Crown Princess Mette-Marit opted against higher education when she finished high school, but has suddenly emerged as a champion of literature who’s spreading a love of books to the public. She set off this week on a literary train ride that’s grabbing lots of media attention.
After some royal fanfare in the northern city of Bodø Tuesday morning, a specially outfitted train featuring the royal carriage and a rail car outfitted like a library rolled south on the Nordlandsbane line bound for such stations as Fauske, Rognan, Mosjøen and Steinkjer. On board was the crown princess, due to meet the public on the stations’ platforms along the way, and share her tips for good books.
“I wanted to share my love for reading,” Crown Princess Mette-Marit wrote on social media before the two-day train odyssey began. “I also like trains. On trains we can travel slowly, like in books.”
Newspaper Aftenposten observed that the crown princess, known as an active user of social media, has presented herself on Twitter as a “dedicated bookworm.” She answered questions from Twitter followers on Monday before hitting the rails.
One questioner commented that her selection of the 1,000 books on the train is “a bit macho,” featuring such authors as Machiavelli, Nordahl Grieg, Paul Auster and Knut Hamsun. Norway’s next queen answered that she really doesn’t see a difference between literature for men and women, but thinks female authors and readers have a tendency to be underestimated. She wrote that she prefers to read books by strong female authors such as Oriana Fallaci and Fay Weldon, but also likes Haruki Murakami and doesn’t view him as especially masculine. As a child, she read a lot of Astrid Lindgren, Roald Dahl and Anne Kat Vestly.
Her train ride was to end in Stjørdal. Members of the public who met the train at its stations were invited on board its library carriage and could borrow books. And the crown princess insisted in a speech before she boarded the train Tuesday morning that she didn’t only want to share her own tips for authors and books.
“I also want you to share your love of reading with me and others,” she said. The goal of the literary train project is to inspire Norwegians to read even more than they already do, despite high book prices that mean most new books cost the equivalent of around USD 70. Books on board her train could be borrowed for free, using a library card from anywhere in Norway.