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'The next Bill Bryson.’ New York Times Winner of the Best Narrative Travel Book Award from the British Guild of Travel Writers

The Danes are the happiest people in the world, and pay the highest taxes.

'Neutral' Sweden is one of the biggest arms manufacturers in the world.

Finns have the largest per capita gun ownership after the US and Yemen.

54 per cent of Icelanders believe in elves.

Norway is the richest country on earth.

5 per cent of Danish men have had sex with an animal.

Michael Booth has lived among the Scandinavians, on and off, for over ten years, perplexed by their many strange paradoxes and character traits and equally bemused by the unquestioning enthusiasm for all things Nordic and hygge that has engulfed the rest of the world.

He leaves his adopted home of Denmark and embarks on a journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover who these curious tribes are, the secrets of their success and, most intriguing of all, what they think of each other. Along the way a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of a region plagued by taboos, characterised by suffocating parochialism and populated by extremists of various shades.

'The next Bill Bryson.’ New York Times

Winner of the Best Narrative Travel Book Award from the British Guild of Travel Writers

Reviews

Comprehensive and occasionally downright hilarious... I was laughing out loud

Mariella Frostrup, Observer

An affectionate and informative study of a region.

Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

[An] entertaining, warts-and-all, English expat look at the Nordic miracle.

Daily Telegraph

A thoroughly entertaining read, written brilliantly

Bernard Porter, Literary Review

A welcome rejoinder to those who cling to the idea of the Nordic region as a promised land...the substance, more often than not, is spot on.

Financial Times

Every page contains at least one extraordinary fact about one or other of the Nordic countries.

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

Booth is an assiduous excavator of entertaining facts.

Damian Whitworth, The Times

An enjoyable, funny romp through the region...[Booth’s] enthusiasm is contagious.

Telegraph

Booth does what the British do well. He writes irresistibly, ranging freely from serious, documented reportage to surprising conclusions... Simply a pleasure to read - 5 stars

Berlingske

His personal insights are what gives this book its charm and it is a well-researched, up-to-date and relevant survey of an extremely appealing topic.

Rosanna Hawkins, We Love This Book

The closest of this year’s books to manna from heaven - 5 stars

Weekendavisen

The real joy of the book is the accumulation of trivia: the fact that there are more saunas than cars in Finland, that in 1971 the Swedish army ordered 50,000 hairnets so its soldiers could indulge the fashion for men to have long hair.

Alwyn Turner, Daily Telegraph

The real joy of the book is the accumulation of trivia: the fact that there are more saunas than cars in Finland, that in 1971 the Swedish army ordered 50,000 hairnets so its soldiers could indulge the fashion for men to have long hair.

Alwyn Turner, Daily Telegraph

A gently humorous and fact-rich piece of reportage.

New Statesman

Humorous and very readable... If all those references to the wonders of the Nordic world ever become too irritating, this is the book to turn to.

Douglas Osler, Scotsman

Entertaining stuff and very readable.

Susie Mesure, Independent on Sunday

The book was funny, well written and to the point.

Finnair Blue Wings Magazine

Illuminating.

Financial Times

Highly entertaining… If your Nordic knowledge is limited to ABBA, snow and Vikings, read this book… The Almost Nearly Perfect People will give you new perspectives and questions to mull over the next time you hear of another lifestyle ranking topped by the Nordic nations.

Anna Vesterinen, Rationalist

If you want travel writing amply packed with laughs, look no farther than Michael Booth’s The Almost Nearly Perfect People…, which does for the Scandinavian countries what James Bond has done for fast cars – made them impossible to resist. It’s a ride not to miss.

Tom Adair, Scotsman

Filled with facts, and some very funny escapades, it’s a great guide to understanding the utopian myth of these seemingly “perfect” countries.

Bill Bailey, Week

If your Nordic knowledge is limited to ABBA, snow and Vikings, read this book. Even if you are a seasoned traveller, or one of the "humbly proud" inhabitants, The Almost Nearly Perfect People will give you new perspectives and questions to mull over.

Anna Vesterinen, New Humanist

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099546078

    April 1, 2015

    Vintage

    416 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448192281

    February 6, 2014

    Vintage Digital

    416 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
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