Get ready for Jólabókafló∂ – the Christmas book flood

Flooding friends and family with books.


Are you looking for a fresh Christmas/holiday tradition that inspires quiet contemplation and maybe even conversation? How about indulging in the Icelandic custom of Jólabókafló∂.

WHAT IS Jólabókafló∂.?

This Icelandic word, which is pronounced yola boka flod, can be translated to English as the ‘Christmas book flood.’This tradition began during World War II when paper was one of the few things that was more affordable and available, allowing books to become the preferred gift for most Icelanders.

Because a year-round publishing industry was not feasible, Iceland Publishers Association started the annual ‘flood’ in November by releasing and distributing Bokatidindi. This is a book catalogue of every book published in Iceland, and was distributed to every household in Iceland. The gifting of physical books to family members on Christmas Eve is an important part of of this literary tradition.

Luckily, we don’t have to wait until November to consider what books to gift to friends and family. With the vast selection and availability of used and new books, you can start matching titles with all those names on your gift list. And, there are eclectic genres to tantalize the pickiest readers, but there are also books for those who don’t want to read.

Suggestions and reviews of titles (classic and other).

This list includes titles for people who might want to use books to decorate their coffee table, splatter with ingredients as they cook, (or glue as they make art), or use as historical reference or art inspiration. 

Mystery: My review of Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Buy Eight Perfect Murders.

Classic collection of short stories: My review of Roald Dahl Omnibus

Buy the book.

Writing: My review of Still Writing by Dani Shapiro and Write Away by Elizabeth George. 

Buy Still Writing and/or Write Away.

Cooking: My review of Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang

Buy the book.

Children’s: Flotsam by Dave Weisner (for children to ‘read’ for themselves) and The Children’s Book of Virtues  by William J. Bennett (for adults to read to children).

Classic literary thriller: Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 

Literary horror by Asian authors:  Check out my reviews on The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun and The Vegetarian by Han Kang .

Buy The Hole and/or The Vegetarian

Art Journaling: A World of Artists’ Journal Pages: 100 pages, 220 Artist, 30 Countries

Travel Photographic Journey: 100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Underwater Destinations 



There are so many more titles to consider so check back for future lists and reading suggestions.

In the meantime, start making your list of naughty and nice Jólabókafló∂ recipients and titles that will appeal to their tastes and interests.

Please leave a comment if you celebrate this tradition or have any ideas on titles and genres for those who love and hate to read, and would enjoy being part of this Icelandic tradition.

Happy gifting and reading!