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Reading Up on the Sauna

Photo credit: Pixabay.com, https://pixabay.com/en/users/condesign-509903/

Photo credit: Pixabay.com, https://pixabay.com/en/users/condesign-509903/

Would you be surprised to learn that saunas are the topic of a fairly decent body of literature? If you’re a sauna lover or someone who enjoys learning more about age-old practices that are still relevant in modern times, then you may wish to check out some of these titles. (And if you do, feel free to share your thoughts with us afterwards since we haven’t had a chance to read any of these books yet. Descriptions supplied by third-parties.)

The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition by Michael Nordskog

“As many in the north country can attest, one of life’s great pleasures resides in the tradition of sauna-sitting in 180-plus-degree heat and throwing cool water on oven-hot stones to create a blast of steam (called löyly), followed by a jump in the lake, standing naked in subzero temperatures (or even a roll in the snow), or just relaxing on the cooling porch. To the uninitiated, there is a strange, alluring mystique to the art of Finnish sauna. But to an ever-increasing number of people-from their small urban saunas to backwoods and lakeside retreats-the culture and practice of Finnish sauna are as much a part of northwoods life as campfires and canoe trips.

“Beginning with the origins of Finnish sauna and how the practice was first brought to North America, and continuing all the way to contemporary design, The Opposite of Cold is an exquisite commemoration of the history, culture, and practice of Finnish sauna in the northwoods. With stunning photographs of unique and historic saunas of the region-including the oldest sauna in North America, incredible surviving saunas from immigrant farmsteads, and the gorgeous contemporary saunas from noted architects-Michael Nordskog and Aaron Hautala unveil the importance and beauty of sauna culture in modern Midwestern life.

“Richly illuminated by Aaron Hautala’s photographs of distinctive saunas from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and Finland, The Opposite of Cold is for people who grew up with Wednesday and Saturday evening saunas (or watched their steaming neighbors running toward the lake) and for those who dream of one day having their own. And through this book we see why Finnish sauna tradition is vital and enduring, from the warmest summer evenings to the coldest winter nights.”

Posted on Amazon.com.


The Sauna: A Complete Guide to the Construction, Use, and Benefits of the Finnish Bath by Rob Roy

“With a history going back at least one thousand years, the sauna is ready for a new generation of enthusiasts seeking health, pleasure, and peace of mind, and Rob Roy is ready to recruit! ‘If the sauna is just a bath, then Buckingham Palace is just a house.’ So writes sauna expert and intrepid do-it-yourselfer Roy in this new, updated version of The Sauna.

“This completely revised and expanded edition of The Sauna contains everything you ever wanted to know about the famous “Finnish bath.” In this inviting book, Roy shares his infectious enthusiasm for the sauna and provides a complete, detailed guide to sauna building, along with resources for equipment and supplies.

“The Sauna is replete with history, tradition, health benefits, instructions for proper use and maintenance, as well as step-by-step instructions for building a variety of cordwood masonry saunas and, new to this edition, conventionally wood-framed saunas. The beautiful color photographs, also new to this edition, will inspire you to create your own sauna haven.”

Posted on Amazon.com.


The Best Part of a Sauna by Sheryl Peterson

“Is it collecting the kindling and making the fire in the old wood stove with Gramps? Playing Chinese Checkers with Nana until the little room is hot? The warm benches and the steam from splashing water on the rocks? The dip in the cool lake at sunset? The loons calling under the stars? Or is there something even better about taking a sauna at Nana and Gramps cabin? Boldly colorful illustrations and a playful grandchild enjoying time at the lake with grandparents create a book to be enjoyed by all generations. The last page provides information about saunas as a Finnish tradition.”

Posted on Amazon.com.


Saunas by Jane Piirto

“Poetry. Jane Piirto’s SAUNAS captures the strength and magic of family and tradition. From the frozen landscapes of her Finnish forebears to the ice-clear rivers and cold fields of Michigan’s Upper Pennisula, Jane Piirto paints a personal and extraordinary picture. Piirto uses the Finnish national story, Kalevala, to connect her poems to this world. These deeply moving poems are like chants celebrating what sustains us, reminding us of the wonder and mystery in the everyday. As Jim Daniels says, ‘Unafraid to rail against political injustice and unafraid to laugh at our own foibles, Piirto takes us many places to show us just where she’s from.’”

Posted on Goodreads.com.


Christmas Sauna Traditions by Joanne Kaattari

“We are getting ready for our Christmas sauna and I want to take you on a journey to this place of fire and ice. So, come, walk with me down the hill to our small wooden sauna by a frozen lakeside in northern Ontario. Come and eat, drink, sing, tell stories, stargaze and go to the sauna. Learn all about Christmas sauna traditions and savor delicious Finnish recipes! “A Christmas sauna is a long and loved tradition for Finns. In “Christmas Sauna Traditions” read all about a traditional Christmas sauna, savor tasty recipes (including sauna baked apples, Santa’s fish soup, old country coffee bread, prune tarts and more), explore how to make a sauna whisk, ice candles and sauna potpourri. You will also learn about the official (and at times humorous!) rules of the sauna – in both English and Finglish!”

