Looking for a special Christmas gift for your friends and family? On Christmas Eve, Icelanders come together to exchange gifts. Traditionally, every family member receives a book, which they read on the same evening. Icelanders publish and read more books per capita than most other nations in the world. We recommend the following Icelandic books (in English) for you and your loved ones.
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1. The Icelandic Book about Future, Love, and Technology
LoveStar is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Andri Snær Magnason creates a world that seems abstract but strangely familiar at the same time. Mankind is no longer a slave to wires and cables, the modern cordless men and women let technology control almost all aspects of life.
Love can be measured and calculated so you never have to go on an unsuccessful date again. Through the book, I laughed out loud many times, reading parts of the book to Alli. I found similarities to so-called influencers today and how they could “influence” us in this utopian world.
On a journey through familiar landscapes and lava fields, you might find yourself wondering how much all of us are slaves to technology and that the LoveStar corporation could be any of the silicon valley giants that we willingly give our data every day.
2. This Icelandic Book is a timeless Classic
From Iceland’s Nobel Price winner Halldór Laxness (1902-1998), comes a timeless classic: Independent People – about the farmer, a stubborn man, who prefers sheep over people; His struggle with independence, what it costs to achieve it, and the struggle to stay alive.
Every Icelander reads the book in school, a reminder of the primitive and brutal living conditions from the past. Although this life is not so far in the past as one might think.
The harsh living conditions that the book describes is also often portraited in Icelandic movies. The book is a good way of understanding life in Iceland in the past, and how it affected future generations.
3. A book about Glaciers, Their Future, and how our world changes when they disappear
Another book from Andri Snær: On Time and Water– that changed the way, Icelanders see their future and their grandchildren’s future. This book is about time, and water, the element that our lives depend on, and how it is changing rapidly in recent years.
On Time and Water is not your usual book about Climate Change and how humans destroy the earth. This book is a journey into the past, stories of ancestors and relatives, and their adventures live. It contains a collection of interviews, myths, and stories, all leading up to one question: What kind of world do we want to leave behind?
4. A book for cold Christmas Nights to read under your blanket
I was introduced to Icelandic crime books through Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and haven’t stopped reading her books. All of her stories will give you chills, and after many twists and turns, reveal an unexpected plot.
The story of “Why did you lie?” mainly takes place at Þrídrangar (Thridrangar) Lighthouse. Located near the Westman Islands, the Lighthouse stands isolated on a pillar of rocks, while the waves of the Atlantic rage below.
The island can only be reached by helicopter, and the lighthouse fits a few people only. Not a place to stay permanently. If you want to dream yourself to Þrídrangar and find out what happens when a group of people gets stuck there, I recommend “Why did you lie?”
5. The Icelandic book to read in the bathtub
A yacht arrives back in an Icelandic harbor, but where are all the passengers? Is it true that the vessel is cursed? The search for the family begins and unravels the mystery and what really happened on board.
Enjoy another book by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: The Silence of the Sea.
If you have a bathtub at home, I am very jealous. But also, your bathtub is the perfect place to dive into this book. When it’s time to retreat back to your cozy place on Christmas Eve, this Icelandic book will take you on a journey out on the sea. Perfect for everyone who was unable to travel in 2020.
If you love crime and mystery novels, this is for you!
If you can’t get enough of Icelandic Christmas Traditions, join us for more Christmas Spirit here.