In focus: Literature
Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess loves to read and is enthusiastic about books. She is eager to share her love of reading and spread good literature. She firmly believes that there is a book for everyone.
In the course of the year Crown Princess Mette-Marit takes part in a wide array of literary events. This includes reading time for children in the Palace Park, literary festivals or library visits.
“I cannot imagine a life without books. Ever since I was a child, I have been read to and given the opportunity to enter a world of fantasy. The act of reading, the internal images it creates, the emotions it evokes – has made me a better, wiser and more thoughtful person.”
Ambassador for Norwegian literature
The Crown Princess also seeks to arrange meetings about Norwegian literature abroad during official visits to other countries. Norwegian literature is gaining in popularity abroad, and the Crown Princess will be working to further enhance its position.
On 26 April 2017, the Crown Princess took on the role of ambassador for Norwegian literature in the international arena. Norway was selected as the Guest of Honour at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Crown Princess participated in key events in connection with the Guest of Honour project, including opening the massive Book Fair. From the stage, Crown Princess Mette-Marit read “It Is That Dream”, a poem by Olav H. Hauge that has been named the greatest Norwegian poem ever. Its opening line inspired Norway’s slogan as this year’s Guest of Honour at the book fair: The Dream We Carry
However, her role in promoting Norwegian literature extends beyond the 2019 Book Fair. In January 2024 Norway will be the Guest of Honor at the Cairo Book Fair. This is a golden opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between Norway and the Arab-speaking world, by presenting the scope of Norwegian literature to an Egyptian audience. The Norwegian programme will be opened by Crown Princess Mette-Marit in Cairo January 25.
The Crown Princess reading Olav H. Hauge’s poem “It Is That Dream”. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa / AFP / NTB scanpix
The literary train tour
One event has a special place on The Crown Princess' agenda: The literary train tour. Several years, the Crown Princess has set out on a literary train tour in the spring with the assistance of Norwegian State Railways and Oslo Public Library.
The train tour does not follow a set railway schedule, and in addition to the Norwegian Royal Train Carriages, the locomotive pulls a café carriage, a passenger carriage and, not least, the library carriage. This is a specially furnished carriage containing books from the Oslo Public Library and parts of the Crown Princess’ own book collection. When the train stops at the local station, the carriage is normally open for anyone wanting a cup of coffee and a good book to read.
The Crown Princess in the library carriage of the literary train. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
Along the route, the Crown Princess organises literary meetings between authors and the public. The meetings are usually held at the local library, but houses of literature and train stations have also set the stage for some magical moments.
The very first tour
The first literary train tour took place in 2014. This was a personal book tour for the Crown Princess, who shared many of her own favourites and talked about her own reading experiences along the way.
This first literary train tour encompassed many different themes: Children’s literature and literature for adolescents, love in literature, Sami literature, taboos and Shakespeare...
The second time around, in 2015, the authors themselves contributed their voices, taking part in conversations both as readers and as creators of literature. The theme was identity, a common theme in Norwegian literature in recent years. When they read, people come closer to their own lives – and to the lives of others.
Authors Tore Renberg and Harald Rosenløw Eeg on the literary train together with the Crown Princess in 2015. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
In literature, we often encounter characters who fall outside the mainstream in one way or another, and in 2016 the theme of the literary train tour was “being an outsider”. Everyone feels left out of the group now and then. It is a universal experience – and literature helps to show that others are in the same situation. The Crown Princess was accompanied on the tour by authors who have written works related to being an outsider. Those who read are never alone. There is a book for everyone.
The Crown Princess introduced a conversation between Geir Gulliksen and Lars Saabye Christensen at the library in Hønefoss. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
In 2017 the theme was relationships - our relationship with nature, to other people and to ourselves - while the concept of "Home" was pivotal in 2018.
The last literary train tour so far took place in Oslo in 2019 focusing on the city itself. The train was replaced with the tube, traveling from west to east in the city.
During the literary train tour, many people use the hashtag #Minbok to share tips about books and their love of reading in social media. An overview of the book recommendations is available in the list of links.