Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I long to be in Iceland. Why Iceland? It’s cold enough in Northeast Ohio, and the plane tickets are crazy expensive. But, you see, Iceland has without question the coolest Christmas Eve tradition ever.


The Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly as Christmas Book Flood, is a tradition that dates back to the end of WWII, when books were some of the few presents the people of Iceland could afford to give each other. Still today, 7 out of 10 people in the country will buy someone a book for Christmas, and they don’t wait until Christmas Day to give them. Books are usually exchanged on Christmas Eve, and folks then spend most of the night diving into their new books. In other words, a Librarian’s dream Christmas.

The Jolabokaflod, in fact, is such a big deal in the country that two-thirds of all books published in Iceland every year are published in November or December. I honestly can’t imagine what my physical To Be Read pile would look like on December 24 if I lived in Iceland, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind finding out.

So, how can you participate here in North Canton? Well, obviously, you could run to the store and buy books for everyone on your list. But barring that, you can definitely swing by the library today, where we’re open until 8 pm, and checkout books by an Icelandic author. (If you can’t make it in, these authors are also available on ebook and e-audio.) Like so much Scandinavian literature today, the Icelandic authors specialize in mystery and crime, so if you want a Christmas thrill, you could try:

Ragnar Jónasson

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

And my favorite (and Iceland’s best selling author)
Arnaldur Indriðason


PS Find out even more about Jolabokaflod here.

One response to “Book Flood”

  1. Niki says:

    Dear Sheila: I think I’m going to start a new tradition next year! Thank you for this info.

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