Icelandic National League of North America Reads!

The Icelandic League of North America ( is interested in all things Icelandic. This blog is narrowing that focus, by looking for the book (fiction or non-fiction) that will be the initial work in our INL Reads project.

We are currently seeking nominations for the first book that we will read on a “continent-wide” basis. What work that focuses on the Icelandic experience, either in North America or in Iceland, would you nominate for our first read?

Help us understand why your nomination should be the literary work that we should all read. Does it describe a quintessential Icelandic experience? Is it rooted in the Icelandic psyche? Did you find a closer connection to “Icelandic-ness” by reading it? Did it uncover aspects of being Icelandic that you never understood before? Is it about the Icelandic experience in Iceland, or in other lands? Why does this work, above all others, need to be read and discussed?

Post your answers here and as the discussion continues, we will find the work that everyone will be talking about in 2011.

You only have a few months to consider a choice for submission. The work that will be read and discussed amongst the Icelandic community in North America will be announced at the annual Icelandic League of North America convention in Edmonton, Alberta on April 29, 2011.

Don’t hesitate to give us the title we will all read!

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7 Responses to Icelandic National League of North America Reads!

  1. Linda says:

    Independent People – Halldor Laxness

  2. Tad Davis says:

    A second for Linda’s suggestion. Independent People (Sjálfstætt Fólk) is probably the most quintessential work in Icelandic literature. I also like the idea that people could read it in Icelandic (if they can read Icelandic).

    Bestu kveðjur,

    Tad Davis

  3. Judy Wilson says:

    How will this work? I really want to participate, as I am a rather lonely Icelander in Nanaimo. Hopefully, we’ll have lots of time to obtain the book and read it before the discussion begins. I don’t own Independent People yet, but would love to vote for it for the online discussion. I’m also a bit limited in Nanaimo as to bookstores now, and would undoubtedly have to order it in from Chapters, which can take awhile:( They never seem to have Icelandic books on their shelves here.

    • Rob O says:

      Hi Judy, We are still working on organizing the read at the club level, and that process will take a bit of time. So I would say you have plenty of time to get your copy before we start getting into the read/discussion. In Canada, you also can go through Tergesen’s Store in Gimli. Their email is Their phone is 204-642-5958. I have started reading “Independent People” and can say that you have a fascinating read to look forward to!-Rob Olason

    • Tad Davis says:

      You can also order Icelandic books directly from the University of Iceland bookstore: Of course, the shipping charges are somewhat high.



  4. bookgirl53 says:

    I am not sure if I am commenting in the correct place or not. But, here goes. I have a really hard time reading Halldór Laxness in general. Not because I do not think his books are wonderful, or that he is not a good writer. I think he is an amazing writer. As in his other books, I found Independent People to cause me to feel the depths of despair. After I read a Laxness book, I generally feel like ‘slashing my wrists’. (Don’t worry, it is just a saying……).

    Many people tell me I am missing the humour in the books. I just can’t find it. Maybe I am missing something, or taking his stories the wrong way. Where was the humour in Independent People? When the first wife dies in childbirth? When women, other than the portly rich farmer’s wife, are taken with a grain of salt. Nobody listens to them, or gives them any credibility. Perhaps somebody could point out to me what I am missing. I know it must be something.

    What I DO believe is that Laxness has written, in his bookst that I have read, a true snapshot of Iceland under Danish rule. The poverty, and the hopelessness. He is truly a master writer, and definitely deserved the Nobel Prize. I have heard from someone who visited Iceland just after he received the Nobel Prize that many Icelanders resented him at that time. They resented him for presenting Icelanders as he did. I wonder if that is true.

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