The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
21 journalers for this copy...
"...Michael Booth - a Brit who is married to a Dane - ... does a thorough profile of each country [Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland] - a bit of history, the culture, food, personalities, etc. Being British, he is never politically correct - and he is very funny. Here's a bit about the book. I loved this book so much, I've recommended it to several people..."
The bookray is open for anyone to join.
The thread about this ray in the bookring-forum: http://www.bookcrossing.com/forum/20/533165
This book wants to travel! Please...
...make a journal entry when the book arrives, to let us know it's safe.
...read the book within 4-5 weeks (and less if possible, as quickly as possible to let it reach as many as possible before the convention).
...when you have read the book, PM the next on the list for their address.
...send the book off to the person next on list.
...be sure to make a controlled release note. This is to include the place you send it from.
Participants (the order may still be changed):
- sota48 (Norway)
- rahar109 (UK) [INTL shipping]
- Lesenmachtfroh (Germany) [INTL shipping]
- Krissa33 (France) [INTL shipping]
- Fifna (Netherlands) [INTL shipping]
- Boekentrol (Netherlands) [shipping within Europe]
- feltre (Greece) [EU shipping]
- StrangeEmily (Greece) [INTL shipping]
- Icila (France) [INTL shipping]
- penelopewanders (Switzerland) [European shipping]
- Clairby11xxx (UK) [UK shipping, Europe if necessary]
- Lizzy-stardust (UK) [European shipping]
- Arvores (Portugal) [European shipping]
- Ametisti (Finland) [INTL shipping]
- Femke85 (Sweden) [INTL shipping]
- azuki (USA) [INTL shipping]
- Lorelei03 (USA) [INTL shipping]
- mcsar (Canada) [US shipping]
- rhythmbiscuit (USA) [US shipping]
- HI77 (USA) [US shipping] <- The book is here!
- azuki (USA) [INTL shipping] <- Will bring to Hong Kong for shipping to BaiLong in China
- BaiLong (China) [INTL shipping]
- Edwardstreet (New Zealand) [INTL shipping]
- Billbooks (Australia) [INTL shipping]
- Jotka (Germany) [INTL shipping]
- jax987654321 (UK) [INTL shipping]
- [end of list]
REMEMBER to make a controlled release note. This is to include the place you send it from.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
* Danes are happy because they don't expect too much.
* Icelanders are lucky to have natural whirlpools
* Norwegians like to wear precious traditional costumes (like people in Bavaria and
* in Finland the author was most exited when he went to a sauna
* in Sweden people adress everybody with the informal 'de' (du) because the
government told them so.
There were a lot more aspects which surprised me, but you will find out by yourself.
Thank you very much for the ring and for shipping
Frohes Lesen, Staunen und Lächeln
The book arrived two weeks ago, and I forgot to make the JE
I already started reading
Thank you for sharing, and I'm looking forward to see if it's right what the author tell us about Norway ;-)
"Lire, c'est boire et manger. L'esprit qui ne lit pas maigrit comme le corps qui ne mange pas."
"Une lecture amusante est aussi utile à la santé que l’exercice du corps."
"When I get a little money I buy books. If any is left, then I buy food and clothes."
Having said that, I enjoyed the book a lot. Yes it does turn into a bit of a rant every now and then, but it provides interesting insights into our Nordic neighbours' countries and lives. Some of them quite recognisable actually to a Scot who lives in the Netherlands!
Thanks for sharing, travelina!
Not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it was clearly notbwhat I received. Downright hilarious? Entertaining read? Are we talking about the same book?
I love travelling to the Nordic countries (Finland snd Iceland are the only ones still on the 'to travel to-list'. I usually love to read about other persons' travels or emi-/immigration stories and am quite fond of learning about other cultures or languages. The combination of these ingredients in this book however was at this moment for me not the right one.
I didn't like it, the story didn't catch me and after reading a few pages I found myself looking for an excuse to put it away and do something else.
So I decided not to finish it and give my reading time to another book that fits me better right now.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Safe travels, little book and I hope you'll arrive soon.
Happy reading, feltre!
I am late in reviewing the book but I just postponed and then forgot about it.
I enjoyed the book very much. It is not fair though to expect a humouristic book, maybe the reviews and the front page are a bit disorientating.
