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INTRODUCTION


COOL AID HELPS FINNS FAIR WELL


Finns are a happy bunch. This is not mere opinion, but data- driven fact: for two years on the trot, Finland has been deemed the happiest country on Earth by the UN-backed World Happiness Report. To come up with its rankings, the study balances a range


of factors, such as social support networks, personal freedoms and life expectancy. Drill down within the broad categories and there are a host of specifics which will make you wonder why you have not yet emigrated to Finland: it is incredibly safe (the NGO Travel Risk Map puts it as the lowest level of threat in the world); its gender equality legislation benefits working mums; and its educational system is second to none. Education excellence feeds into another superlative: Finland


is, by some reports, the most literate country on the planet. It is no stretch to imagine how reading feeds into Finnish happiness. Books can open up worlds, create better under- standing between nations, and link communities and people. Reading, as one Finnish publisher said recently, “is a super- power”. The World Happiness Report noted that Finland’s score


has been improving since 2014, which just happens to be the year the country was the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honour, using its “Finnland. Cool.” campaign, which highlighted not just its northern climate but its hip art, design and authors. It may be coincidence that happiness has been rising in the intervening five years, but perhaps not. The Guest of Honour programme was a fillip for Finland’s book trade, but it also put the nation’s literature firmly on the world stage—it had to give the country as a whole a boost. One thing for certain is that, five years on, Finland is still


cool. But now it’s cool and happy.


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