Anyone who is interested in Sweden and the Swedish language, who has plans to emigrate to Sweden or who has already emigrated and wants to integrate better, should get the book Villa Volvo Vovve! It’s a ‘glossary’ from The Local (a Swedish news service for expats) that will make your life more Swedish. The book starts with ‘A’ (which can be pronounced in many different ways and always has a different meaning) and ends with ‘Ö’ (Swedish for island) and goes over a lot of typical Swedish concepts. You will not only expand your vocabulary but also learn a lot about typical Swedish customs and traditions.
Villa, car and dog
You get some explanation around each word in the book. Sometimes this is a historical story. Often there are also language tips and some example sentences. In the book you will also find so-called ‘False friends’. Words that look alike but just mean something different.
The book Villa Volvo Vovve is on my coffee table and I often took it by the hand in between to read a few pieces. So I didn’t read it from front to back but read the parts that caught my eye. I discovered something new every time.
Some words will not sound unfamiliar to you if you already have a little knowledge of Swedish and Sweden: fredagsmys, fika, hej, helg, husmanskost,… but I had never heard of spissflabbad and åsiktskorridor either 🙂
In short, I thought it was a very nice book that I will certainly look into from time to time. An absolute must for Sweden fans who want to know a little more than the obvious.
Buy the book Villa Volvo Vovve
The book Villa Volvo Vovve was released on October 28, 2021. You can order the book here. Seems like an ideal Christmas gift for a Sweden lover!
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After learning Swedish for a few months, I already bought a first book: En man som heter Ove. I was motivated to start reading books in Swedish, but soon I had to give up. Too many words were unknown for me and I should actually have looked them up to understand the story. The pleasure of reading disappears quickly if you have to pause reading to take a dictionary or a translation app constantly. I recently discovered Interlinear Books. Every word is immediately translated, like subtitles. If you are not sure about the meaning of a word, you can just peek at the line below. Very handy!
The benefits of reading in Swedish
Why would you want to read Swedish books? You learn a lot of new words while reading. You also see how words are used in different contexts. You learn how sentences are built and you discover a piece of Swedish culture. By reading Swedish authors in the original language, you get a more authentic experience. In a translation, mistakes, crooked sentences or adjustments sometimes creep up.
What are Interlinear Books?
In short: you can compare Interlinear Books like subtitles for books.
Interlinear Books offers books in the original language with between each line – in a smaller font – the translation of the word above it. These words have been translated word for word (into English). If the word order is different in Swedish than in English, the word order is not adjusted in the translation. Under every Swedish word is the English translation but the sentences as such are not translated. If there are sayings or groups of words that belong together however, they will be translated together. So, if you don’t know a word, you can find the translation in the lines.
Interlinear Books, a review
I chose Skatten: Herr Arnes penningar from Selma Lagerlöf. This Swedish writer received the Nobel Prize for Literature and is best known for her children’s book Nils Holgersson’s Wonderful Journey. Just to say: Interlinear Books may have a limited supply for the time being, but they work with a number of classics.
By now, I have already read a few books in Swedish without much problems. Of course I regularly come across words that I don’t know. Unless the word appears more often and seems important to be able to follow the story, I never actually look up those words anymore. A pity maybe, because that is not how I learn the correct meaning, but putting the book aside to include a dictionary would disrupt my reading experience too much.
That’s the handy thing about Interlinear Books. If I don’t know a word, I take a look at the line below and I can continue reading. My vocabulary is therefore expanding faster by reading Interlinear Books. Admittedly, in the beginning it took some time getting used to ignoring those smaller printed letters, but I got used quickly.
You can download the books, print them, read them on your smartphone or order them as a paperback. There’s an option for everyone. I had the book on my smartphone and could read a piece everywhere and whenever I wanted.
Curious about this interlinear reading? The books cost between $ 12.99 and $ 29.99. You can pay with paypal and you will receive the download link in your mailbox immediately after receiving the payment. You can also order some books as a paperback. These will then be delivered to your home.
You can also read books from other languages in this way. They currently have books in French, Greek, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and of course in Swedish. They regularly expand their offer, so the message is to visit their website occasionally.
Some time ago I went on a press trip to Sörmland. The program mentioned that we would visit Malmköping because this is where the 100-year-old Allan climbed out of the window of his room at the retirement home, on the day of his birthday. The beginning of the book “Hundraåringen sum klev ut genom fönstret och försvann” (or “The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared” in English) is set in and around Malmköping.
A few months earlier I had already begun in a Swedish book. Pretty ambitious for someone who only started learning the language a few months earlier. The book ended up on the shelf after a few pages. I wanted to know EVERY word which is not a good idea if you also want to enjoy the book. But since some months had gone by, I wanted to give it a second change. The book by Jonas Jonasson has been translated to over 30 languages but I had decided to read the original.
As soon as I was back in Sweden, I went to the local bookstore and bought Hundraåringen. I had some two weeks to read the book before we would be in Malmköping and therefore had no time to look up every word I did not know. This proved to be the right tactic.
The Story of Allan
Hundraåringen is very pleasant to read. You can really ‘see’ Allan jumping out of the window, with his hat and slippers. I’m not a huge book reader but Hundraåringen had me in its grip. The book alternates Allan escape route with heroic stories from his life. Who can say that he met both Franco, Truman and Einstein? His escape route stands for adventure. He “accidentally” takes a bag with him that actually belongs to criminals.
Hundraåringen – the movie (s)
The book of Jonas Jonassen was the best-selling book in Sweden in 2010 and has since been translated into English and some 30 other languages. In 2013, the book was filmed. My advice: read the book and if you like to, watch the movie afterwards. The film is directed by Felix Herngren and currently to be seen on Netflix (at least it is in Belgium).
Big fan of Allan Karlsson? At the end of December (2016) Hundraettåringen, the 101-year-old had its premiere. You guessed it… It’s the sequel to the first film.
Malmköping is a small village in Sörmland, just south of Stockholm, and belongs to the municipality of Flen. You can visit the nursing home where the story of Hundraåringen begins. The local tourist office were playing on the hype of the book. On one of the walls of the care center you can see the shadow of Allan as he climbs out the window.
A little further you will find the bus stop. I wish I had posed on the bench but as it often is the case with press trips, we didn’t really had the time for that. The bus station looks really different from the one in the book. I was looking for the offices and toilets but saw no building. If you take bus 202 towards Strängnäs you literally travel in Allan’s footsteps.
Another spot from Hundraåringen you can visit is the train station of Byringe. The couple that is now living in the former station building didn’t know their house figured in the popular book. When they heard it, they hung back the old board ‘Byringe’ at the building so tourists know they are in the right place. The station building dates from 1895 and was used as a station until 1968. Since 1994 no trains pass here anymore.
Did you Hundraåringen read already (in what language?) or have you seen the movie? I was certainly a fan of the book of Jonas Jonassen! In the meantime I even bought his second (Mördar Anders) and third book!
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