I bought only three books in Norway, and these are my purchases as I cruised northwards:
Cruise Handbook for Svalbard, which I purchased in Tromsø at the Polaria Arctic centre. I also got a large-scale map of Svalbard there. One of my dream holidays is to this Norwegian archipelago, and to cruise around the northern part of it which crosses the eightieth parallel. Even dreamier would be to set foot on Jan Mayen, but it would take even more work and red tape to get there than it did for me to travel to the DPRK or Tristan da Cunha.
In Honningsvåg as Mark and I dodged reindeer in the streets I managed to find my way into the local Libris bookstore (or, as they stylize it, ;libris, which seems more annoying than !ndigo or P!nk, for that matter). Every small town in Norway has a Libris bookstore. The far north of Norway was blown off the map at the end of World War II as the Germans destroyed and burned everything in their path, and most towns, as well as those in the far north of Finland, were rebuilt from the ground up. From War to Peace: The Second World War at Nordkapp tells the story of that war’s northernmost battles.
I bought Fortellinger fra Vardø, or Stories from Vardø at the Libris in Kirkenes. One of the stops on our cruise was the town of Vardø, which is the northeasternmost town in Norway situated on an island east of the Varangerfjorden peninsula. I visited Vardø in January 2002 and never dreamed that I would ever make a return visit. Our stopover was so early and also so brief that I had no time but to step off the ship and onto the landing dock. I took plenty of photos of the town bathed in full daylight at 4 a.m. I regretted not buying a massive two-volume Vardø encyclopedia during my 2002 visit but in reality I knew that I could never have brought that set home. Fortellinger fra Vardø is full of photos and stories from Vardø’s past, and reminds me of the encyclopedias I passed on buying eleven years ago.