Books I Read about Iceland while in Iceland

Independent People and Burial Rites were both historical novels and continued the lice, cold, and hunger weaves of the historical fiction that I read in Sweden. Independent People by Nobel-prizing winning Laxness was the grittiest, and I actually had to stop reading for awhile because I needed a break from that particular fictional reality. However, I come back, finished it, and overall enjoyed having had read the book, though the in-the-moment reading was a bit tough at times. His description of the main character’s first wife’s terror when she is alone in the dark (with a noisy sheep) seemed pretty spot on to me, as someone who has experienced her own imagination-fueled fears of the dark.

Iceland Defrosted and Names for the Sea were both non-fiction. Since I was a mom who was settling into Reykjavik (albeit for only a month), I found Names for the Sea personally more interesting, but music lovers who were going to explore more of the country would probably be more into Iceland Defrosted.

The Little Book of Icelanders was a charming, quick read that delves into the quirks and lives of  modern day Icelanders, from naming conventions to showering at public pools to family ties. If you’re visiting Iceland or are just curious about the people who live here, it’s the first book that I would recommend.


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