Posted on Goodreads.com.


The Sauna Is by Bernhard Hillila

“Once again Bernard Hillila bares the importance of the sauna in the nature of “Finnishness,” with splashes of colorful as well as thoughtful insight. Bernie says,”…you may think ‘The Sauna Is’…something I’m too steamed up about! Nevertheless…if genius is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, try thinking through your problems in a sauna!” For most Finns, the sauna is a way of life. Although growing in popularity throughout the world, the concept is sometimes misunderstood and misrepresented. This book defines the authentic sauna experience, and considers related historical, physiological, psychological, and moral issues. Information about sauna construction is also provided. It presents “some cold facts about that very hot place”…for the staunchest sauna advocates, sauna owner wannabes, and the curious. Read about the sauna strategy in governmental deliberations. Custonmarily the first item on the agenda for regularly scheduled meetings of the Finnish Cabinet is the sauna. Former President Urho Kekkonen has said of the sauna consultation, “It is a great leveler: there are no ministers, VIPs, laborers, or lumberjacks on the platform, only sauna mates.” Since the mood of the sauna is one of relaxation and shared enjoyment, the style of this book reflects that spirit, along with the author’s keen observations.”

Posted on Goodreads.com.


Sauna – The Essence of Finland by Keijo Taskinen

“Sauna – The Essence of Finland is a visual feast—an engaging panorama view of Finnish sauna culture and spirit. Expressive photographs lead the reader into the peculiarities of the steam-stricken Finns: from sauna-yoga to peat sauna treatments; from lakeside saunas to sauna-bathing in a gondola ski-lift or a telephone booth!

“Like the sauna itself, this book engages all the senses: the scent of a birch sauna-whisk can be found on the pages, along with sauna-bathing tips and even recipes. But the leading role is played by the Finns’ age-old relationship with the sauna—a fountain of well-being that has an indisputable place in the heart of every Finn.”

Posted on Goodreads.com.


The Modern Sauna and Related Facilities by Allan Konya

“This highly practical book is impressive in its thoroughness. It is an ‘everything you need to know’ reference complete with full design and construction details along with numerous examples of excellence from Finland, Sweden and the USA. It is illustrated with over 150 drawings and more than 300 photographs most of which are in colour. What reviewers have said about an earlier work by Allan Konya on this subject: ‘The book has been assembled with obvious devotion to, and a quietly persuasive enthusiasm for, the subject and is packed with pictures and drawings capturing that enthusiasm. It is a must for anyone designing or building a sauna or thinking about owning one.’ The Architects’ Journal ‘Allan Konya has written the most complete text on the Finnish sauna, covering the broad spectrum from the origin and rituals (something often overlooked), design and construction, materials, siting and layout. Every facet of the subject is thoroughly covered in detail and one comes away feeling he has finally understood what it takes to make a “good” sauna. ..Anyone interested in designing, building or using a sauna should try to locate this book. It is the “bible” of the Finnish sauna and is far superior to any other text on the subject. I have designed and built several saunas and still find useful information and inspiration in this book.'”

Posted on Goodreads.com.


Sauna in Finland: The Ultimate Sauna Guide for Travelers and Sauna Enthusiasts by Anna Maeda, Kaisa Lainea, Janne Lainea, and Ken Maeda

“There are five million people and three million saunas in Finland, which makes Finland the ultimate sauna nation of the world.

“Finnish-Japanese sauna-crazy group nelikko wants you to know practically everything there is to know about sauna – in ‘Sauna in Finland’, you will learn about sauna etiquette, sauna architecture, seasonal saunas, sauna traditions and beliefs, and how sauna has changed over the years. We will also explore how sauna has become such an indispensable part the everyday lives and celebrations of us Finns, and how important the social aspect of sauna really is.

“nelikko visited (and tested!) three hidden sauna gems in the Finnish capital of Helsinki: the cultural Sauna Arla, the authentic Sauna Hermanni, and the atmospheric Kaurila Sauna.

“‘Sauna in Finland’:

  • Inspiring stories from a local Finn’s point of view
  • Stunning color images throughout the book by Helsinki-based photographer Janne Lainea
  • Exploring sauna from historical, cultural, social and architectural perspectives.
  • Introducing three unique public saunas in Helsinki, each with their own distinct personalities (completed with detailed maps and how-to-get-there instructions).

“Nyt löylyyn! – Let’s take a bath!”

Posted on Goodreads.com.

April 18, 2016 •