The Greatest New Zealander, Swedish Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 268 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

    The book tells the story of Pippi Longstocking, a young girl with superhuman strength who lives alone in a colorful house in a small Swedish village. With her pet monkey and horse, Pippi embarks on a series of humorous and often absurd adventures, defying societal norms and adult authority with her unconventional wisdom and moral code. Despite her wild antics, Pippi's kindness, generosity, and courage make her a beloved figure in her community.

  2. 2. Barabbas by Par Lagerkvist

    This novel tells the story of Barabbas, the man who was pardoned instead of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. After being released, Barabbas grapples with his newfound freedom and the guilt of being spared at the expense of Jesus. As he witnesses the rise of Christianity and the profound impact Jesus' teachings have on those around him, he struggles with his own beliefs and the meaning of his existence. The narrative explores themes of faith, redemption, and the human condition.

  3. 3. The Bone People by Keri Hulme

    "The Bone People" is a complex, emotional novel that explores the lives of three characters - a reclusive artist, a young mute boy, and his adoptive father - in New Zealand. The narrative delves into themes such as Maori culture, love, violence, and isolation while showcasing the struggle of these individuals as they try to form a family unit despite their personal traumas and societal pressures. The book's unique blend of prose and poetry, along with its blend of English and Maori language, adds to its depth and richness.

  4. 4. The Red Room by August Strindberg

    "The Red Room" is a satirical novel that presents a critique of Stockholm society in the late 19th century. The story follows a young idealistic civil servant who loses his job, becomes a journalist, then turns to politics and, along the way, meets a variety of people who open his eyes to the corruption and hypocrisy of society. The novel is a scathing commentary on the political, financial, social, and moral institutions of the time.

  5. 5. The Christmas Oratorio by Göran Tunström

    "The Christmas Oratorio" is a poignant story set in a small Swedish town, revolving around a boy who loses his mother and his relationship with his silent, grieving father. The narrative is deeply embedded in music, specifically Bach's Christmas Oratorio, which becomes a source of solace for the boy. The tale is a rich tapestry of love, loss, and the healing power of music, exploring the deep emotional bonds between father and son, and the transformative power of art.

  6. 6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

    A disgraced journalist is hired by a wealthy industrialist to solve a forty-year-old mystery involving the disappearance of his niece. He is assisted in his investigation by a brilliant but deeply troubled hacker. As they delve deeper into the mystery, they uncover a twisted web of family secrets, corruption, and murder. The story is a dark and gripping exploration of Swedish society, as well as a thrilling mystery.

  7. 7. The Dwarf by Par Lagerkvist

    "The Dwarf" is a dark, philosophical novel set in the Italian Renaissance, narrated by a malevolent court dwarf who serves a prince. The dwarf is a symbol for the darker side of humanity, embodying all the malice, deceit, and manipulation that one can possess. His actions and viewpoint provide a cynical commentary on human nature and the moral complexities of power, war, and love. The novel explores themes of good and evil, faith and doubt, and the destructive side of human nature.

  8. 8. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

    In this thrilling crime novel, an elderly farmer and his wife are brutally murdered and the only clue is the wife's dying word: "foreign." This sets off a series of events that involves a dedicated detective who must solve the crime while dealing with his own personal problems. The investigation becomes even more complex when the press catches wind of the dying word, sparking a wave of xenophobia in the community. The detective must navigate through the fear and prejudice to find the truth and bring the killers to justice.

  9. 9. Hemsöborna by August Strindberg

    "Hemsöborna" is a classic novel set in the archipelago of Stockholm, revolving around the life of Carlsson, a city man who moves to the islands to work on a farm. The book delves into the cultural clash between the city man and the islanders, as well as the conflicts and relationships that develop among the island's inhabitants. The narrative also explores themes of love, death, survival, and the harsh realities of rural life.

  10. 10. The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall, Per Wahlöö

    In this gripping crime novel, a mass shooting on a bus in Stockholm leaves eight people dead, including a police officer. Inspector Martin Beck and his team are assigned to solve the case, but as they delve deeper, they uncover a complex web of corruption and deceit within the police force. With time running out, Beck must navigate through a labyrinth of clues and personal vendettas to catch the laughing policeman responsible for this heinous act.

  11. 11. An American Dilemma by Gunnar Myrdal

    This book is a comprehensive sociological study on the issues faced by African Americans in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. The author examines the deep-rooted racial discrimination and inequality prevalent in American society, exploring its origins, implications, and potential solutions. The work is notable for its detailed analysis and its impact on subsequent civil rights movements.

  12. 12. Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson

    "Simon and the Oaks" is a poignant tale set against the backdrop of World War II, depicting the life of a young Swedish boy, Simon, who comes from a working-class family but dreams of a world beyond his own. His life changes when he befriends Isak, a boy from a wealthy Jewish family fleeing from Nazi Germany. The book explores their friendship, the stark contrast between their worlds, their shared love for literature and music, and the impact of war on their lives. It also delves into themes of identity, love, loss, and the enduring power of human spirit.

  13. 13. The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson

    "The Long Ships" is a historical fiction novel centering around the Viking era. The story follows the adventures of a young Viking named Red Orm who is kidnapped by other Vikings, becomes a slave, then a chieftain's henchman, a merchant, explorer, and a soldier. His adventures take him from his native Sweden to Spain, England, Denmark, and Ireland. The novel explores the political, religious, and cultural landscapes of the era, providing a detailed and engaging portrayal of the Viking world.