Very informative, the author has done a quite good detective work and really asked important people important questions. I would prefer it if he talked more with less V.I.P. residents, like immigrants, local farmers, etc.
Many times reading this book, at first, mostly, I though, "what have we done so wrong in Greece?" . In older books of the sort, when one mentioned Greeks, it was to speak about ancient sites, the sea, the music, the food, the poetry, the mediterranean mentality and hospitality. Now one reads about bad economics, which is always blamed on the mentality of the people as a whole. But, when i read in this book about the situation in Iceland, I thought, whenever -in Europe- a country goes down, everyone discovers how bad is the character of the people! Suddenly everyone discovered that Icelnaders are greedy because of their ancestors.
I was amazed with some of the Scandinavian characteristics. As I have only stayed in UK for 2 years and not more than a tourist does in other countries in northern Europe, I always thought that Scandinavians would be as gentle and polite as British people are, it is a surprise that this is not the case apart from the Finnish!
Of course, drinking to get drunk is an appalling habit which we here do not understand, so if I traveled there, it is the only thing I would hate.
Although, as I wrtote above, this book is not a humouristic one, at one point at the book I really laughed: the Swedish experiment of the author (I don't write more, it is a spoiler). So, be prepared to read a very interesting informatine book but not a humourous one and you will not be disappointed.
I wasn't disappointed. Not a humouristic book at all, very informative with a lot of funny stories though.
A sort of revenge because we are regularly fed with the perfect example of happiness and success that are the Nordic Countries, first and foremost the finish schools. :-)
I don't want to spoil so I stop here. I do hope that the book was translated in French because I want to share it with my family, I did a lot already.
I've known a great many Scandinavians so was glad to sign up for this bookcrossing ring. It was perhaps not an ideal book for holiday reading. The editing of the book was quite sloppy at times.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Thank you so much for sharing.
The reading was somehow interesting, and funny at some point, but I feel I can learn more about Scandinavian people (or any other) by reading their literature, rather than reading someone's opinions about them.
Thank you so much for sharing. The book will now fly to my beloved Finland, rakastettu Suomi (sigh).
Happy readings :-)
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Things that I found interesting:
- The Danes have the highest taxes and the worst education system.
- The Danish hygge is not so much about coziness as it is about social etiquette and rules. It comes of as a fake kind of coziness that reminds me of some of the Swedish traditional celebrations like weddings, disserttion parties or midsummer (“we need to have fun, thus we shall drink and sing a song”).
- The Danes are so good at escaping taxes, that the fat tax died a silent death. In a country where one usually lives 2 hours from one of the borders, it was quite easy to escape this tax.
- Iceland. Oh iceland, you funny little country. Apparently a lot of big construction projects have to hire an expert to talk to the elves.
- Icelanders are like Nordic Americans. Their love for investing in lots of expensive bling bling, led to their enormous financial crisis.
- Norway. The little brother that got lucky with oil. What I disliked about the chapter about Norway was the focus on Breivik. One lunatic doesn’t define a country.
- Finland. Suddenly a lot of behaviour from a Finnish colleague made sense. They are the least social of the Nordic people and prefer to remain silent when spoken to.
- The Finns see themselves as strong vikings and call the Swedish men sissies. An easy insult, considering the Swedish army ordered a bunch of hairnets to prtect the soldiers’ Zlatan manbuns.
- Sweden. The whole chapter about Swedish rudeness was so familiar. People bump into you without saying sorry. You hold the door for them without being acknowledged. They like to stand in the middle of a doorway and contemplate about life. Most days they make you feel invisible.
One example: one day I held the door for two people who where walking behind me. They stopped in the doorway to talk to each other, without looking at me. When I let go of the door and mumbled something like “it’s not my f***** job to hold the door for you”, the responded with a very Swedish “oi” and continued their conversation, while standing in the doorway.
But besides these superficial annoyances of Scandinavia and its people, it is still a lovely part of the world. Things tend to work around here, because the goverment makes it work.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
I always try to post my controlled releases with real stamps, this one has quite a few. If you are not a collector yourself, you might want to check out this post on the forum about a stamps sweeps that I’m currently organising or this one about Bookcrossers who collect stamps. A lot of Bookcrossers collect stamps for charity, so it’s nice to find them a good home!
