It’s a wrap on the Scandinavian Reading Challenge

The third reading challenge I have completed this year (or ever for that matter) is the brainchild of the delightful Amy from The Black Sheep Dances who proposed that participants read 6 books from the region that bought us Lego, Ikea and Carlsburg. I signed up immediately, hoping to expand my Scandinavian reading from its heavy concentration on Sweden which started when I discovered the other Larsson (Asa) a couple of years ago.

Dorte, who would know because she actually is Scandinavian, says that officially Scandinavia is only Denmark, Norway and Sweden but for the purposes of this challenge we were allowed to include Finland and Iceland too. Hopefully this has not caused any embarrassing international incidents or UN resolutions. I decided to read a book from each country plus an extra from somewhere. Of course me being me all the books were crime fiction.

From this admittedly small sampling of books I feel confident in busting a couple of myths:

  1. There is no ‘next Stieg Larsson’. There are a swag of great writers in the region but they have writing styles, personalities and storytelling abilities all of their very own and don’t need to be marketed as the next anyone.
  2. Scandinavians, even the ones in crime fiction, are not all dour and/or at the mercy of seasonal affective disorder. They can be sarcastic and tell jokes like the rest of us. Who knew?

Here is a quick reminder of the books I chose in the order I read them

  • Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason (Iceland) –  a sad, thoughtful, beautiful story that for me was all about yearning.
  • The Serbian Dane by Leif Davidsen (Denmark) – a suspense-filled tale about a planned crime and those who would thwart it that had me feeling sorry for an assassin.
  • The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser (Sweden) – an upside-down procedural featuring a confident and very funny investigator
  • The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (Sweden) – a chilling mix of whodunnit and ghost story in the most atmospheric of remote island settings
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson (Finland) – an absorbing look at the ups and downs of living in a small community set against the backdrop of a harrowing investigation
  • The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø (Norway) – a complex tale about choosing sides in a war and living with the consequences which introduced me to Inspector Harry Hole, a character who made me swoon

Though Hypothermia squeaks into top spot as my favourite of the bunch the others all have elements to recommend them and there isn’t a single dud in the group. About the only downside to the challenge is that it’s added a swag more titles to my TBR both now and into the future. Thanks Amy 🙂

This entry was posted in Arnaldur Indriðason, Hakan Nesser, James Thompson, Jo Nesbø, Johan Theorin, Leif Davidsen, list, memes and challenges, Scandinavian Reading Challenge 2010. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to It’s a wrap on the Scandinavian Reading Challenge

  1. Norman says:

    Thanks Bernadette for this excellent statement about the range of Scandinavian crime fiction. I am pleased you have joined those of us in the Harry Hole fan club; I don’t swoon but I do like his rebellious nature, his sense of humour and the way he cares about those close to him.


  2. kathy durkin says:

    Congratulations on finishing the challenge. Great choice of books. I completed this challenge a few months ago, but still plan to read “The Redbreast,” “Roseanna,” and “A Mind’s Eye.” Also, Yrsa Siggurdadottir’s new book.
    Yes! There is no next Stieg Larsson. Proclamations like this are ludicrous. True, there are excellent writers, but they all differ from Larsson and from each other. And, in my opinion, some who are touted as the next Stieg Larsson, are not good writers–not any on your list nor will I name names.


  3. Kerrie says:

    well done Bernadette


  4. Dorte H says:

    No, I did not! I said that *in* Scandinavia, Scandinavia is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I know the rest of the world don´t share our opinion. So if you´d just listen …. ;D

    And apart from the sad fact that my own favourite Danish writers are not translated, I think you have read a marvelous selection of Nordic crime fiction.


  5. Bernadette – Well done!! And thanks for those truths about Scandinavian crime fiction. Funny, isn’t it, how people start to believe those stereotypes….


  6. Congrats on finishing! I’ve actually read more than 6 but I wanted to include six different authors for the challenge so I’ve got one to go. Haven’t decided my favorite yet, but I agree with you that I haven’t read a bad one yet.


  7. amy says:

    Congratulations! I’m so glad you enjoyed the Challenge, and completed it too. My wishlist of books has gone nuts since it started.

    Regarding your remark: ” Hopefully this has not caused any embarrassing international incidents or UN resolutions.” There was actually a few incidents but a fan base familiar with procedurals neatly covered it up and created a distraction by designing a robot child (almost lifelike, except for the clearly mechanical voice and ‘not found in nature’ hair) that sang and danced and entertained the masses (they called it Justin Beiber prototype STNX) and so kept the media from focusing on a firefight over the last English translation of a Nesbo novel at a rather quaint bookstore in Atlanta. Other than that, smooth sailing.

    Next year is The Eastern European Reading Challenge. It may be tough, but I’m sure you could find a few crime novels in the mix.


  8. kathy durkin says:

    Wow! Amy! Great idea, now that will take a lot of creativity and pursuit of books–and probably purchases. Still reading for the Scandinavian Book Challenge though I finished the six, have more in mind.


  9. LOL @ Amy – if Beiber is a robot where’s the off button?

    Eastern Europe!!!! I don’t think I have a single book in my TBR shelves that would qualify. Poland? I have one from Poland…other than that I’ll be in trouble.


  10. Jane C. Britt says:

    Amy, where is that “quaint bookstore in Atlanta?” Bookstores are really becoming lost in America.

    And thanks, Bernadette for encouraging my finishing REDBREAST!


    P. S. When are you reading Irish crime writers?


  11. kathy durkin says:

    My question would be: Is “The Woman from Bratislava” considered Danish or Eastern European or both?


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