Monday, February 20, 2006

Curiosa's Guide To Swedes, Swedishness and Travel in Sweden (according to others)

Considering how small of a country it is, there are plenty of books out there that set out to present an expose on Swedes and Swedishness. Here's what I've found:

Culture Shock! Sweden: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette
Charlotte Rosen Svensson

Focuses on Swedish culture and customs rather than just another travel guide to Sweden. (Leave that to the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet). Entertaining and easy to read. A new edition is to come out in June 2006.

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Swedes
Peter Berlin

I picked up this book because I will be going to Sweden this summer and wanted to learn more about the Swedes' foibles and traits. Apart from knowing some Swedes on a business level, I read several books dealing with Swedish history, mentality, and culture. This one adds to putting more pieces together and confirms the information gathered from the other books and my own experiences so far. (Review courtesy of a reader from Hamburg, Germany at

Swedish Mentality
Åke Daun

A more "academic" book than the others, but extremely interesting for those who like psychology and sociology. The writing is a little heavy, but Daun does an excellent job of outlining a "Swedish national character." Daun draws on other studies which have already been done on the issue of identity and Swedishness: how Swedes see themselves, and how others see them.

Modern-day Vikings:
A Practical Guide to Interacting with the Swedes

Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr

This one is a keeper. I bought it after living in Sweden for a bit over 4½ years. There were things about living in Sweden that I was having trouble appreciating; sometimes there was an underlying 'cultural current' that wouldn't decode for me. After the first read, [this] book gave me some more pieces to the puzzle I was holding. (Review courtesy of Jonathon D. Stubbs at

Sweden: The Secret Files
Colin Moon

Check out both The Secret Files as well as Moon's second addition, More Secret Files. Hours of endless (occasionally offensive) amusement attempting to prove or disprove the 'facts' presented in these books. My Swedish workmates found them even funnier than I did and were still reiterating the Swenglish quote: "Please take off your clothes and follow me to the whip room" a long time after it stopped being funny. (Review courtesy of Cold Feet.)

Lonely Planet Travel Guides: Sweden
Graeme Cornwallis and Carolyn Bain

A thorough if not exhaustive guide to travelling in Sweden. A reviewer at Amazon mentions that "he did miss an item or two (how could he not discuss allmansrätt, which basically says you can hike or camp anywhere without being obnoxious?) but he certainly covers a lot of what is available." He also does a good job of covering multiple cities in Sweden, not just Stockholm.

Lonely Planet City Guides: Stockholm
Becky Ohlsen

Good coverage of history and more detailed than most city guides by other publishers. However, several recommendations to purchase a seperate, more detailed map of the city.

Rough Guide Travel Guides: Sweden
James Proctor and Neil Roland

I haven't looked at this book myself, but readers' reviews on Amazon describe it as "your typical Rough Guide." One issue that was mentioned is that is assumes that readers will be travelling by train, so there is not much information provided on other forms of transpotation. One of the more informative guides on travelling in Sweden.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What they don't tell you anywhere in that last book is that the guy on the cover is about to land headfirst on a submerged log. Now that's rough.


11:25 AM  

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