Getting ready for Norway

by Andrew Stein

Trying to find a book on Norway, I came across many of the history books that write of the many battles that occurred through the Viking Age and into the Middle Ages.  Although the blood and guts seemed exciting and although it is clearly an essential part of Norwegian history, I decided to take a different route.

Jostein Gaarder, originally from Oslo and a long time history teacher in Bergen, eventually wrote the best selling book across the world by 1995.  Sophie’s World, which is subtitled “A Novel About the History of Philosophy” tackles 2000 years of philosophy through the relationship between a philosopher teacher and a 14-year-old girl, Sophie.  Through this book, I obviously learn a thing or two about some of the greatest philosophers of all time, but I also get a sense of a peaceful Norwegian village.  One that is next to a lake and filled gardens and trees, so many trees that it becomes like a forest.  The village is safe and idyllic and she and her friend Joanna walk down the streets together.

Although from this book, I don’t learn the great history of the Vikings, I do get a sense that the Norway will be a thoughtful place full of nature and adventure, and I am ever more excited to go.

(Next book on the list: Growth of the Soil, a book that describes the simple life of a Norwegian man who settles and lives in rural Norway, stressing the relationship between characters and the natural environment more than anything else.)