In these books about Sweden you’ll discovery everything from Swedish noir to historical fiction to Swedish culture to WWII stories. Read about famous author Astrid Lindgren’s experience during WWII, teach your children about the traditions of St. Lucia Day, or solve a mystery with one of the most popular Scandinavian books of the last 20 years. If you are dreaming of traveling to this Scandinavian country, learn more about it with one of these books!
Novels Set in Sweden
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove is a bestselling book that has charmed readers everywhere. When a grumpy old man gets new neighbors, he might just have to rethink his approach to life. For fans of contemporary fiction and heartwarming stories.
In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström
Three different black women from three very different backgrounds all find themselves linked to the same white man in Stockholm. One works as a marketing executive, one is a love interest, and one cleans his office. This is a book about being a black woman in a world of white men, and all the different ways that can look. For fans of contemporary and accessible literary fiction.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
For a Fredrik Backman book that is a bit grittier than A Man Called Ove, you might try Beartown. This book centers around the hockey team of a small Swedish town and an act of violence that impacts the whole community. Content warnings for sexual violence. For fans of contemporary fiction.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Translated by Reg Keeland
The first installment of Larsson’s Millenium series spent years on the best seller lists. When a detective is hired to investigate a decades old disappearance in a wealthy family, he pulls in Lisbeth Salander, and together they find a web of corruption and generally terrible things. This book comes with lots of content warnings especially for sexual violence. For fans of dark thrillers.
The Night Singer by Johanna Mo
Crime novels are almost synonymous with Swedish books, so our list includes several noir mysteries and police procedurals set in Sweden. Here, detective Hannah Duncker regretfully returns to her home of Öland and finds herself investigating a murder that also flings her back into the past she had wanted to leave behind. For fans of mysteries and noir.
Still Waters by Viveca Sten, Translated by Marlaine Delargy
When two bodies show up on a small Swedish island, detective Thomas Andreasson is tasked with investigating, and he loops in an old childhood friend who is now a lawyer, Nora Linde. This is the first book in the Sandhamn Murders series. For fans of mysteries and thrillers.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, Translated by Marlaine Delargy
In this short book of stories that combines Swedish murder mysteries with a bit of dark humor, Maud is an 88-year-old woman in Sweden who can take things into her own hands when life isn’t exactly going her way. For fans of mysteries and irreverent books.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Allan Karlsson really isn’t interested in his big 100-year birthday celebration, so he decides to escape by climbing out of his nursing home window. Hijinks ensue, all intertwined with Karlsson’s larger-than-life backstory where he was present for a multitude of key historic events. For fans of general contemporary fiction.
They Will Drown in Their Mother’s Tears by Johannes Anyuru, Translated by Saskia Vogel
In the years following a terrorist attack at a book signing, one of the attackers invites the author to visit her. She tells him a story of an future that looks different from their present, and claims it is where she is from. There’s no way the author can believe it’s true, but then he starts to wonder if maybe it is. For fans of literary fiction with political undertones and sci-fi elements.
The Historians by Cecilia Ekbäck
During WWII, Laura is working as a Swedish negotiator with Germany. When one of her best friends turns up dead though, she teams up with a government official to uncover what happened and discovers a web of dark conspiracies. For fans of WWII historical fiction and thrillers.
Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson
This is a novel about friendship set in a small Swedish town. Veronika is a writer from New Zealand who rents a house in Sweden to try to finish her novel after a recent tragedy. Astrid is her neighbor, an older and reclusive woman. Over time, they become friends, despite all their differences. For fans of contemporary fiction.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson
In this family saga, follow three generations of a Swedish family as they move through 100 years of history. This is for fans of historical fiction, multi-generational family stories, and stories about mothers and daughters.
The Sweet Indifference of the World by Peter Stamm, Translated by Michael Hofmann
In this novel about destiny and parallel lives, Lena meets writer Christoph and learns that the story of his past relationship seems to mirror her own relationship with another writer. She’s even a doppelganger for Christoph’s past love. For fans of literary fiction and experimental novels that have a haunting feel to them.
Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi, Translated by Laurie Thompson
In this coming of age story, a young boy grows up in a small, far-north Swedish town amongst an eccentric cast of characters. The vignettes in this story cover everything about growing up, from rock music to sports to family drama, all with a bit of humor. For fans of coming of age stories.
The Saga of Gosta Berling by Selma Lagerlof, Translated by Paul Norlen
Gösta Berling lives in rural Sweden. Once a minister, he now lives near an estate full of Napoleanic War veterans. He’s a complicated character, which further complicates the relationships in his life. Selma Lagerlof, the author, was the first woman to win the the Nobel Prize in Literature, and this is a really a book that is about the writing. For fans of classics.
