Friday, 14 June, 2024

With all those dramatic volcanoes and glaciers, Iceland has become known as the Land of Fire and Ice. But we like to think of it as the Land of Legends and Poetry, a place to go adventuring with your extrovert pals, then curl up with a great book and a cozy sweater for some epic introverting.

Literature is baked into Icelandic culture, starting with the Sagas and carrying through medieval warrior poets to today: The capital city of Reykjavík is a designated UNESCO City of Literature and home to both the Iceland Writers Retreat and the Iceland Noir Festival.

When you’re ready to explore the island, start in the capital for fancy cocktails, the vibrant food scene, and friendly locals. Then hit the road — the Ring Road — to circumnavigate the island and see fantastical sites along the way: volcanoes and lava fields, waterfalls and glaciers, puffins and horses with emo bangs, the black church and dramatic sea cliffs — plus northern lights, turquoise-colored hot springs, a troll or two, and wee elf houses.

our podcast

In this episode, we dig into the charming idiosyncrasies of the Icelandic language, get real about Vikings, and celebrate powerful Icelandic women. We also recommend five great books that transported us there on the page, including including two nonfiction books that explore what makes Iceland so badass, a Gothic novel rife with witchcraft and secrets, a family saga-travelogue mashup, and a chilly slab of Icelandic noir with a formidable lady detective. (show notes / transcript)

recommended books

The Island

buy | read review

How Iceland Changed the World

buy | read review

The Glass Woman

buy | read review

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

buy | read review

The Tricking of Freya

buy | read review

Top image courtesy of Pakorn Chunhaswasdikul/Shutterstock.

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featured posts

The sales pitch for Iceland could just be a list of awesome words: Emo Horses, Elf Houses, Warrior Poets, Northern Lights, Torquoise Hot Springs. It's the Land of Fire and Ice — and friendly people and great books.
The flavors of Iceland reflect its terrain: tangy skyr, silky smoked salmon, grassy herbs; everything is fresh, vibrant, and local. Inspired by Icelandic breakfast, this dish brings a taste of Iceland to your table.
What makes an already fantastic place even better? A bookshop, of course. And when it's a lovingly preserved historic shop with a friendly bookseller (in tweed) with stunning views out the windows, we're all in.
Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, but we like to think of it as the Land of Legends and Poetry. Its dramatic landscape, Viking history, and rich folklore make it a great setting for all kinds of stories.

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