Not only does Lovisa Fhager Havdelin, Project Manager at the NGO Teskedsorden, travel a lot; she reads more than anyone I can think of. When visiting her in her home she encourages me to take one of her color coordinated books, even though she hasn’t read it herself. To share is even more important.
But last summer you were the visitor and I guess you brought with you some reading?
Well, first, just when spring turned into summer, I visited a friend and her family in their house just outside Peniche in Portugal. It was a completely magical weekend with close friends, new acquaintances, happy children, shiny weather and more dips in the pool than I could keep track on.
I often wake up before anyone else, and after a morning walk and breakfast in the small village I spent my mornings reading on the terrace; the story accompanied by a magnificent view over the ocean. To sit in the sun, all by myself, and read – it’s one of the things I appreciate the most. There, on the terrace, I finished reading Señor Peregrino (first in a series of two) by Cecilia Samartin. When the rest of our company woke up I was happily distracted by conversations and laughter. Not to mention the surroundings.
Was it your best reading moment last summer?
No, actually not – I had my perhaps best reading moment, all time, on a boat. During my stay in Croatia my friend Karine and I were recommended a 24-hour sail in the Croatian archipelago and looking back I understand why. It’s hard to find a more beautiful place on earth. The sailboat was not the boat of our dreams, so to speak, and the thought of spending even a single night on it, well…
But! The sail was in world class and we enjoyed it to the fullest. What was even better – the shipper showed me a hammock and from then I knew how to spend my day. We sailed out from Bol on the Island of Brač and I finished reading La Peregrina (the second in the series) by Camilla Samartin. It was not the book that made the moment – since it really doesn’t qualify on my top list – but rather the surroundings.
Do you ever feel like sharing your thoughts with others? Or is it you and the book?
I love reading together with others that loves to read; to lift your eyes for a moment and discuss a chapter or an episode that made you react. If it’s a book that has kept me curious for a while, or a subject that lies close to my heart, it makes it even better and I love to share these moments with close friends. Like Josefine. Right after my stay in Croatia we spent some days in Budva, Montenegro, where she was reading One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad, and I quickly turned the pages of The War of the End of the World by one of my top authors – Mario Vargas Llosa. It’s an old book, but despite the fact that the author writes about the riots taking place in the late 19ths century’s Canudis, Brasil, the subject is still present due to the many trouble spots in the world today. The book is 843 pages in the pocket version and despite the Adriatic Sea with its azure blue water, the subjects did not leave us alone.
Is there a book that has affected you more than others?
Yes, The Constant Gardener by John le Carrés. I read it just before a trip to Belfast and Dublin with my ex, a trip we made to learn more about the conflict in Northern Ireland. It was some emotional days learning that shattered glass and hateful words on buildings was a part of peoples daily life. We saw the movie version there, with Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes as the main characters, and back in Sweden I had nightmares. However, it also inspired me to do what I do today – work hard for a better society.
What do you do with all of these books you read? You can’t possible have room for them all?
When I travel I always leave books, either by giving them to a travel companion or simply leaving them in the hotel or a café. Firstly, books are heavy so there is a practical aspect to it. Secondly, when I leave an old experience behind me I can make place for a new one. Sometimes, though, it’s a tough separation it might take some time before I’m ready to take on a new story.
Cover photo in this story by Lovisa Fhager Havdelin
by Catharina Holm