I’d always wondered why most Finns are so smart. Then I went to the Helsinki Book Fair 2016 and realised why.

My personal experience with my Finnish friends is that regardless of education level, most Finns can think on their own terms. This is of course as opposed to blindly believing in abstract subjective statements like “hard work is always good”. Dr Ed Dutton also wrote in an academic article that Finns are by far the most intelligent Europeans, with an average IQ of 111.

Average IQ and education levels aside, why are Finns so smart?

Today I found out another reason…

…It’s because Finns read a lot!

And this is why it was such a huge privilege for me to cover the Helsinki Book Fair 2016! 😀

The Helsinki Book Fair 2016 is Finland’s largest book event, featuring 1000 performers on the fair stages over four days. Arranged for the 16th time, there are 314 exhibitors and invitations to 48 international writers from 8 different countries in Helsinki Book Fair 2016.

It was quite fun! I met really random mascots too:


Oh if you are wondering why there are chocolates in the picture collage, it is because the book fair was held in conjunction with the wine-and-food fair.

Happiness in The Helsinki Book Fair!

Oh yes, the themes of Helsinki Book Fair this year are the literature and culture of the Nordic countries, immigration of our time and education. The Book Fair commenced on Thursday for example, with opening words from Jari Tervo–author of the book Matriarkka, a book on immigration from the eyes of migrants.

Interestingly, there is also a focus on how Finland’s own history in terms of immigration and minority groups are often conveniently forgotten–not just related to the Swedish speaking minorities, but also the Sami people, Jewish, Russians and Romanians.

Related to the literature and culture of the Nordic countries, I dropped by the Nordic Culture booth, and read quite some stuffs about Icelandic and Danish literature!

They were really fascinating. I’d never considered Icelandic literature before prior to this book fair–sounds so exotic right? I mean, as Singaporeans we know the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” that was filmed in Iceland, and that’s it.

So it’s great to know that there are many, many interesting Icelandic literature too. Especially after the following Ms. Iceland’s video went viral, I’d been more interested in what Icelanders are taught. Considering how brave she is, I’m sure Icelandic literature must have been quite brave too!

I deviate, haha.

One thing I appreciate most about the Helsinki Book Fair is the concept that”reading promotes empathy”. I think I used to be quite a non-empathic person in Singapore until I came to Finland where the culture of humility toned me down a lot.

I remembered that some time last year, my cousin brother applied for his scholarship in UK and I helped with his interview preparation. He asked me a question–

WW, why must we have empathy?”

I couldn’t really answer. But! I went home to google and youtube the question, and found this TED talk:

I guess reading a lot of books and having a high level of empathy is consistent with the notion that Finnish people are in general calm, agreeable and with a high level of conscientiousness.

Interesting, right?

Okay, I think I’d go downstairs to walk around more now–I’m at the press room right now. The Helsinki Book Fair 2016 is still ongoing tomorrow, from 10am to 6pm, at Helsinki Exhibition Centre Halls 6 and 7.

Do visit and have fun!~ =) Do check the website for Sunday’s programme and more details.