There’s something about Scandinavia that’s just so mystifying; from the people, the engineering, and the jaw-dropping landscapes. It’s no wonder that a Scandinavian trip is at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists.
Consisting of four countries in Northern Europe; Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, each of these countries has something special and unique to offer. But they all have something in common – they have each produced some talented authors who have created some exceptional works of literature.
For those dreaming of the mountains and Nordic Fjords, these books about Scandinavia are the perfect fuel for the imagination.
Non-Fiction Books About Scandinavia
The best way to learn more about a place is to read non-fiction books. Scandinavia has a lot of history and culture to share with the world. You can learn a lot about the people and the past of these countries by reading non-fiction books about Scandinavia.
The Little Book of Hygge is probably the most iconic book about Scandinavia and instantly became an international bestseller. It’s a non-fiction, self-help book about how to adopt the mindset of the Danish and embrace Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).
The Danish are known to be happy, in fact, Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world. This is largely due to the people and their powerful attitude towards life.
This book teaches how to adopt the power of Hygge and live with a more positive mindset, harness comfort, and improve overall well-being.
One of the biggest influences to come out of Scandinavia is their work ethic. In Viking Economics, George Lakey discussed how principles used in Nordic countries can be applied to countries like America.
Systems like ‘4-day work weeks’ to universal healthcare, extended vacation allowances, and accessible childcare are all important plans that could work in the U.S. if they embrace the Scandinavian way of life.
It’s a thought-provoking theory, and whether you agree with his ideas or not, we can all agree that we can learn a little something from the land built by Vikings.
Another travelogue about Scandinavia is by French-born author, Lorelou Desjardins. During a year she spent living in Oslo, Norway she learned a lot about the Norwegian lifestyle.
Her observations of the people, the way of life, and the culture as a whole are both enlightening and extremely funny.
Of course, adjusting to a new culture is not easy; from dealing with passive-aggressive colleagues in the workplace to the challenges of adopting the language.
A Frog in the Fjord is a witty and revealing book about what makes Norwegians who they are.
Ever wondered why everyone in Scandinavia is always too cheerful? What’s their secret? Is there something in the water? Well as Michael Booth tells it, it’s not all smiles and rainbows behind closed doors.
In this witty travelogue, Michael talks about some of the ‘myths behind the smiles’ and how the sunny utopia that Scandinavia is stereotyped for isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
His somewhat negative and reproachful account of the many years he spent living in Denmark will have readers howling.
His travel writing is similar to that of Bill Bryson, so for those looking for a lighthearted read full of jokes and laughter, The Almost Nearly Perfect is the ideal book.
Fiction Books About Scandinavia
There have been some highly acclaimed novels set in Scandinavia that appear throughout the decades. Here are some of the most notable fiction books by Scandinavian authors.
The highly acclaimed and iconic novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was written by Swedish author Steig Larsson.
Forty years ago, a girl in one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, Harriet Vanger, goes missing. Years later, her uncle is on a quest to discover the truth about what happened to her.
To help him investigate, he hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist currently undergoing a conviction for libel. Another unlikely addition to the detective squad, is a pierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo.
This internationally bestselling novel set in Sweden is the novel that put Larsson squarely on the author’s map.
With themes of murder and mystery, romance, and family complexity, this is a suspenseful novel that is hard to put down.
Stieg Larsson is not the only Swedish author to dominate the thriller and mystery genre. Camilla Läckberg’s The Ice Princess became an international crime sensation after its release in 2011.
It follows the story of Erica Falck, who returns to the sleepy Scandanavian seaside village of Fjällbacka after her parents were killed. Upon arrival, she finds her childhood best friend had taken her own life.
Something doesn’t add up. Alex, Erica’s best friend, had it all – a seemingly perfect life. Why would she take her own life like that?
She teams up with police detective, Patrik Hedström, and the pair begin to untangle the mystery behind Alex’s suicide. But the case doesn’t just uncover secrets, but hidden feelings and uncontrollable attraction.
