Iceland is one of the most literate countries in the world and has a long literary history going back to the Icelandic Sagas. The love of literature has evolved into a delightful Christmas tradition, Jólabókaflóðið. Every fall, households in Iceland receive a catalogue of all the books published in the previous year to use to find their Christmas presents. On Christmas Eve, the books are given and then people read their new books far into the night and drink hot chocolate.
Bókatiðindi is published every year for Icelanders to browse the latest publications. It is organized into categories, including Children's, Fiction, and Non-Fiction. How much fun must it be to go through the catalogue and mark books to buy as gifts and find a few for oneself!
We can't compete with such a comprehensive listing of Icelandic publications, but Icelandic Roots produces its own mini list of books, some new in 2023 or even upcoming in 2024. Additionally, the list includes Icelandic Roots Book Club selections from 2023 and the selections already set for 2024. A few books were published by IR members and many are recommended by members.
The Iceland Roots Book Flood
The list is focused on English-language books either translated from Icelandic, about Iceland, or about (or by) Western Icelanders. We’re not ignoring our Icelandic members, but they already have the best lists for Jólabókaflóð. Where applicable, you will see the Icelandic title under the English title, and there will be a link to Penninn or Amazon to find the Icelandic edition.
There are three general categories:
Clicking each of the three links below will open a PDF for that category. You can read, print, or download that page.
How to get your hands on a book
We’ve included a link for each book, usually to Amazon.com, to buy them online. Change to your preferred country/region to check availability and pricing. You can also support your favourite independent bookseller by requesting the title. Also, check out Tergesen’s (Gimli MB) and Elliot Bay Book Co. (Seattle WA) and try AbeBooks for rare, used, and even new books.
Icelandic books can be sourced at:
We offer up links for your convenience, but most of the books listed are available at multiple locations. Shop around to find the best option for you.
2024 Icelandic Roots Book Club Selections (upcoming)
Check the Events Calendar for the most up-to-date information on upcoming Book Clubs
What we know so far:
(04 Jan) Vikings on a Prairie Ocean / My Lady of the Lake by Glenn Sigurdson
(01 Feb) Woman, Captain, Rebel by Margaret Wilson
(07 Mar) Mother of the Light by Elin de Ruyter
(Apr) Dear Miss Lovelorn by Martha Brooks
(May) Summer Light, and Then Comes the Light by Jon Kalman Stefansson
(06 Jun) Journey Across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home by Veronica Li
2023 Icelandic Roots Book Club Selections
Prophetic Dreams by Alfreda Jonsdottir
The Windows of Brimmes: An American in Iceland by Bill Holm
Salka Valda by Halldór Laxness & translated by Philip Roughton
Eiriksdottir: A Tale of Dreams and Luck by Joan Clark
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women by Nancy Marie Brown
Previous Book Floods