15 November 2010

The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Icelanders

Originally published in November 2004, in 2 parts.
Book 41 in my first 52 books challenge.


Author: Richard Sale
Year published: 1994
Pages: 64
Genre: Humour
Sub-genre(s): Travel guide
Where got: Public library

I was thinking about reviewing a full-fledged guide book about Iceland, but realized I would never be able to finish one in only a week (actually I could, but it would not be much fun). Instead I picked up this slim volume that contains a humourous profile of the Icelandic nation. It remains to be seen if it’s accurate…

This is basically a brief portrait of the Icelandic nation, its behaviour, sense of humour, traditions, beliefs, food, drinking habits, etc. Don’t expect a deep analysis of the national psyche – this is purely humorous and on the surface. Apart from a few small errors and atrocious spelling of Icelandic names and words, I would say this is a pretty accurate, if rather exaggerated, description of Icelanders as a group. The outsider often sees things that a member of a group does not, but in this case there is hardly anything in the book that Icelanders have not said about themselves over the years. The edition I read dates back to 1994, and so is somewhat dated, but there is a newer one from 2000.

Rating: A tongue-in-cheek description of Icelanders as a group that is guaranteed to make you smile. 3+ stars.

P.S. Mr. Sale, next time you update the book, you might want to reconsider the turkey joke - it doesn't work in Icelandic.

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