piles of nonfiction books

5 Essential Nonfiction Books for Expats in Sweden: A Swedish Perspective

Welcome to our beautiful country, Sweden, the land of lakes, northern lights, fika, and yes, IKEA! As you settle into your new life here, you might find yourself curious about understanding the complex tapestry of human nature, psychology, and human potential, and how it relates to the Swedish lifestyle. As a native Swede, I’ve curated a list of five non-fiction books, which, while not exclusively about Sweden, provide insights and knowledge that are universally applicable and align well with our Swedish values.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

1. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling

This book by the late Swedish doctor, Hans Rosling, is a must-read. Through intriguing global statistics, Rosling enlightens us about the many ways our intuition can lead to a skewed understanding of the world around us. His principles of fact-based thinking can empower you to comprehend Sweden’s place in a global context, and also challenge your preconceived notions about the world.

The Art of Thinking Clealy by Rolf Dobelli

2. The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli

As you adapt to a new culture, clear thinking is invaluable. Dobelli’s book outlines common cognitive errors we often make. Understanding these biases and logical fallacies can aid in making objective judgments, a trait greatly appreciated in Swedish society.

The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert

3. “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert

Sweden is renowned for its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. Kolbert’s exploration of previous mass extinctions and the ongoing one triggered by human activities is an eye-opener. This book can help deepen your understanding of why Swedes value environmental consciousness and the efforts we make towards sustainability.

A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

4. “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

While technically a novel, I believe this book offers wonderful insights into Swedish society and human nature. The story revolves around Ove, a grumpy yet loveable man who finds his solitary world turned upside down when a wild and cheerful young family moves in next door.”A Man Called Ove” is a heartwarming tale that encapsulates many aspects of Swedish social life, from our neighbourhoods to the weird ways we interact with each other.

Man's search for meaning by Viktor E. Frankl book cover with a bird and concentration camp fences.
Man’s search for meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

5. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

Frankl’s powerful narrative about his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and his ideas about the importance of purpose and meaning as a driving force for human persistence, no matter the circumstances, has inspired readers worldwide. His philosophy resonates with the Swedish value of ‘lagom,’ finding balance and contentment in life. This book prompts deep reflections on personal resilience and finding meaning in life, regardless of circumstances.

Enjoy you reading and time in Sweden

Welcome to Sweden! These books, each in their unique way, will provide insights into human nature, our potential, philosophy, and psychology. As you embark on your Swedish journey, they will inspire you, challenge you, and perhaps help you understand your new home a bit better. Happy reading and lycka till (good luck).

Find more great books to read on my the Great Books List
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