Noplobomo was a bit of a bust this year, but I’m not surprised. I assumed that Thanksgiving travel would kill my resolve and, indeed, it was a self-fulfilling assumption. Still I think the exercise returned some awareness to my rather neglected blog and I hope to post more regularly (whatever that is) thru the end of this year and into the next. Writing it down makes it so, right?
Vacation reading usually means a carefully curated stack of books to fill any down time, airport waiting, too excited to sleep, or generally quiet moments that might be encountered on a vacation. (The phrase “carefully curated STACK” goes a long way in explaining why I generally prefer road trips to air travel.) But there’s another form of vacation reading; currently I am working on curating a list of books to help me get ready for vacation and I’m hoping to get some suggestions from y’all.
Next year the husband and I are taking a bucket list trip to see the Northern Lights in Iceland and Norway. We’re going with a tour group so there isn’t a lot of actual trip planning to do. And since it is too early to start packing, even for me, I need to occupy my mind with some sort of preparation so I am looking for books to read that will help me understand Iceland, Norway, and/or the aurora. I’m a big fan of using fiction/historical fiction to help me get a feel for places, but obviously non-fiction can give me more bang/facts for the buck/reading effort.
It’s not going to be all-vacation-reading-all-the-time, but I have recently read the following two books.
Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts and Jon Krakauer was a superb photography book. The stunning photos of Iceland are accompanied by text that is part travelogue/cultural observation and part a retelling of some of the famous Icelandic Sagas. The sagas are old, classic literature of Iceland (think Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey) which are a cross between American tall tales and Greek mythology. The book would have benefited from a few maps since geography and geology are very significant in Icelandic tales, but otherwise I quite enjoyed it.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is…exactly that. Gaiman puts his writing talents to work telling some of the original Norse myths, stripping the stories down as close to the originals as possible. It was really interesting reading these tales that have had such a huge influence in his own writing as well as in recent pop culture. In school, my mythology education was almost exclusively confined to the greek and roman tales. I’m hoping that the cultural implications that might be found by exhaustively comparing greek and norse mythology will somehow just seep into my brain by some form of osmosis since I’m not willing to put that much effort into anything these days. I really enjoyed the one about the mead of poets. Also, I never really understood how Ragnarok was considered the end of days, but it may or may not have already happened – until the perfect final words of the book.
A few years ago I read and enjoyed Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, a novel based on the true story of a woman accused of murder in Iceland in the late 1800’s. After hunting on the internet and consulting with my favorite booksellers, I have a few other titles on my list, but I’m open to suggestions. I’m not particularly interested in the current Scandanavian mysteries that are all the rage now (Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbo, etc.) unless you can tell me that it would really give me a feel for life in small Norwegian fishing villages above the arctic circle.
Reading for vacation. Reading on vacation. Reading as vacation. I’m good with all three.