriptions.
Risto rating: R R R R

Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears
Dan Brown on steroids. Or, at least a fascinating story, a conspiracy, a detective novel written in beautiful prose.
Risto rating: R R R R R

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Well, it’s a pageturner. And yes, the story is pretty exciting, at least exciting enough to make you forgive Brown his silly descriptions of Langdon’s past lectures. But not the way he uses italics. Really. What’s next, Comic Sans?
Risto rating: R R R r

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford
Buford spent eight years, on and off, with British football hooligans, to write the book. Football hooligans probably liked football, too, but nothing compares to the kick they got from fighting. A good read that will stay with you.
Risto rating: R R R R

Magic by William Goldman
Goldman is a genius.
Risto rating: R R R R R

Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone
Interesting book about magic, or what hard work magic is. Two parts science, one part personal story.
Risto rating: R R R r

The Fear Index by Richard Harris
I liked Ghost better, this one seemed a little off. Exciting build-up, but left me a little cold.

By Risto

Joukkue vailla vertaa: An oral history of Finland’s 1995 hockey world championship team. Order here. (2005)

Off the Post: Hockey stories from across the world. A collection of Risto’s posts on nhl.com. On Amazon. (2007)

This is Russia: Life in the KHL – Doctors, bazas, and millions of airmiles. Co-authored Bernd Brückler’s memoir of his three seasons in the KHL. On Amazon. (2013)