Tuesday, 5 June 2018

WorldReads - Five Books from Iceland

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages. Or click the bookshop names to buy your own copy. (Bookshop links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.)

This month we are going to Iceland!

Iceland is a nation of readers and I love that the people have a tradition of giving each other a book on Christmas Eve. They then spending the night reading - perhaps too excited to sleep! The custom is the reason for the Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood, between September and December each year when most books are sold ready for Christmas giving.


From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón

The Book Depository : from £7.93 (PB)
Wordery : from £6.35 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $1.99 / £0.82 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty and cruelty. Men of science marvel over a unicorn's horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret and both books and men are burnt. Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjöll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age. 

Season Of The Witch by Arni Thorarinsson

The Book Depository : from £8.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.99 (PB)
Waterstones : from £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $1.34 / £1.00 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

All evidence indicates an accident, but when the victim’s mother cries foul play, kindhearted Einar agrees to investigate. Just days later, the lead actor in Loftur vanishes, leaving the locals reeling—and Einar unconvinced that a single village could be so accident prone. Keenly perceptive and hungry for the truth, Einar begins to chip away at the quaint small-town facade, uncovering a tangled web of power and greed that threatens to devour the historic community for good.

The Woman At 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason

The Book Depository : from £8.94 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.89 (PB)
Waterstones : from £9.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $1.50 / £2.20 (used HB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

‘I live here alone in a garage, together with a laptop and an old hand grenade. It’s pretty cosy.’
And...she’s off. Eighty-year-old Herra Björnsson lies alone in her garage waiting to die. One of the most original narrators in literary history, she takes readers with her on a dazzling ride of a novel as she reflects – in a voice by turns darkly funny, bawdy, poignant, and always, always smart – on the mishaps, tragedies and turns of luck that shaped her life.

On The Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir

The Book Depository : from £5.74 (audio CD)
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : from : £8.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $2.50 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

When a fleet of one hundred English ships is caught in a horrible storm off the cold coasts of fifteenth-century Iceland, twenty-five ships are lost. For Ragna, the daughter of a respected family and betrothed to Thorkell, her relationship with one of the seamen washed ashore results in pregnancy. Now barren due to a traumatic childbirth and stigmatized as a fallen woman, she is left with no prospects for marriage when the betrothal is ultimately canceled.

Place Of The Heart by Steinunn Sigurdardottir

The Book Depository : from £8.53 (audio CD)
Wordery : from £8.99 (PB)
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from $1.36 / £1.00 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Single mother Harpa has always been a misfit. Her physical appearance is unique among Icelanders: so small she self-deprecatingly refers to herself as a dwarf, so dark-skinned she doubts her genetic link to her father, so strange she nearly believed the children who mistook her for a mythical creature of the forest. Even as an adult, she struggles to make sense of her place in the world.
So when she sees how her teenage daughter, Edda, has suffered since the death of her best friend, Harpa sees no choice but to tear her away from her dangerous social scene in the city. She enlists the help of a friend and loads her reprobate daughter and their belongings into a pickup truck, setting out on a road trip to Iceland’s bucolic eastern fjords.

That's it for June's WorldReads from Iceland. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Icelandic-authored books! If you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

In July I will be highlighting five books by Belgian authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!


  1. What an interesting idea. Books from Iceland, love it. That first books sounds really interesting too.

    1. I was impressed with Sjon's writing and must try and find more of this author's books!