The best books about Norway

12 authors have picked their favorite books about Norway and why they recommend each book. Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

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Book cover of Kristin Lavransdatter

Kristin Lavransdatter

By Sigrid Undsett,

Why this book?

This is an older book, and as such the tone and style of it might be a chore to some of the more modern readers – but Undsett is a Nobel Prize winner in Literature for a reason, and for me, the rich historical setting of the Norway of Middle Ages and Kristin herself, the eponymous heroine of the novel, are more than enough. I first read this book when I was very young and it had a deep impact on me even then – and I’ve returned for occasional re-reads in the years that followed that first encounter, finding…
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Book cover of One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath

By Åsne Seierstad, Sarah Death (translator),

Why this book?

The prologue brought me to tears. In her brilliant book, reporter Åsne Seierstad chronicles the life and bloody attack of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 Norwegians in 2011 when he set off a bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo and then went to a youth camp on the idyllic island of Utøya, where he systematically slaughtered 69 people, mostly teenage members of Norway’s Labor Party. Seierstad writes like a novelist, but each detail comes from police records, interviews with victims, and other authoritative sources. Seierstad provides an intense, yet comprehensive, look at…

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Book cover of Cecil the Pet Glacier

Cecil the Pet Glacier

By Matthea Harvey, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Why this book?

Maybe you are looking for a conventional pet? or maybe not? Ruby, the main character thought she might want a cat or dog but found loyalty in a less conventional pet. This whimsical book will leave readers with a different outlook on pet possibilities.

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Book cover of Astrid the Unstoppable

Astrid the Unstoppable

By Maria Parr,

Why this book?

This book is for slightly younger readers, but I think it has genuine multi-generational appeal. I read it aloud to my eight-year-old, who laughed aloud and loved it – in fact, it was the first read-aloud chapter book that he stuck with. And his grandmother is also reading and loving it! Astrid has the feel of a classic, with its humor and its gentle wisdom. Though it’s a story about a feisty girl who loves sledding, it’s also a story about how someone you love can keep a hurtful secret. How does one forgive such a thing? Astrid figures it…

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Book cover of The Snowman

The Snowman

By Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (translator),

Why this book?

Nesbø has become somewhat of a cliché in Norway, because of the staggering amount of books he sells. But this book showcases why he sells so many books—if you’re only going to read one book by Nesbø, read this one! It will take you across Oslo, and again has elements of both crime fiction/mystery and fiction. 

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Book cover of The Good Bear

The Good Bear

By Sarah Lean,

Why this book?

Thea's Christmas visit to her estranged father and his new family in Norway is disappointing and infuriating, until she meets the bear. In this fiction, Sarah Lean conveys so much truth. Her beautiful, mistreated, hungry, lonely bear is so real, he brings tears to my eyes. Thea tries desperately to protect her new best friend from the locals who consider him a threat, because she knows “They would not take the time to look into his eyes, to question and discover what he was really like." I wish everyone would take the time to look into animals' eyes, to see…

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Book cover of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North

By Blair Braverman,

Why this book?

I love cold, northern places and dogs, and, if you haven’t already noticed, warts-and-all stories about women finding strength they didn’t know they had in the wilderness. Blair Braverman’s memoir checks all these boxes. As a teenager, she goes to a folk school in the Norwegian Arctic and learns to work with sled dogs, something she later continues as a guide in Alaska. (Braverman is now a professional musher and has run the Iditarod.) The book’s subtitle is Chasing Fear and Finding Home In the Great White North, and Braverman is unsparing in her exploration of fear rooted in…

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Book cover of Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940

Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940

By Robert Pearson,

Why this book?

The German invasion of Norway was sudden and thorough, capturing major ports from Oslo to Bergen and Trondheim on a single day in April. Their only failure was not capturing King Haakon, the cabinet, and Norway’s gold bullion. Robert Pearson’s Gold Run is a thrilling account of the efforts of “a visionary bank chief,” loyal Norwegians, and ships and men of the British Royal Navy. While under bombardment, immense courage was displayed as 50 tons of gold were moved by road, rail, and fishing boats. Pearson provides documents, photos, and personal accounts as well as a great narrative. If you…

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The best books about Norway during WWII

Book cover of The 12th Man: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

The 12th Man: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

By Astrid Karlsen Scott, Tore Haug,

Why this book?

The Twelfth Man by Norwegian-American writer Astrid Karlsen Scott is the dramatic story of Norwegian agent Jan Baalsrud’s survival after a SOE mission gone wrong. A first account of his ordeal was published in 1955, but this is a more accurate telling. I like her in-depth approach to uncovering the true facts. On one of her research trips to Norway, she teamed up with Dr. Tore Haug who was also investigating Baalsrud’s story of survival. They were able to meet and interview all the survivors who helped the agent or who were indirectly involved and had knowledge of his story.…

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The best books about Norway during WWII

Book cover of Skis Against the Atom: The Exciting, First Hand Account of Heroism and Daring Sabotage During the Nazi Occupation of Norway

Skis Against the Atom: The Exciting, First Hand Account of Heroism and Daring Sabotage During the Nazi Occupation of Norway

By Knut Haukelid,

Why this book?

Skis Against the Atom is a classic action story from WWII and about one of the most famous commando raids. It is the first-hand account of the heavy water raid by one of the men who was part of it, Knut Haukelid. First published in 1954, this book just pulled me into the dangerous and heroic actions of a group of young men who undertook the destruction of the heavily-guarded plant at Rjukan in Telemark. It gave me ideas for my own book concerning not only the planning and execution of missions, but the camaraderie of the men doing it.…

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