So glad to finally receive this as it is almost 2 years since the BC Con in Norway. Holding the book in hand reminds me of the great time I had there, the new friends I made (hi everybody!), and the delicious waffles with cheese that make my mouth water now.
Femke85's comment on holding door makes me smile. I now live in the U.S., where it is common etiquette to hold the door for the next person (who will say thank you and take over holding it) but where I grew up in Hong Kong no such habit exists. One time while visiting my parents back home I ended up holding the door like a doorman as people streamed past me without acknowledgment, until my mother turned back and yelled, let go of the door! Similarly people there don't smile or say hi/good morning to strangers, so it was tiring having to adjust to social norms whenever I travel.
The book is definitely much heavier on politics and economics than I imagined. I admit these are important in shaping a nation's personality, but it does get boring and I glazed over some parts. I definitely expected a lighter read. The backcover categorizes this book as humor, but I don't think there are enough chuckles to justify that.
Thanks for sharing the book, I do get a better idea about the different countries. I am waiting to hear back from the next reader so I can send the book on.
ETA: Feb 1 - Sent a follow up email to Lorelei03 as I haven't heard back from her.
ETA2: Feb 12 - I just decided yesterday that I should move down the list, but forgot to send a pm, when today I received a message from Lorelei03! She had computer problem but I have her address now so the book is on the move again, after enjoying some nice weather in Florida.
I've been really enjoying this book - and keep seeing echoes of it in other places, like in the documentary 'Generation Wealth'. I did want to read it more slowly, so I have taken it out of the library and passed the BC book on.
Updated 9 May, 2019
I find the book interesting and I learn so much about the Nordic countries. One thing I kept thinking when I was reading is how the insiders feel about the description of their countries and cultures, how accurate the portrayal is.
I must admit I know little about this part of the world apart from some basic history and geography. I wanted to know more after discovering and liking some Nordic fiction and getting to know people from the region through bookcrossing.
I found most of the book informative and amusing, but the only part I found downright funny was his experiment to behave as “un-Swedish” as possible.
I plan to attend the 2021 Bookcrossing Convention in Finland, and I will visit a sauna while I’m there, just to say I’ve done it. I hope to spend a few days in Iceland on the way there.
This book is off to HI77. Enjoy!
In regards to the author's writing style... it was interesting. He has a fairly interesting writing style and a very sharp tongue here and there. It seems that what he thinks to focus on, subject wise, he seems to do decently as far as flushing out what he can on the topic. But beyond what he thinks to focus on... it seems like he gets tunnel vision. Or maybe it's a guy thing, focusing on a few main points but the feel of humanity, of real life in the day to day is missing. Not that you don't get a feel for life there in the different countries but there is a layer of separation. This is where I find that female writers of both fiction and non-fiction do far better. They give you a feel of real people and their real lives. Women are much better at the details. Men the facts. And here, I was definitely feeling that layer of seperation common to the vast majority of male writers. A shame really, it would have really rounded this out.
It was still informative though. I feel like he missed a lot of details about the day to day or people themselves but I wonder if it might also be to the fact that he's lived there many years and can no longer tell what might be different or odd to people of other countries that live there.
I also suspect that he started with the countries he had the least to write about and would have the shortest chapters (content wise) first and worked his way to the ones he had more to say about, assuming his readers wouldn't notice? But I did. Mostly because he started that first section on Denmark and got into the numbers on statics on happiness and the world. He spent an inordinate amount of time on that, when his subject was supposed to be Denmark. Not that the happiness statistics didn't factor in but that they didn't belong entirely invading Denmark's space.
(Although I do recall years ago running across an article online about that happiness statistics and being surprised to see so many Scandinavian countries topping the list and wondering why. It wasn't that indepth an article, it was really shallow, so I soon forgot about it, except for some very pretty pictures of the countries, which is probably the only reason I remember)
I do think it's funny that those from Denmark are considered chatty and even a bit of motor mouths by other Scandinavian countries. Too funny! :P
Iceland... what a place. Sounds like a lot of nothing but then again, it's full of extremes in the weather and the volcanos and what not. Crazy about what they did to their economy. I'm curious to know what's changed there in the years since the book was published. Sad about all the really heavy drinking though, I think that's not a great thing.
