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Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXICL09. Buy these 4 items as a set for $73 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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Independent People, An Epic

Independent People, An Epic

by Halldor Laxness

  • LITERATURE
  • 1997
  • PAPER
  • 480 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Rich in local color, this great mock-epic by the Icelandic Nobel Prize-winner features the indelible Bjartur of Summerhouses, a hard-headed, independent-minded sheep farmer. (ICL01, $16.95)

The History of Iceland

The History of Iceland

by Gunnar Karlsson

  • HISTORY
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 418 PAGES

A history of Iceland from the Viking era through colonization, independence and the 20th century. Karlsson draws on the sagas and rich literature of Iceland in presenting this comprehensive history. (ICL17, $25.50)

Insight Guide Iceland

Insight Guide Iceland

by Insight Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

This guide emphasizes culture and history, with wonderful photographs, maps and essays from experts. (ICL04, $23.99)

Iceland Adventure Map

Iceland Adventure Map

by National Geographic Maps

  • 2011
  • MAP

A detailed map at a 1:465,000, printed on handy tear- and water-resistant paper. (ICL05, $11.95)

 
Bradt Guide Iceland

Bradt Guide Iceland


by Andrew Evans

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 432 PAGES

A detailed, personable guide in the venerable British series with a focus on natural treasures, including glaciers, lava flows and rugged coastlines. (ICL42, $25.99)

A History of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland

A History of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland


by T.K Derry

  • HISTORY
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 447 PAGES

Scandinavia from prehistory to the present with chapters on the Viking and Lutheran kingdoms, medieval times, monarchies, the World Wars and modern period, emphasizing the common cultural, political and social backgrounds. (SCN03, $25.00)

Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings

Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings


by John Haywood

  • HISTORY
  • 1995
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

The history of the Vikings told through a series of innovative maps and excellent photographs. This book traces the routes of the ninth-century Viking merchants and explorers throughout Europe and onto the New World. (VIK02, $22.00)

Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History

Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History


by Terry G. Lacy

  • HISTORY
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 332 PAGES

A longtime resident of Reykjavik, Lacy weaves tales of family life, anecdote, lore and history into this illuminating personal portrait of Iceland. (ICL03, $26.95)

Song of the Vikings, Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

Song of the Vikings, Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths


by Nancy Marie Brown

  • HISTORY
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Brown brings to life not just the great Norse tales of medieval Iceland but also the life and times of the worldly Icelandic chieftain, known as the "Homer of the North." (ICL59, $17.00)

Summer at Little Lava, A Season at the Edge of the World

Summer at Little Lava, A Season at the Edge of the World


by Charles Fergus

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 240 PAGES

A summer in Iceland, weaving folklore, history and lyrical descriptions of nature. (ICL09, $24.00)

The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia

The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia


by Michael Booth

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2015
  • HARD COVER
  • 448 PAGES
  • COMING IN JANUARY

Guardian journalist Michael Booth writes with laugh-out-loud humor and brutal candor about the Scandinavians, mixing history and his own experiences in Nordic regions in this searing cultural portrait. (SCN83, $26.00)

The Vikings, Lords of the Seas

The Vikings, Lords of the Seas


by Yves Cohat

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 175 PAGES

An indispensable reference that fits in your pocket, this slim volume is packed with maps, archival photographs and illustrations. (VIK01, $15.95)

Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga

Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga


by William Fitzhugh | Elisabeth Ward

  • HISTORY
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 432 PAGES

An extensively illustrated volume of Viking culture, history and exploration that focuses especially on voyages to North America. Published in conjunction with a Smithsonian exhibit, it features essays and 400 color photographs. (VIK11, $34.95)

Why Iceland?

