In these times, there’s nothing better than to dive down into a good book. At The Nordic House’s library, we have a wide selection of Nordic books, DVDs, and magazines in various topics and genres, so where should we start? On this page, The Nordic House’s librarians will give tips, recommendations, and ideas to inspire you to find new and exciting reading material. Maybe they can help you to find your new favorite book?
Iben Mondrup: Tabita, 2020
Five-year-old Tabita and her younger brother are torn up and adopted by business manager Bertel and his wife in the 1960s when the Danish couple after some years of living Greenland moves back to Denmark. The little Greenlandic girl longs terribly for home and finds only comfort in her little brother and her soulful doll, while her Danish parents’ marriage creaks heavily and the younger brother suddenly disappears. The tale of the little girl’s struggle with being someone else is a slow and powerful told nightmare. The Greenlandic nature and culture are described in detail in the meeting with the expectations that Danish culture is superior. Read the book and get an insight into past time´s relationship between children and adults, the Greenland / Denmark relationship, about painful love, failure, concealment and powerlessness.
Dy Plambeck: Til min søster, 2019
A novel about being a woman and being seen and understood – or not. Historian Aya is abandoned by her boyfriend and gives birth to her daughter as she researches a well-known late author’s childhood sweetheart and tries to see and understand her role for his authorship and the love affair that was or was not. Aya also tries to see and understand her infertile sister, the hairdresser Andrea, who after a long time of abuse finally leaves her abusive boyfriend. Aya tries to see and understand her sister again on a work trip to Sweden with a hunting rifle in the trunk. The sisters were very close in their teenage years exploring sexuality and the right to be a woman in the province, and now they are again trying to approach each other in the face of Aya´s bloodthirsty revenge against the violent ex-boyfriend and understanding of themselves and the right to find their place in the world.
Pictures from Berlinske and SAXO
Hanne Højgaard Viemose: HHV, FRSHWN Dødsknaldet i Amazonas, 2019
A fragmentary and wild novel about Danish Hanne’s experiences, thoughts and a troubled mind in respectively Denmark, the Amazons and Iceland, about her life with the occasionally psychotic Icelandic ex-husband and their amazingly inventive children, about her rough young adult experiences with love in North Jutland, about anthropology student Anita in the jungle, the relationship with a married man and a stalker while cycling around the city between the children’s day care center and the psychiatric emergency room … There are strong opinions on climate and capitalism, and all kind of things happen in Hanne’s life, so she has to spend time in the Icelandic nature to ask questions and perhaps find answers and calmness in her journey in and out of herself and others during both clear and unclear borderline moments along the way with herself as a woman. There is tempo and break-up in Hanne’s stormy writing style and river of words, so hold on tight as you let yourself get pulled into her life, or make a stop now and then and take a breath for yourself and Hanne.
Picture from TV Nord
Short stories (Danish)
Thomas Korsgaard: Tyverier, 2019
15 short stories about secrecy, loneliness, and hope seen in the eyes of different people, for example about having their past revealed in front of a post office worker, about fleeing a family lunch after the truth has been revealed, about trying to sell insurance to a dying, hoping to socialize New Year’s Eve while humbly competing with another peeler for a piece of destroyed salmon in the supermarket’s container. Read the short stories if you are interested in the Nordic minimalist writing style and would like to read about stealing things and secrets without anyone possibly discovering them. The short stories must be a treat to a teacher in Danish letting the students explore the stories.
Crime novel (Norwegian, translated into Danish)
Helene Uri: Sort is, 2019
Read a captivating story of a home confined elderly couple – locked in because the winter cold has made it dangerous to go out on the slippery black iced sidewalks, but also locked inside a marriage where an intense drama lurks just below the surface. The married couple Ebba and Karl do not exactly have the same need to go out to buy food and get fresh air, but it also turns out that they do not agree on each other’s ambitions and need for development throughout life. Love and marriage may be a matter of compromise, but at what price do they send each other eternal smiles and loving remarks when it might be pretending? Who has the right to define a good marriage, and when is it domestic violence? What does revenge actually feels like when an accident takes place and you need to let the other feel your pain? A smoldering dialogue creates a quiet but violent drama that is rolled up over a few days confined…
Picture from goodreads and pinterest
Crime novel (Danish)
Niels Krause-Kjær: Mørkeland, 2019
Just before the parliamentary elections, this political crime novel takes the life of a government clerk. An elderly, experienced journalist and newly-educated young trainee are on the verge of extensive fraud committed by a secret circle of politicians and government officials who see themselves as the resistance movement during World War II. The book is an independent continuation of Krause-Kjær’s debut novel Kongekabale (2000), which was made into a movie. The author knows his political crafts and has important views on media development, political populism, and Europe’s vulnerability in a new world. He describes skillfully and with a good deal of humor in parliament as well as the relationship with the 4th state power. As a reader, you will be able to find many fictitiously invented personal characters rooted in quite a recognizable reality.
Picture from K – Danish Art Foundation.
