This Christmas, I’m hoping for a flood of epic proportions. Not a flood of water, mind you, but a flood of books—a Christmas Book Flood, also known as Jolabokaflod.
What is Jolabokaflod?
During WWII, the people of Iceland began exchanging gifts of books on Christmas Eve. It came about at a time when most everything was rationed except for paper and books. Then, on Christmas Day, Icelanders spent the whole day reading their new books and sipping hot cocoa by the fire.
The tradition continues to this day with people gifting books and chocolate so they can spend a day reading, relaxing, and enjoying. I was packing a bag to move to Iceland when I realized Jolabokaflod is gaining international attention, and I can celebrate right here (and avoid all that snow).
In Iceland, this annual event begins with a catalog of every new book published that year, known as bokatidini. The catalog is sent to every household in the country. From this, families order their bookish gifts that will be given on Christmas Eve.
Start Your Own Christmas Book Flood
This is a wonderful tradition to start within your own family, book club, friend group, or any other community that loves books. The easiest way is to gift books to your family and friends. I know families who give their children a book each day of December leading up to Christmas, which is a beautiful thought, and would be perfect for Jolabokaflod.
Doing an office Secret Santa? Buy them a book! Family gift exchange? Books! If you’re not sure what kind of book the recipient might like, get them a gift card to a local bookstore. Just don’t forget to shop local if you can!
The website jolabokaflod.org has a beautiful sentiment about gifting books. “We believe that reading books is a life-enhancing activity, made even more special by the memories associated with receiving gifts of books from loved ones.”
I don’t know about you, but some of my favorite memories include books.
How to Flood Non-Readers
What if there’s someone in your world who isn’t a big reader? I know. It’s a travesty. My oldest son is not a reader. But he likes manga. He enjoys certain non-fiction topics. Magazines are also a great option for people who aren’t necessarily big readers. There’s something out there for my son, and your non-reader as well. It doesn’t have to be an epic novel to be a worthwhile, readable gift.
As an author myself, I love gifting books to people. I try to make sure my kids get at least one book for Christmas each year. It might be a joke book, a non-fiction book on a topic they enjoy, or a novel. For my book club’s gift exchange this year, I gave a book used to review other books! A book about books from an indie author to a reader? It was kismet, I tell you.
Buy, Give, and Read
Jolabokaflod’s motto is “buy, give, and read,” which brings home the idea that this is truly a symbiotic relationship between authors, publishers, gift-givers, and gift-receivers. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re a part of the Moms Who Write Community (or know someone who is). There are so many wonderful books just from within this group, of all different genres, for all ages. Buying a MWW member’s book is a three-fold gift. Firstly, you give a book to someone you care about. Secondly, you help support an author. Thirdly, you support the MWW sisterhood. What could be better?
Happy Jolabokaflod, everyone, and happy reading!
About the Writer: Allison Wells is a hot mess mom of four who has published six books both traditionally and independently. Currently, she’s working on growing her editing and book coaching business. She’s usually more interested in watching SNL reruns on YouTube than keeping up with the latest show on Netflix, but she prefers a book to those any day. Find her online at allisonwellswrites.com