Jólabókaflóðið, or The Flood of Books

I first heard about Jólabókaflóðið a year ago. I wished fervently that this would be something that would take off in my family (and country!), yet I didn't do a single thing to move in that direction. While gifting books isn't new to us (probably not to you, either), taking the next step - actually having time set apart to crack the spine and begin the adventure within them - is.

What is Jólabókaflóðið?

Jólabókaflóðið (pronounced YO-la-bok-a-flothe & roughly translated into English as "the Christmas book flood") is a Christmas tradition that began during World War II in Iceland when paper was an imported product that was relatively easy to come by. Traditions vary from household to household, but the gist of the tradition is to give a book on Christmas Eve & then snuggle up with the new book and some chocolate to enjoy an evening of reading. 

During the holiday festivities that follow, conversational topics center around which new releases were best or worst, which had the most intriguing titles, which had the best cover art, etc.

This focus on giving books as presents has created a culture in Iceland of bookaholics - in other words, Pretty Literate people!

How can I participate in Jólabókaflóðið?

Last year, I wished that I had had a way to participate in Jólabókaflóðið. This year my dream came true because of someone within Pretty Literate's Monthly Book Club and I didn't want to keep the joy all to myself.

If participating in Jólabókaflóðið appeals to you, too, here are several ways to get the ball rolling.

1. Hijack the Holiday

I love the way Guinevere de la Mare hijacked her family gathering last year - in the best possible way! She gamified Jólabókaflóðið and everyone had so much fun that her family is doing it again this year. If you've got a big family gathering on the calendar this December, this is a fun route to take.

2. Christmas Eve Deliveries

Last year (2020), my husband and I spent time driving around to our kids' homes delivering Christmas gifts since the pandemic made gathering together tricky. It was so fun, we decided to make it a new tradition - and this year we are giving the gift of Jólabókaflóðið. Why not start a new tradition yourselves this year and flood your friends and family with Christmas Eve deliveries of books and chocolate?

3. Go Postal

If you're unable to deliver your flood of books in person, consider hiring the process out. It has never been easier to shop online than it is now.

And if you prefer for your book & chocolate to arrive at the same time, I have just the thing. Let me help you. Pretty Literate's SHOP is filled with book boxes that will knock your reader's Jolabokaflöd socks off! They are shipped within 24 hours via USPS mail and contain a classic novel plus an item that ties into the book and chocolate - perfect for Jólabókaflóðið reading.

Do you Jólabókaflóðið?

If you participate in Iceland's Flood of Books, please share in the comments. Let us know what you do. Inspire us!


  • Starting this tradition with friends, we’re getting together for lunch the Saturday before Christmas to exchange our books and hot cocoa! Looking forward to it.

    Eadie R
  • This really is a fun tradition! This is my second year participating and I’m excited to be enlarging my book flood recipients! Reading a new release book while dressed in cozy warmth, enjoying some wonderful chocolate and maybe by the fire: what a beautifully simple way to spend a quiet Christmas Eve, taking a moment to embrace the stillness after all the hustle and bustle of the season.

    Lynda A
  • This is a wonderful tradition that I participate in and I started last year. It’s very exciting. What a wonderful way to get to enjoy a new book and some
    Chocolate while cozying up in your favorite spot. I hope your family and friends and community keep sharing this literary tradition

    Amy O

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