Looking for something to read while in Iceland?
Why not read Icelandic literature?
Some would say that The Sagas are the best known works of Icelandic literature. The Sagas were written in medieval times, starting in the 13th century. The term saga (pl. Sögur) originates from Old Norse (Icelandic language) and means: (1) ‘what is said, statement’ or (2) ‘story, tale, history’.
These stories where based on oral traditions, being passed from one generation to another.. It wasn´t until later that The Sagas were written down. Because of this the accuracy of The Sagas has often been disputed.
Maybe you think The Sagas are a little bit too heavy as a bedtime story (with all the blood feuds, deaths and what not!). So let´s jump ahead in time and see what else Icelandic literature can offer.
We created our very own top 5 list of Icelandic books we are more than happy to recommend.
- I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
It´s impossible to make a list like this one and not mention the Queen of Crime, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Yrsa knows what she´s doing when it comes to writing a good crime novel so we could really put any of her books on this list. I Remember You tells the story of three friends renovation a rundown house in a remote location. Soon they realize they are not as alone as they thought.
It´s a thriller that will leave you shivering!
2. Heaven and Hell by Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Heaven and Hell tells the story of a young boy and his friend. The two friends go out to sea to fish for cod when a winter storm surprises them. We are very careful not to say too much about the storyline because it simply is a piece of art that you have to read yourself. The story is perfectly formed, lyrical in style and as intense a reading experience as the forces of the Icelandic landscape themselves.
3. Reply to a letter from Helga by Bergsveinn Birgisson
Reply to a letter from Helga tells the story of Bjarni, an old farmer who has held onto a letter from Helga, his former lover. Bjarni was married when his relationship with Helga started and willing to leave his wife for Helga. As the years have passed Bjarni looks back on a long and simple life and his relationship with Helga.
4. Angels of the Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson
Angels of the Universe is truly a masterpiece. It is a tragic comedy about a young man with a mental illness. We follow him through the ups and downs of his illness, surreal situations he gets himself in and his paranoia with the whole world. The story is based on the family life of the author, Einar Már Guðmundsson but his brother is the role model for the main character.
5. Lovestar by Andri Snær Magnason
We have to admit, LoveStar is a little bit (ok a lot!) out there. It´s a dystopian novel, set in a future where giant corporation controls the lives of people based on personal data that has been gathered. Love is simply a matter controlled by algorithms. Sounds frightening doesn´t it? But when it comes to it LoveStar is really just a very unconventional love story that takes place in the stunning Icelandic landscape.
You should be able to find all of these books at the nearest bookstore in Iceland.
P.S. We would love to hear your feedback