Read Around the World: Iceland
With the new year, comes a list of new countries that we’ll be visiting on our world literature tour. Countries selected were nominated by read around the world participants on the Litsy challenge we are hosting. Make sure to check it out if you are on Litsy by searching the hashtag #readaroundtheworld. We hope you join us in 2018 as we travel the world in books. January kicks us off with a trip to Iceland. Find out which books we selected our trip.
Fun Facts literary facts about Iceland:
- Per capita Iceland has the highest number of book and magazine publications and 10% of the country’s population will publish a book in their lifetimes
- Jólabókaflóð (Christmas book flood) is the annual release of new books before Christmas. Newly published books are listed in a yearly compilation called bókatíðindi (“book news”) that is distributed to all households for free and gifting books during this period is massively popular
- Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders.
- There’s a popular TV show in Iceland, Kiljan, which is devoted entirely to books.
- Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011
And now onto our books for the month. For this edition of read around the world Book Worm and I read different books. We’ll start off discussing each of our individual selections and then we’ll present a list of other recommended reading including a few books selected by other Read Around the World participants from Litsy.
Jen’s selection: The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir. 4 stars
The only Icelandic book I have read is Independent People that Book Worm reviews below. I read that book thanks to the 1001 list. I thought the book was fantastic although pretty sad and gloomy. This time around I went with a book by a well known female author.
The Greenhouse is a relatively short, quiet book with slow pacing. It centers around the story of a young 21 year old man (Lobbi) whose life was rocked by a series of events: the death of his mother and a one-night stand that results in Lobbi becoming a father. Lobbi lives with his father and autistic brother. He feels lost and without direction. The only thing that gives him joy and meaning is his love of gardening, a love that connects him to his mother and her memory. As he searches for meaning and direction he applies for a position in a European monastery where he proposes reviving the rose garden and growing his mother’s prized roses.The book is beautifully written and delightful. It’s not heavy on plot although things certainly happen to move the plot along. However, this book is about the characters and in particular about the main character’s reflection on life and his role as a father, son, and independent man. The scenery described is beautiful and reading the book gave me some serious travel urges – mainly the idea of spending some time in quiet reflection in a small village. I’m not sure if it’s a great representation of Iceland since the majority of the book takes place in an unnamed European country but certainly I think the cultural traits and values seem to come through in the characters and their approach to life.
Book Worm’s selection: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. 5 stars
I loved this saga of life on a croft where the main character, Bjartur, tries to make his way as an “independent” man. At the start of the novel we are told the croft is haunted, that no-one has successfully farmed the croft, and that eventually the ghosts/spirits will destroy anything that is built there. Against this backdrop it is fascinating to watch Bjartur suffering and his successes.
If you are interested in joining our Read Around the World travels, follow our travel schedule listed above in the image. We would love the company. Bloggers who join, please tag us so we can see your reviews and we will link to your reviews. Litsy followers also make sure to tag me @JenP and use hashtag #readaround the world and I’ll list the book you read in our synopsis.
Next month we travel to Turkey. Who will be joining us?