I cannot imagine a world without books – Commissioner Ylva Johansson

Commissioner Ylva Johansson caught reading Klas Östergren's book Renegater
Commissioner Ylva Johansson caught reading Klas Östergren’s book Renegater. © All rights reserved / European Union

Words flow around us all the time, in tweets, blogs and messages on our mobiles. With a few keystrokes, you can communicate with the whole world in a flash. Almost faster than the speed of thought.

A book is something completely different, the opposite in fact. Someone has taken on the task to tell a story, write down ideas, shape and form thoughts and phrases. It takes time and effort to write.

For me, it also takes time and concentration to read. I have a sensual relationship with books. A really good book I want to read slowly, on paper between two covers. It’s hardly restful, on the contrary, it takes effort.

Good books give you other people’s views on society and humanity. The best kind of reading is like an evolving study of different dimensions of life. You may find that you were not alone in a feeling, as you thought. Or you may be surprised to find thoughts you never had yourself. Reading is a way of understanding both oneself and others, and existence itself.

I have chosen a Swedish author, Klas Östergren, and his book Renegater, a brick of a novel, which blends Swedish contemporary history with fiction. I enjoy the language. The way the author uses words opens up new dimensions in the story.

Ylva Johansson is the European Commissioner for Home Affairs.