Chapter 8 – Helsinki Book Fair 2014

So, I went to the Helsinki Book Fair on Thursday, and here are some pictures and thoughts on the event.

Book fair logo

(‘Kirja’ means ‘Book’ by the way) The fair was in Pasila, at Messukeskus (an expo and convention center), and I was there for about four hours. Basically all Finnish publishing houses were there, as well as book stores, antiquarians, different literature societies… And stamps, and other random things, like postcards.

Book fair entrance

This is where my fair journey started. First thing I did was try Adlibris’s (the biggest webstore for books in Nordic countries) game where you could win gift cards or books. I didn’t win and I embarrassed myself by not getting the game to work — all I had to do was press a big Play-button on a touchscreen, but I failed at it for about a dozen times. I moved on quickly.

I wandered around for about two hours, glancing and browsing all the books I managed. As you can tell from the pictures, there were a gazillion books, both new and used.

Table of Books

Book shelves

I then stopped to listen to a ‘panel’ about voodoo in Africa. The speakers were Juha Metso and Juha Vakkuri, who have released a book about Africa and how voodoo is present at their everyday lives. The panel only lasted for half an hour so it didn’t go into much detail, but there were some interesting facts. Above the speakers was a screen where they showed some of the pictures from the book and they were quite powerful, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of them.

Once the voodoo talk was over and I’d made a few more laps around the hall, I sat down for another panel: Finnish folk religion – from shamans to sauna elves. (For those unfamiliar with sauna elves, they’re said to be little gnome-like creatures that live in saunas and punish people who misbehave or act immorally. Decorative sauna elves are still quite popular in Finland.)

The speaker was Risto Pulkkinen who has released a book about Finnish folk religion. The talk lasted only half an hour too, but it was alright. The book sounded really interesting and I considered buying it (I could’ve even gotten the author’s signature on it!) but the price was a bit too high for me. Perhaps later. I don’t know nearly as much about Finnish folk religion and beliefs and myths as I’d like to, so I definitely need to look into it more.

Table of books 2

When I was leaving, I stopped for a few minutes to listen to Rosa Liksom (the woman in green, a Finnish author as well). I took a photo and left, and only when I got home I noticed the Mole in the picture. I did not see the character when I was standing just a few meters away from it! I have no idea what it was doing there or if it had anything to do with Liksom’s speech, but at least it’s cute.

Book fair photo

I really enjoyed the fair. I liked just walking around, looking at books, taking in the ambiance. I didn’t find everything I wanted (HP Lovecraft books, why must you hide from me?) and some things were way too expensive (Moomin comic strips, I’m looking at you), but I did get two books.

And here’s my loot:

Book fair loot

I’ve been wanting to pick up a Stephen King book for a while and so I picked up Bag of Bones. I seem to have a thing for bones lately, as I just read Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind…

Kalevala is the Finnish national epic, and while I have read sections of it, I’ve never owned the whole thing. But I do now!

The magazine included stuff about the book fair and had the program and schedule, and it was free. I like to collect things like that; they remind me of the event, and later on I can put a page or two into my scrapbook.

And rope liquorice (or “metrilaku” as we call it), because it’s awesome. In case it’s hard to count from the picture, I got 12 different flavors.

This is a bit of a stretch, but did anyone else participate in this book fair? If not, what has been your favorite book fair, if you’ve been to any?


5 thoughts on “Chapter 8 – Helsinki Book Fair 2014

  1. Looks like fun. Yay for Mole. I watched this TV series as a child.
    The voodoo and Finnish Folk religion books sound interesting. I didn’t know there is something like sauna elves. It would be really nice to read it.
    I love going to book fairs in Warsaw. I rarely miss a book fair in my town.


    • There are a lot of funny (and mean) things in Finnish folk religion. I’m not sure if the book I mentioned has been translated into any other language, but I know there’s a book called The Book of Finnish Elves by Mauri Kunnas, if you’re interested in the subject and manage to find that book somewhere. It might be more directed at kids but it should be more or less based on researched facts.

      Are there a lot of different book fairs in Warsaw/your town? Are they different somehow, like some focus only on certain genres, or do they all have more or less the same books and themes?


      • I’ll see if it was translated, thanks. 🙂

        There is one in May, general and international. The biggest book fair in Warsaw (where I live). I didn’t do a lot of cover this year, I was too busy and had not much of a time: I was too busy in the comics section, talking with people. 😀 This year there was a festival of comics. There were discussions, lectures, publishers from Poland and other countries. There were new books and old/used books.

        Then there are themed fair: for kids, Catholic books, history books and education books fair.

        I remember that Finnish publishers/books were part of our international book fair for years. I got Matti Klinge’s A Brief History of Finland in Polish. Good book. 🙂 We have a Polish publisher company with mostly Finnish books – Kojro: Those are the books they published.


      • Sounds cool 🙂 Maybe I’ll visit one of the fairs some time. I’d especially like to see the international one as most of what I read is written by foreign authors. Thanks for sharing!


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