Scan Magazine, Issue 129, October 2019

Page 148

The beautiful library in Tønsberg is the venue for the opening ceremony on 4 November. Photo: Peter Fiskerstrand

Readers’ delight For almost a quarter of a century, Vestfold Literature Festival has been spreading the love of books to the people of the region. This year, the programme is more versatile than ever, in both geographical and literary terms, making it an autumn highlight for the book nerd, as well as the more sporadic reader. By Lisa Maria Berg

For seven days, the entire Vestfold region – on the west side of the Oslofjord, the closest airport being Torp – will fill to the brim with literature. There will be words on every street corner, in every concert hall, library and church. With a programme including everything from literary stars and debutants to children’s theatre and talks, it makes for the ultimate end-of-autumn cultural event.

For the love of words At the helm of it all sits festival manager Steinar Engeland – a manager with an above-average love and passion for literature. “A book is a wonderful thing. If 148  |  Issue 129  |  October 2019

you give the same book to ten different people, you will end up with ten different experiences, ten different sets of faces and places. A good book is one opening up, giving room for the reader to step inside,” says Engeland. He is part of a team that – as the first in Norway – spreads its festival campus across an entire county. Spending the 45th week of the year in Vestfold is like going on tour with your local book bus, only the librarian has been supplied with literary stars from both Norway and beyond. Studies conducted, some at the The University of Stavanger, have, perhaps unsur-

prisingly, found that children who are read to at a young age become better readers and writers. Engeland sees the love of books as one of the founding pillars of the festival. “We want to give the love of books to people at a young age. Literature has a quality like no other art form, to open up an entire new world to its readers. It’s as if one is allowed to, just for a little while, step out of one’s own everyday life, enter into someplace else and see the world through different eyes,” he explains. The festival has always had a strand of events designed specifically for young people and families. With talks from youth literature writers and theatre for the whole family, it invites children to attend the festival both during and after school time.

Freedom of speech The week-long festival is not all about the joy of books, however. Engeland talks about a deeper meaning to the literary

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