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Iceland, Defrosted

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  229 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This is the story of one Englishman's obsession with a half-frozen, roughly duck-shaped island in the cold North Atlantic. 'Iceland, Defrosted' is less about wars over cod, flight-halting volcanoes and globe-shattering financiers, and more about relaxing in natural hot pots, sharing barbeques in howling winter storms and eating waffles and rhubarb jam while watching playfu ...more
Paperback, 290 pages
Published June 17th 2013 by Silverwood Books (first published June 11th 2013)
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Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick and easy read, but not a particularly memorable one, mostly due to Hancox's weak writing. He gets around a bit and meets lots of people and does some fun things but he rarely has anything interesting to say about any of it.
He keeps asserting that certain things about Iceland are really cool or brilliant but his range of interests is quite narrow (music and hot springs, basically), and his observations about Icelandic society and temperament are fairly superficial.
There are a couple of
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Visit the locations in the novel :

2000s: Do you fancy a journey to a half-frozen, roughly duck-shaped island in the cold North Atlantic?

Whether you are a fan of the cold or not, this book is an amazing journey into the heart of Iceland. The wit and stunning descriptions will warm your heart so you’ll not feel the cold anyway.

Iceland is in the author’s blood and it shows. Iceland Defrosted is just that – a guide and an ode to the country that has so many l
Jude Broad
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of Iceland, and all things Icelandic, it was fantastic to be guided around this weird and wonderful island by someone who loves it as much and knows it far better than I do. This is more than a travel book, it inspired me to get on the next available trip there.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about this book on Kickstarter several months ago, but only managed to get my hands on a copy recently in anticipation of my first trip to Iceland later this year. Hancox does a wonderful job of making you fall in love with Iceland, the people, the music; at times it's almost like being there with him and his passion just bounces off of every page. The interviews with various Icelandic musicians and anecdotes about seeing Bjork and the illusive Northern Lights make this unlike any ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
a splendid book on Iceland. Volcnoes, naturally heated pools, caves, puffin colonies.. I will visit Iceland for sure and will remember this book by.
A very pleasant read, what it lacks in being a griping read (at some places), it makes up by being a dispassionate introduction to Iceland. The ending with the NL=sighting is acer. Kudos Edward Hancox
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this, although I have a few (minor) gripes with it. The author is an Icelandophile, and his book is a chatty, humorous account of visits to Iceland (not a chronological account, but loosely based on travels all round the island, which obviously took place at different times). It's particularly good for an account of the places which those of us who would be nervous about driving there would be unlikely to get to. His love of the country and friendly observations probably mean that this w ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: world
Amusing enough. Some interesting music recommendations at the end. Hard to decipher fact from fiction sometimes, but his line about Arctic being derived from the Greek for Bear and Antarctic therefore being derived from the Greek for Penguin made me laugh.

A little too much UK-bashing for my liking, writer seemed to believe he was above the average tourist for some reason, despite doing all the touristy-type things (Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights). And I can't help but wonder what his wife thought
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
A friend of mine recommended this book to me, and I'm so glad I read it. For the past couple years, I've had a bit of an obsession with Iceland. Ok, so really just an intense interest. It just seems like such an unusual and otherworldly place, I must go. So I was intrigued by this book, but leery because memoir/travelogue type books can go really badly if not written well. Luckily, this one was really great. The author does a fantastic job weaving travel tips and sightseeing tidbits in with his ...more
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book just prior to visiting Iceland and brought the book along with me on the trip. It just so happened that the Iceland Airwaves festival was happening during my visit and when I googled the author I discovered that he was also visiting Reykjavik to attend the festival...interesting coincidence I suppose. When I started reading this book I didn't think it was going to provide a realistic glimpse of the culture. However, while in Iceland I heard many of the stories and tid ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book - just what I was looking for. It's part travel guide, part... memoir maybe? Basically the author is an English man who has found a second home in Iceland and decided to write a book about the place. It gives informative info about Iceland places, history, culture, music, food, and people, all embedded in recountings of the author's trips there. It's a human companion to your basic travel guidebook. Highly recommend for those going to or just interested in Iceland.
Julia  Yeates
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this book while I was Iceland

It's a pleasant light read, a little heavy on the Icelandic music scene, a little light on factual stuff (when measuring a horse, a hand is 4"), and I found some of the writing style irritating but ...
Jim Awe
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
OK read if you are preparing to go to Iceland and want some inspiration, but otherwise would be just some dude rambling on about his vacation and the people he met.
Susan Lee
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best travel book I have ever read-wonderful guide to Iceland in narrative form.
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
as a fellow icelandophile, i was initially a fan of hancox's similar fanboyism of this great little nation. the first few chapters revealed a great sense of humor and a passion for a wonderful place that i view as on par with my own.

however as the chapters progressed, different sides of hancox emerged. the first was the dismissive hancox. it seems as if he ever traveled to a town without the correct amenities for him, he disliked it. complaints of small and uncomfortable hotels and restaurants w
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
A mixed bag - at various points through reading I switched between one to three stars - and most placed in between - although it's really 2.5. This book breaks the usual rules of travel books by being an unashamed love letter to the location by a fanboy. At first that was amusing, then really irritating, then, just kind of fine. There were some good chapters - and many of the digressions around the Icelandic music scene and creativity are good.

The concentration on music is a strength for the bo
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Iceland, Defrosted is the story of one man's love affair with a beguiling little island in the middle of the Atlantic. It is not a travel story, or a guide, or any number of other things readers might mistakenly guess based on where it sits in a bookstore. Marco Polo didn't simply visit the far East. Sir Hillary didn't simply climb Everest. Like many before him, great and small, Edward Hancox experiences a deep connection to a place that is so profound it borders on ineffable.

