According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
“Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?” Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
We thought we had a better chance of seeing Odin than Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on TV, but after the HBO deal fell through, the novel is finally being adapted for the small screen by FremantleMedia. Bonus: Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is also being adapted into a BBC miniseries by RED. To brush up on Gaiman’s interest in mythology, read our review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Recommended reading: a new, previously undiscovered story and accompanying poem by Charlotte Brontë. The story is rife with flogging and embezzlement–all the good stuff! Here’s a bonus piece on how Charlotte is at least partly responsible for the success of the Bronte sisters as a whole.
Hope everyone’s holiday is going well. I’ll be putting up one or two more “Year in Reading” posts and then The Millions will most likely be dark until the New Year. But first, a couple of links:One of my favorite end of year lists is the bookfinder.com “Top 10 out of print books”: the main list and broken down into categories.Stephen King names his favorite reads of the year, including a forthcoming novel by A.M. Homes. His number one book, which he calls “the best mystery of the decade,” is LBC pick, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.Millions Flashback: Tis the Season
Finland will pay tribute to author and artist Tove Jansson by adding her likeness to a new two-Euro commemorative coin. This isn’t the first time a country’s wanted to add an author to their currency. (Related: Alex Ohlin looks at the “sad, strange brilliance” of Moomin; and Jansson’s works are recommended by Emily St. John Mandel and Rachel Meier.)
According to Steve Denning at Forbes, “the U.S. has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products.” He says the U.S. will never be able to manufacture a Kindle on its own soil. But if the environmental cost of producing just one e-reader, as VQR‘s Ted Genoways says, is “roughly the same as fifty books,” why would anyone want to?