By Cailey Rizzo
December 01, 2018
Books at a bus stop in Norway
Credit: Claudia Uribe/Getty Images

People are the worst sometimes.

For travelers who wish to escape humanity, there’s a remote village in Norway that officially has more books than people.

Mundal, in western Norway, is an introverted bibliophile’s dream. There are only 280 people but more than 150,000 books. In fact, the country often refers to Mundal as “The Norwegian Booktown.”

Between secondhand shops, roadside stalls and bookshelves along the coast of the fjords, the town of Mundal embraces readers. Secondhand bookstores are integrated into local cafés, art galleries and even souvenir stores. When in doubt, any structure probably has a shelf of books tucked into it.

Most of the bookstores around town sell used books because of the belief that old books should be preserved in an increasingly digital age.

Readers should be sure to plan their visit with the seasons. The outdoor bookshops are only open from mid-may through June. But those who visit from mid-May through June can take part in the annual Solstice Book Fair.

The Norwegian Book Town began stocking its shelves in 1995. Since then, it boasts that its collection has grown so much that if all the books on all the town’s shelves were lined up, it would stretch over 2.5 miles.

But Mundal isn’t the only town in the world with more books than people. The remote village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales has a population of only 1,400 people but thousands upon thousands of books lining its open-air “Honesty Shelves.” The town also sponsors a literary festival and is home to more than two dozen different booksellers.