I am moving to Sweden and want to read up on the country before I do. Recommend me good books related to Sweden!
November 28, 2012 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I am moving to Sweden and want to read up on the country before I do. Recommend me good books related to Sweden!

I got a job in Sweden, but truth be told I do not know much about the country (beyond the basic research one does when deciding whether or not to move to a foreign country!).

I was hoping to at least get rid of some of that ignorance. Some of the topics that seem relevant:

- Ancient history
- Colonial history
- How they arrived at their current day political structure
- Sociology of the country
- Relevant mythical history
- Classic literature

I'd love to generally cover those strokes, but am open to anything relevant.

For what it's worth, I'm a literate American who hasn't spent a ton of time in Europe.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Trevligt! I don't have any historical context, but I like to peruse the Swedish news in English at The Local to stay current. You don't say whether you speak or are learning Swedish, but there are some good resources in this old AskMe. I'm currently learning Swedish with a tutor, the resources in that thread, and a couple of books (it's not terribly hard to learn, though not entirely easy to speak).

(Also: I would love to move to Sweden! How did you swing your gig? I'm on MeMail, and my email is in my profile, if you care to share... tack så mycket!)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:22 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you know that Swedes established colonies in what is now the US way back in the 1630s?
posted by mareli at 9:48 AM on November 28, 2012

For ancient history, more or less, I'd recommend the novel, The Long Ships--supposedly one of the most popular Swedish novels and definitely hugely entertaining.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2012

Henning Mankell is a Swedish mystery writer, most famous for one of his detectives in particular, Kurt Wallander, a Police Detective in Ystad, Skåne, a ferryport city where issues of immigration and xenophobia are perhaps closer to the surface.

I recommend these because, aside from being good mysteries, their popularity is in part due to his ability to capture the Swedish Zeitgeist of the current and previous decades-- or so I've read. Wallander books are printed in dozens of languages; this is not a flash in the pan with a dragon tattoo (although the second and third books of Larsson trilogy offer a very interesting-to-this-American look at their constitutional protections and enforcements, though obviously in a fictional setting).
posted by Sunburnt at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2012

An excellent book on modern Sweden is Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared by Andrew Brown (MeFi's own alloneword).
posted by verstegan at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2012

Sorry I can't contribute to the reading list -- my learning was first-hand. I lived a few years in western Sweden as a young man.

As Admiral Haddock says, the language is special: a good Germanic structure with the smoothing influence of French in the pronunciation (how that happened is a story in itself). Not as sharp/guttural as Danish & Norwegian. It flows very nicely off the tongue.

The Rosetta Stone for Swedish is good (Mrs. Director used it). However, there are an astonishingly large number of accents for such a small country.

Båhus has a fortress that could be defended by a handful of men and was never conquered from the outside.

Many of the smaller towns/villages have farmer's markets on the weekend where you can sample the local cheeses, etc.

Most of the country takes vacation the entire month of July. Many have little summer places, some not much larger than a garden shed here and just as spartan.

Seems like all, or most, of the apartment leases expired on the same day of the year. Everybody who was moving, moved at the same time. No idea if that was a cultural or legal thing.

The shift in daylight hours between summer & winter is something that must be experienced to be appreciated. Not to mention the winter cold.

Happy to answer any questions you may have via MeMail.
posted by trinity8-director at 1:16 PM on November 28, 2012


Admiral Haddock stole my post about The Local. When you register for your Personummer with Skatteverket, you will get a book in the post about Sweden and all of these topics will be covered, so honestly don't bother.

Sweden is a great country. I loved my stay there for 10 years. If you are Caucasian, you won't face much racism but you gotta learn the language to mingle with the locals, else you will be sitting alone in the pub until other get drunk and come to talk to you.
posted by zaxour at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2012

You might find this awesome book on Scandinavian literary history enlightening.
posted by vkxmai at 1:19 PM on November 28, 2012

I have read this book and loved it. Also made me think I must have been an international case of switched-at-birth and my real name must be Gunilla Eriksson or something.

Alas, no prospects of me moving to Sweden in the nearest future.
posted by Ender's Friend at 7:24 PM on November 28, 2012

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