Over the summer I read two “Little Books” about Iceland to prepare for my upcoming trip. As you read this, I will be touring Iceland.
A note to my review club friends: I will be in a remote area of Iceland today, so please don’t be offended if I fail to comment on your own excellent reviews! I promise to make up for it next month.
The Little Book of Tourists in Iceland: Tips, tricks, and what the Icelanders really think of you by Alda Sigmundsdottir
Little Books Publishing, Reykjavik, 2017
Essays about the effects of the tourism boom on Iceland, what Icelanders really think of the tourists, and what you should and should not do as a tourist.
I’d especially recommend this book for independent travelers. People on a tour should have a professional who can educate them about the country and keep them out of danger. But there are a lot of pitfalls for independent tourists who rent a car or hike around the countryside, oblivious to the dangers of an extreme northern climate. You learn things like don’t jump on ice floes (duh!), beware of rip tides if you swim in the ocean, and don’t leave your car parked half off the road while you gawk at the northern lights. That’s a good way to cause a car accident. And if you go to a thermal spa, like the Blue Lagoon, or swimming pool, you have to take a full, naked shower before going in. (No chlorine in the water.)
The Little Book of Icelandic: On the Idiosyncrasies, Delights and Sheer Tyranny of the Icelandic Language by Alda Sigmundsdottir
Little Books Publishing, Reykjavik, 2016
I set out to learn a little Icelandic before the trip, but quickly realized I was in over my head. Icelandic is a seriously difficult language, and this book explains why that it.
Alda Sigmundsdottir is a native Icelander who lived for a while in Canada, which makes her a good person to explain Icelandic to foreigners. Basically, if you didn’t grow up speaking Icelandic, and don’t have a year to learn it, don’t bother. Most Icelanders speak English anyway.
I did enjoy the section on idioms. A few examples, translated, of course:
Everyone has their own devil to drag (or cross to bear)
Walk slowly through the door of mirth (Have fun in moderation)
To splash from your cloven heels (Kick up your heels)
Peeing in your shoe won’t keep you warm for long (Don’t count on short-term solutions)
Stupid is a child raised at home (expand your horizons)
Beached whale (windfall)
And my favorite: Blind is the man who has no book
I’ll post a blog about the trip when I get back.
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.