books · Christmas

Happy “Jólabókaflóð” – an Icelandic tradition for book lovers at Christmas!

A few days ago my niece told me of a great Icelandic tradition called the “Jólabókaflóð” – literally, the Christmas Book Flood. Apparently Icelanders love books perhaps more than any other nation in the world, and every Christmas everyone will find at least one book under their Christmas tree. In fact, it’s a tradition in Iceland to open the books on Christmas Eve and spend all Christmas Eve reading and drinking hot chocolate. Can you think of anything more heavenly?

helena fairfax

I love the thought of Christmas being a time for books – although, now I come to think of it, my Christmas wishlist is always about books! There are two books on my Christmas list this year (fingers crossed Amazon’s little helpers will grant my wish :) )

The books are:

helena fairfax, elena ferranteMy Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.

I’m intrigued to read this book – the first in a series of Ferrante’s four “Neapolitan” novels – as her books have become a massive hit, even though the author has absolutely no “social platform” (as publishers love to call it). Ferrante isn’t on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress or Instagram. According to this Guardian article she’s the “literary sensation nobody knows.” I find her whole breakthrough fascinating. She has thousands of fans and I’m dying to read the first in her series.

Second on my wishlist is:

Journey to Britannia: From the Heart of Rome to Hadrian’s Wall, AD130, by Bronwen Riley

I’ve become fascinated by the history of Roman Britain since beginning to research a YA novel. Ibrownwen riley, helena fairfax went to listen to Bronwen Riley speak at the Ilkley Literature Festival, and she had me enthralled with her enthusiasm and her vast knowledge for this period. Here’s the blurb:

What awaits the traveller to Britannia? How will you get there? What do you need to pack? What language will you speak? How does London compare to Rome? Are there any tourist attractions? And what dangers lurk behind Hadrian’s new Wall?

Combining an extensive range of Greek and Latin sources with a sound understanding of archaeology, Bronwen Riley describes an epic journey from Rome to Hadrian’s Wall at Britannia’s – and the empire’s – northwestern frontier. In this strikingly original snapshot of Roman Britain, she brings vividly to life the smells, sounds, colours and textures of travel in the second century AD.

Sounds a great read!

I’ve just finished reading Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. At over 1,000 pages (with a small font!) Kristin Lavransdatter was no quick read, but I’d tell anyone not to be put off by its length or the fact that its author won such a weighty award. It was a brilliant read, gripping in parts, and (I mean this in the best way!) if you can imagine a Catherine Cookson saga set in the fourteenth century you’ll have some idea why I was gripped to the page.

helena fairfax, kristin lavransdatterHere’s a bit of the blurb, and you’ll see what I mean:

As a young girl, Kristin is deeply devoted to her father, a kind and courageous man. But when as a student in a convent school she meets the charming and impetuous Erlend Nikulaussøn, she defies her parents in pursuit of her own desires. Her saga continues through her marriage to Erlend, their tumultuous life together raising seven sons as Erlend seeks to strengthen his political influence, and finally their estrangement as the world around them tumbles into uncertainty.

This epic book took me a while to read (and by the way, I’d advise getting it as an ebook, and not the paperback – very heavy to lift when reading in bed!) I have lots of books waiting for me now on my Kindle, and I can’t wait to get started on them.

Here’s some more of my Christmas reading, in no particular order:

The Dream Catcher, by Marie Laval (part one of her Dancing for the Devil trilogy)

Deadly Undertaking, by JQ Rose

Murder by Fireworks, by Susan Bernhardt

The Highland Lass, by Rosemary Gemmell

Warm Hearts in Winter, by Helen Pollard

I’m itching to make a start on all of them!

Do you plan to read over the Christmas holidays (if you can find time)? If so, what’s on your Christmas wishlist? And what books will you be giving? I’d love to know, so please do leave me a comment if you can!

* * *

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year. I’ve had so much fun here, and met so many great people. I wish we could all actually sit down this Christmas Eve together and swap books – that would be brilliant!

Happy Jólabókaflóð to all of you, and a merry and peaceful Christmas!

10 thoughts on “Happy “Jólabókaflóð” – an Icelandic tradition for book lovers at Christmas!

  1. What a fabulous tradition in Iceland! And that’s a great wishlist, Helena – thank you for the mention of The Highland Lass in the books you hope to read soon. I’ve had my three and a half year old granddaughter to stay a couple of nights and she’s coming back for another stay next week – absolutely adorable but leaving me shattered! I hope to catch up on some extra reading, although I still read for quite a while every evening. Have a great Christmas.


    1. How lovely to have your granddaughter over Christmas, Rosemary. I expect there will be a lot of excitement in the family tomorrow morning! Thanks very much for dropping in today. Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas!


  2. This is indeed a lovely tradition. I would love to get lots of books – and some quiet time – to read at Christmas. I hope you are finding the time to write your YA novel. I must say that I can’t wait to read it. I wish you a lovely Christmas, Helena, and all the best for the New Year.


  3. Hope you get your wishlist, Helena – it’s lovely to know Warm Hearts in Winter is in the TBR pile :) Wishing you a merry Christmas and all the very best for 2016!


  4. Happy “Jólabókaflóð” to you too. (I would love to hear how that word is pronounced.) What an array of books on your wish list. Thank you for mentioning Deadly Undertaking. Hope you get a giggle and perhaps a tear while reading it. I have read some on the books on this list and have others on my TBR list.And yes, I’ll be reading during the holidays. I read almost every night of the year. Have a very Merry Christmas!!!


    1. Hi JQ, I just started reading Deadly Undertaking last night. It has a great beginning! looking forward to finding out whose responsible for the body in the garage. Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Thanks for dropping in!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.