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Swedish Lessons: A memoir of sects, love & indentured servitude. Sort of.

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  70 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In 2005, Natalie Burg was invited to be an au pair for a family in Sweden. She asked no questions; she simply dropped her whole life and went. Who wouldn't want to spend a year of their twenties gallivanting around Europe, having adventures by night and nannying by day?

What happened, however, was something significantly different. There was no gallivanting. There weren't
Paperback, 236 pages
Published August 22nd 2013 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (first published July 8th 2013)
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Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Still smarting from a failed relationship and unsure of what to do next, 23-year-old Natalie is offered an almost-too-good-to-be-true job as a au pair to a Swedish family. Some of the perks included with her new position include living expenses paid by the host family, trips to the South of France, and Swedish language lessons in the city. She jumps at the chance to leave her troubles behind in Michigan and boards a plane.

Poor Natalie quickly learns that "au pair" for her new employer means "cle
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book immensely. It brought me to fits of uncontrollable laughter, disbelief, and tears. The most amazing part is that it is a true story.
Patrick Ross
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I enjoyed reading Natalie Burg's memoir of her time as an au pair in Sweden at the age of twenty-three. It is a fish-out-of-water tale (see the cover!) with a narrator who is able to highlight some of the humorous elements of her time there, including a domineering boss who ministers others in an unusual offshoot of Christianity (the sect); a boyfriend who she ends up quasi-living with (love); and how the expectations put upon her by her employer went far beyond what she expected (indentured ser ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sarcastic people, people who like to travel, English majors
This was the first book I ever won from goodreads, and so when it came in the mail, I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. And I was NOT disappointed. I don't usually read memoirs, not purposefully so, but just because they just don't hold my attention like a good old story of adventure and life and love does.

But this book was different. It was freakin HILARIOUS. SARCASTIC. WITTY. HONEST. I literally had a big smile plastered on my face like an idiot every time I was about to open this b
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
AJ Salem
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to AJ by: Found on Kickstarter
Swedish Lessons is the perfect combination of snarky observations and poignant memories of a young woman looking for excitement on the other side of the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned and Ms. Burg is sucked into a life of housework with a crazy cultish matriarch as her overseer and that's where things just start getting awkward. Although she glosses over her housework with humor I can't imagine the toll it took on her psyche. She is a brilliant observer of the very un-American
Devin Ripley
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Devin by:
Shelves: first-reads
I took the opportunity to review this book that was provided to me free very seriously. which makes me want to say that Natalie, the main character and narrator, is Seriously funny. This memoir was written so well that I lost my self within the pages almost like I was listening to one of my besties summer vacations being related to me play by play. Her recollection and description of the goings on and comparable differences in Sweden are never phrased in any way other than a typical college educ ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Natalie has crafted a narrative that will force your to rethink your own early 20s. As you can't help but wonder why she has gotten herself into the situation she's in, you'll remember your own love interests and life decisions. Ah to be young again....

Reading the book is perfectly akin to sitting with Natalie while she tells you the story of her time in Sweden. She's a great storyteller who doesn't shy away from telling *very* awkward details - which just makes the story more realistic and Nat
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
I loved this book! I laughed, I despaired, and I got to travel to the other side of the world without leaving my bedroom. In her honest (and often delightfully sarcastic) voice, Natalie treats her readers to vip access to her bizarre tale of love, survival, and oh-so-human dysfunction.

Vulnerable, smart and wickedly funny, Swedish Lessons has secured it's position at the very top of my recommendations list!
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved the author's humor and portrayal of the characters. I had a learning adventure just reading the wonder the actual experience was memoir-worthy. ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
So, a book about a midwestern gal named Natalie who runs off to Sweden and has a love affair with and older Swedish dude. Um, obviously I had to read (my life circa 1999/2000) this and my awesome sister in law gave me a copy. However, the narrator is SO awful! She is so weak and and meek and lets everyone in the book walk all over her and ultimately leaves Sweden to go back to her emotionally abusive boyfriend in Michigan. I. Can. Not. I suppose I admire her honesty (this is a true story) in adm ...more
Lux Cunningham
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wry, redemptive, funny as hell. This hilarious tale of youthful adventure covers all the important bases of bookness--transporting, revelatory, sometimes even trashy. Loved it so much!
Debbie White
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this as a freebie from Goodreads, and I really enjoyed it! Thank you so much! This really hit home to me as I am Swedish myself and have been to Sweden twice. I can really relate to Natalie Berg when she is in Sweden and trying to fit in with the culture there. It is hard as most Swedes in my opinion are hard to get to know, but once you do, then they are wonderful to you and your best friends. I can sympathize wholeheartedly with Ms. Berg as she stays with people she has never met an ...more
Mike Vial
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Swedish Lessons addresses so many important themes that resonate with a millennial generation, like a companion to Lean In or a more genuine version of Eat, Pray, Love.

(I love EPL, but the writer went on a journey to find a story to write; Burg found her story after going on her journey, genuinely looking to escape, not to write about it, but found the story many young women and men discover in themselves: where do we find ourselves when we are healing from heartbreak, let-down, and homesicknes
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Natalie opens her heart to a interesting phase in her life. Written with a easy to follow style, you are taken on her journey.
The comments about American Life are interesting, many who travel do not realize that not all of the world does it their way. As an example, while I was in Venice (Italy) I overheard a very loud American demand to know where the nearest Bank of America was.
Natalie mentioned her country's name confused some people she met in Sweden. Once I met some Americans who said they
Mike Howell
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I suspect the risk in retelling your story of unusual adventure is that you either over-dramatize the events or paint yourself as a far more noble person than you are. Natalie Burg's writing style manages to steer clear of these traps while remaining extremely engaging and witty. She embraces her own character flaws in the book and weaves them into the recounting of strange events and cultural observation, leaving her a very real person in the reader's mind.

I enjoyed Swedish Lessons thoroughly.
Sandy D.
Entertaining memoir of a 20-something woman who decides to go to work as an au pair in Sweden for the friend of a friend. She ends up isolated on a farm, cleaning constantly, and living first in the basement and then with a mechanic on a neighboring farm.

Her insights into Swedish culture are entertaining, though she didn't get to see much. Swedish food - especially at Christmas (Jul !) - sounds dreadful.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed reading about Natalie's adventures in Sweden. I believe a young girl could learn a lot from Natalie's story, especially when it comes to men. It was difficult to read how Greg manipulates their relationship. I hope someone is able to read this, relate and be able to remove themselves from the situation. ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. I won it in a good reads giveaway and I am so happy I did! Natalie is a very talented writer - her observations are honest and astute. She is also hysterical. I laughed out loud a bunch of times and even read passages to my husband. This book was just what I needed. I look forward to more books by Natalie. Great first book!! Thank you
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a freebie from Goodreads First Reads and although it took me a while to really get into the story, once I did I really enjoyed it. She has a candid way of writing and totally feel for her as each new day is a different experience!
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Oct 30, 2013 marked it as to-read
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway - thank you Goodreads! I look forward to reading it!
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love all the characters and confusion. I definitely laughed and cried with this book. Everyone needs to read it!
Erica Brehmer
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Natalie has a great voice and makes you feel like you're talking with a great friend about a crazy adventure. Can't wait for the next one! ...more
Sep 14, 2013 marked it as wish-list
Recommended to Bettie by: Melki
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Erin Krueger
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Aug 01, 2013
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Oct 04, 2014
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Feb 21, 2013
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