Iceland has become one of the most popular travel destinations in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. The country’s unique landscape of unspoiled lava fields and waterfalls, rolling hills, and the northern lights in Iceland are sure to transport you to another world—and Icelanders have preserved their customs and traditions while embracing modernity with open arms. But what books can you read before your trip that will not only bring you up-to-speed on Iceland’s history but will also give you an idea of what to expect when you finally arrive? Keep reading for our top five picks.
5 Books to Transport You to Iceland
Book 1 – The Blue Fox
The Blue Fox, a novel by Sjon, is a work of fiction with Norse mythology and Icelandic folklore as its central themes. The book follows the story of a Danish poet who travels to Iceland during the winter and meets a strange man. The two become friends and make an incredible journey together. Their connection is so deep that when the Dane leaves, he becomes homesick for this mysterious stranger from an icy land. The novel explores themes such as fate, love, death, and beauty; it also paints pictures of breathtaking landscapes that are both bleak and beautiful at the same time. It’s not only fiction readers who will enjoy this story; anyone interested in Scandinavian culture or Nordic art will be drawn into Sjon’s world of mystery, magic, and adventure.
Book 2 – Under the Glacier
Under the Glacier is an amazing novel by Halldor Laxness, one of the most famous Icelandic writers. The book follows a family’s life in the small town of Gljúfurárstadur as they struggle to make ends meet during the Great Depression. It is a story about their day-to-day struggles and what it’s like living under an active glacier. Halldor Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955 and this book is often referred to as his masterpiece. It was originally published in 1942 and has been translated into English numerous times by various translators.
Book 3 – 101 Reykjavik
One of the best-selling books about Reykjavik is 101 Reykjavik. This book, written by author Dougie Gordon, tells the story of a man who moves from London to Reykjavik with his family. He has just sold his business and is looking for a fresh start in life. The book chronicles his journey through Icelandic culture as he navigates life with his wife and two children. It was first published in 2002, but after it was translated into English it became popular around the world. In 2008 it was voted one of Amazon’s Top 100 Travel Books and ranked number 3 on Travellers’ Favourite Travel Memoirs list.
Book 4 – Independent People
The first book of the saga is Independent People, published in 1930. Written in Icelandic, it tells the story of a family of tenant farmers who is struggling to make ends meet after their wealthy patron dies. The novel’s descriptions of the harsh realities of life for Icelanders at the turn of the century made it a literary sensation and a runaway bestseller in Europe and America.
Book 5 – The Promise of Iceland
The Promise of Iceland is a memoir by the Icelandic author, Jón Kalman Stefánsson. It is a deeply personal story of the beauty and darkness of life on the remote island of Heimaey, Jón’s childhood home in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago off the South Coast of Iceland. The book tells how he came to be a writer and his struggle to find his own voice as an artist in a society that prizes conformity. He writes about living with blindness and deafness since birth and about being struck by the most savage case of childhood rheumatic fever that anyone had seen.