This is the story of human nature at its worst.
Those who enjoy the works of Camilla Läckberg and Steig Larsson will undoubtedly enjoy the works of Anne Holt. Her first novel, Blind Goodness, was nominated for the Edgar awards in
This international bestselling mystery series follows the story of detective Hanne Wilhelmsen, who was last seen in 1222. Set in Oslo, where a small-time drug dealer is found beaten to death, the detective brings a young Dutchman covered in blood into custody. Only, he refuses to talk.
When he learns that the woman who discovered the body is a lawyer, he demands her as his lawyer, despite the fact she has no experience in criminal law. Days later and another dead body is found, this time of a lawyer.
The mystery starts to unravel and detectives Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen work to find a link between the two killings.
With coded messages and rumors unveiling that lawyers are operating the underground drug scene, it suddenly becomes suspicious that the lawyer who found the body was asked to be the defendant’s lawyer.
This is a mystery series of massive corruption, threatened lives, and a chase to find the real killer before it’s too late.
This heartwarming tale of a man who decides that the day before he turns 100, he’s going to escape his nursing home and embark on one last adventure.
Allan Karlsson has lived an eventful life, and one day before the big 100, he feels he still has enough good health (despite the amount of vodka he consumes) for one more epic journey.
He climbs out of his window in his slippers and slips out into the night, only to meet unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot dog stand owner, an elephant, and a suitcase full of cash.
Along the way, readers will learn more about his life on a Swedish island called Gotland in the Baltic Sea.
This adorable and endearing story became an international sensation, selling more than six million copies worldwide. For those who enjoyed books like Forrest Gump and A Man Called Ove, this one should be added to the reading list.
Children’s Books About Scandinavia
Scandinavian authors are known for writing more dark and twisted children’s books that you wouldn’t necessarily see in publication in other countries. They may have some dark underlying connotations, but there is always a strong moral to the story.
One of the most famous children’s books about Scandinavia is The Northern Lights trilogy by Philip Pullman.
It follows a young girl, Lyra, who goes looking for her friend after he is kidnapped and taken to a place beyond the snow (presumably Norway, though it is not named in the book).
Set in a mystical world where every person has a daemon, an animal that only they can speak to and control, this coming-of-age trilogy speaks of love, bravery, and one girl’s determination to find answers.
This lyrical picture book follows the life of a small town called Cardamom. It’s a strange city, where donkeys, camels, and elephants roam the streets.
The people are just as strange. Readers meet Old Tobias who lives in a tower, a sausage maker, a tram driver, and a barber. Then there is the police chief, Bastian, who never wants to arrest anyone.
But just outside Cardamom there live three robbers named Kasper, Jesper, and Jonatan.
The robbers regularly come into the town and steal things, causing serious trouble for the people who live there. Only when they are caught, they are treated well and reformed into model citizens.
The robbers become the town’s fireman, circus manager, and baker. It’s a story that teaches children to treat others as they want to be treated.
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is about a boy who loves to be lazy; he enjoys eating and sleeping and tormenting animals. He’s a very mean little boy who one day learns his lesson.
When he catches a tomte, a Scandinavian mythical creature that looks like a gnome, he turns Nils into a tomte too. Tomte’s are small, shrunken creatures the size of animals.
Now, the angry animals are thrilled to see Nils the same size as them and are hungry for revenge.
This is a dark children’s story that teaches children to be kind to all creatures.
Lagerlöf is not only an incredible children’s novelist but she was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature.
This is just a snippet of some of the best books about Scandinavia; there’s so much more than could be included on this list.
From the enlightening and thought-provoking non-fiction books about adopting the happy Scandi mindset to the gripping suspenseful novels to the twisted and dark children’s books, there’s something for everyone on this list.
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About the Author
Louisa Smith of Epic Book Society is an avid reader and traveler who quit her successful career as a company director to pursue a life of travel; all after reading a single book. Her book blog combines her love of reading and traveling and aims to help fellow book lovers find that one book that will change their lives for the better.