Jolabokaflod

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What Jólabókaflóð means to me: Gerður Kristný

gerdur-kristny-1Here is the first article in our Icelandic Perspectives series of reflections by famous writers and prominent public figures on their memories, thoughts, opinions  and anecdotes about the long-standing national tradition of Jólabókaflóð.

The first writer to feature in the series is award-winning poet, playwright, biographer and novelist, Gerður Kristný.

Read Gerður’s personal take on the Christmas Book Flood – ‘Deck the Halls with Books‘ – and compare her thoughts with her compatriots’ reflections as they are published in the Icelandic Perspectives section of this website.


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When Jo met Beatrix

Waterstoneswaterstones-logo have announced their shortlist for Book of the Year 2016, an eclectic mix of styles, genres and voices. Here are the six books they have chosen:

  • Christopher De Hamel, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
  • Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
  • Emma-Jane Kirby, The Optician of Lampedusa
  • Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent
  • Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Kitty in Boots
  • J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II

Have you read these books? Do you love them enough to recommend them to other people?

If so, check out our Book Bulletin crowdfunding campaign and get your name into the Christmas catalogue on this website, to promote you, your organisation and/or your projects.


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Hygge and Jolabokaflod

story-tellingAt this time of doom, gloom and austerity, we are all in need of learning about what makes us happy. With nifty commercial nous, publishers have spotted an opportunity to haul us out of our malaise and depression: the Danish concept of hygge.

What is hygge?

The reason books have been written on the subject is because hygge does not have a direct translation equivalent in English. As Winnie-th-Pooh tells Piglet. ‘You don’t spell it [love], you feel it’. Here are some approximations, suggested by Meik Wiking in his recent book, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well:

  • red-bk-mid-left‘the art of creating intimacy’
  • ‘cosiness of the soul’
  • ‘the absence of annoyance’
  • ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things’
  • ‘cocoa by candlelight’

He gives by example an idyllic scene, to describe the experience. Imagine a group of friends, retired to the lounge of a ski chalet after an excellent meal, sipping hot, percolated coffee and liqueurs in comfy armchairs next to a roaring log fire – oblivious to the snow blizzard doing its worst outside. Hygge suggests a sense of warmth and comfort in the throes of the worst the world can throw at us.

Iceland int; woman readingIs Jolabokaflod hygge?

In the Utopic scene above, imagine that the friends are on holiday in Iceland and it is Christmas Eve. The friends have just eaten an amazing Christmas meal to mark the festive season and are settling into their armchairs to open their presents, some of which are books. The friends spend the rest of the evening – Christmas Eve – exchanging intelligent conversation, drinking mulled wine and reading.

This is Jokabokaflod in action: a prime example of a hygge tradition.


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Timely success for The Icelanders Cometh

sunlightMoney raised

The finally tally of contributions for The Icelanders Cometh was £2365.00, 103% of the target set of £2304.16, raised by the final end date, 25 October 2016. This means that all the money raised – all £2365.00 – will be given to libraries in the UK who sign up to receive the free books on offer. Details of the participating libraries will be published as soon as they are confirmed.

Everyone who made a contribution will be contacted in the next few days regarding the claiming of the rewards they purchased to help fund the crowdfunding campaign.

Public concern for libraries

The Icelanders Cometh project ran in the context of widening concern about the state of the library sector. A major debate on the issue in the House of Lords on 7 October 2016 was notable for a powerful speech by Big Issue founder, Lord Bird, who spoke with passion and apprehension about the effects of making cuts to the public library service.

Further publicity will be garnered by a march – the National Libraries Demonstration – which is scheduled for 5 November 2016: starting at the British Library, pit-stopping at the British Museum, and finishing at the National Gallery. The Demonstration aims to ‘kick start the debate about the value of public libraries and alert the public to the ever worsening situation’, according to its organisers.

The future

The Jolabokaflod Book Campaign will continue to use crowdfunding to help libraries, by running projects in-house and by encouraging people with passion to use the patch at CrowdPatch to organise their own campaigns. The Icelanders Cometh is only the start: they – and we – are here is stay.