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Reading List: Iceland

512KGZ548AL._SY300_Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts and Jon Krakauer. An examination of the rich Icelandic heritage through its literary tradition. Introduces sagas amidst the country’s dramatic landscapes. Encounter horses, monks, outlaws, trolls and witches in a tale blending evocative narrative and photography.

  The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland by Bill Holm. The personal account of an Icelandic-American who decided to visit the island of his ancestors. He eventually bought a house called Brimnes in the northern fjord village of Hofsos. Holm writes: “When Americans ask me to describe my little house, I tell then, not entirely disingenuously, that it a series of magical windows with a few simple boards to hold them up, to protect your head from rain while you stare out at the sea.”

 The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown. Brown chronicles the history of Gudrid, a Viking woman who sailed to the New World five centuries before Columbus. In 2001, a team of archaeologists discovered her possible last house, located where the sagas suggested. Discover this incredible millennium-old mystery of one of the most legendary North American expeditions ever made.

Good Horse Has No Color A Good Horse Has No Color by Nancy Marie Brown. Brown returns to Iceland, finding inspiration in Iceland horses. She visits horse farms, meets skillful writers, and discovers what makes these animals so unique among the race.

Moon Country by Simon Armitage. A collection of poems on Iceland’s history and topography from a Professor of Poetry.

Egil’s Saga by Anonymous. Even if medieval literature is not your thing, Iceland culture is rampant with tales of heroes, mythological creatures and mischievous outlaws. If you do read one, read Egil’s Saga—a colorful saga of an ugly skald (poet/warrior) and his struggles with the law.

Angels of the Universe by Einar Mar Gudmundsson. A beautifully written, humorous tale of one man’s dark descent into madness.

laxness-independent-peopleIndependent People by Halldor Laxness. Dubbed the father of modern Icelandic literature, Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this stark tale of the sheep farmer Bjartur.

Letters from Iceland By WH Auden and Louis MacNeice. Two poets partnered up in 1936 and traversed this landscape.

Gunnloth’s Tale. Svava Jakobsdottir. A compelling novel that mixes Norse mythology with modern mystery.

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Hawaii: A Reading List

Aloha! Think you know Hawaii? Planning a trip down to the islands or just fascinated with their incredible history and legends?

Here are eleven items that we recommend go on your reading list before you head over! Wailana, our newest agent and native to the islands, has pulled these classics off her very shelf.

Vonnie Lyons. Keikilani: The Kona Nightingale. A children’s book that recounts the tale of a singing donkey on her travels through the Big Island. 

James C. Mohr. Plague and Fire: Battling Black Death and the 1900 Burning of Honolulu’s Chinatown. The gripping tale of the bubonic plague arriving on the shores of Hawaii. Told through the eyes of doctors, businessmen, journalists, among others.

Gavan Daws. Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands. An accessible history of Hawaii that covers topics from the arrival of Cook in 1778 to the creation of the state in 1959.

Don Blanding. Vagabond’s House. Poetry of Hawaii from the popular “Poet Laureate” of the islands.

Rick Carroll. Chicken Skin: True Spooky Stories of Hawaii. A classic collection of ghost stories from the islands.

Gregory Kaufman. Hawaii’s Humpback Whales. An informative and illustrated guide to the humpbacks of Hawaii. Includes descriptions on behavior and social patterns, and practical details such as where and how to spot the majestic creatures.

Douglas Simonson. Pidgin to Da Max. A half-serious list of Pidgin English phrases.

Kaili’ohe Kame’ekua. Tales from the Night Rainbow. Legends and stories from the oral traditions of the islands, as told by a native of Molokai.

Alan Brennert. Moloka’i and Honolulu. Historical novels focusing on Hawaiians and immigrants almost a century ago.

John Tayman. The Colony. The untold saga of the leprosy colony on Molokai, recounting the story of nearly 90,000 exiles and volunteers and their struggle in the face of adversity and prejudice.

Martha Warren Beckwith. Hawaiian Mythology. A comprehensive narrative of ancient Hawaiian myths. Read accounts of adventurous gods, romantic heroes and doomed lovers in this classic.

John P. Hoover. Hawaii’s Fishes: A Guide for Snorkelers and Divers. A self-explanatory guide to the underwater treasures of the islands. It includes fantastic photographs of fish in their natural environment and is sure to tempt the diver and snorkeler alike.

Paul Wood. Flowers and Plants of Hawaii. A pocket guide for the flora lovers out there. This is a comprehensive introduction to island vegetation, complete with detailed information and gorgeous photographs.

Mark Twain. Mark Twain’s Letters from Hawaii. As a young journalist, Mark Twain settled in Maui before he made his mark as a major American writer and wit. This is an affectionate account of 19th century Maui and real treat for lovers of literature and history.

James Michener. Hawaii. One of the numerous epics Michener published over the years, this book recounts the stories of the islands through the eyes of those that shaped it. This fictional narrative is a great depiction of island life over the centuries. 

Kathy Morey. Hawaii Trails: Walks, Strolls & Treks on the Big Island. A spectacular introduction to the diversity of the Big Island, a land made for trekking. Explore vast landscapes of Volcanoes National Park, discover black sand beaches, and journey to sea turtle coves on the coast of Kona.

Thinking about a vacation in Hawaii? Let Willamette Intl Travel help! Call 800.821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com to inquire.

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