And the part about the tv program that was super popular but was nothing more than a boat riding around showing all the scenery.... Sounded crazy. But the more that I though about it, the more I thought I probably would find myself watching it too. It might be too cold outside but your tv could become a really awesome window. I could see the appeal.
Norway was also very interesting to me for several reasons. First, I was impressed about how they handled the oil wealth and the forethought for the future. Although inflation is out of hand there and makes it much impossible for people to come and visit as the prices of every day things have become surreal. Ironically enough, I found a calendar page that talked about Edvard Grieg, whom was a Norwegian pianist and Romantic composer. So I took a picture and I'll post it here so you guys can see and I'll slip it inbetween the pages of this book. Likewise, the other odd coincidence is that my boyfriend wound up with a great many paintings of William Verdults' who is a Norwegian immigrant that left Norway back around WWII with his parents. Verdult died a year or two ago in Los Angeles, California and had built up some notoriety over the years. (he also spent time in Florida, near where I live). I hadn't thought about it really before I read the book but it did make me look at the paintings differently after reading it.
The Finnish were fun and the way the language seems to keep widdling itself to almost nothing. In fact, in reading about how he speculates that they talk so little to each other because the culture is so homogenized that everyone knows how to read everyone else so well that words become unnecessary... it made me think of the Japanese culture. They to have an economy to words and don't speak when it's not necessary. And the Japanese culture too, says one thing and it means something else and everyone knows. Or they have gestures and signals that the whole culture knows that make sense no where else. Very similar in how insular they tend to be and for similar reasons.
I also found the youtube video that was a spoof on the language he mentioned in the book, so I thought I would add it here:
It was funny to watch but definitely wouldn't have really 'got it' without reading this first. And it was something else to learn about the subjection by first the Swedes and then the Russians. I had been confused at first about the buildings of Russian design that are prominent there. Also, the German occupation during WWII was shocking but in light of the Russians at the border, it does make sense how it could come to be.
But what made me laugh was the contests they have carrying women and then having to drink carbonated drinks. I broke out laughing, just trying to imagine it and I got a lot of strange looks as I was out in public at the time. But that was just hilarious to imagine. And those poor women who were slung over the guys shoulder! Ugh! I've been tossed over a guys shoulder before and let me tell you... it's horrible! Their shoulder bone digs right up into your stomach, your hair is impossibly in your eyes and all the blood rushes to your head. It sucks! :P
I was curious about the Swedes when I finally got to that part, as they seem to have upset the other countries here and there for a variety of reasons over the centuries. But even more than that, where I work, one of my coworkers is Swedish! Though he's lived in the US for about 17 years and has been married to an American woman a good chunk of that time. So I made sure to tease him about the Swedes peeling bananas in Norway! And I told him that while the Finns were neutral about Russians... they were still made at the Swedes, and he looked guilty and I never even said why they were still mad but he already knew! lol That was great.
But the best thing ever, is when I told him about the part of the book that talked about how much the Swedish culture was like 1984 by George Orwell... that when the government decided that everyone should just STOP and start driving on the other side of the road, and how everyone just switched right over without so much as a honk... he actually looked at me and said blissfully that he remembered that day clearly and that everyone had more or less sat there in their cars for an hour or few while it was figured out and people managed to shift their cars over to the other side and then continue on as if nothing was weird about that whatsoever! :O
And he seemed like that was a really wonderful memory for him. He was so proud of his country to manage that without a single accident or issue. WEIRD!! lolol
And even odder than that? We have very specialized equipment at the hospital I work at, and in the Plant there are all kinds of large machines that keep the hospital running. Well, apparently one of them is built by the Swedes and a few weeks ago, when one needed a problem corrected that we couldn't pinpoint where the issue was coming from... they sent two Swedish guys all the way here from Swedian for the day just to fix it! How crazy is that? They were really tall too. I made sure to let my coworker know they were here and he went to talk to them. They were talking to him in English and he said he answered them 3 times in Swedish before they realized he was talking to them in their own language!! It cracked him up! And he said that they were from a town right next to his. What a small small world.
What a place! I might have to go visit some time! ;)
Oh! And I found a funny facts site as well:
I will be going to Hong Kong in October and will happily give this book a ride across the Pacific. : )
10/1: Bailong wishes to be skipped. I received Edwardstreet's address and this will go to her in NZ.