a book blog about reading all of astrid lindgren's books

A Snapshot: Top 12

Most people will never have the time (or inclination) to read all of Astrid Lindgren’s books.  The following books would give a reader an overview of Astrid Lindgren’s writing.  If you want to understand her genius and the variety of writing styles and themes she mastered, these are the 12 you should read:

  • Ronia the Robber’s Daughter
    • The ultimate Astrid Lindgren book, Ronia captured my heart as a child and I have read it at least five times.  Ronia is a must-read for the way Lindgren writes about family, friends, nature, growing up, forgiveness, and love.
  • Pippi Goes on Board
    • The most famous Lindgren character, Pippi Longstocking can’t not be on this list.  Her name will always be tied to Astrid’s.  I think Pippi Goes on Board is the best Pippi book because it contains my favorite story: the time Pippi arranged a shipwreck for Tommy and Annika.  However, any of the Pippi novels could be substituted for this one.
  • Karlson Flies Again
    • Famous in Russia yet unknown in America, Karlson is someone you need to be introduced to because he seems like a fellow who doesn’t fit in among Lindgren’s menagerie of characters.  He’s the only bully I’ve ever really put up with.  I feel that his second book is the best of the three: I laughed the hardest and was least-bothered by Karlson’s purposefully-abrasive bullying in this book.
  • Bill Bergson Lives Dangerously
    • Bill Bergson lives in the least-enchanted world of Lindgren’s characters.  For realism, for humor, and really for Eva-Lotta, at least one Bill Bergson book is recommended.  Either Bill Bergson, Master Detective or Bill Bergson Lives Dangerously would give a good view into this world; Bill Bergson and the White Rose Rescue does not contain much of the War of the Roses (despite the name), and I feel that the friendly rivalry is the highlight of the series, with the second book being the most exciting to me.
  • Happy Times in Noisy Village
    • You can’t understand the scope of Astrid’s writings without visiting Noisy Village.  I liked this book best of this series.  It’s the sweetest, gentlest writing of her chapter books.
  • Emil and Piggy Beast
    • I believe that the Emil series is the best overall series that Astrid Lindgren wrote: don’t get me wrong, I love Pippi and the others, but the character who should have exploded all over the world was Emil.  Of the series, Emil and Piggy Beast/Emil and his Clever Pig stands out to me, although they are all excellent.
  • Lotta on Troublemaker Street
    • Lotta is a must-meet character and this is the most enchanting of her stories; it’s the one I remember the best.  Astrid mastered the art of seeing the world from a child’s viewpoint, and nowhere is this more evident than Lotta books.
  • Rasmus and the Vagabond or Seacrow Island
    • At first glance, these two books seem like an odd pair to choose between.  My reasoning is this: both books thrive in the atmosphere of summer – the books are mired in the freedom, hope, and adventure that summers bring.  They both stress the importance of family: Rasmus, who doesn’t have one and Seacrow Island, which is kind of one big family.  Family and adventure are the central themes of both books, and for that reason, I recommend reading one or the other. (Well, preferably both, but if I’m trying to keep the list to 12…)
  • Mio, My Son or The Brothers Lionheart
    • Both of these books are fantastic, but to me they showcase the same aspect of Astrid Lindgren’s writing: loss and escape into fantasy, overcoming evil, and hope for the next chapter of life.  Although they are very different stories, their themes are similar and for that I recommend one or the other (if you don’t plan to read many of her works).
  • The Dragon with Red Eyes
    • This picture book is magical, hopeful, and heartbreaking all in a couple dozen pages.  I can’t say enough good things about this story.
  • The Runaway Sleigh Ride
    • How could I not include a Madicken title?  Although I love the Madicken novels, I feel this book does a great job of summing up the love Lisbet and her family share and the trouble the girls can get into.  It also showcases how beautifully Astrid Lindgren wrote about seasons.  Astrid Lindgren should be remembered for her picture books as well as her novels and though novels dominate this list, picture books like The Runaway Sleigh Ride tell equally important stories.
  • Simon Small Moves In
    • This is another magical storybook filled with hope, friendship, and helping each other out.  It creatively demonstrates how to see the world from a very different viewpoint — and it’s one of Astrid Lindgren’s truly playful stories.

There are so many books I want to put on this list.  The Red Bird, Mardie, Kati in Italy, The Tomten and the Fox — ufffff, they should all be on here!  But that would defeat the purpose of giving a snapshot.  These are my opinions and I almost agree with myself on them.


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