I get a lot of e-mails from different people that want me to promote their books or products on the blog. Sometimes they offer me money, most often they don’t, but all these requests get the same answer: I’m sorry but I just don’t do that. I don’t want to write product reviews – it’s boring and the thought of doing it feels strange to me. Especially when it’s something I would never buy myself. Like that one time this web shop wanted me to write about their clothing line but because their numbers are tiny (it’s obviously their fault, it’s not because my butt is too big *cough*) I couldn’t actually fit into any of it. It just felt silly.
Writing about tours that I try out is different somehow. If you are traveling to Iceland it’s likely that you are going to be trying out some tours and at least it’s valuable to know whether the particular tour you’re considering is good or not. And book reviews from someone that doesn’t have any time to read, me that is, just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I got Burial Rights in the mail when it first came out, for example, and it’s still on my nightstand and I’ve read about 10 pages in total. Everyone says it’s amazing but I just never find the time to read it. It’s on my todo list though, with about a million and seven other things.
Because of this it’s kind of ironic that this post is indeed about books that I think you should read. At least I acknowledge that I’m being inconsistent. I will say though that I own all of these books myself and I bought them with my own money. So at least that’s something. I hope. Hashtag, sellout?
Anyway. I just wanted to tell you about these great little books by a local author, Alda Sigmundsdóttir, who’s a blogger like myself. I’ve known of her since her early days of blogging, when I had another blog myself that was somewhat popular and we shared a lot of readers, and although we’re not friends (everyone does not know everyone in Iceland – just so you know) we have actually met for coffee once and even spoke of cooperating on some projects. It never amounted to anything though because we’re both pretty busy ladies.
She self-publishes most of these (if not all at this point) and they are written in this informal blog-like style which I think makes them great. I also like the fact that although she’s an Icelander she spent a lot of time living outside of Iceland so in a way she approaches things both as an insider and a outsider. If that’s even possible. Finally, I think it’s cool to support other local female entrepreneurs. In any case, these books are good and you should check them out. I recommend them to the guests on my tours all the time.
They’re also good because they really are little books so even the busiest bees can find time to get through them.
The Little Book of the Icelanders
In the Little Book of The Icelanders Alda tries to explain what Icelandic people are all about and what it is that makes them tick. And she does a pretty good job if it too. In fact at times I felt like I had written this book myself because it touches on many of our quirks that I’ve been sharing with people throughout the years. I also like it because you don’t have to read if from the beginning to the end – you can just read a chapter here and there. Which is probably why I finished all of it – it didn’t take a long term commitment like some of the books I’m currently trying to read (read: the books that are on my nightstand taunting me).
This one is my favorite.
The Little Book of the Icelanders in the old days
I must admit that I haven’t finished this one but what I’ve read I like. In this one Alda tells you all about The Icelanders in the old days (duh) with stories of everything from superstition to dental care. Icelandic people had itpretty rough back in the day and like Alda says herself ,in the book somewhere, it’s a wonder how anyone survived. But like Icelanders today, the Icelanders in the old day were kinda quirky and definitely made the most of what they had. What I like about this book and all of Alda’s books is that even though it’s a bit of history it’s not of the stuffy kind that nobody (OK, me) want’s to read.
The Little Book of The Hidden People
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of how the folklore has been used to sell Iceland as this weird place with even weirder people that talk to elves all day. Yes, we have some stories of elves and hidden people but you learn about them in school and then you live a mostly elf-free life. Unless you work in tourism, that is. So I was very happy when Alda published this book and I could point people towards it when asked about the elves. In this book she tries to explain where these stories come from and why they are important to us. She also presents a few stories of elves and hidden people that are short and concise and then she even gives some notes on each story about specifics you need to know to fully understand the story. Lots of useful and interesting tidbits.
The Little Book of Icelandic
The Little Book of Icelandic is the newest book in the series that just came out recently. It’s my bus book of the moment and is genius as such because my bus ride is very short so the short essays work perfectly. In this book Alda is focusing on our language but I think the byline says it all: On the idiosyncrasies, delights and sheer tyranny of the Icelandic language. She talks a little bit about it’s origin, the grammar, some useful phrases and then she spends quite some time with Icelandic idioms and proverbs that often are quite the head-scratchers. Ásta was particularly interested in this one since she goes over many of these things in her Icelandic courses (but her crash course comes with cake – this book doesn’t). Even though Alda is often explaining complicated things the informal style she writes in makes the task of understanding it a lot less daunting (or so I would imagine, of course Icelandic comes pretty naturally to me). These books are also just kind of funny and very interesting.
It’s quite obvious from the evidence above that I don’t write a lot of book reviews but whether you want to learn more about Icelanders and Icelandic as part of your Iceland research or you’re just obsessed with everything Icelandic (common, you know who you are) these books should definitely be on your reading list.
You can buy these books in most bookstores in Iceland once you arrive or you can get them on Amazon if you want to read them before your trip.