J is for Jólabókaflóð The Christmas Book Flood

It was on February 15th 2017, that I was able to achieve a lifelong dream of visiting Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights shine out for me on my 40th Birthday. It was a truly magical experience and since then I have been transfixed by the country, the people, the landscape and the customs. I’m almost homesick for a place that I only visited for three days.

Since then I have immersed myself in all things North (being a northern lass myself) Icelandic, Nordic and Sandi – and taken on board some of their ideas such as Cosy Fridays (more on this in another blog) and I have more scandi cookbooks than I will ever need – and I am currently working my way through Nordic Cooking – a huge tome that is now battered and covered in cooking stains (spiced honey cake is a winner in our house) and if it doesn’t have dill on it for dinner I don’t want it!

I’m intrigued by Nordic customs such Bolludagur – Choux Bun Day instead of Pancake Day anyone? I was delighted to read about Jólabókaflóð (Yule Book Flood) a charming tradition of the Icelandic Christmas Book Flood. Icelanders exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading them. (Can we do this here please?)

It is a custom that started during World War II where imports were very restricted – limiting gift giving ideas – but paper  and books weren’t rationed so were easier to come by so the tradition of exchanging books arose as a result. So lovely. More often than not I’ll buy books for friends and family as Christmas gifts and have told them “if I love you I’ll buy you a book” and adore perusing book shops to find a book that suits the recipient. I love reading and receiving books – with a text message from my brother last week “It’s that time of year – what weird/arty book do you want this time?”

As my love for all things Nordic continues I have read only books with such theme, or are set somewhere north, or delve into Norse mythology – having had my very own mini Nordic book flood my reading list this year has included:

North by Bronte Aurell

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ragnarok by AS Byatt

The Gospel of Loki
The Testament of Loki
RuneMarks all by Joanne Harris

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Seal Woman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

Icelandic Folk Legends
The Little Book of the Hidden People both by Alda Sigmundsdóttir

I also have The 100 year old Man… Volsung and The Winter Book on my shelves to read in the New Year. I’m looking forward to catching Neil Gaimans’ “Norse Mythology” on Radio 4 over Christmas. I have really enjoyed my reading this year and was quite bereft upon finishing the series by Joanne Harris… so please if you have any scandi/Nordic reading suggestions for me please do let me know!