Book Review: The Almost Nearly Perfect People

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Are you curious about the Nordic lifestyle? If so, check out this witty, eye-opening journey through the region, challenging the myths of a utopian society with humour and critical insight.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth has been considered a must-read among Scandiphiles ever since its publication in 2014.

Scandinavian flags flying.
The flags of the Scandinavian countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway.

Subtitled Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, Booth's book may imply a critical undertone, yet it primarily delights as an entertaining travelogue.

It probes deeply into whether the people of the Nordic countries truly embody the happiness often depicted in surveys. Admirers of Bill Bryson's engaging narrative style will find Booth’s approach particularly enjoyable.

Check out the bookAmazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

“A witty, informative, and popular travelogue about the Scandinavian countries and how they may not be as happy or as perfect as we assume, The Almost Nearly Perfect People offers up the ideal mixture of intriguing and revealing facts” (Laura Miller, Salon).

Living Among the Scandinavians

Having spent over a decade living in Denmark and therefore immersed in Scandinavian life, journalist Michael Booth articulates a growing frustration with the idealised depiction presented by Western media.

In a quest for authenticity, he departs his Danish residence to travel across all five Nordic countries, endeavouring to uncover the true essence of these diverse societies.

Rural scene in Denmark.
Rural scene in Denmark.

Booth’s exploration raises compelling questions: Why do the Danes remain content despite the world's highest tax rates? Are Finnish educational accolades well-founded?

What is the reality behind Iceland's enigmatic reputation? How do Norwegians utilise their vast oil wealth? And, intriguingly, what underpins the regional disdain towards Sweden?

The Almost Nearly Perfect People dissects these inquiries with Booth’s characteristic wit.

He delves into what distinguishes Scandinavians, shedding light on their individual and collective quirks and foibles, and examines why these societies are often heralded as global exemplars.

A Critical Analysis of Scandinavia

Yet, Booth’s narrative unveils a more complex, sometimes darker image of Scandinavia.

He describes a region riddled with unspoken taboos, stifling parochialism, and the presence of extremists of various ideologies.

Through his critical yet fair analysis, Booth portrays a region that is indeed nearly perfect but not without its significant challenges.

Check out the bookAmazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

Ultimately, Booth's account is a compelling blend of travel, sociology, and cultural critique, offering a multifaceted view of Scandinavian life that goes beyond simplistic stereotypes.

The Nordic region is often hailed as being home to the world's happiest people. By reading this book, you'll understand more of the full story.

This book is an essential read not only for those smitten with Nordic allure but also for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of what it means to live in—and possibly learn from—Scandinavia.

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