Icelandic Roots Online Book Club

Updated: Apr 17

Our new book club will be launched on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, with the First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid! We are so honored to host her for this event.



The following information is shared with permission. Eliza Reid Website


Iceland is the best place on earth to be a woman—but why?


‍For the past twelve years, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Iceland number one on its list of countries closing the gap in equality between men and women. What is it about Iceland that makes many women's experiences there so positive? Why has their society made such meaningful progress in this ongoing battle, from electing the world's first female president to passing legislation specifically designed to help even the playing field at work and at home? And how can we learn from what Icelanders have already discovered about women's powerful place in society and how increased fairness benefits everyone? Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland, examines her adopted homeland's attitude toward women—the deep-seated cultural sense of fairness, the influence of current and historical role models, and, crucially, the areas where Iceland still has room for improvement. Reid's own experience as an immigrant from small-town Canada who never expected to become a first lady is expertly interwoven with interviews with dozens of sprakkar ("extraordinary women") to form the backbone of an illuminating discussion of what it means to move through the world as a woman, and how the rules of society play more of a role in who we view as "equal" than we may understand. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.



Eliza Reid is a journalist, editor, and cofounder of the annual Iceland Writers Retreat. Eliza grew up on a hobby farm near Ottawa, Canada, and moved to Iceland in 2003, five years after winning a student raffle for a date with the man who became her husband, Gudni Jóhannesson. When he took office as president of Iceland on August 1, 2016, Eliza became the country’s First Lady. In that capacity, she has been active in promoting gender equality, entrepreneurship and innovation, tourism and sustainability, and the country’s writers and rich literary heritage. Being the spouse of the head of state is an immense privilege, full of surreal and wonderful experiences. Eliza has been candid about the role, which is an unofficial position with no job description, penning a lauded op-ed in the New York Times and delivering a TEDx Talk on the topic. Secrets of the Sprakkar is her first book.

Eliza was previously editor for Icelandair’s in-flight magazine, a staff writer at Iceland Review, and has been published in the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Monocle, and several other newspapers and magazines. She served on the jury of the 2018 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. Prior to serving as first lady, Eliza was a frequent commentator on Icelandic current affairs for foreign media. She is a member of the Association of Women Business Leaders in Iceland (FKA) and until serving as first lady was a member of the Canadian branch of the Society of American Travel Writers. She works with Business Iceland on projects to promote Icelandic exports and the country as a destination. ‍ As first lady, Eliza is patron of several organizations in Iceland, including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Iceland Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Icelandic Culinary Team, Pieta House (for suicide prevention), and the United Nations Association of Iceland. She is a Goodwill Ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages Iceland. In 2017, Eliza was named United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals. ‍ Eliza has an honours bachelor of arts degree in international relations from Trinity College, University of Toronto, where she held the position of Head of College in her final year. She also has a master of studies degree in modern history from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She speaks Icelandic and French, in addition to her first language. Eliza has four children and an adult step-daughter.


This will be a Members-Only event and the Book Club is a Members Benefit. To join as a member and see all the benefits of joining Icelandic Roots, see our WEBSITE. More details will be sent to you soon. Go ahead and reserve your copy of this wonderful book. We will have the discussion at the beginning of June. Stay tuned!


Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.