Saturday, April 2, 2022

the last book I ever read (Eliza Reid's Secrets of the Sprakkar, excerpt six)

from Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World by Eliza Reid:

Aside from individual sensations like impish singer Björk, on the occasions when people devote thought to Iceland’s contribtions to global culture, most think of its literary heritage. The sagas have inspired creative minds from Wagner to Tolkien.

They have inspired many modern-day Icelanders too. Several sources claim one in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetimes (though it would be more accurate to caveat this statistic to publishing something, even a letter to the editor). Books are the most popular Christmas presents, and a large majority of the year’s batch is accordingly published from mid-October to mid-December, beginning when the early anticipated Book News catalog of the year’s offerings is delivered to households around the country. Thankfully, this remains the case; the Icelandic idiom blind is the bookless man warns us all of the fates of those who lack something to read over the holidays. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, during what’s known as the Christmas book flood, authors and poets fill their days with readings and other events in bookstores, workplaces, and even outdoor swimming pools. Many former homes of writers are now museums situated around the country, from the ancestral land of the thirteenth century’s Snorri Sturluson, who is credited with composing several influential medieval manuscripts, to the ‘60s-chic sunken living room and outdoor swimming pool (a rarity in Iceland) of Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness.

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