Why Iceland?


by Asgeir Jonsson

  • HISTORY
  • 2009
  • HARD COVER
  • 230 PAGES

An insider's captivating account of the unlikely rise and abysmal fall of Iceland's banking industry. (ICL48, $36.00)

Frost on My Moustache, The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer

Frost on My Moustache, The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer


by Tim Moore

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 280 PAGES

In this inspired folly, a British comic heads to Iceland, Spitsbergen and other northern locales in pursuit of a fictitious Arctic hero. (ARC74, $18.99)

Iceland, Land of the Sagas

Iceland, Land of the Sagas


by Jon Krakauer | David Roberts

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES

Krakauer and colleague Roberts hike and climb around Iceland in this classic travel narrative, reissued as a paperback and featuring Krakauer's color photographs. The book interweaves the natural and cultural history of the island with the authors' own adventures. (ICL07, $24.00)

Last Places, A Journey in the North

Last Places, A Journey in the North


by Lawrence Millman | Paul Theroux

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 242 PAGES

Millman explores the culture and history of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in this hilarious account of his travels in the wake of the ancient Vikings. (ARC54, $15.95)

Letters from Iceland

Letters from Iceland


by W.H. Auden

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Written with fellow poet Louis MacNiece, this quirky, under-appreciated masterpiece captures the spirit of Iceland, its people and landscapes. (ICL49, $24.95)

Names for the Sea, Strangers in Iceland

Names for the Sea, Strangers in Iceland


by Sarah Moss

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 358 PAGES

A stranger in a strange land, British novelist Sarah Moss captures the spirit of Iceland in this tale of a year abroad in the post-financial-collapse island nation with her husband and two children. (ICL61, $17.95)

Arctic Chill

Arctic Chill


by Arnaldur Indridason

  • MYSTERY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

Another chilling police procedural set in contemporary Iceland, the fifth in the series. (ICL46, $16.00)

Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories

Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories


by Herman Palsson

  • LITERATURE
  • 1971
  • PAPER
  • 137 PAGES

This collection of the most famous of Icelandic sagas includes stories with titles like Thorstein the Staff-Struck and Ale Hood. Dating from the 12th century, these tales vividly recreate the society of medieval Iceland. (ICL31, $14.00)

Jar City

Jar City


by Arnaldur Indridason

  • MYSTERY
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Indridason's first moody police procedural translated into English finds Reykjavik detective Erlendur Sveinsson investigating the brutal murder of a lonely pensioner and the man's connection to the deaths of a number of young women. Made into a darkly superb film. (ICL27, $16.00)

Njal's Saga

Njal's Saga


by Robert Cook

  • LITERATURE
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

The tales of heroic (and handsome) Gunnar Hamundarson and his scheming friend Njal. Originally written in Icelandic sometime in the 13th century, it's an earthy tale with a strong sense of place, featuring murder, mayhem, a famous feud and noble deeds. (ICL16, $17.00)

Silence of the Grave

Silence of the Grave


by Arnaldur Indridason

  • MYSTERY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Reykjavik police inspector Erlendur Sveinsson uncovers an old skeleton and unsavory secrets in Indridason's excellent second crime novel translated into English. Winner of the 2005 Gold Dagger award. (ICL36, $16.00)

The Complete Works of W. H. Auden, Prose and Travel Books, Volume One, 1926-1938

The Complete Works of W. H. Auden, Prose and Travel Books, Volume One, 1926-1938


by W.H. Auden

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 1997
  • HARD COVER
  • 952 PAGES

Containing Auden's "Letters From Iceland," written with fellow poet Louis MacNiece, is a quirky, under-appreciated masterpiece that captures the spirit of Iceland, its people and landscapes. (ICL11, $115.00)

The Fish Can Sing

The Fish Can Sing


by Halldor Laxness | Magnus Magnusson

  • LITERATURE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

A quirky, moving coming-of-age tale set in Reykjavik at the turn of the last century, featuring an unforgettable cast of Icelandic characters. Laxness, who also wrote Independent People (ICL01), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955. (ICL14, $15.95)

The Great Weaver from Kashmir

The Great Weaver from Kashmir


by Hallador Laxness

  • LITERATURE
  • 2008
  • HARD COVER
  • 450 PAGES

First published in 1927, this first major book by the esteemed Icelandic writer Hallador Laxness (Independent People) propelled Iceland into the modern world. An experimental novel, it tells the story of a young poet who flees the confines of his island nation for the complexities of post-WWI Europe. (ICL69, $26.00)

