10 ‘Icelandic’ books for your Christmas stocking!

The jólabókaflóð (Icelandic for “christmas book flood”) is the slew of new books in Iceland occurring in the months before christmas every year. Its in full swing now.

I thought I’d put together a list of books to buy for the Iceland-lover in your life, to put in their stocking, or under the tree. Or should that be given by a ‘Yule Lad’?

The Hitmans Guide To House Cleaning – Hallgrímur Helgason. Dark, humorous and often slightly worrying, Hallgrímur writes about the darker side of Icelandic life, no more so than in The Hitmans Guide To Housecleaning. Follows the troubled Croatian hit man Toxic after a hit gone wrong, and he finds himself in Iceland.

Strange Shores – Arnaldur Indriðason. One of Iceland’s contributors to Nordic noir, he is a master of crime and mystery. Often produces gripping tales that could only happen in Iceland, with his brooding Detective, Erlendur. Arnaldur is prolific, but this might be the last outing for Erlendur.

Waking up in Iceland – Paul Sullivan. Entertaining, and enjoyable read about the authors experience of Reykjavik, and in particular, it’s music scene. Best read with a pint of ‘Viking’ in hand.

Unravelled – Alda Sigmundsdóttir. After being a key commentator on Iceland’s financial collapse, and producing the amusing The Little Book Of Icelanders, Alda has turned her hand to novel writing. Her first novel, Unravelled, is the story of two different meltdowns.

The Creator – Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir. Guðrún has a keen eye for the minutiae of Icelandic life, no more so than in her latest novel, The Creator, set against the backdrop of a man who makes sex dolls in Akranes, and an unexpected visitor, who has troubles of her own. An unusual, but compelling book.

Svart/Hvít – Nick Miners. I’m not usually into photo books, but this one is stunning. Well worth a look. Means ‘black/white’ by the way!

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland – Sarah Moss. The story of Sarah’s year living in Iceland with her family. Expect tales of disappointing vegetables, knitting circles and non-secondhand white goods. That is, the stuff no one else tells you about living in Iceland.

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Chilled To The Bone – Quentin Bates. This is the third instalment of this crime series with Sgt Gunnhildur Gísladóttir, and continues to deliver slick, clever police procedural that could only happen in Iceland. Even gets a bit ‘kinky’ at one point!

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. Set in 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is sentenced to death for two murders and is sent to Northern Iceland to await her execution. Hannah Kent is an Australian who visited Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, and clearly had Iceland’s landscapes imprinted on her mind forever.

Blue Eyed Pop – Dr. Gunni. The definitive guide to Icelandic pop music, from 1930’s Accordian tours to Ásgeir. Told in a energetic and knowledgable style from a man who has seen it all. Includes amazing photos too – look out for Jonsí from Sigur Rós on a bicycle, or Björk in her ‘dead swan’ dress.

Iceland, Defrosted – Edward Hancox. The story of one man’s obsession with the people, places and music of Iceland. Ok, ok. It’s mine. At the risk of ‘blowing my own trumpet’, it’s the best book by me this year!

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