From Iceland — Get Your Summer Read On

Get Your Summer Read On

Get Your Summer Read On

Published June 30, 2022

The books to read while travelling around Iceland

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was
Author:
SJÓN

Sjón is hands down the king of Scandinavian magic realism. He has also written scripts for films like the Northman directed by Robert Eggers, and the movie Lamb. On top of that, he has written many of Björk’s lyrics over the years. So expect nothing less than brilliance. His book, Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was, is a steam-punkish novella about a young gay boy in Reykjavík in the year of the Spanish flu. The book is short but incredibly powerful and a must-read when it comes to Icelandic LGBTQ+ literature. VG

Polishing Iceland
Author:
Ewa Marcinek

There are not many books describing the experiences of an immigrant in Iceland. Ewa Marcinek does just that brilliantly through poetry and short stories in her book, Polishing Iceland. The book is slick and elegant and very focused in its narrative, making it an unusual experience for a poetry book. The core of the story is a young woman who endures horrible violence, only to find her footing again in Iceland. The voice is so powerful and fragile at the same moment, comparable, perhaps, to Sally Rooney at her best. VG

Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night
Author:
Jón Kalmann

A small Icelandic village and its various, eccentric inhabitants become a microcosm of universal feelings and emotions in Jón Kalmann’s beautiful book. Even the name, which invokes the duality of the Icelandic seasons, tells a story within itself. Although the village in the book is fictional, anyone who has travelled outside of the capital and stayed in some of the smaller settlements around Iceland will recognise many of the features of small town life captured in this novel. Jón’s writing style is somehow both delicate and devastating, managing to pin down human sentiments with breathtaking accuracy. Best paired with a solo road trip, and delicious summer melancholia. JG

Karitas Án Titils / Karitas Untitled
Author:
Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir

Originally published in 2004, Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir’s novel has only just been translated into English. It has long been heralded as an excellent representation of the lives of women in Iceland at the turn of the 20th century. The titular character, Karitas, is a strong-minded and creative young woman, whose singular drive to be an artist keeps getting derailed by the demands placed upon her as a working class woman in a patriarchal society. Through romance, work, familial responsibilities, and grief, Karitas’s spirit and grit are a force to be reckoned with. It’s a novel that I personally feel can match Laxness in describing the Icelandic psyche—but don’t quote me on that. JG

Secrets of the Sprakkar
Author:
Elíza Reid

First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, has compiled here a daring, insightful, often humourous and often fascinating look at women in Iceland. Drawing from personal experiences that are often relatable in their vulnerability, she interweaves her own story with the words of other women, deliberately seeking out those women often overlooked in feminist discourse in this country. In between, she offers historical accounts of powerful Icelandic women over the ages. It’s a real page-turner and one that everyone should read, regardless of gender. ASF

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