There’s a meme that circulates on social media, endearing and inspiring readers scrolling through their feed:
This sounds, as the meme says, absolutely perfect. But this glimpse into Icelandic culture isn’t exactly factual. Truly, Iceland is a country of readers and bibliophiles. According to NPR, most Icelandic people buy several books a year compared to the rest of the world, who may only buy one. It is true that at the beginning of the holiday season, the Bokatidindi is released. This catalog contains all the new titles published in Iceland for the year. Icelanders consider the arrival of this catalog to be the first day of holiday book-buying, a tradition that started in WWII when paper giftware was the most easily imported due to strict currency restrictions. Since that time, books have been the most popular gift in Iceland. This practice is so prolific, it has its own name: Jolabokaflod, which translates to “Christmas book flood.”
In September 2018, my husband and I visited Iceland to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Despite the name of the country, this island is much more than ice, although you’ll find glacial lagoons and magical beaches covered in diamond-like ice sculptures. Iceland has it all: volcanoes, waterfalls, black sand beaches, and geothermal spas. And bookstores. We fell in love with the place, but we also discovered a culture that embraced legend and lore and shared their stories in writing. While not every inhabitant follows the practice promised in the meme, they are still in the thrall of old and new tales of the people and places of Iceland. Books and reading are central to Icelandic culture, where people are shaped by the landscape and thrive on connection.
So while the Icelandic people may not all open their books on Christmas Eve and drink hot cocoa in their pajamas, you can be sure there are a lot more of them doing this than those in America or England. I have tried to recreate this magical vision since our trip, gifting my family with books, and I encourage others to create their own Jolabokaflod. Lost Boys Press makes it incredibly easy to order a book for every member of your household. We’ve also got the comfy clothes and accessories you need to create a magical holiday celebration with your family in front of the fireplace with a steaming beverage.
Gifts for Mom:
Moms want to be pampered. Trust me on this. We love gifts that say, “I see you and know you wanted this.” Choose a Lost Boy Press title with a little bit of heart. I recommend Not Meant for Each Other. This book is not about happy endings, but it still puts love at the center. This gift says to your mom that you know she wants some romance, but she also knows life isn’t about perfection. Give this anthology to her on Christmas Eve along with a pair of Lost Boys Press leggings and an aromatherapy candle. If she tells you all to go away and let her relax, do it.
Gifts for Dad:
Dads are all about gifts that keep giving all year. They want tools and puzzles and gloves. Right? Lost Boys Press can help you find the right title for your dad, one he can enjoy for a good long read. Wrap up Ghost River for Dad under the tree. This epic title will be the perfect read, not just for Christmas Eve, but also for each night of the week that follows December 25th. This book will definitely help Dad escape for a while. Check in on him once in a while to make sure he makes it back safely from the setting of this horror novel. Accompany this book with the gift of a Lost Boys Press cap. Dad can wear it around the house for that lost week between Christmas and New Year and no one will notice his bedhead.
Gifts for Your Sibling:
They’re going through a rough time right now. Moody and withdrawn. No worries. Lost Boys Press has their Jolabokaflod gifts covered. Gift them both A Map to the Stars and The Garden of the Golden Children. These companion books will help them find a refuge with characters who struggle, but endure. Include a pair of Lost Boys Press holiday socks for some extra warmth and a hoodie so they can pull up the hood and hide for a while if they need to.
They are big readers and it’s hard to find just the right book this year. No worries. Lost Boys Press has you covered. Chimera is an anthology of short stories that celebrates the dual nature of the world we live in. They can curl up in front of the fire, sip on a hot beverage from their Lost Boys Press mug. Later on, they can journal in their new Lost Boys Press notebook, writing about their connection to the fantastical creatures in the stories they read.
Jolabokaflod can be more than a meme with help from your favorite independent press. After all, Lost Boys Press is the house built for stories, the perfect place to fill your holiday reading needs. From all of us, we wish you all the merriest of holidays, the happiest of seasons.
Emily Rozmus lives in rural Ohio in an old, haunted house, just one of the many she has lived in over the years. A former English teacher and school librarian, she has published non-fiction writing in School Library Connection, The Ohio Journal of English Language Arts, and on the Nerdy Book Club blog. She also reviewed children’s books for School Library Connection. Emily is drawn to gothic literature.