Photo courtesy of Thron Ullberg

Before he became a byword for Scandinavian noir thanks to his insanely popular detective, Harry Hole, the Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø was a footballer, stock broker, and musician (for the Oslo-based rock band Di Derre). If you haven’t read them: you can watch them at the cinema near you. Nesbø’s novel “Headhunters” was turned in a BAFTA-winning movie, while another novel, “The Snowman,” starring Michael Fassbender, is set for release in the fall of 2017. And in April it was announced that Tobey Maguire will direct Nesbø’s non-Harry Hole thriller, “Blood on the Snow.”

Below are Jo Nesbø’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.




William Shakespeare
When I was asked by my publisher to write a novel in their new series of novels based on Shakespeare-plays, I said yes, if I can have “Macbeth.” Why? Because it’s bloody. And short. And quite good. I don’t know if it was because of that answer, but they gave me “Macbeth.”
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Knut Hamsun
This was, and still is, the ultimate bohemian novel to me. There is a certain young age when you feel that Hamsun, Dostoyevsky and Hemingway speak to you and only to you.
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Knut Hamsun
I chose this because of the beauty of the prose and the landscape, the fascinating contradictions in the characters, the dark, subtle humor.
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My Struggle

Karl Ove Knausgård
After reading the first thirty pages of this six-volume Proust-ish soul-searching story of a man dissecting himself, I knew it was too much. And that is was brilliant.
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Max, Mischa & Tetoffensiven

Johan Harstad
Beside Knausgård, Harstad is perhaps the best Norwegian writer right now. It’s about a young boy moving with his family from Norway to the USA, growing up there in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and so it’s an outsider’s look at American society, written with clinical precision and desperate humor. If you like thick, epic books like DeLillos' “Underworld,” this is probably up your alley.
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The Killer Inside Me

Jim Thompson
The first crime novel I read that made me want to write one. It’s the original “American Psycho,” thirty years or so before Bret Easton Ellis.
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Edouard Levé
A short, but intense, both tender and brutal novel. I was surprised when I learned how little known he is, even in France.
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Ham on Rye

Charles Bukowski
I read this as a young student, and I thought you had to be me or one of my friends to appreciate the raw humor and sweet sadness. So I was surprised when my father picked up my book when I was home for summer holiday, and I saw him sitting in his reading chair, laughing out loud. It’s a bit like your parents copying your playlist and actually digging it; you're not sure whether you should feel invaded or proud.
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Klas Ôstergren
This has been a cult novel in Sweden ever since it was published in 1980, and has to some degree been discovered in Norway, too. It steals from both the classics and pulp fiction and has this couldn’t-care-less-attitude combined with literary talent that reminds me of Jim Carrol's “Basketball Diaries.” Both have this special sense of time and place that makes you want to move to Stockholm or New York.
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Vladimir Nabokov
How do you make the reader sympathize, or at least tolerate reading about, a man who is lusting for a child? I don’t know. You have to be good. And it’s probably a good idea to start the novel with the potential child molester declaring his love in a passionate and honest way, so you can always retreat to that later, when you want to flee: he actually loves her.
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