Finland: travel books to read before you go

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This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Finland guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

House of OrphansHouse of Orphans, by Helen Dunmore, is a gloriously evocative historical novel, with excellent background on early-20th-century Finnish rural life, the class divide, workers’ movement and burgeoning nationalism, through the eyes of sympathetic characters.

TravelsTravels through Sweden, Finland, and Lapland to the North Cape (Vol II), by Giuseppe Acerbi, has recently been republished. This late-18th-century traveller’s account is a gem, full of keen observations on the places visited, and the customs of the Sámi.

Bad WisdomBad Wisdom, by Bill Drummond and Mark Manning, is a visionary and disturbing rock ’n’ roll road trip through Finland, taking an icon of Elvis to the North Pole. If it were a film, it’d cop an X-rating for kinky sexual content and substance abuse.

Popular MusicThough set just over the river in Sweden, Popular Music, by Mikael Niemi, is an area with much Finnish influence and has plenty to say about contemporary Lapland through the eyes of a boy liberated from the constraints of small-town life by discovering rock music.

The Palace of the Snow QueenPalace of the Snow Queen, by Barbara Sjoholm, is a winter travelogue that spends more time in Norway and Sweden, but is good on Lapland and the Sámi in general. It has much detail on the building of snow hotels, and pays a visit to Inari’s film festival.

Let the Northern LightsLet the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, by Vendela Vida, is a woman’s voyage to discover her roots and evokes Finnish and Norwegian Lapland through her vulnerable visitor’s eyes. The emotional journey is powerful, but the setting’s just an exotic backdrop here and let down by inaccuracies.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.