Posted in Book review, Reading Challenge

Book review: Islantilainen voittaa aina (An Icelander Always Wins)

I fell in love with Iceland when we had a short vacation there a few years ago. There was something about the overall vibe that felt both very homely and fascinatingly strange to me. It felt like a really great place to be. I can easily say that of all the holiday trips I’ve had, that short trip to Iceland is among my top 5 places I’ve visited. So when I stumbled upon Satu Rämö’s book, I was more than happy to read more about Iceland especially from the perspective of a Finn who has moved there.

Kadehdin islantilaisilta heidän taitoaan olla kaikessa maailman parhaita ja ottaa kehut vastaan vilpittömästi hymyillen.

Rough translation from Finnish: I envy the Icelanders for their ability to be the very best in everything and for their ability to accept praise with a sincere smile.

And now I’m definitely feeling the urge to travel back to Iceland! 🙂

Author Satu Rämö is a Finn who also fell in love with Iceland and ended up making a new home there. The book goes through her experience about adjusting to a culture that is both a bit familiar (one Nordic to another) and also a strange one compared to Finland and Finnish culture.

The tone is quite light and humoristic, which I enjoyed, and the topics wary from everyday matters (e.g. family life) to nation-wide issues (e.g. the bank crisis). What I enjoyed most were the everyday things like how you wouldn’t see an Icelander in the city of Reykjavik wearing gore-tex clothes (apparently only tourists do that), or how the Icelanders seem to be eternal optimists who are always ready to push forward whatever it takes. That certainly is very different to how the Finns are seen, at least in a generalized view. We do also push forward, but at the same time we grit our teeth like pessimistic mules. 😀 I’m kidding of course, although there might be a hint of truth in that stereotype. 🙂

Satu Rämö tells very honestly how it feels to move to a country where it’s mostly cold and how she navigated the cultural differences until she eventually felt like home. This all sounds very familiar to me from a professional perspective. 🙂
Our very international work community has people from over 20 different nationalities, all of whom have moved to a country that is mostly cold and will navigate their ways through our culture until hopefully they will feel like home in Finland.
I’ve never lived abroad, so I lack the personal experience, but from what I’ve seen of the experiences of my workmates I truly admire people who are willing to take that step and start a new life in a new country. It takes guts, resilience and humor, but in the end you might feel the greatest reward after all those ups and downs: the feeling of home.

I found this book accidentally in a book campaign and can warmly recommend it, especially if you also feel the call of Iceland and wish to travel there some day. I know I will be back with all my gore-tex gear. 🙂
(for Finnish readers: the book is still on sale in Adlibris)

Islantilainen voittaa aina (An Icelander Always Wins) gets its place in the Reading Challenge. The book fills the prompt of:

3. A book from a genre you don’t usually read

I don’t usually read travel related books, but as I had already visited Iceland, and enjoyed it so much, this book worked really well to remind me of that great vacation and why I want to return there.


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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