Xmas is all about reading books

Xmas is all about reading books

In the land of the Sagas, it isn’t Christmas if there isn’t a deluge of books under the tree – literally.
The Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood, is a much-loved tradition that has been celebrated in Iceland since 1945. Two-thirds of books in Iceland are published in November and December. On Christmas Eve, Icelanders traditionally exchange books and spend the evening reading – perhaps curling up by the fireside with the latest crime novels.

“Literature is very important in Iceland and it is, I guess, the art form that is something the whole public can relate to,” artist Sigrun Hrolfsdottir said.

The 2019 catalogue features 842 new titles. Almost seven out of 10 Icelanders buy at least one book as a Christmas gift, according to the Icelandic Publishers Association. Iceland’s literary tradition was born about 900 years ago with the Sagas, widely seen as a gem in world literature and still studied in school by Icelandic children today.

The Jolabokaflod dates back to the end of World War II, when Iceland, a poor country, imposed strict currency restrictions that limited imports. But paper remained affordable, so books became the Christmas gift of choice. The custom “has something to do with the importance of literature during the Icelandic fight for independence and the Icelandic search for identity: part of being an Icelander was to read books,” said Halldor Gudmundsson, an author and the former head of Iceland’s biggest publisher, Forlagid.

While books are increasingly being published at other times of the year, the Jolabokaflod remains crucial for the publishing industry, accounting for 40% of book sales in 2018, according to Statistics Iceland. The deluge of books can however make it difficult for authors to break through. “Unfortunately, so many good books just drown in the flood,” admits thriller writer Lilja Sigurdardottir.

Iceland may be the most sparsely populated country in Europe, but it publishes the most titles per capita behind Britain, according to the International Publishers Association. Around one in 10 Icelanders publishes a book in their lifetime. And they’re big readers. The country counts more than 83 libraries – one for every 4,300 inhabitants...Read more

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Xmas is all about reading books Xmas is all about reading books Reviewed by streakoggi on December 14, 2019 Rating: 5
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