The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth

Genre: Cultural Anthropology
Format read: Audiobook
Rep: Scandinavian (various)
CW: Ethic based humor
Rating: planchet-4

We have all heard that the Scandinavians are the happiest people on earth, the most satisfied. They have the best healthcare, the best education, etc, etc. They’re even experimenting with a guaranteed universal income.

But is it all true? Is the grass really greener, the snow really whiter? What’s it really like to live in this mysterious cluster of quite, frost-bitten countries with their absurdly high taxes?

Michael Booth is a sarcastic British ex-pat, with a Danish wife. The two of them live in Amsterdam, which Booth uses as a jumping off point to visit Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland.

In this book he looks and the good and the bad about each of these countries, and the personal freedoms citizens have given up–willingly or unwittingly–for the level of security they enjoy in their homelands, poking fun at the bad, including age-old rivalries and stereotypes, and celebrating the good.

Considering the extent of my knowledge of Nordic countries was limited to the Kirsten books I read as a child and a single subtitled movie about Kristina of Sweden, I basically went into this book blind, and honestly that just made it more enjoyable. I’ve added a couple of unexpected places to my travel wish list. If you are curious about how a polite, socialist society works, then this is definitely worth a read.

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