Christmas Book Buzz

Who doesn’t love getting books for Christmas? Well, okay some people don’t like reading… What if you were an Icelandic person who didn’t like reading? What would you get on Christmas Eve?

Why would we ask ? Haven’t you heard about the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve? Yes, it is true, and it is such an engrained tradition that it causes a flood every year.

A Christmas Book Flood between September and December, or Jolabokaflod, as the Icelanders call it, when  a flood of books is needed to make sure that everyone can find the perfect books to give their friends and family for presents.

Luckily, this flood isn’t damaging and in this small country of 330,000 people there aren’t many non-readers. In fact, Icelanders are known for their love of reading and writing. There are more books published per capita than in any other country in the world!

It reminds us of that town in Norway which has more books than people. Haven’t you heard about that either?

Courtesy of andrea finazzi/instagram @andrefinaz

It’s called Mundal in Western Norway which has a people population of under 300, but a book population of 150,000! That’s more than 500 books per person and a lot of individual reading hours. Happily for this small hamlet, it is popular with tourists who usually take some of those books off the locals’ hands.

If you feel like visiting this beautiful area and picking up a few books on the way, then the best time to visit is from mid-May to June when the Solstice Book Fair is held. This early summer period also enjoys milder temperatures and increasing light which is a big difference to the 6 hours of sunlight during Norwegian winters.

Kind of reminds us of the 4 to 5 hours of sunlight Icelanders live with in deep winter. No wonder both these beautiful countries have book-loving citizens. With so little sunlight and cold temperatures for a good part of each year, it is tempting to curl up by a crackling fire with a good book.

If you love engaging books and beautiful scenery, then a visit to either of them is a good bet. In fact, Travel + Leisure proclaimed Iceland as their Reader’s Choice Destination of the Year for 2018 with over 14% of the vote. It is not surprising with the unique scenery, thermal hot pools and friendly locals luring tourists to the country. So many lured tourists, that each year they outnumber citizens!

Courtesy of Wild Spin of the World

Norway in contrast has always been a popular tourist destination with Fjærlands, the area surrounding Mundal, a must-see. Where the longest fjord in Norway meets impressive glaciers and of course thousands of books, visitors find the scenery, local hospitality and historic Hotel Mundal a worthwhile stop.

So, the message is clear. Iceland and Norway? Perfect vacations for bibliophile travellers that long to be outnumbered by books!

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