I recently had the pleasure of writing an 'Author's Guide to Iceland' for Fodor's. Over the years I have met many people with plans to visit Iceland, and have frequently found myself offering suggestions for places they might not otherwise visit.
This article, which can be read in its totality on Fodor's website, sums up some of my must-see-and-dos for anyone interested in encountering Iceland through its literature.
An Author's Guide to Iceland
W.H. Auden once said that, "Few people take an interest in Iceland, but in those few the interest is passionate." Truer words were never spoken. Those who visit Iceland find themselves unexpectedly and often profoundly in love with the country, and writers in particular seem most affected by its sudden grip around the heart. It is a ghost-thick landscape, a keeper of secrets and stories, and a sanctuary for those born with a love of the written word.
Iceland's relationship to literature is as unusual as the fields of lava—covered in moss, hissing steam—that lie, cooled and ragged in the south. While for centuries it was one of Europe's poorest countries—an island plagued by seasons of hostile weather, bringing only starvation and deprivation—Iceland has always been a remarkably fertile place for literature. Ever since the composition of the renowned Sagas in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Iceland's national identity has been inextricably bound to reading and writing, resulting in almost universal literacy in even the darkest and impoverished of centuries.
What better way to experience Iceland then, than through its stories.