Best books on Finland for my Mom?
November 29, 2012 9:06 PM   Subscribe

My Mom is interested in reconnecting with her Finnish roots (her parents were the last generation to speak the language, though she grew up with elements of the culture). She is planning on going on a trip for a milestone birthday in a few years, but in the meantime I'd like to find her some wonderful books about Finland. A gorgeous coffee table book with great photos and lots of information would be ideal. Not looking for guidebooks.
posted by eliina to Travel & Transportation around Finland (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about a nice hardback copy of an English translation of the Kalevala? There are a few on Amazon.

I would also recommend the seminal work by Johan Ludvig Runeberg called "Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat" or "The Tales of Ensign Stål." Runeberg is the national poet of Finland, and the first poem in the book became the Finnish national anthem ("Our Land"). Finland celebrates Runeberg with a particular type of torte on February 5 every year.

I would also perhaps recommend books about Jean Sibelius, the famous Finnish composer. "Sibelius: A Composer's Life and the Awakening of Finland" looks intriguing.
posted by gemmy at 9:41 PM on November 29, 2012

Tove Jannson's Moomin books have been issued in hardcover - while perhaps not classic coffee table material they do have great illustrations - and a fine insight into the Finnish mindset IMHO.

I have only browsed through "How to Marry a Finnish Girl - Everything You Want to Know about Finland, that Finns Won't Tell You" but many reviewers seem to like it.

Finally you might like Tim Bird's Living in Finland
posted by rongorongo at 2:59 AM on November 30, 2012

Just ran across this one, "Finland: The Land of Lakes", and am thinking of buying it myself.
posted by fso at 4:29 AM on November 30, 2012

Books from Finland has tons of reviews of contemporary writing from Finland, and will help you avoid the trap of reading solely about either the 19th century or the beautiful countryside. Remember that Finland is a prosperous, urban country, and you will find out very little about that reality by reading about Sibelius and the Kalevala, as interesting as both are.

If your Mom is looking to reconnect with Finland, it's worth investigating a gift membership to the Finlandia Foundation, too. Local chapters of the foundation offer scholarships to cover things like intensive language classes at Finnish Summer Universities for Finnish-Americans and university-level Finnish language students (Finnish-American or not). Scandinavia House in New York also has lots of Finnish resources, and their upcoming contemporary Finnish photography exhibit may have a catalog coming out which might make a good gift.
posted by Wylla at 6:34 AM on November 30, 2012

Call up Northwind Books at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan. The area is full of olde timey Finn immigrants and many people still speak the language. A bookseller there will know exactly what to get.
posted by coolsara at 7:04 AM on November 30, 2012

Haven't read it, but I've heard good things about New Finnish Grammar. (Not a grammar book.)
posted by Kiwi at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2012

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