Iceland has a long history of storytelling, a facet of their culture that remains strong to this day. Icelandic sagas took shape between the 12th and 14th centuries. While some European cultures were honing their architectural skills, Icelanders found their strides in the written word. Icelandic sagas are stories of conflict and woe, romance and the great human struggle. Though the sagas were written close to 1,000 years ago, their impact on the everyday life of Icelandic people is still very strong.
What is particularly unique about the sagas is that they portray a newly-forming society in a previously uninhabited land, so thanks to these sagas we know about the first settlers and societal development over the centuries. These sagas were written in a style closer to modern day novels rather than structured as historical chronicles, and the tales of strong men and women with their turbulent endeavors told in colorful language make the stories so attractive to readers.
To this day, Icelanders place a huge emphasis on literature. Reykjavik was named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011! Icelanders read more books per capita than any other country in the world, and 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book at some point in their lives. There is still great respect for those who write and tell stories for a living, and books are the most popular Christmas present!