Norway for bookworms: A short travel guide for literature lovers

International festivals. Award-winning libraries. Picturesque book towns. There is plenty to appeal to book lovers visiting Norway, says our travel editor Marie Peyre.

Norway's literary greats

Think Norwegian literature and chances are the name Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) will be the first to spring to mind. Norway's acclaimed playwright was one of the most influential writers of his time, still hailed internationally as the founder of modern drama. Ibsen was born in Skien, southern Norway, and you can visit his childhood home there. If you are short of time, though, head instead to the Ibsen Museum in Oslo. Ibsen lived the last eleven years of his life in the city (then called Kristiania), and his old apartment, now restored to its former glory, is well worth a visit. The adjoining visitor center features an exhibit on Ibsen's life and writing.

Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), another Norway great, is the country's most famous novelist, known for works such as Hunger, Growth of the Soil, Pan and The Wanderer. The Hamsun Centre in Hamarøy, Nordland, celebrates the life and work of the author. The building itself, designed by architect Steven Holl, has received several prizes for its striking architecture. Hamsun's childhood home, which lies 5km from the centre, can also be visited. Booking required.

Norway's best-selling contemporary novelist is crime writer Jo Nesbø, who has sold over 25 million books and been translated into more than 50 languages. Nesbø himself has been a long time resident in Oslo, and some of his most popular books are set in the capital. Want to follow in the footsteps of his famous police detective? Oslo Guidebureau organises weekly "Harry Hole's Oslo" walks.

Events and festivals

Over 60 literature festivals take place every year in Norway. From the Children's Book Festival in Grimstad, southern Norway to the Finnmark International Literature Festival, from the Raptus Comics Book Festival in Bergen to Kongsberg Crime Fiction Festival, there are plenty of opportunities for book lovers all over Norway to get together. The most popular festival is the Norwegian Literature Festival, which takes place in Lillehammer in late May-early June, and attracts popular authors from around the world and tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Literature houses

Other great places to meet fellow book lovers in Norway are the Literature houses (Litteraturhuset in Norwegian). Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Fredrikstad and Skien all have their own. Check their websites to see what's on - some events are in English.

Oslo

Bergen

Trondheim

Fredrikstad

Skien

Public libraries

Norway boasts some beautiful libraries, several of which have received international accolades for their architecture and design. The most striking is probably Vennesla Library in southern Norway, build by Helen & Hard, almost entirely made from wood. Also worth mentioning are Bodø's Stormen and Tromsø Library, both in northern Norway. Travelling with teenagers? The uber cool Biblo Tøyen, Oslo, opened in 2016, is Norway's first library for 10-15 years olds only! Here kids can do homework inside a converted tuk-tuk, learn to prepare food in the back of an old Volvo truck, or read in a recycled gondola hanging from the ceiling... No grown-ups allowed. Located in Bjørvika, next to the Opera and the new Munch Museum, the new Oslo Public Library (Deichmanske bibliotek), due to open in 2020, will be Norway's finest, and a must see for any visitor.

Norway's book towns

The bookish destination par excellence, the village of Fjærland in Fjord Norway, the original Norwegian Book Town (Bokbyen), boasts miles of shelves, housed in quaint little sheds along the picturesque fjord. There are also a few second-hand bookshops, most of which sell books in foreign languages as well as Norwegian. Bokbyen is open daily May to September, 10am–6pm Tvedestrand, on Norway's southern coast, also brands itself as a book town, and here too you will find a few second-hand bookshops, as well as guided tours and a range of events. The town even has its own book hotel.



The Future Library Project

Started in 2014, the Future Library is an original art project where a new writer contributes a text every year, to be held in trust until 2114. Will these texts find a receptive reader in the future? Time will tell. In the meantime, the unpublished books will be held in a special room in the new Oslo Public Library (see above). A special Future Library forest of 1,000 trees has also been planted in Oslomarka to supply the paper needed to print an anthology of the works in 100 years time. Acclaimed authors Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Sjón were the first three to contribute texts to the project.



