Jim Hove didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he started researching his family heritage.
Several years and countless hours of research later, Hove published his second novel, Exploring an Alien Culture: What can we learn from the Vikings, Scandinavian Immigrants and Nordic People Today?
The Isanti author will read from his latest book and sign copies at Scout & Morgan Books, 114 Buchanan St. N., Cambridge, on April 13, at 2 p.m.
The novel came out in January, growing out of his first book published in 2007, From Scandinavian Shores: Immigrant Culture and Stories from Our Nordic Family Histories.
The first book was an attempt to describe the shared heritage of Scandinavian immigrants, Hove said. By the time he finished it, he was fascinated by Nordic culture.
His second book draws examples from Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden — and compares their culture to that of American culture.
“The research is fun,” said Hove, who lives in Isanti with his wife Linda. “I really enjoy reading and learning.”
Exploring an Alien Culture attempts to answer the question of whether Americans can learn anything from Nordic culture and policies to create solutions to issues surrounding education, health care, the environment and more.
“They have a different way of doing things, a different way of thinking about things, and that is what I had hoped to share with people,” he said. “They have succeeded in producing a high standard of living for almost everybody in their country with very limited resources.”
Hove, a 1957 graduate of Cambridge High School, said he didn’t intend to write another book after he finished the first.
“I got to the point where there was something I wanted to share with other people, and so I decided to write another book,” he said. “The most interesting thing to me was that the Nordic people have very different attitudes and values than we do.”
He and Linda have traveled extensively in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, with Iceland on their list.
Hove said he thinks the book will be especially appealing to Minnesotans, who have Scandinavian roots. Hove himself has Swedish and Danish ancestry, while his wife is Swedish and part Finnish.
The book is targeted toward anyone interested in culture, though. Hove hopes people take away messages from Exploring an Alien Culture and learn something from the Nordic people.
“If I had my druthers, it would make a richer discussion in talking about issues,” he said. “It would enhance debates on current issues. That would be ideal — people would have a different way of looking at things and it would make it possible to discuss issues in a more pragmatic or practical way.”
About Exploring an Alien Culture
Today, thoughtful Americans debate education strategies, health care alternatives, environmental issues, the proper role of government, business ethics and income disparity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden lead the world in almost every measure of progress including education, gender equality, prosperity, health care, green technology and responsive democracy. Could we learn anything from them? Are Nordic solutions relevant to American issues?
Exploring an Alien Culture attempts to answer these questions by exploring evidence of culture (attitudes and values) both past and present. A basic understanding of both Nordic and American culture, why we do things the way we do, could enhance our current debates.