The Prose Edda

The Prose Edda


by Snorri Sturluson | Jesse Byock

  • LITERATURE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

A new translation of one of the most influential and entertaining medieval Icelandic sagas, the source for much of what we know of Norse mythology. (ICL26, $17.65)

The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale

The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Bolli Bollason's Tale


by Keneva Kunz

  • LITERATURE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 272 PAGES

This beloved Icelandic saga from the 13th century, possibly written by a woman, recounts years of betrayal, battle and romance: the stories of headstrong heroines in a changing world. In a new translation. (VIK31, $16.00)

The Sagas of Icelanders

The Sagas of Icelanders


by Jane Smiley | Robert Kellog

  • LITERATURE
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 848 PAGES

Nine sagas and six tales composed between the years 1000 and 1500, including an account of Leif Eriksson's voyage to North America, all newly translated. With an introduction by Jane Smiley. (ICL13, $26.00)

The Tricking of Freya

The Tricking of Freya


by Christina Sunley

  • LITERATURE
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

Skipping from suburban Connecticut to the tiny Canadian-Icelandic fishing village of Gimli to Manhattan and finally Iceland, this affecting debut follows the fate of young Freya Morris and her troubled family history over 20 years. (ICL47, $18.00)

A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic

A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic


by E.C. Pielou

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1994
  • PAPER
  • 327 PAGES

Our bestselling book on the Arctic, this guide covers the geography and climate, plants, birds and wildlife of the Circumpolar North. (ARC03, $22.00)

Arctic Dreams

Arctic Dreams


by Barry Lopez

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 417 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

A dazzling meditation on the Arctic, breathtaking in scope. Lopez draws on his travels throughout the North, including Baffin Island, the Chukchi and Bering seas, Alaska, the Yukon and Greenland, interweaving natural history, accounts of early exploration, anecdote and lore into an indelible portrait of place. (ARC11, $16.95)

The Control of Nature

The Control of Nature


by John McPhee

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1989
  • PAPER
  • 272 PAGES

In the classic McPhee tradition, these sparkling essays explore our generally feeble attempts to combat all-powerful nature, including valiant efforts by Icelanders to control the flow of a volcano across the harbor at Heimaey in the Westman Islands. (NAT01, $16.00)

Volcanoes, Crucibles of Change

Volcanoes, Crucibles of Change


by Richard Fisher

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 344 PAGES

A complete primer for the volcano lover, this heavily illustrated book covers types of volcanoes and eruptions, worldwide distribution and the physics of their formation. (GEO02, $30.95)

Volcanoes, Fire From the Earth

Volcanoes, Fire From the Earth


by Maurice Krafft

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 1993
  • PAPER
  • 175 PAGES
  • HARD TO FIND ELSEWHERE

By the great French volcanologist (who died on the job on Mount Unzen in Japan in 1992), this pocket guide features hundreds of full-color paintings and traces the study of volcanoes from early myth and legend to modern science. (GEO06, $15.95)

Birds of Europe

Birds of Europe


by Lars Svensson

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 416 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Featuring 3,500 glorious paintings by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom, the second edition of this exquisite guide has been updated with revised text and maps. (FG47, $29.95)

Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic

Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic


by Carl Christian Kinze

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES

A guide to the marine mammals of the North Atlantic featuring 250 color illustrations. (FG60, $27.95)

Pocket Guide to the Birds of Britain and North-West Europe

Pocket Guide to the Birds of Britain and North-West Europe


by Chris Kightley

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 1998
  • PAPER
  • 299 PAGES

A compact field-friendly guide to the birds found in the British Isles and the Faroes, Scandinavia and Northwest Europe. (EUR50, $30.00)

The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife

The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife


by Tony Soper

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 160 PAGES

An essential handbook for the ship-based traveler, this compact guide to the plants, marine mammals and birds of the Circumpolar North features handsome watercolor illustrations and lively text. This new edition includes a section on the Bering Sea. (ARC85, $23.99)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.