  14. 14. The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg

    "The Emigrants" is a historical novel that follows the journey of a Swedish farming family who, driven by poverty and religious persecution, decide to emigrate to America in the mid-19th century. The narrative explores their struggles and hardships, from the decision to leave their homeland, the arduous journey across the Atlantic, to their eventual settlement in Minnesota. The book provides a profound and realistic depiction of the immigrant experience, highlighting the courage, determination, and resilience of the emigrants.

  15. 15. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

    The book follows the story of Nils, a mischievous boy who is transformed into a tiny elf by a magical creature as punishment for his bad behavior. Now tiny and capable of talking to animals, Nils embarks on a journey across Sweden on the back of a goose. Throughout his adventures, he learns important lessons about nature, geography, and folklore, and his experiences gradually transform him into a better person.

  16. 16. The Father by August Strindberg

    "The Father" is a dramatic play that explores the battle of the sexes through the lens of a dysfunctional family. The story centers on a military captain and his wife as they engage in a power struggle over the future of their daughter. The wife manipulates everyone around her to convince them that her husband is insane, leading to tragic consequences. The narrative delves deep into themes of gender roles, power dynamics, and the nature of truth.

  17. 17. Ronia, The Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren

    In a secluded forest, Ronia, the daughter of a feared robber chieftain, grows up surrounded by nature and the wild creatures that inhabit it. Despite her father's wishes for her to be tough and ruthless like him, Ronia's gentle heart and love for the forest lead her to form an unlikely friendship with Birk, the son of a rival robber chief. Together, they navigate the challenges of their feuding families, discovering the power of friendship, loyalty, and the importance of following their own paths.

  18. 18. The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

    "The Brothers Lionheart" is a heartwarming and adventurous tale that follows the lives of two brothers, Karl and Jonathan, who embark on an extraordinary journey in the magical realm of Nangijala after their untimely deaths. In this enchanting world, they find themselves caught in a battle between good and evil, where they must summon their bravery and loyalty to protect their newfound friends and fight against the oppressive forces that threaten to destroy everything they hold dear. This timeless story explores themes of love, friendship, and the power of hope, captivating readers of all ages.

  19. 19. Faces In The Water by Janet Frame

    "Faces in the Water" is a chilling exploration of mental illness, based on the author's own experiences in psychiatric hospitals. The protagonist is a woman who is institutionalized after a suicide attempt and suffers through the dehumanizing treatment of the era, including electroshock therapy. The narrative is a surreal and fragmented reflection of her mental state, as she grapples with her sanity and the inhumane conditions of her confinement. The novel serves as a powerful critique of the mental health system and the societal attitudes towards mental illness in the mid-20th century.

  20. 20. By the Open Sea by August Strindberg

    The novel is a psychological exploration of the mind of a man living in isolation on an island in the Baltic Sea. The protagonist, a fisheries inspector, is intellectually superior to the local population and struggles to maintain his sanity amidst the ignorance and superstition of the islanders. His mental state deteriorates as he becomes obsessed with the idea of a sea monster lurking in the depths, symbolizing his own repressed desires and fears. The story is a deep dive into the human psyche and the effects of alienation, paranoia, and existential dread.

  21. 21. Gösta Berling's Saga by Selma Lagerlöf

    The novel tells the story of Gösta Berling, a defrocked minister who becomes a cavalier at Ekeby Manor in Värmland, Sweden. His journey is filled with a series of adventures, romantic encounters, and battles with the forces of nature and the changing seasons. Throughout the narrative, the themes of redemption, love, and the enduring spirit of community are explored. Gösta's character, along with the other cavaliers and the people of Värmland, represents the struggle between good and evil, and the power of love and redemption.

  22. 22. Miss Julie by August Strindberg

    "Miss Julie" is a classic play that delves into the themes of class, love, and power. The story revolves around the daughter of a Count who, in a moment of passion, becomes involved with her father's valet. This scandalous affair leads to a tumultuous power struggle between the two characters, ultimately resulting in tragedy. The narrative explores the dynamics of gender and class in the late 19th century, revealing the societal constraints that lead to the characters' downfall.

  23. 23. The Emperor of Portugallia by Selma Lagerlöf

    "The Emperor of Portugallia" is a poignant tale of a poor Swedish farmer who loses his sanity after his beloved daughter leaves home to work in the city. He retreats into a fantasy world where he is the Emperor of Portugallia, and his daughter is the Empress. Despite the ridicule and scorn he faces from his community, he clings to his delusions, finding comfort and solace in them. The story is a profound exploration of love, loss, and the power of the human mind to create alternate realities as a coping mechanism.

  24. 24. The Man Without a Way by Erik Lindegren

    "The Man Without a Way" is a thought-provoking exploration of a man's existential crisis as he navigates his way through life without a clear path or purpose. The protagonist grapples with feelings of alienation, disillusionment, and a deep-seated sense of despair, reflecting the author's own experiences and struggles. The narrative delves into the human psyche, examining themes of identity, self-doubt, and the quest for meaning in an increasingly complex and chaotic world.

  25. 25. Flowering Nettle by Harry Martinson

    "Flowering Nettle" is a semi-autobiographical novel that follows the journey of a young boy who, after losing his parents, is sent to a rural village in Sweden to live with his aunt. The story details his experiences and struggles growing up in poverty, while also exploring his love for nature and the natural world. Despite his hardships, the protagonist manages to find beauty and solace in the world around him, ultimately expressing a profound sense of resilience and hope.

Reading Statistics

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Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download