Maren Uthag: En lykkelig slutning, 2019
A truly different family chronicle of the work of seven generations of undertakers, one undertaker more special than the other. Nicholas loves corpses but knows that it is socially and culturally unacceptable. Looking back on his family history, each generation’s bizarre tendencies unfold in the face of a booming business of superstition and ghosts, pity killings, epidemics, OCD, pyromania, cremation, and necrophilia. The book is not just a family drama but also an insight into the cultural history of death with its many facets of contemporary traditions and morals; something that we can learn from and be intrigued by the insight of today´s pandemic while being entertained by the author’s serious and humorous grasp of the individual’s psychological challenges. Read it and be amazed!
Picture from Bogmagasinet.
Memoir novel (Danish)
Malene Lei Raben: Fruen, 2019
How to live a life when as a child you loved your strong and freedom-seeking mother through the youth rebellion in the 1970s, then as a young woman you are left in the throes of the same ambitious, troublesome and egocentric mother who clearly shows that she hates her own daughter? How is it as an adult to experience slander from your mother and watch your own children turn against you? How do you look after yourself in the middle of a new millennium when you have chosen the same career strategy as your mother but can never make her content or proud? How do you survive your mother’s course of illness when you have a giant pleaser gene and are in a double bind trap with your dying mother who chooses the victim role and accuses her daughter of always failing? You hit bottom and slowly lick your wounds knowing that you have tried everything you could out of love and loyalty, even if you were misunderstood. Read this angry but also forgiving memoir about a difficult and fiercely challenging relationship between a daughter and her mother.
Picture from JP – Politikens Hus.
Non-fiction literature on sleep (Norwegian)
Anders Bortne: Søvnløs – tusen våkenetter og én løsning, 2019
Anders is a very ordinary person who has not been able to sleep for 18 years. Therefore, he takes the reader through his search for help e.g. via hypnosis, herbal teas, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and sleeping medicine. He researches through studies on the many activities of modern man that keep us awake: 15% of all Norwegians have sleep problems – a common disease among teenagers as well. Anders is neither a doctor nor a sleep specialist, but his quest is to gain from the encounter with cognitive behavioral therapy and sleep restriction; an approved form of treatment known to few people – and then Anders finally gets to sleep. Do you suffer from insomnia or just want to know more? So stay awake, read the book and get answers!
Picture from Tiden.no
Merete Pryds Helle: Nora, 2019
The novel is one of three Nordic reinterpretations of Henrik Ibsen’s plays – here a reinterpretation of Et dukkehjem (1879). The young and in love woman, Nora breaks up from her father’s house and marries Torvald, gives birth to a child and submits to the increasing depression of her husband while she disregards herself and her desire for knowledge. However, the notion of a happy marriage requires many sacrifices of Nora, who eventually feels trapped by the norms of the time. She bets everything and travels to the south with her Torvald in search of a cure for his dark state of mind. But Nora develops in the encounter with independent women and sees Torvald for who he is, after which she sees herself, frees herself and breaks out from the strict grip of conventions and the women’s view of the time. Read the book for the many fine layers of portrayal and understand what gives Nora the courage to leave home, husband and children.
Picture from Alt.dk and fra Plusbog
Crime novel (Danish)
Katrine Engberg: Vådeskud, 2019
This book is the fourth in the series about the police investigative team Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner as well as the helpful, retired literature professor Esther De Laurenti. A new disappearance case annoys the police investigators and lurks to the reader’s dismay as a teenage boy disappears leaving a strange (farewell) letter; is he abducted or has he taken his own life? The boy’s wealthy family has many secrets and challenges the police investigation, which comes well around today’s Copenhagen on land and at sea. Kørner and Werner are a quirky and vulnerable duo whose private life develops very differently through the four volumes Krokodillevogteren (2016), Blodmåne (2017) and Glasvinge (2018). As a reader, you are lead astray along the way, but at the end of the book, you are delighted with the once again cleverly crafted plot of the author. A good crime series that fully lives up to what you can expect from the genre.
Pictures from People’s Press and Goodreads
Novel (Norwegian and translated into Danish)
Johanna Frid: Nora eller brænd Oslo brænd, 2019
A Scandinavian novel about jealousy that takes place between the young love couple Swedish Johanna and Danish Emil and the latter’s ex-girlfriend Norwegian Nora. The ex-girlfriend is all that Johanna is not: beautiful, photogenic and popular on social media. When Emil meets the ex-girlfriend, Johanna embarks on a painful stalking of Nora on Instagram, and despite Emil’s assurances of his love for Johanna, she is eaten up by jealousy and by constant and disabling endometrial pain in the abdomen – the book’s other finely described theme. The jealousy and not least the Scandinavian cultural differences and similarities are described by the young author with black humor. Remarkable enough, the book also has a linguistic help guide to the novel’s Scandinavian lines at the back, so here is a youthful smiley in its place J
Picture from Grand Agency
Novel (Finnish, translated into Danish)
Selja Ahava: Før min mand forsvinder, 2019/ Ennen kuin mieheni katoaa, 2017
An auto fictional novel about getting emotionally lost when one’s husband through ten years of marriage suddenly one morning declares: “In reality, I’ve always wanted to be a woman.” Read a very empathizing first-hand account of perplexity, confusion, and trouble understanding a gender change and changing of that reality, past, and future you thought you had. The author is in this novel just like her award-winner Pludselig falder ting fra himlen / Taivaalta tippuvat asiat (2018) a master at describing and documenting the awkward moment when everything stands still, and how to slowly recognize and adjusting yourself with a new situation determined by outside coincidences – about the grief of losing a beloved person who is still there. Parallel to the story of the couple’s challenge to the identity change is the story of Columbus’s journey across the world – finding new land.
