Jolabokaflod: Christmas Eve Book Giving Tradition

Have you heard of Jolabokaflod? Or Book Flood? Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition.

I first heard of Jolabokaflod from Christine on her fantastic site, the Uncorked Librarian. She did a wonderful post all about Jolabokaflod that you can go and read here.

Later on in the post I’ll be giving some of my suggested books to gift this Christmas, whether it’s a kid, your mum or your co-worker we’ve got you covered.

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So what is it?

In essence, jolabokaflod or book flood is an Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition that involves the gifting of books. In the lead up to the holiday, the country has a catalogue and fair to assist everyone buying their books. On Christmas Eve itself, books are given as gifts, hot chocolate is consumed and people settle down with their favourite new reads.

Sounds perfect to me! I love the idea of this cozy evening settling down on Christmas Eve with family and books.

Should we adopt this tradition?

I think this tradition sounds like a fantastic one for countries outside of Iceland to adopt for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Iceland is well known for its high literacy rates. As a country, they continue to demonstrate a passion for reading, and literacy. By gifting books at Christmas time as a culture (wherever in the world you’re from) you are making an investment in someone, and in the value of reading. Priceless in my opinion.

Secondly, Book Flood also reminds us not to take books, or literacy for granted. The holiday has it’s roots in the end of world war two when books were expensive and at times rare. By giving books, we can remember that they are something that not everyone has now, or in the past has access to. What a privilege it is to buy and gift books.

But what if people don’t like reading? Should we force a book upon them out of tradition?

Personally, I cannot imagine disliking reading (Though I know many people claim to) in most cases it seems more that people have not found the book to excite them. There are so many various books out there in the world that it seems wild to suggest that it is impossible to find a book someone won’t appreciate.

I think this tradition sounds like a lot of fun!

To get you started if you like the sound of giving this tradition a try this year, here’s a list of books for those in your life.

For Kids:

The Book With No Pictures – B.J Novak

Have you read The Book With No Pictures? It’s a fantastic children’s read for bonding reader and child over silly noises and imagination. If you need more info, check out this video B.J Novak reading from his book. Novak is also well known as a writer, producer and actor on the TV Show The Office

Pick up a copy of *The Book With No Pictures from the Book Depository.

For Young Adult Readers

Young Adult typically refers to teens, but there are many adults (including myself!) who enjoy young adult fiction. Here are a few of my top picks for this year.

A Thousand Days of Sunlight was the debut novel for author Abbie Emmons. Published this year, this book is super sweet! If you or your loved one is a fan of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars this is a book you should check out. I had the pleasure of interviewing Abbie earlier this year, and she’s amazing! (Click here to read my interview with Abbie Emmons) Support indie publishing this year and purchase her book. This book is uplifting and sweet!

My other pick for young adult readers is *Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Set in space, with a rag tag group of teenagers, a splash of romance and an awesome adventure this book is sure to please! The sequel is set to be released mid next year so this is the perfect time to read the first book in this action packed series! Boys and girls will enjoy this one.

For the Series Fan

If the person you’re gifting too loves a particular or book, is there a special edition available? Getting this will show you know the person, and their likes. For me, I really enjoy the Harry Potter series, though for some reason I haven’t discussed it much on this blog as yet. This is shocking to realise.

I think the Illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series are wonderful. The illustrations from Jim Kay are stunning. If you have a Harry Potter fan that you know, consider purchasing them one of these if they don’t already have them. I have *Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone and it’s beautiful. I’m looking forward to collecting the rest of the illustrated editions.

You might be thinking… but they already have the book in one form, isn’t it the same? No dear friend. It likely is not. If they love a series, you will be shocked at the oooohing and ahhhing that can be done over a special edition. If they’re clamouring to show you the end pages you’ll know you’re onto a winner!

For Romance Readers

One of my favourite reads this year was While You Were Reading by Ali Berg and Michelle Klaus. A lighthearted romance that follows the adventures of a book lover from Melbourne. Perfect for summer holiday reading! For my full review, click here. Your mum, sister or girlfriend may enjoy this one. (Though that’s not to say males can’t enjoy a good romance story too!)

For the gardening enthusiast

Whether it’s houseplants or the veggie patch, treat the green thumb (or aspiring green thumb) with book that inspires them!

*The Little Book Of House Plants is perfect for that person in your life who seems to have an ever growing collection of houseplants. An indoor jungle? Houseplants are very popular at the moment! This lovely little book is complete with beautiful photography and easy to follow care guides for a broad range of house plants.

For those looking to garden outside their home the Royal Horticultural Society has *Gardening Through The Year which takes the reader through the year by season. It includes hand monthly to-do tasks and a showcase of plant highlights for the month.

For the History Buff

Peter FitzSimons has released *The Catalpa Rescue this year, which looks to be another fascinating non-fiction book from the prolific writer. This time, FitzSimons focuses on the the Australian/Irish prison break from Fremantle Prison in Western Australia in 1874.

For A Co-Worker

The challenge of buying a present for a co-worker can be real. You might not know them all that well, or what their preferences are. You will need to decide what you wish to convey with your gift. Is it the laugh factor?

If so, consider the Little Ladybird books for grown ups range. Styled as children’s books but for an adult audience, these are a great option and should hopefully get a laugh or two! View the range here. I personally like the look of The Ladybird Book of the Quiet Night In.

Alternatively, consider giving a nice edition of a classic Christmas story such as The Nutcracker or The Christmas Carol. The Barnes and Noble pocket edition is a small, affordable and beautifully presented edition that would make a lovely Christmas gift that your co-worker is sure to appreciate. These stories and timeless, and beautiful a welcome addition to anyone’s home.

So… Book Flood?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! I really enjoyed looking into this lovely tradition and have intentions of starting this tradition within my own family.

Another bookish Christmas tradition that I’ve seen some people do is have a book advent calendar for their children. Some do just the 12 days before Christmas, others the whole month.

Essentially, each night a Christmas book is unwrapped and enjoyed by the family! This seems like a lovely idea to me. If you have children, maybe this is another way you could continue to incorporate the love of reading into your Christmas season. The books don’t have to be new, they could be sourced from op shops (thrift stores) for affordability.

At the end of the day, it’s not about what gifts you give, or what books you read. In this busy season I hope you’re able to spend time reflecting what Christmas is really all about.

What Christmas traditions do you have? Tell me about them in the comments below. I love to hear about how others celebrate this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas feel free to share a memory from a holiday or special time you like to celebrate.

What do you think about Jolabokaflod? Is it a tradition you’d try?

Thanks as always for reading! If you would like to keep up to date with my blog please hit the subscribe button below. I can be found on social media @stephhuddlestonwriting or by following the buttons below. Until next week! Happy reading!

Hi! I'm Steph, a freelance writer for hire based in Australia. I'm an avid reader and love all things bookish! My blog is all about the written word.

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