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.
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)
Top image courtesy of Pakorn Chunhaswasdikul/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.