Book shops

If all this has made you want to go buy a book, you will be glad to hear that most big bookstores in Norway have a section selling books in English. But Tronsmo in Oslo is arguably the best bookshop in the country for English language books. Here you will find a great choice of contemporary English language literature, as well as Norwegian authors in translation, a fine selection of art books and comics, and more.

Read other news on the city site of Oslo.

thelocal
Literature Norway literary bookworms literaturelovers
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in february
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Euronext operates stock exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin and Lisbon. In a statement, the operator said it had approached the board of directors of the Oslo Stock Exchange (Oslo Bors VPS) to seek its support for a tender offer of 625 million euros for all outstanding shares in the bourse. "Euronext strongly believes that Oslo Bors VPS' unique strategic and competitive positioning, including a global leading position in seafood derivatives and...
Society
The Abortion Act is one of the most controversial issues during the Government negotiations that started on Hadeland yesterday. NTB has talked to several who were on the «red» side in the struggle for the Christian Democrats’ choice of direction. That ended up with a «blue» victory as most are aware. Not least because of Deputy Leader Kjell Ingolf Ropstad singled out that it presented a «historic opportunity» to make changes to the Abortion Act’s section 2...
Society
A Morocco prosecutor on Sunday presented to an anti-terror judge 15 people suspected of links to the murder of two Scandinavian women in the Atlas Mountains, Rabat's attorney general said. The prosecution asked that the suspects be investigated for "setting up a gang to prepare and commit terrorist acts", "premeditated attacks on life" and "advocating for terrorism", the attorney general said. Seven other detainees will be referred to the prosecution in th...
Society
Lower Norwegian King Crab quotas in 2019 The total Norwegian quota for male King Crabs has been set at 1400 tonnes for 2019. This is a decrease of 350 tonnes from 2018. The Ministry of Fisheries simultaneously warns of tighter control of the industry.   – In recent years we have had a very high degree of harvesting of King Crab. Now the researchers say that if this continues, it will lead to a collapse of the stock. That will not happen. We will continue t...
Society
Dreary news from around the world As Christmas peace descends on those fortunate to live in a peaceful corner of Tellus, it is business as usual, out in the ”real” world. Death toll rises after an attack on Government buildings in Kabul 43 people have been killed following an attack on Government offices in Kabul, Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, the authorities state. At least ten people are injured. Most people killed are employees of the Ministry of Labour...
Society
Heavy winds, avalanche and landslide hazards and slippery roads create problems in several places in Norway on Christmas day. – Drive extremely cautiously, the police urges.   Slippery roads, closed Mountain crossings and bad weather In Voss, one of several areas where, according to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), there is a considerable landslide hazard on Christmas Day, a two-cubic meter block of ice fell on the E16 at Evanger...
Society
Since 1999, the average American has become heavier and shorter according to a state health study. By 2015, the average height Americans around the country were 175.4 centimetres, two millimetres shorter than at the start of the study in 1999. American women were also two millimetres shorter. The study also shows that American men and women have become around three kilograms heavier on average since 1999. The average American woman now weighs 77 kilograms,...
Society
PFU believes that iTromsø, Dagsavisen and Harstad Tidende have violated good press coverage in their writing surrounding sexual harassment allegations against former Progress Party Youth (FpU) Deputy Leader, Kristian Eilertsen. The cases ended with that Eilertsen received a warning from the Progress Party’s organisation committee, without being deprived of office nor imposed with other sanctions. Eilertsen reacted to the coverage of the matter in iTromsø,...
Society
The European Union on Tuesday published further contingency plans for a "no-deal" Brexit, piling pressure Prime Minister Theresa May by warning that Britons will lose a host of travel rights from recognition of driving licences to lower credit card fees and no mobile roaming charges. The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said that, while it is working hard for a deal, it must prepare for "all outcomes" and "contingency measures in narrowly def...