As an avid traveller and reader, there is nothing better than delving into some great local novels before setting off on trips. As an aid for your future travel with us, here is a list of our favourite ’50 Degrees North’ novelists and books.
Swedish recommendations from Esbjörn:
There are quite a few famous Swedish Authors these days, like Stieg Larsson, Camilla Lackberg and Henning Mankell but I like a good inside tip myself so will recommend Jan Guillou’s captivating books.
Jan Guillou was a journalist that early in his career was actually jailed for exposing a secret faction of the Swedish Intelligence Service and went on to a very successful career as a journalist and by far Sweden’s most popular author.
His series of 14 books about an intelligence agent named Carl Hamilton were an enormous success in their time, combining action with a conscience. Many of them were filmed with actors such as Stellan Skarsgård and Peter Stormare, but his epic tales about the Knight Templar Arn Magnusson went on to be the most successful books of all time in Sweden. Ridley Scott attempted to secure the movie rights, and his Kingdom of Heaven film was heavily inspired by the books. A great insight in to the Crusades and also early Swedish history, these books are an amazing read and all my Australian friends loved reading these.
Jan Guillou is an outspoken socialist and has a knack for writing great action with a conscience, which in my opinion is the key to a great holiday read. A good place to start is The Knight Templar (Crusades Trilogy, but 4 books in all) and In the interest of the nation, featuring Navy Seal, Carl Hamilton.
Norwegian recommendations from Tietse:
There are some wonderful historic novels to read such as the “The Real Heroes of Telemark” by Ray Mears or popular books such as “Sophies World” by Jostein Gaarder. Anne Holt is a Norwegian crime author who is very easy to read as well as Jo Nesbø whose Harry Hole detective is compelling to follow.
Leila’s Finnish recommendations:
Mika Waltari was one of the most prolific Finnish writers. He wrote at least 29 novels and is the internationally best-known Finnish writer, and his works have been translated into more than 40 languages.
His most successful novel (and my favourite) was The Egyptian, published in 1945. Its theme of the corruption of humanist values in a materialistic world made it into an international bestseller serving as the basis of the 1954 Hollywood movie of the same name. Other books available in English include ‘The Adventurer’, ‘The Wanderer’, ‘The Dark Angel’ and ‘The Roman’.
Another Finnish author to read is Tove Jansson who created the extraordinary world of the Moomins. As a childrens author, her Moomin novels are funny, and beautifully drawn with strong narratives. But there is also a deeper resonance for adults. Moominland is strongly connected with real Nordic landscapes, especially the dense forests and tiny coastal archipelagos.
Russian and Mongolian recommendations by Jayde:
There is a pretty huge list of novels to read if you are planning to visit Russian or travel the Trans Siberian Railway. ”In Search of Genghis Khan” by Tim Severin and ”The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed” by Jasper Becker are good starts. “Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism” by Sarangerel, is fascinating and can act as a reference book as you travel. It really captures the connection with horses in Mongolia.
Modern Russian crime novels are also great to read and compare with their Scandinavian counterparts, try novels by Tatiana Tolstaya or Lyudmila Ulitskaya.
Classic Travel reading for Russia:
The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire by Stephen Dalziel
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
In Siberia by Colin Thubron
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes