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The Nordic Theory of Everything Audiobook

The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life

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Publisher's Summary

A Finnish journalist, now a naturalized American citizen, asks Americans to draw on elements of the Nordic way of life to nurture a fairer, happier, more secure, and less stressful society for themselves and their children.

Moving to America in 2008, Finnish journalist Anu Partanen quickly went from confident, successful professional to wary, self-doubting mess. She found that navigating the basics of everyday life - from buying a cell phone and filing taxes to education and childcare - was much more complicated and stressful than anything she encountered in her homeland. At first she attributed her crippling anxiety to the difficulty of adapting to a freewheeling new culture. But as she got to know Americans better, she discovered they shared her deep apprehension. To understand why life is so different in the US and Finland, Partanen began to look closely at both.

In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares and contrasts life in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships - parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist "nanny states", revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. As Partanen explains step by step, the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and independence than we do.

Partanen wants to open Americans' eyes to how much better things can be - to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream - to provide the opportunity to live a healthy, safe, economically secure, upwardly mobile life for everyone. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore true freedom to our relationships and lives.

©2016 Anu Partanen (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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  •  
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 06-20-17
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 06-20-17 Member Since 2015
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    "A non-radical perspective on two societies"

    Anu Partanen was born in Finland and, as she details near the end of the book, became a US citizen. In The Nordic Theory of Everything she details what she noticed as the differences between US and Nordic culture and offers a clear perspective on both.

    While American-born citizens still look on their country as the shining example to the world of democracy and prosperity, the country frequently shows up lower than other countries in terms of health, happiness, education, and the ability of citizens to rise from poverty to higher class and income levels.. Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark), on the other hand, are frequently at or near the top. 

    Partanen outlines the difference in thinking about government and society in the two regions. This is not done with a radical or jingoistic attitude. She's clear that Finns might be the last to perceive their country as one of the happiest on earth and that they complain about their government as much as the citizens of any other country. But she also clears up misperceptions about Scandinavia and the "socialized" governments they contain. 

    She rejects and even resents the idea that these are socialist havens. Finland, she notes, bordered the former USSR and, despite a much smaller population, lost more people than the US did in Korea and Vietnam in its fights against socialism in the 20th century. Finland also was the home of several entrepreneurial technology companies, most notably Nokia, throwing water on the notion that these countries curb free enterprise.

    She states, however, that these countries are willing to invest in their young and in each other. She talks about the anxiety she felt in moving to New York City when she received a letter than her Finnish health insurance would end because she was living out of the country. She found herself having to try to understand the complex contract law that private insurers put their customers through, the oddities of learning what it means to have a job with "benefits", and the exorbitant costs of for-profit hospitals. She details the ease of a single-page Finnish tax form, leaving her with more money at the end of the year than in America paying for health care and child care out of pocket. She also wonders why employers would want to add to the work of running a business by adding the insuring of employees, or why employees would want to be financially tied to an employer (rather than each other) for the same benefit.

    Partanen differentiates between "big government" and "good government". She's clear that the nations in the Nordic regions still face challenges, such as Finland's adoption of the Euro and sanctions against Russia hurting enterprise with its largest trading partner. On the other hand she sees the dangers Americans face from the stresses of a system that isn't working for them in the same way it did decades ago.

    The book is a non-radical and rational look at a different way of thinking about government and society that wouldn't hurt the US to consider. She doesn't approach her arguments as a firebrand demanding change but she does provide a different perspective on an improved way of thinking about government that could offer some positive changes.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ms Elaine K Targett 07-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    "interesting read!"

    Loved hearing about the way other countries view life and the way it could be with less emphasis on money/stress about money.
    Made me a little sad for the state of American health care- what a brutal system (coming from an Aussie)

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erin 08-12-16
    Erin 08-12-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Why the attempt at character voices?"

    Great book! The only issue I have is when the narrator made up voices anytime the author was quoting someone. I am not sure why she did it, they were not good and actually distracted me from the content. I suggest Abby Craden leave character voices for dramatic readings of fiction.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Juan Manuel C 11-29-16 Member Since 2016
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    "loved it"

    inspiring audiobook to challenge your own ideas about self wellness and society. nordic theory of love is also a great alias for this book

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CAL 10-18-16
    CAL 10-18-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Great Story & Perspective "

    Enjoyed the story, appreciated the statistics, but I didn't enjoy the different voices for each character.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Mathew 08-03-17
    Mathew 08-03-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Eye opening"

    This book tackles many misconceptions toward Nordic "nanny" states and puts them into better perspective relative to the United States. It answers a lot of questions about the ins and outs of Nordic policy – extended parental leave, vacation time, universal healthcare, etc. – as it dismisses skeptics by further validating not only the importance but the actual sustainability of investing in human capital.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 07-13-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A must read/listen for all; thought provoking and worthy of your time."

    Like I said this book was thought provoking and worthy of your time. There were a few chapters that I lost interest in for ten or fifteen minutes just because honestly certain issues like childcare are no longer an issue for me or it got a tad bit more into policy detail than I have an attention span for BUT!!!! listen to the whole of it if you commit to buying it. It's a wonderful bicultural perspective on policy and will open your mind particularly if you
    are an American!!!! Excellent overall and so grateful to have read!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    J 05-15-17
    J 05-15-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Yes please"

    Get through the first chapter or so where it might seem like the start of a romantic novel. Once you get to the education and healthcare portions you will rethink your tolerance for our education and healthcare system here in the USA. Some powerful messages in here, and worth your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Christina Lynch 12-15-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Educational and Enlightening"

    Makes me want to go visit Scandinavian countries. Hope more people take time to really pay attention to what she's saying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grumpy S. Monkey Walpole, MA, United States 11-02-16
    Grumpy S. Monkey Walpole, MA, United States 11-02-16 Member Since 2016

    I'm a bear that likes honey, climbing trees, stealing picnic baskets and listening to audiobooks.

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    "Lazy Journalism"
    What would have made The Nordic Theory of Everything better?

    This book is like a bad comedy routine repeated over and over again. "Americans are terrible at this and that. Nordic countries do it so much better." I am sure there are plenty of things that Nordic countries do better than we do, but it's not as black and white as the author makes it out to be. I would have loved to read a nuanced discussion about the differences between our cultures, but instead I get cheap stereotypes. We can do better.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Anu Partanen again?

    Sadly, no. I really wanted to like this book.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Not her fault. She didn't have the best material to work with.


    What character would you cut from The Nordic Theory of Everything?

    The author :)


    Any additional comments?

    I rarely feel compelled to post negative reviews but something about this book really bothered me. As someone who is doing OK but working hard to make ends meet and has a pregnant wife using our healthcare system, her generalizations about the American way of life didn't ring true to me and that really comprised her credibility.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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