Secret Library Podcast

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The Book Dr.

#83 Anu Partanen

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Anu Partanen never planned to move to the United States.

She was very happy living as a journalist in Finland until she fell in love with an American, and ended up moving to NYC so they could marry and be together.

Once moving here, Anu became even more aware of the advantages her home country had provided: universal high-quality health care, childcare, maternity leave, elder care, and on and on. For the first time, she was presented with bills and policies that didn't make sense to her. As a journalist, she began researching the differences between the US and the Nordic countries, expanding her research to include policies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as Finland. The result was the book, The Nordic Theory of Everything.

I read this book in late 2017, wooed by the topic of social change. I was blown away and immediately knew I had to speak to the author. Our conversation explores the potential impact on writers and people in creative fields and how the way the US treats people could be the reason countless people choose not to pursue a career as a writer. Thankfully, we also find hope in this conversation, as well as actions people can take (in addition to seeking Finnish citizenship) to improve life as a creative professional.

I'm so grateful to release this episode in the last slot of 2017, just in time for us to make big changes that support more and more writing in the New Year. Happy listening!

author photo: Kristiina Wilson

Listen Up on iTunes or Stitcher | Anu's Site | The Nordic Theory of Everything | Anu's Atlantic Article | Facebook | Twitter

Discussed in Episode 83 with Anu Partanen

  • Finds writing painful and hard, but that reading is the way she bests understands complex ideas. So she writes.
  • “Life in America seemed so complicated.” On moving to America from Finland.
  • “You can go to yoga as much as you want but if your healthcare system is super-expensive and complicated the yoga is not going to help.” On navigating the American healthcare system.
  • “America is the promised land of self-help books.” On the American trait of self-improvement.
  • “It is not about you only as an individual.” On working for change within a culture.
  • “Who is able to write?” On how societies support, or don’t support, creative arts.
  • “It immediately skews the voices that we hear.” On social systems that don’t support the less well off.
  • “It also alienates readers if you feel like, ‘well, these writers are not representing my life.’”
  • “Even though there is so much talk, a lot of important things still are not said.” On the need for all voices to be heard.