The magic of the bo
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved this book: not the greatest writer, but he sounds like a guy I want to be friends with - young, obsessed with Iceland, passionate about its music and cultural aesthetic, funny and sensitive. This book follows him around Iceland, throughout his many trips to there in the years around 2008-2012 (ish) and he visits and comments on pretty much every region in a thoughtful way. Since I am 2 weeks away from going there myself (!) it was particularly poignant. The real beauty for me was the fact ...more
Angela B.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was curious. Curious about Iceland, and curious about what seems to fascinate people so much about this little island. So, I read the book. At first I found myself thinking: hmmm, this is a little silly, and more than a little irreverent. But I kept reading, and it wasn't long before the author's sometimes silly, self-deprecating humour grew on me. And the irreverence was fun, and fitting for a country, it seems, so chock full of delightful eccentricities: hot pots, mud pots, weird volcanic fo ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I like reading books about people traveling through Iceland, interacting with locals and discovering the sights. This was one such book, and it offered unique perspectives I hadn't read yet on places like the Westfjords. However, the book wasn't particularly well-written. It seemed to take the form of a series of connected blog posts, with the writing being too informal for my particular liking. Sentence fragments abounded, for instance, and the writer sometimes didn't explain where he was setti ...more
Patricia Mann
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Learned a lot about a place I've only heard about being the "Land of the Vikings," but instead, it's the land of the Icelanders, and a very special place it seems to be. I read it in preparation for visiting the country this summer and am more excited than ever. Written by an Englishman who visited almost ten times in different seasons, he very clearly shared his love the the western-most country in Europe. Can't wait to go there and meet the very friendly, artistic and resourceful people of Ice ...more
L Walker
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whether you're going to Iceland, you've just been or you have a fascination with all things Icelandic, this is a must read. I read this book after a recent trip to Iceland and it was really nice to reinforce the memories of many of the sights I'd visited with Hancox's encounters of the same places. I enjoyed the author's easy conversational writing style and humor. Being an Icelandic music aficionado, he lists several Icelandic musicians and songs in the back of the book, which I have added to m ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading Iceland, Defrosted was like chatting with a friend who really, really loves Iceland and has a lot of stories about his travels there. It's not a travel guide, but just one passionate guy's experiences. The author touches on everything about Iceland - the music, food, history, landscape, wildlife, language, culture, and the wonderful people. Considering that I was vacationing in Iceland, this was a fun read for me.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not a travel book. This is a love story about an island nation. It is the sort of thing that tourist boards (or indeed anyone trying to market a product) dream of and attempt imperfectly to imitate or fake in ways that all too often fall short and are all too transparent. But there's nothing to see through with Iceland, Defrosted. It is all sincerity. A beautifully crafted book full of humour and genuine appreciation for the landscapes, the culture and the people of Iceland.
Elizabeth Schlatter
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nice and amusing travelogue of an English man who loves Iceland, especially its music, beer, and food. I actually found quite a bit of overlap with the "Xenophobe's Guide to the Icelanders," which was interesting. But Hancox weaves his observations into his personal experiences driving across the country, making friends, interviewing musicians, and trying new foods and beers. He's also quite self-deprecating, even as he makes snide comments about other tourists and "big bus" tours.
Dave Lusby
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: misc-fiction
Annoying writing style where mildly interesting facts are repeated again and again. The blurb on the back claims the author is "A devoted fan of all things Icelandic - and particularly Icelandic music" - but not 6 pages in he was wrong about Bjork's first band being The Sugarcubes and that set the tone for a series of small mistakes that wouldn't matter on their own, but built up into a frustrating read overall.
Heather Noble
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author is unashamedly obsessed with Iceland and his outrageously repeated enthusiasm for the island adds to the humour of the book. If you have visited Iceland it certainly makes you want to explore further afield than Reykjavik and more independently than the tour busses.
I think it also works well as a personal introduction and I found his Icelandic music references interesting to follow up.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
My sister and I spent a week in Reykjavik last year, where I fell in love hard and fast with the city and the country. Living in Florida and being unable to return every weekend, this book is the next best thing. Hancox brilliantly captures the spirit of Iceland with writing that is dry, witty, and endlessly entertaining. Whether you're planning a trip or wishing you could go back, this is the book to read.
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this in bits, in pockets of time grabbed here and there; whilst making dinner, between train stops, before falling asleep. Whether it was because of this, or the excerpt style it was written in, I felt it was piecemeal.

Don't get me wrong - it's enjoyable, an easy read, and it's clear the author is passionate about Iceland. But there was no real flow to the book and I didn't learn anything particularly new.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Iceland and the music scene in the country as well. Although I wish I had visited as many times as the author, I found his description of places like the Budir Hotel, Husavik and other towns/areas to be right on the money...good read, some humourous descriptions and made me want to go back as soon as I can!!

Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've really appreciated this book about a great Iceland lover. I can definetely understand him because I have the same love for that small island. Moreover I think it's very useful both for people that have never been to Iceland and both for those, like me, that have come many times and that want to know all the most remote areas.
Absolutely recommended!
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Edward Hancox lives in the UK with his wife and small, noisy children but spends as much time as he can in Iceland. Music – especially contemporary Icelandic music – is his other passion. He writes about both subjects for various magazines and websites, including Iceland Review, Atlantica, and the Reykjavík Grapevine, and on his blog,

Edward enjoys growing plants, which, not u
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