The first ever United Nation’s World Happiness Report produced in 2012 rated Denmark the happiest country in the world, home to the happiest people.  Other Scandinavian nations such as Sweden and Norway weren’t far behind…so does the happiness rub off on expats?

Well, in his book about the Nordic people, expat observer Michael Booth takes a funny and frank look at the Scandinavian nations and their people.  Booth’s book, entitled ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia,’ is so appealing and amusing you don’t need to be an expat in any of the nations surveyed to want to read it!

Filled with both fascinating and funny observations backed up by clever research, Mr. Booth educates and amuses his readers with comments such as Nordic women: “manage to project an image of being pious, sanctimonious Lutherans.  It is a neat trick to be thought of as being both deeply hot and off-puttingly frigid.” And “Five percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal…”  Intrigued?  Read on…

As external observers to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland or Iceland, many of us who don’t have the privilege of living there will have a very limited understanding of the nations’ peoples and customs.

We might consider Norway to be beautiful, Nordic people to be the most sexually liberated in the world, and all Scandinavian nations to be the highest tax countries anywhere for example…

But in his book expat Michael Booth breaks down many commonly held misconceptions about these near-perfect people, and does so in such an amusing way he doesn’t detract from the countries’ respective attractions.

Mr. Booth is British; he’s married to a Danish woman with whom he lives with their two sons in Copenhagen.  He has close working knowledge of Denmark and the Danes therefore, and yet his humour and writing style is distinctly British, making ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia’ a brilliantly witty read.

Booth explains how Nordic nations have the highest gender equality in the world, and unrivalled cradle to the grave economic security supported by enormous public sectors and almost extreme rates of tax.  He further explains what these facts actually do to the people and mean for those expats living in Scandinavia!

For example, gender equality is so deeply rooted that apparently Nordic men have forgotten how to flirt and women are in charge of all sexual negotiations!

Also, high taxes and large public sectors, which ought to stifle growth, innovation, and competitiveness, actually don’t!

And just as the laws of physics tell us that the totally un-aerodynamic bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, both the bumblebee and Scandinavian economic models remain inexplicably airborne!

Because Michael Booth is not blind to the many drawbacks of living among the near perfect and the allegedly happiest people in the world, and because he has an outsider’s balanced perspective of life in Scandinavia, his observations and insight are valuable, amusing, eye opening and truly fun!

Whether you simply have a passing interest in living in Scandinavia or you’ve committed yourself to one of the nation’s under scrutiny in his book, ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia’ makes for a thoroughly entertaining read.