The tradition of Jolabokaflod

With so many good books and so little time, the Icelandic tradition of gifting a book on Christmas Eve and reading it immediately is a book lover’s dream. 

Many countries have Christmas traditions but Iceland has the main one regarding reading. Jolabokaflod loosely translates as ‘Christmas book flood,’ and has been an Icelandic custom since the Second World War. Unlike many items during this period, paper wasn’t rationed so books became popular Christmas gifts. This tradition has continued and people gift books on Christmas Eve, cosy up with a hot chocolate and read. 

Iceland is a proud nation of book lovers and a book catalogue full of recommendations is sent to every home in November. We may not receive an annual catalogue but Christmas is a time of year where you often have the inclination to snuggle up with a good read. It is also a great opportunity to choose a book or two for yourself or your family. 

The beauty of books is they stand the test of time, so a mix of genres and new and old titles is a good idea. Here are five recommendations.

  • Fiction: Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro

The first book since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Klara and the Sun is a story of a dystopian futuristic world where robots become companions for selected children. The beautiful prose gently raises thought-provoking questions that will have you thinking long after the book has ended. 

  • Memoir: The Salt Path, Raynor Winn

A moving and inspiring memoir of how a couple lose everything and embark on a 630 mile coastal walk. Follow their highs and lows as they discover record levels of resilience, the beauty of nature and the joy of each other. 

  • Cooking: Sea & Shore: Recipes and Stories from a Kitchen in Cornwall, Emily Scott

Emily’s restaurant is a favourite in Cornwall and in her first book published earlier this year, she shares her passion for ‘simple, seasonal cooking with beautiful ingredients.’ This book is filled with awe-inspiring photography, an insight into her ethos and background, and of course delicious recipes. 

  • Lifestyle: Simple Matters: Living with less and ending up with more, Erin Boyle

If you like the idea of slow living, organising and decluttering but don’t know where to start, this book is for you. Focusing on ‘living small,’ this attractive book offers practical advice and realistic habits to help you live with less, love what you have and free up time for things you enjoy. 

  • Interiors: Hans Blomquist In Detail: Inspiring ideas for creative interiors, Hans Blomquist

Swedish art director and stylist Hans Blomquist takes us through his inspiration for transforming your home into a creative and inspiring space. Themed chapters cover nature, colour and textiles to name but a few topics. The photography of even the smallest items is breathtaking and pure interior escapism. 

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