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Books

Gory Ghost Story: I Remember You

In her previous books, Icelandic crime author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir has danced on the line between the supernatural and reality but in I Remember You , published for the English-language market to much critical acclaim in 2012, she throws logical explanations out the window and gives free rein to...

The Greenhouse

Part road novel, part bildungsroman , Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir’s The Greenhouse is a meditative story of love, death, fatherhood, and creating meaning in life even when it seems to be entirely dictated by chance.

Victims of Megalomania: Season of the Witch

The fourth book in Icelandic author Árni Þórarinsson’s crime series featuring Einar the journalist, Season of the Witch (2005), is now available in English, published as an eBook by AmazonCrossing. The book centers on greed, megalomania, domination and their horrific consequences and despite some...

Into the North

Into the North – Live well, eat well – the Icelandic way takes the reader on a personal journey through the seasons to discover the rich culinary culture of Iceland.

Spellbound: On the Cold Coasts

Vilborg Davíðsdóttir is one of my absolute favorite Icelandic authors. Her first novel to appear in English, On the Cold Coasts , set in 15th century Iceland, was released earlier this year. It is a love story in the backdrop of a culture clash and struggle with English fishermen, the constraints...

Enough Drama! Black Skies

Black Skies is the tenth book in Arnaldur Indriðason’s Detective Erlendur series. This time the star of the show is absent and the focus is on Sigurður Óli, Erlendur’s young associate, who has so far been on the sidelines. Much to my dismay, it is not the case that Sigurður Óli is working on that...

Can You Capture the Colors of Iceland?

Iceland – Colours + Patterns by Jón Ásgeir Hreinsson is a sample of colors based on photographs of Iceland that are supposed to represent the variety of shades that can be seen in the country’s nature and urban areas. On the flipside are close-ups of grass, mud, waves and buildings that create...

The Profusion of the Meandering Mind: From the Mouth of the Whale

From the Mouth of the Whale is Sjón’s second novel to be published in English. Set in 17th-century Iceland, the novel features Jónas Pálmason the Learned, a self-taught healer who is exiled for blasphemy and sorcery to desolate Gullbjörn’s Island. Jónas’s story is told in a stream of consciousness...

What Caused the Collapse? On Thin Ice

In On Thin Ice – A Modern Viking Saga About Corruption, Deception and the Collapse of a Nation (2011), Icelandic economist Jón F. Thoroddsen attempts to shed light on what led to the collapse of Iceland’s three largest banks in 2008. Most of this I’ve heard before, yet stories of insider trading,...

Tell Me More: The Odd Saga of the American and a Curious Icelandic Flock

EE Ryan, the author of The Odd Saga of the American and a Curious Icelandic Flock , is a good storyteller who made some funny observations about Icelandic culture during his stay in the country, which he incorporated into his interesting, if a little incomplete, tale of Alex Welch, a young American...

Fleeting Borders of Good and Evil: The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning

The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning by celebrated Icelandic author Hallgrímur Helgason turned out to be deeper and more entertaining than I expected. When a passionate New York-based Croatian hitman, codename Toxic, ends up in Iceland by coincidence he tries to become a better man while reflecting...

Unsuspecting Gem: Six Days in Iceland

Six Days in Iceland containing poems by Alyson Hallett and geological descriptions by Professor Chris Caseldine, complemented with a small selection of nature photographs by a group of students turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable read. Some of the poems are a tad humorous, others a tinge...

Conspirational Joyride: Operation Napoleon

The political thriller Operation Napoleon by Icelandic crime author Arnaldur Indriðason takes a different course than his popular Detective Erlendur series. Revolving around a World War II conspiracy theory, Arnaldur keeps readers glued, makes them feel for the characters and cry out in surprise as...

World Turned Upside Down: Gunnlöth’s Tale

Gunnlöth’s Tale by Svava Jakobsdóttir is told by a middle-aged upper-class Icelandic woman who is stranded in Copenhagen because her rebellious daughter Dís was arrested there. While trying to have her daughter freed she gets caught up in Dís’s incredible account of what happened, which seems to be...

Rollercoaster of an Adventure: Kingdom of Trolls

Kingdom of Trolls , which takes place in Iceland and is partially based on Icelandic legends, is part of the MiddleGate Books children adventure series by Canadian author/illustrator Rae Bridgman. The Icelandic part of the book was fun and original but other aspects felt uncomfortably similar to...

A Voyage into the Past: Square Sails and Dragons

Square Sails and Dragons is a historical novel by American author Celia Lund set in an Icelandic settlement in Greenland around the year 1000 AD, featuring an adventurous voyage to Norway. The gradual buildup of excitement—albeit not particularly intense—was enjoyable, as were the vivid characters...

In the Eye of the Beholder: Iceland 360° – The Top Ten Places

Iceland 360° – The Top Ten Places is a bilingual, Icelandic-English, photo book by Vilhelm Gunnarsson where he introduces us to his ten most favorite places in Iceland. I won’t dispute the beauty of these places but I don’t find their selection particularly original as they include the country’s...

River of Evil Running Through Little Iceland

As a first time reader of Arnaldur Indridason, and somewhat prejudiced in my disposition to crime novels, I was not quite sure what to expect from Outrage. However, Indridason managed to catch me by surprise; the combination of an intricate plot, the author’s own presence in the novel, and an...

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sigurbjörg – To Bleed Straight

Sigurbjörg Thrastardóttir is among Iceland’s most accomplished young poets. to bleed straight , a collection of her poetry with English translations by Bernard Scudder and illustrations by Marta María Jónsdóttir, confused me, which might very well be the author’s intention. Some of her poems seem...

The Magic of Seal Woman

Seal Woman , a novel by Solveig Eggerz that tells the story of Charlotte, a German World War II widow who moves to Iceland to work on a farm, had me spellbound. Eggerz’s style is flowing and poetic and the descriptions vivid. I could picture Berlin in detail and feel and breathe Charlotte’s joy and...

True Story: The Little Book of the Icelanders

Iceland’s leading lady of the blogosphere, two-time Bloggie nominee Alda Sigmundsdóttir of The Iceland Weather Report, provides both fans of her blog and the uninitiated with honest and funny stories about her countrymen in her second eBook, The Little Book of the Icelanders , where she explores...

Sugar Sweet: A Place Called Hecla

A Place Called Hecla , Doris Benson’s debut and the first book in a trilogy, is the story of a fictional family in a very real place, Hecla Island in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. With a sweet and straightforward plot, the characters may not be the book’s strongest asset but the island itself...

Authentically Icelandic: Where the Shadows Lie

The first thing I check when I read books about Iceland by foreign authors is the authenticity. Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath passed the test, although the main character, an Icelandic-born American cop, did strike me as stereotypical. While the washed-out American connection turned me...

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