Finland - Books

Books on Finland's History & Society

Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf by Richard D. Lewis

Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf is the story of an accomplished nation and her extraordinary people. By pursuing a 'Lone Wolf' policy, Finland raised itself from a struggling, war-battered state to one of the most developed countries in the world over the course of only fifty years. The exponential rise of Nokia from tires and timbers to leading the world's telecommunication industry is indicative of the Finns and their business style. These remarkable people speak a language unique in its origins and have kept their cultural identity intact despite the influences of powerful neighbors, Sweden and Russia.

Xenophobe's Guide to the Finns by Tarja Moles

This guide to understanding the Finns explores their national characteristics with humor and style.

A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40 by William Trotter

In 1939, tiny Finland waged war-the kind of war that spawns legends-against the mighty Soviet Union, and yet their epic struggle has been largely ignored. Guerrillas on skis, heroic single-handed attacks on tanks, unfathomable endurance, and the charismatic leadership of one of this century's true military geniuses-these are the elements of both the Finnish victory and a gripping tale of war.

A Concise History of Finland by David Kirby

Few countries in Europe have undergone such rapid social, political and economic changes as Finland has during the last fifty years. David Kirby here sets out the fascinating history of this northern country, for centuries on the east-west divide of Europe, a country not blessed by nature, most of whose inhabitants still earned a living from farming fifty years ago, but which today is one of the most prosperous members of the European Union. He shows how this small country was able not only to survive in peace and war but also to preserve and develop its own highly distinctive identity, neither Scandinavian nor Eastern European. He traces the evolution of the idea of a Finnish national state, from the long centuries as part of the Swedish realm, through self-government within the Russian Empire, and into the stormy and tragic birth of the independent state in the twentieth century.

Finnish Literature

The Summer Book by Tove Jannson

An elderly artist and her six-year-old granddaughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other's fears, whims and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges - one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the island itself, with its mossy rocks, windswept firs and unpredictable seas.

Urwind by Bo Carpelan

A tale of experience, past and present. In the "ur-vind", or primordial attic, are stored not only relics from the story-teller's past, but also memories of those who inhabited the house where he was brought up. The "ur-vind" is also the cosmic wind, and the story-teller's name - Daniel Urwind.

Seven Brothers by Aleksis Kivi

Seven Brothers (Seitsemän veljestä) is widely regarded as the first significant novel written in Finnish and by a Finnish-speaking author. Published in 1870, in the author's 36th year and two years before his untimely death, Seven Brothers laid the foundation for what Kai Laitinen later called "The Great Tradition in Finnish Prose". This tradition is characterized by realism, humor, respect for the common people, and depiction of nature as both friend and foe.

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna

A journalist and a photographer set out on an assignment on lovely sunny evening. As they drive through the country they hit a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist, leaves the car and goes in search of the injured creature. The grateful animal adopts Vatanen and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.

The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot

The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic, which like the Iliad and the Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. During the first millennium of our era, speakers of Uralic languages (those outside the Indo-European group) who had settled in the Baltic region of Karelia, that straddles the border of eastern Finland and north-west Russia, developed an oral poetry that was to last into the nineteenth century. This poetry provided the basis of the Kalevala. It was assembled in the 1840s by the Finnish scholar Elias Lönnrot, who took `dictation' from the performance of a folk singer, in much the same way as our great collections from the past, from Homeric poems to medieval songs and epics, have probably been set down. Published in 1849, it played a central role in the march towards Finnish independence and inspired some of Sibelius's greatest works.

The Unknown Soldier by Väinö Linnan

The Unknown Soldier is a story about the Continuation War between Finland and Soviet Union, told from the viewpoint of ordinary Finnish soldiers. Gritty and realistic, it was partly intended to shatter the myth of the noble, obedient Finnish soldier, and in that it succeeded admirably.

Books on Art, Music and Dance

Nordic Contemporary: Art from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden by Hossein Amirsadeghi 

Nordic Contemporary presents profiles of nearly 150 of the most important Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish figures and institutions active on the art scene today, including artists, curators, galleries, critics, and collectors. Extensively illustrated and based on the most up-to-date research, this book will provide a unique, invaluable survey of current trends and key players. 

Sibelius: A Composer's Life and the Awakening of Finland by Glenda Dawn Goss

One of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) virtually stopped writing music during the last thirty years of his life.Situating this national creative tide in the context of Nordic and European cultural currents, Sibelius deepens our knowledge of a misunderstood musical giant and an important chapter in the intellectual history of Europe.

Marimekko: In Patterns by Marimekko

Internationally beloved Finnish design brand Marimekko's iconic patterns grace home décor, apparel, and accessories, and have informed and influenced tastemakers worldwide for over half a century. Richly illustrated with photographs and prints both classic and new, this vibrant volume (launching along with covetable notebooks and postcards) offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the brand's creative process. A colorful legacy is revealed, along with the innovative creators—from 1950s pioneers to twenty-first-century masters—who have shaped the company's heritage and continue to make visual magic today. Rare sketchbook pages, in-depth looks at particular eras, and page after page of gorgeous designs make this a book sure to enchant anyone interested in fashion, art, or the patterned and color-drenched world of Marimekko.

Books on Economic Development and Foreign Affairs

Finland as a Knowledge Economy 2.0: Lessons on Policy and Governance by Halme, Lindy, Piirainen, Salminen & White

Finland is known for its consistent progress in the economy and competitiveness, as well as the egalitarian society underneath it. Yet, the challenges experienced by Finland in the beginning of the 20th century were similar to those experienced by many countries today. Finland emerged as an independent nation in the midst of international economic and political turbulence. In spite of its remoteness, relative scarcity of natural resources, smallness of the home market and recent history characterized by wars and social cleavages, Finland transformed itself from an agriculture-based economy in the 1950’s into one of the leading innovation-driven, knowledge-based economies and high-tech producers in the twenty-first century. Finland Knowledge Economy 2.0 presents some of the key policies, elements, initiatives and decisions behind Finland’s path into the Knowledge Economy of today. 

Some Small Countries Do It Better by Shahid Yusuf and Kaoru Nabeshima

Countries worldwide are endeavoring to imitate the industrial prowess of the East Asian pacesetters. However, building a portfolio of tradable goods and services, and raising the levels of investment in these activities, has generally defied the best policy efforts. 

The developmental experience of Singapore, Finland, and Ireland (Sifire) offers a different approach to rapid and sustained growth. The focus of these countries, rather than being tightly bound to investment, concentrates on building human capital in order to attract technology-intensive foreign direct investment and to enable domestic firms to compete in global markets for highvalue products and services. This recipe for rapid and sustained growth is well suited for the large number of small, resource-poor countries and of especial relevance in the competitive global environment of the 21st century.

Children's Books

Comet in Moominland by Tove Jannson

When Moomintroll learns that a comet will be passing by, he and his friend Sniff travel to the Observatory on the Lonely Mountains to consult the Professors. Along the way, they have many adventures, but the greatest adventure of all awaits them when they learn that the comet is headed straight for their beloved Moominvalley. (A children's book series).

More on the history of the Moomins here.

Santa Claus and His Elves  (Joulupukki) by Mauri Kunnas

Finland’s Santa Claus and Mount Korvatunturi, Lapland – just as we always imagined they would be! Mauri Kunnas has always gotten along perfectly with elves. And in this book he allows us to accompany the elfin scouts on their exciting expeditions, to see for ourselves the great heaps of letters in Santa’s post office, to experience the preparations for the Christmas gift-giving, and to journey through many a far-off land… Here, in one volume, is everything there is to know about Santa Claus, his elves, and magical Korvatunturi.