Pictures from Randers Bibliotek and Goodreads
Non-fiction literature on painting art (Danish)
Annette Rosenvold Hvidt and Gertrud Oelsner: Vilhelm Hammershøi – på sporet af det åbne billede, 2018
Read a very thorough review of Vilhelm Hammershøi’s life from an art and cultural-historical perspective. Painter Hammershøi is one of the best known Danish painters in the world and stands out from his contemporary painter colleagues. He was strongly inspired by the invention and development of the 19th century photography, and he sensibly painted the silence and absence but also the presence in monochrome colors with a Nordic cool palette. Architecture painted with douche colors and as if in a light fog grabs the viewer. Hammershøi in particular painted the light experienced from the indoors and was captivated by windows and doors in old stately buildings, usually his own home. He was very well traveled but found the motifs in his everyday life often with his wife as a model in their home living rooms in Strandgade, Copenhagen. The painter’s mother, sister, brother, and wife, as well as his mentor P. S. Krøyer, live through the book’s many photographs, drawings, paintings, postcards, and letters. Borrow the library’s perhaps heaviest book and allow yourself to enjoy and find the stories in Hammershøi’s most beautiful paintings.
Pictures from Dagbladet and goodreads
Karen Fastrup: Hungerhjerte, 2018
An amazing memoir novel about the author and translator Karen’s own life of living like a crazy bullet, having a wild animal inside her, and in between behaving insanely. About a difficult childhood with a complicated father, loss of a younger brother, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts that later in life mean that she has to be hospitalized in the psychiatric emergency ward as she attacks her boyfriend with a knife. You are brought fully underneath the skin of Karen, who until then has lived an almost normal yet different life with lovers, children, and career. It is a great reading experience because through Karen’s everyday life you get sucked into her sometimes chaotic thinking and an authentic meeting with psychiatry and treatment institutions, about her fear of being diagnosed (with borderline) and about her belief in the future when learning to accommodate and accept the terms she is given when she e.g. multi dates via Tinder and regains her desire to write.
Picture from Vildumed.dk
Crime novel (Danish)
Jesper Stein: Solo, 2018
This is the sixth but certainly also independent, worth reading and exciting crime novel in the series of Axel Steen’s investigative assignments. Former Deputy Commissioner Axel Steen, now a security adviser, must assist his new employer, the wealthy bank director who himself will decide the rules, when an employee of his investment bank has cheated and must be laid off. At the same time, Axel Steen’s former colleague Vicki Thomsen is investigating the murder of a gang-related young immigrant in the ghetto where no one wants to speak, and she tries to get her former mentor but very reluctant Axel Steen to help with the police investigation. Morality and justice are put to the test in the two inflamed tasks, where the social classes have vastly different conditions and opportunities for survival. The author’s previous work as a journalist, law and crime reporter leaves nothing behind. The crime series features the titles Uro (2012), Bye bye Blackbird (2013), Akrash (2014), Aisha (2015) and Papa (2017).
Pictures from Politikensforlag and Kverbókaútgáfa
Non-fiction literature on women life (Danish)
Renée Toft Simonsen: Jeg er f*cking hot, 2018
A personally written book for you who, like the author, is around 50 and experiences hormone changes in the same way as when you were a teenager – or for those who just want to gain insight into women’s menopause, emerging vulnerability and roller coaster rides of reflections on the decay and shortcomings of the body, as a woman no longer being as hot in appearance but having hot flushes during the night, children leaving the nest, divorces and other epoch-making events overwhelm you in the middle of life. The scientific discoveries of psychology and physics on the subject are presented, but it is probably the fascination of psychologist and former supermodel Renée Toft Simonsen’s ability to tell her story in a well-formulated way about her f*cking hot everyday life filled with cafe latte, cigarettes, love and beautiful children that will intrigue you.
Pictures from Politikensforlag and ALT
Crime novel (Danish)
Søren Svejstrup: Kastanjemanden, 2018
The two police investigators from the Copenhagen Police’s Department of Homicide, the young and ambitious Naia Thulin and the career-parked Mark Hess with the sad past, are busy getting back on track with an otherwise completed investigation into the alleged murder of the Minister of Social Affairs. The story of the leftover chestnuts at various murder scenes is gruesome, and there are many parallel intelligent clues put out by the author. The crime novel is well-written and well thought out, and you have to search long for a well-composed plot like this – this is a book you do not put away until night has turned into day, for the like of a well-orchestrated and multifaceted course of action is not often seen! Svejstrup was also the screenwriter on the TV series Nikolaj og Julie and Forbrydelsen – do you remember The Killing?
Pictures from Arnoldbusk and politikensforlag