Åland Ahvenanmaa The Åland Islands

I bought Åland Ahvenanmaa The Åland Islands by Heikki Säynevirta when I visited the islands for a biking holiday in January 2002. It’s a large–and heavy–pictorial of 258 pages, originally published in 1999, which I probably haven’t taken a second glance at in seventeen years. Mark and I will be passing through the Ålands on a trip from Turku to Stockholm next month. I am happy to have the opportunity to see the archipelago again, especially during the summer. Excluding the most recent batches of still unread books from my trips to Finland in 2016 and 2017, my journey through my unread collection of Fennica has left me with lightweight stuff like juvenile literature and travel pictorials. I risk offending Ålanders by lumping them in with the broad term Fennica, but I do file all of my books on the Åland Islands in with (but after) my books on Finland.

As the title suggests, Åland Ahvenanmaa The Åland Islands is a triglot of Swedish, Finnish and English captions under photos. Thankfully I can read the Finnish ones as all too often the English captions are a fraction of the length of the other two languages. The book is set in a landscape format thus when opened is quite long, which makes it perfect for panorama pictures or the abundance of coastline shots.

The book profiles local business owners yet avoids coming off as a collection of photogenic advertisements since each profile touches on the personal side. The final part of the book gives a history of the Åland Islands in three languages, however the English section was crammed onto only four pages and printed in the smallest type I have ever seen. I needed a magnifying glass to read it all. It took me over an hour to read four pages.

An unintended snicker for English readers occurred on the open spread of pages 92 and 93. A photo of a ship named Albanus had been positioned over the spine, thus the name of the boat was cut down the middle. It could only be read in full as Albanus if you flattened the right edge of the left page and the left edge of the right page at the same time. As all the left pages rise higher than those on the right side (which lie flat on the table), one can only see the last four letters of the ship’s name when the book lies casually open. Not the most pleasant name for a boat, I must say.

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