Ísland (Iceland) Fairy Tales

img_7408Book: Iceland Fairy Tales by Anonymous

Date Read: July 11, 2018

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

I first saw this little book at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík. While I decided to pass on it then, it kept nudging at me each time that I saw it. I thought I had left without it, but when my flight home was pushed back an additional 2 days, I ended up back in Reykjavík at a gift shop I had not yet visited. There it was, and I decided that I would take it as a sign that the book needed to come home with me.

Although clearly intended as a book for tourists, it was a nice little introduction to Icelandic folklore. There were definitely some familiar elements in some of the stories, but more emphasis on ogres, trolls, and similar creatures. After experiencing some of Iceland, I understand why there is a history of these kinds of beliefs. I can easily imagine trolls or elves hiding in the nooks and crannies of the Icelandic landscape. Despite some issues with editing (and perhaps poor translating), it was a quick little read that left me satisfied with the content. I also found other books that I am hoping will give me a more in depth picture of the country’s mythological history.

Boris’s thoughts: “I’m glad your home, but I’m not talking to you yet. 2 paws. I guess.”

Norse Mythology

Book: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Date Read: February 14, 2018 to February 28, 2018img_5787

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

This book came out with near perfect timing for me. In late 2017, a couple of friends asked me if I was interested in going on a trip with them in the summer… to Iceland. That was a quick yes for me. Not long after committing to the trip, I decided that I would need to brush up on some Norse Mythology– this mythology is still a big part of the culture of Iceland today, and I felt it only appropriate that I should have at least a basic knowledge of the subject. Fast forward just a bit to holiday shopping at various local bookstores, and I came across this take on the mythology written by Neil Gaiman. Perfect! While I am not super well versed in Gaiman’s work, I have read several of his books and have quite enjoyed them.

I have always been interested in mythology, folktales, fairy tales, and legends. That being said, I sometimes have a hard time reading them. While I enjoy them, they do not always turn out to be the quick reads that I want them to be. This book worked out very well for me. While I realize this is nowhere near a comprehensive collection of Norse tales, I liked how Gaiman selected stories that could be fit together into a narrative arc. I did not need to cross reference stories and jump back and forth as I read, because the chronology was there. From what I can tell, he has stayed true to the narrative of each tale, with minimal additions. I suppose this is both a positive and negative. I can see why those more familiar with these tales would be disappointed in this book, but for me and my purpose in reading, it worked. I finished with a feeling that I have a basic knowledge of Norse Mythology, and did not spend months agonizing over a lengthy textbook-ish rendition to do so. From what I know about the geography of Iceland, so much of the creation and destruction myths seem to fit so well. I am looking forward to seeing this in person, and feel like reading this ahead of time has given me an opportunity for a greater appreciation of my destination.

As a final thought, I would like to share my reasoning in the timing of this post. While I read this book back in February, and wrote the majority of this review shortly after, I felt it fitting to wait until closer to my trip to post. I leave tonight! I am super excited for this trip, and my first major international travel in more than 10 years! As I will be gone for close to 2 weeks, I will not be posting another book review until I am back. I have a long flight ahead of me though, so I will have plenty of reading material to get me through.

Boris’s thoughts: “Book is a little heavy, but human seemed pleased while reading. 3 pa– Wait? You’re leaving? Stop! No! 1 paw! 1 paw!!”