Book Review Club: Little Books About Iceland

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.

Little Book of Tourists coverThe 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.)

Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is located in a lava field in Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland – Photo by igorot, license from Deposit Photos.

Little Book of Icelandic coverThe 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.


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Linda’s Top 5 Places to Visit #MFRWAuthors Blog Challenge #travel

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This week’s prompt for the #MFRWAuthors Blog Challenge is Top 5 Places I’d Like to Visit. I seem to talk about travel a lot these days. So here’s my list:

1. The British Isles, ever and always on the top of my list. Yes, I’ve been there before, but I only saw a little bit of what is to offer on those little islands. I’d like to spend more time in the Scottish Highlands, see more of Ireland, the northern part of England, and I’d like to visit Wales, the only place I haven’t been to at all. I have roots in the British Isles and I feel sort of home there. Well, not at Urquart Castle, which is a picturesque ruin.

Urquart Castle, Loch Ness

Urquart Castle, Loch Ness

2. Germany, where the rest of my roots are. On my trip last fall, I got to see a bit of the Bavarian countryside as we drove from Prague to Regensburg to board out river boat. The next morning we had a short walking tour of this charming little city. The picture below doesn’t do it justice. I’d like to see a lot more of Germany, with at least a day cruise on the Rhine. Gotta see that Lorelei Rock before I push off into the great unknown.


Regensburg on the Danube with old stone bridge, Oct. 2016

3. Croatia. I’ve been dying to see Dubrovnik ever since I heard of it, and the Plitvice Lakes National Park looks absolutely stunning. I’d also like to continue to Slovenia to see Lake Bled and the capital city, Ljubljana.


Breathtaking sunset view in the Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)–© mpaniti

4. New Zealand. I went to Australia in my twenties, but missed New Zealand, which must have some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I’m thinking cruise.

Mt. Cook, New Zealand

Amazing Pukaki lake and Mt. Cook, New Zealand–© OlyPhotoStories

5. Iceland. I think it would be fascinating to visit such a remote, unique place. Maybe in the fall (if I think I can stand the temperature) because I’m dying to see the Aurora Borealis, and it will never be visible in Southern California. My friend Rebecca wants to go to Finland and spend a night in a glass igloo, and maybe we’ll get there some day.

 Kirkjufell Mountain

The landscape Kirkjufell Mountain on west of Iceland–© shirophoto

And of course there are loads of places in the US and Canada I’d like to see, for instance Glacier National Park. But I’m dreaming big today.

What five places would you like to visit?


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