Many people about the world are in love with the idea of Scandinavia, even if they’ve never visited. If you want to dig a little deeper into what the region is really like, here's our recommendations for the best Scandinavia books.
Are you a Scandiphile? Millions of people around the world are lovers of Scandinavian design and Nordic lifestyle trends. But how much do you really know about the region?
Here at Life in Norway, we often cover stories from around the region. We have so much in common with our Nordic neighbours, after all!
Check out out our Scandinavia blog for plenty of stories from all over Northern Europe. But for a deeper dive into the region, nothing beats a book. In this article, we take a look at the best non-fiction books about Scandinavia.
Some of the book recommendations contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may receive a small commission to help with our running costs but the price to you is exactly the same.
Best Scandinavia non-fiction books
First off, we'll start by taking a look at the leading non-fiction titles. These titles are a fantastic way to take a look at the region’s history, lifestyle and culture from a broad perspective.
The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth
The 2014 book’s subtitle ‘Behind the myth of the Scandinavian utopia’ suggests it takes a negative perspective on the north, but it’s first and foremost a witty travelogue.
It seeks to answer whether Nordic people really are as happy as the surveys suggest, visiting the five main Nordic countries on the way.
Viking Economics by George Lakey
“How the Scandinavians got it right—and how we can, too” is a tempting subtitle for anyone interested in the Nordic model of economics.
Lakey accepts that the Nordic model cannot be used as-is in other parts of the world, but argues that there are still things other countries (in particular the US and UK) can learn.
The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
Many books on places are written by outsiders who have moved there. Not so here. This book is by a native Finn who has become an American citizen.
Partanen asks her now fellow Americans to draw on elements of the Nordic way of life to nurture a fairer, happier, more secure, and less stressful society for themselves and their children.
Best Norway books
We've covered the best crime books from Norway before, so here's a selection of some non-fiction books you might enjoy.
How to Find a Job in Norway
Of course, we have to start out with one of our own products!
As the title suggests, this book is packed with helpful advice on finding employment as an English-speaker in Norway.
We cover the job-seeking strategy and required mindset, where to find relevant vacancies, and the all important interview technique.
A Frog in the Fjord by Lorelou Desjardins
A two-time guest on the Life in Norway Show, Lorelou sets out to discover the truth about Norway while giving herself one year to figure out whether she wants to live in Norway for good. It doesn't start well, as making local friends and dating are proving to be much harder than she thought…
The book is available in English, Norwegian and French.
The Cabin in the Mountains by Robert Ferguson
A true pursuit of a dream. In 2016, Ferguson and his wife bought some remote land and built a wooden cabin.
Such cabins are an integral part of Norwegian culture. In this book, Ferguson reflects on his own journey while exploring the cultural significance of this simple structure.
Best Sweden books
Now let's take a closer look at our neighbours, Sweden.
Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well by Lola A. Åkerström
The Nigerian American author explores the Swedish ethos of lagom, which she says “pretty much defines what it is to be and think like a Swede.”
The five letter word may be short but it has a whole host of meanings, including “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, “just enough”, “ideal” or “suitable”.
The Little Book of Fika
An essential part of Swedish lifestyle, fika is the simple art of taking a break with friends, a warm beverage and a sweet treat.
Packed with facts, quotes, tips, and recipes, this little book is big on value and makes the ideal gift for the Scandinavia fan in your life.
A Year in Kronoberg by Geoff Bunn
What is life really like in Sweden? That's the question the British author seeks to answer in the style of Peter Mayle's ‘Year in Provence'.
The Observer says the book “completely lifts the lid on a country we all secretly admire even though we know surprisingly little about it.”
Best Denmark books
Now let's take a closer look at other Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark.
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Another author keen to discover the secrets of happy Scandinavia, Helen Russell takes what the Guardian called “a hugely enjoyable romp” through Denmark to uncover the formula for Danish happiness.
She uncovers the truth about childcare, education, food and interior design, SAD and taxes, realising what Denmark does right and what it doesn't.
How to be Danish by Patrick Kingsley
This book was born when the author wondered how much we really know about Denmark, despite the popularity of Danish TV, Lego and other Danish cultural exports.
An entertaining introduction to contemporary Danish culture including politics, television, food, architecture and design.
Of course, this is just a selection of Scandinavia books. There are loads out there, so perhaps we've missed off one of your favourites? Let us know in the comments.