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Jólabókaflóð at Blinkist: Books We Think You Should Gift Yourself This Holiday Season

The Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð includes giving books as presents. For those looking to give themselves some new nuggets of knowledge in the coming year, we suggest this diverse selection of titles.
by Joshua H. Phelps | Dec 19 2019

The Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð (Christmas Book Flood) celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. In the midst of World War II’s privations, paper was one of the only resources whose use had not been rationed for the war effort. Because of this, books became popular gifts at Christmas and Icelandic publishers timed their release of new titles for the start of the holiday season.

And, indeed, books do make great gifts. They can offer insights and inspirations or escapes and spectacles of imagination (these are by no means exclusive, though).

With such a wide and growing selection of titles on the shelves, how are we supposed to know which one to curl up with? We recently asked around the Blinkist office and put together the following recommendations:

Six-inch Voices, Please

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

Communication forms the bedrock of our relationships with others and ourselves. As outlined in Dr. Rosenberg’s book, the Nonviolent Communication method helps us to express our thoughts and feelings with clarity and compassion.

Recommended by Ben H.

To the Root of It

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

It’s easy to take trees for granted. They line the streets we drive down or carpet distant mountains or provide shade in parks. A deeper look at them reveals a world as rich and dynamic as that which happens around them.

Recommended by Therese S.


A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon

One of the fundamental aspects of human life, the subject of love has been tackled by writers, painters, biochemists, and psychologists, to name but a few. Lewis, Amini, and Lannon work together to untangle the complex of memories and personal traits, so we can love more fully.

Recommended by Ody C.

Not Going to Say Sorry

The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

It can be easy to criticize oneself for every deviation from what is considered “beautiful” or “perfect” in society. Taylor’s book lays out a way to help not only grow more comfortable in one’s own skin, but to fully embrace and champion it. On her episode of Blinkist’s podcast, Simplify, Renee Taylor delved further into the world-changing possibilities of this kind of self-acceptance.

Recommended by Robyn K.

Trading in History

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

The phrase “silk road” often conjures an image of an age long since past, camels and caravans crossing deserts and steppes. However, Frankopan examines the impact this extensive trading network had and continues to have up to the present day.

Recommended by Tom A.

Help Yourself Unwind

How Not to Worry by Paul McGee

In a hyperconnected world like ours is nowadays, it seems natural to feel worried about a great deal. But this has negative consequences that are all too plain. McGee’s strategy does not require a significant overhaul of your thinking, but nudges you into a better frame of mind.

Recommended by Lotta K.

Art for Art’s Sake

An Audience of One by Srinivas Rao

There is the temptation as an artist to riff off what is popular at the moment in the hopes of getting exposure. But this can conflict with the demands of one’s own creative desires. Srinivas Rao advocates for building one’s own path. And this applies to people outside the arts as well.

Recommended by Kaleb W.

Keep Calm and Live Virtuously

Letters From a Stoic by Seneca

A classic from the Classical age that has endured to this day, Seneca’s work helped define a school of thought. Though “stoic” nowadays conjures an image of emotional detachment, the original Stoics’ interest in virtuous behavior serves as a good reminder no matter the era.

Recommended by Ben J.

An Elevated Perspective

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

From the years of training and dedication to a view of the world very few people have experienced, astronauts have much to teach us. Hadfield uses his own experiences to provide a window into the soft and hard skills an astronaut needs and deliver his life lessons.

Recommended by Tom F.

What Not to Give

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Life has a way of piling up obligations and time-killers. And the kicker is that so often these things do not yield results that feel like they match the effort we put into them. So, maybe it is time to start taking Knight’s advice and determine the things about which we can stop giving a f—

Recommended by Gessica B.

A Whole New Story

The Myths of Creativity by David Burkus

As much a guide of what to do as what not to do, Burkus looks at common lines of thinking about creativity and then at what actually gets results. Often the edge cases are the ones that get the headlines, but that does not mean that those methods are the best for you.

Recommended by Daulet B.

Joie de Vivre

The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Happiness can seem like something we receive passively in life, and fleetingly at that, but Tutu and the Dalai Lama offer a more proactive approach. While difficulties in life are unavoidable, there are steps that can be taken to lessen their weight or even use them to cultivate happiness.

Recommended by Gloria C.

Liebe? Amor? Love? Kärlek? Upendo?

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

We use multiple languages constantly. There’s the language of the words we speak, our body language, and our love language, to name a few. What can we learn about love, when we approach it this way? Chapman’s insights provide a foundation on which we can build better relationships.

Recommended by Anatoli M.

Bonus: A Nutritional Polestar

Der Ernährungskompass by Bas Kast

Being based in Berlin, we decided to offer one for our German-speaking readers, particularly if they are interested in healthier eating. Able to provide solid knowledge and advice without trying to scare you into better behavior, Kast helps readers to make informed dietary decisions.

Recommended by Nora V.

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