Our Favorite Holiday Tradition: Iceland's Christmas Book Flood

Posted by Hayley on December 24, 2018


In our perfect world, every present underneath the Christmas tree would be readable. So this year take a page from Iceland's book and celebrate Jólabókaflóð.

What is Jólabókaflóð—and how do you pronounce it? The Icelandic word translates roughly into English as "Christmas book flood" and is pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot. It refers to the country's traditional publishing peak: The majority of books in Iceland are sold between late September and early November, just in time for the holidays.

And the best part of Jólabókaflóð happens on Christmas Eve. "The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday," says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. "Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading."

That sounds like holiday perfection to us. Now we just have to convince our family members and friends to embrace the magic of Jólabókaflóð. Here are some of Goodreads members' favorite books to read during the holidays to get you started.

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Do you have any bookish holiday traditions? Share them with us in the comments!

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Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Doug (new)

Doug Glenning Such a great tradition! This one is new to us this year but we all enjoyed it!


message 2: by Thebooktrail (new)

Thebooktrail Such a wonderful tradition that we should all spread around the world! All about the booklove . Reading a book set in Iceland now to celebrate this clever country !


message 3: by Sophie (new)

Sophie What an awesome and beautiful tradition! Something to be proud of and pass on to your kids. Makes me want to move there!


message 4: by Vikas (new)

Vikas Such a lovely, wonderful and inspiring tradition. This is essential that we adopt something similar in India too, We need to create a bigger culture of reading here.


message 5: by Arwen (new)

Arwen Even though my family isn’t from Iceland, we celebrate this every year and I love it!


message 6: by David (new)

David Downer We love to give books as gifts in our family. Now we have an official name for the practice.


GypsyBookworm Wonderful practice! Everyone should do this.


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna I gave books and chocolate to my family today on Christmas Eve and I’m going to continue this new tradition - what’s not to love?!


message 9: by Kristina (new)

Kristina This is our third year doing this.
So excited to open our books after dinner tonight.
😍📚


message 10: by Antonio (new)

Antonio Gallo Every man is a book, every book is a man. The more books you have on your shelves, the more friends you have around. Original or plagiarist, man is the novelist of himself ...


message 11: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Hammons I wish my family could do this. I know my husband and son (visiting) can read, but I'm the only one who reads with a passion.


message 12: by Rae (new)

Rae If only the U.S. did this... (Bitter! Party of Rae!)


message 13: by Christo (new)

Christo Sadly I celebrate Christmas on the 26th but I am gonna read a Christmas carol on the 26th. can’t wait!


message 14: by Mickey (new)

Mickey Rae wrote: "If only the U.S. did this... (Bitter! Party of Rae!)"

I'm with you! As it is, I buy myself a book to read on Christmas Eve. My family doesn't want to bother.


message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica TheBookAddict Oh my goodness, this sounds like a dream come true! I gotta do this next year and the many more to come... Especially when or if I have children. A Christmas Carol is also my fiance's favourite book and I've still yet to read it... Eeeek!


message 16: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Rogozen What a lovely family tradition!


message 17: by Shemekia (new)

Shemekia Bailey Hey, Thank you very much for sharing these amazing book! I am very glad to see this christmas book ideas. Actually recently I ask about the book from my friend Liyana and also find her latest blog. However, I much appreciated to you for sharing awesome book suggestion with us.


message 18: by Liz (new)

Liz Foster What a lovely tradition! So much nicer than last-minute shopping and wrapping.


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