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Icelanders are voracious readers. Books have been the Christmas gift of choice in this small nation for decades. The annual "Book Flood" tradition begins with a publisher's catalog in every mailbox.
"...A Centuries-Old Literary Culture
Iceland has a long literary history dating to medieval times. Landmarks of world literature, including the Sagas of the Icelanders and the Poetic Edda, are still widely read and translated there, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
Today, Icelandic isn't spoken by many more people than the roughly 319,000 who live in the small country. But in 2009, book loans at the Reykjavík City Library totaled 1.2 million — in a city of only 200,000 people. There's a popular TV show in Iceland, Kiljan, which is devoted entirely to books. And in 2011, Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature.
So Icelanders love books. And that love involves most of the population, according to Baldur Bjarnason, a researcher who has written on the Icelandic book industry. I...celand publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."...."
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