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I’m so excited to finally start my travel book posts on here! We’re kicking things off with books set in Finland. You’ll find a mix books about Sisu, Nordic Noir set in Finland, and, well, mostly Nordic Noir set in Finland. I’ve wanted to read more Nordic Noir (and by more I mean any) because I read a few books set in Sweden a few years ago and loved them. I’ll definitely update this as I read anything.
You’ve probably heard of Hygge already, but this is all about “keeping it simple and sensible.” Katja Pantzar, a journalist, moved to Finland and her life was changed. These simple practices show how the Finnish people have remained the happiest people in the world year after year. This is the Finnish way to find happiness and good health. This is more of a fun guide than a casual read, but still sounds like something I might pick up.
Similar to the above, this will help you master Sisu and Finnish happiness. Sisu doesn’t really have an English translation but it encompasses courage, resilience, grit, tenacity, and perseverance and this book will help you achieve these things in your life, too. While these first two aren’t actually books set in Finland, they are two books about Finland that might make you wish you were there.
You better buckle up if you want to read this book set in Finland, because hooo boy, it is long. 971 pages long. Ilmari, Marri, and Aino were born into a farm family in the late 19th century in Finland and are forced to keep up the image of Sisu in the face of increasing hardship, even after their father is arrested by imperial Russian authorities and never seen again.
They are intrigued with the Homestead Act and find themselves making thee move to America. Soon they are established in a logging community near the Columbia River in Southern Washington. And this is where each sibling comes into their own.
Jan Nyman is an ace detective for the National Central Police and is sent to investigate a death in a sleepy vacation town which happens to be “the hottest beach in Finland.” It’s Nyman’s job to find out what happened by any means necessary.
This is a comedy but also a dark thriller about money, dreams, and turning points in lives. If you want something a little different from your book set in Finland, this is a good choice.
Ariel Kafka is a middle-aged bachelor detective living in Helsinki. He is the only Jew on the police force and picked to lead an investigation of a series of murders that started with two Arabic-looking men that may have been shouting Jewish obscenities as they died.
Set in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, it’s up to Ari to get to the bottom of everything, but can he do it before the Holiest day on the Jewish calendar?
Jaakko Kaunismaa is a successful mushroom entrepreneur who is shocked to learn that at just 37-years old, he is dying. He is even more shocked to learn that it is from extended exposure to toxins and is set on finding out who has been poisoning him.
An old man is found dead on the road and he is thought to have been run over by a Hungarian Au Pair. Anna Fekete, the investigator on the case, is sure there is more to the case than meets the eye. It’s a complex case involving immigration, drugs, and murder that threatens her beliefs and life.
Her partner is involved in a similar case with deportation and raids causing tension among an immigrant gang, resulting in desperate measures taken by gang members. The two cases come together in unexpected ways thanks to a bloody knife found in the snow.
The first ever female Inspector in the Helsinki Homicide Unit, Hella Mauzer, was deemed “too emotional” for the job and was reassigned. Two years later she is working in Lapland under Chief Inspector Jarvi for the Ivalo police. They receive a tip from a priests wife in a village on the soviet border about a local man, Erno Jokinen, that’s disappeared.
Hella jumps at the chance to investigate but Jarvi doesn’t think this is any crime since people disappear in the Finnish snow all the time. She stays in the town with the priest and his wife who have also taken in Erno’s grandson who won’t tell his grandfathers secret.
Soon a body is found and Hella is right, there has been a crime committed, but what she doesn’t realize is the town is hiding another secret, a crime that is much worse than this murder.
Janne Vuori is an investigative reporter on a mission to uncover the illegal activities of a mining company spewing toxic secrets threatening to poison them all. Their illegal activities have unleashed an environmental disaster in a town in Northern Finland. Soon, the company’s executives start to die in a string of mysterious accidents while Janne’s personal life is unraveling.
Kimmo Joentaa’s Christmas Eve tradition of a glass of milk and a bottle of vodka to keep the isolation of a harsh winter’s night away after his wife’s death is interrupted by the murder of two men, one who is on the police force with him, and the arrival of a damaged young woman.
In the height of the Cold War, Finland was the playground of the Russian KGB. Iain is a former Royal Navy Officer tasked to work undercover and investigate Vladislav Kovtun, a violent KGB spy nicknamed The Red King of Helsinki by the Finnish Secret Service. He quickly becomes embroiled in danger when he discovers a trail of bodies left in Kovtun’s wake.
All Pia wants is to become a professional gymnast and for Heikki, a dreamy boy in her class, to notice her. Instead, she starts investigating her best friends, who happens to be the daughter of a diplomat, disappearance. Unbeknownst to her, The Red King of Helsinki is watching every move she makes. Will Iain be able to save her before it’s too late?
Just before Christmas, Finnish Lapland is plunged into two weeks of darkness called Kaamos. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian liquor and others sink into a depression. This time though, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder.
Inspector Kari Vaara has to find the killer of the beautiful Somali woman who was found in the snow before it’s too late. This is perfect if you’re looking for a book set in Finland that’s more along the lines of a thriller.
This is a collection of short stories set in Finland, an anthology of noir stories, actually. This collection focuses on stories set in Helsinki, the capital. This is a creepy collection that just might have you leaving the lights on tonight written by 14 Finnish authors.
This book is set in Finland along with a few other Nordic countries as Barbara Sjoholm travels her way around the region.
First she travels to Sweden where she meets the artists building the ice hotel. As she travels to the North Cape she encounters increasing cold and darkness as she dog sleds across the Finnmark Plateau then attends a Sami film festival with an ice screen and even Santa’s post office in Finland.
She uncovers the regions history over three winters of traveling through it. She not only covers tourism and history, but how they weigh on the people of the area and all of the changes occurring in Northern Scandinavia.
Alina Escala’s Finnish cousin and his hot friend show up in her quiet Silicon Valley life bringing sex, sauna, and sisu with them. On her quest for love, she puts up with her cousin and his hot friend while fighting repressed grief, minf-boggling headaches, and wacky dates.
As Alina’s crowd mixes with her blunt Finnish cousins culture, it ends up a summer of peaking passion and surprising romantic entanglements. While this isn’t actually set in Finland, I still say it counts.
I hope these books about Finland have either gotten you interested in visiting or have gotten you excited about an upcoming trip. Some of these books seemed a little odd to me, but I just might still give them a try!
Have you read any of these books set in Finland? Which ones? Are there any others I should check out?