The Icelandic Yule Book Flood Tradition That is Jólabókaflóðið and its Fascinating History

Join us in celebrating the Icelandic book flood that has everyone curling up with their drink of choice as they read their favorite book.

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A tradition rich with history, the Icelandic Yule book flood was born during World War II when foreign merchandise was restricted. The people turned to gifting books because the paper was cheap and publishing houses saw the opportunity to flood the market with new titles published during the year. This Icelandic tradition has stood the test of time and is a tradition that has flooded (pun intended) around the world.

Celebrating Jólabókaflóðið is an excellent way to share the joys of reading with those you love by gifting them books to read on Christmas Eve. The entire tradition brings friends and families closer because they exchange gifts (always books) and then everyone goes off to read their new book with their favorite drink and some chocolate for the night.

It’s the perfect way to bring in Christmas Day in my opinion.

Image via Deforest Area Public Library Facebook

To be honest this is the best holiday I’ve ever heard of! I mean it starts mid-November when a catalog detailing every book published during the year is sent to every person. Jólabókaflóðið begins mid-November so that every Icelander, along with anyone else participating, is able to purchase the books they are choosing to give as a gift on Christmas Eve.

Image via Travel Between the Pages


If you’re looking for any recommendations to celebrate Jólabókaflóðið try a few of these classics, but really pay attention to what you’re friends and family are reading. Buy them a book from the series they’re currently reading or a book from a series they’ve been meaning to start.


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Written by Irish author Bram Stroker, Dracula is an occult classic gothic horror written in 1897 about the infamous father of vampires Dracula himself. The perfect gift for those that enjoy gothic horror.

Pride and Prejudice

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A classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice is for all the readers looking for prim and proper romance. While not everyone’s cup of tea, and not something I read every day, I do believe that Jane Austen’s work is something that should be read at least once in a person’s lifetime.

Homer: The Iliad & The Odyssey

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An important part of Greek literature, The Iliad and The Odyssey are detailed journeys through the quarrels of kings as Homer takes you through the Battle of Troy.


To see my reference material for Jólabókaflóðið click here. If you’re looking for more bookish holidays click here! And if you’re looking for bookish gift ideas click here!

Featured Image via Icelandic Literature Center