Book review: Norwegian Wood

I recently finished reading “Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way“, by Lars Mytting. An unassuming book about the practical guide to chopping, stacking and burning wood the Norwegian way… and this makes it very special from the Canadian perspective. Canada has parts where the clime is similar to that of Norway, so there is a certain resonance in what Mytting describes. The book was first published in Norway in 2011 as Hel Ved, or Solid Wood, before being published in English.


Now some people may find a book solely about wood for fires to be quite strange. But Norwegians, and Scandinavians as a whole likely have a closer affinity to trees than the rest of us. Many people likely take trees for-granted, because they do not rely on them to keep them warm in winter anymore. Nor do they remember that trees absorb CO2 from the air, and release oxygen.

It is an edifying book, which I found very enjoyable to read. It goes through the entire process of chopping, drying, and chopping wood – when to fell trees, and which trees are best, how to dry wood, which tools to use, and the efficiency of Scandinavian wood stoves. I learned how green heating using wood is from an environmental perspective. The best designed Norwegian and Danish stoves apparently release a mere 1.25 grams/kg  of atmospheric dust, and can use as much as 92% of the energy potential of the wood. If you want to learn more about wood as a clean, renewable energy source, then you must read this book.

Suffice to say you will learn enough to undertake the process of building your own woodpile, but be careful because the type of woodpile you build may reflect on the type of person you are. Scandinavian folklore says you can tell a lot about a person from their woodpile. For instance an upright and solid pile implies an “upright and solid person”. From choosing the best type of wood, to the tools used to transform it from tree to fuel, to the stove used to burn it – this book has it all. By the end I desperately wanted to go out and build a birch woodpile – the only problem being that we live in downtown Toronto, and we heat with gas. But more so, I  have a innate desire to go and plant a birch forest, something that is certainly in the cards if we ever decide to buy some rural property.



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