Read more about Scandinavia with these books about Norway!
Non-Fiction Books About Sweden
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson
The practice of döstädning in Sweden is all about cleaning the clutter out of your life before your friends and family have to do it for you when you die. Magnusson walks you through the process with tips while also shedding light on Swedish life. For fans of personal growth non-fiction.
Lagom – Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life by Niki Brantmark
The idea of lagom in Sweden means “not too much and not too little—just right.” It’s all about finding balance in life. Here, Brantmark talks about her own experiences in Sweden and examines how you can use the Swedish concept of lagom to find balance in your own life. For fans of personal growth non-fiction.
War Diaries, 1939-1945 by Astrid Lindgren, Translated by Sarah Death
Sweden largely sat out of WWII, and in this diary, Astrid Lindgren (the author of Pippi Longstocking) observes the war from the safety of Sweden. Her observations are interesting (especially as she got a job in a government office censoring letters for sensitive information) and her feelings about watching the suffering of others are relatable. For fans of journals and historical non-fiction.
Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson
You might know Marcus Samuelsson from Food Network or his NYC restaurants. He was born in Ethiopia, but was adopted and raised in Sweden before becoming a superstar chef in the United States. This memoir chronicles his life with food, from cooking with his grandmother in Sweden to opening his famous restaurants. For fans of memoirs and books about food.
In this travel memoir, Booth examines the idea that Scandinavian countries are the happiest in the world. To what extent is it really true? Traveling to Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, Booth intends to find out. For fans of travel writing and narrative non-fiction.
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson
Eels have long been a scientific conundrum. For centuries, no one knew where they came from. And even now, no one has seen them reproduce. Svensson dives into the history of the scientific discoveries that have been made about eels, alternating it with chapters about his childhood in Sweden and his memories of fishing for eels with his father. For fans of non-fiction about science and animals.
Children’s Books Set in Sweden
Counting Sweden — Räkna med Sverige by Linda Liebrand
This simple counting book counts through Swedish cultural icons. There is also text in Swedish, making this a bilingual book. Recommended ages: 0-4 years.
D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Countries Alphabet by Kathy-Jo Wargin, Illustrated by Renée Graef
We love these alphabet books for kids because include both a simple rhyme for younger kids and sidebars with more information for older kids and adults. Here you can walk through the alphabet learning all about the cities, culture, and food of the Nordic countries. (Pssst this would also be a great pick if you are looking for books about Denmark and/or books about Norway!) Recommended ages: 4 and up.
Pancakes for Findus by Sven Nordqvist
Farmer Pettson is a little odd. But he loves his cat Findus, who has three birthdays a year “because it was more fun that way.” In this silly story, Pettson tries to find all the ingredients to make birthday pancakes for Findus, but nothing seems to be going right. Recommended ages: 4 and up
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren, Illustrated by Harald Wiberg
This picture book by the author of Pippi Longstocking is adapted from a poem by Victor Rydberg. It’s about a small dwarf/troll-like creature who visits a snowy Swedish farm in the middle of the night, but no one ever sees him. Recommended ages: 4 and up.
Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker, Illustrated by Carina Stahlberg
Follow the kids of the Svennson family as they get ready for St. Lucia Day on December 13. In this picture book about Sweden, kids will learn about this important Christmas season tradition. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.
Middle Grade + YA Books About Sweden
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Illustrated by Louis S. Glanzman, Translated by Florence Lamborn
You can’t have books about Sweden without talking about Pippi Longstocking! When Pippi Longstocking moves to town with no parents, her neighbors Tommy and Annika are both delighted and stunned by her. Pippi will have kids laughing out loud with her antics. Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, Illustrated by Ilon Wilkland, Translated by Florence Lamborn
Another classic of Astrid Lindgren’s is the lesser known The Children of Noisy Village. Here she takes you through the year in the lives of six children in a small Swedish village, all full of adventure and humor. Recommended ages: 8-12 years old.
Kristina – The Girl King, Sweden, 1638 by Carolyn Meyer
When Kristina is born, her father, King of Sweden, had desperately wanted a son. So he declares that Kristina will be raised as a boy, and when he dies when she is six, she becomes the King of Sweden. Recommended ages: 9-12 years.
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam
Steffi feels unhappy in her life and unhappy at school especially. But she loves jazz music, and when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a WWII vet in a Swedish retirement home who also loves jazz, she learns that her life can be more. Recommended ages: 12 and up.