The Book Flood

Generated by the Nantucket Book Festival

I recently stumbled upon a great Icelandic holiday tradition, courtesy of Shane Parrish of the enlightening Farnam Street blog.

“It’s called Jolabokaflod, (pronounced yo-la-boka-flot) and loosely translated as “yule book flood.” Here’s how it works. On Christmas Eve, friends and families exchange books — then spend the evening together curled up reading their new treasure.”

Parrish posed the following question to some of the great thinkers he has interviewed:

“What book (or books) have you given away to people the most and why?”

That’s a question worth spreading.

Which brings me to The Nantucket Book Festival, on whose board of directors I serve. More than 220 great authors have participated in the Festival since its birth in 2012.

In the spirit of Jolabokaflod, we have asked the Festival’s esteemed alumni what books they give away the most and why. The first responses have washed ashore. You can listen to them below.

By the way, a 2013 study at Bifrost University, and reported by The Reykjavk Grapevine, found that 50 percent of Icelanders read eight books a year, 93 percent read at least one. For those who identify with the remaining seven percent: here’s to potential.

The Nantucket Book Festival Jolabokaflod

Robert Pinsky has served as U.S. Poet Laureate. He participated in the Nantucket Book Festival in 2017. You can explore his work here.

Andrew Solomon is a writer and a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Columbia University Medical Center. He participated in the Nantucket Book Festival in 2018. You can explore his work here.

Will Schwalbe is an author who loves to know what everyone is reading. He was Editor in Chief at Hyperion publishing, and founded You can hear our conversation at the 2017 Nantucket Book Festival here.

Daniel Menaker was a fiction editor at The New Yorker for over 20 years and an Editor in Chief at Random House. At the 2014 Nantucket Book Festival, we spoke about his memoir, My Mistake, and he revealed the first book that made him feel like a grownup.

Please click the applause icon if you would like to be updated when more authors contribute to the Nantucket Book Festival Jokabokaflod.