Book Review: Iceland Defrosted

Ed’s book was chosen during a poor month for myself due to my complete inability to do anything at all. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been very tired, have fallen at hit my face on a staircase and at times have struggled to perform even the most basic tasks, like typing my own name. That’s why it took me such a long time (about a month) to read Iceland Defrosted which is a real shame because I was so eager to progress. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and certainly the upside to taking so long to read this book was that I was able to enjoy it for so much longer than I otherwise would have. I am very grateful for that indeed.

Iceland Defrosted is a travel journal that documents Ed Hancox’s many trips to Iceland and despite being his first book, feels like the work of someone who has been writing and publishing for years. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading Iceland Defrosted, simply because I’ve never had any interest in Iceland. However after meeting Ed a few times and befriending him on Facebook it felt only right that I read his book.

I’m very lucky that Ed signed my copy and left a little message which is not only lovely but served as the guilt trip that pushed me to start reading as soon as I got it home. It was astounding how the first 20 pages disappeared without me noticing and I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d made my way through. The writing is snappy and quick but in a style so dangerously easy to read that many hours can be lost without you even knowing.

It’s also really funny and Ed’s recollections of Icelandic shenanigans made me wish that I too could enjoy such fun. The tone of this book is open and inclusive which makes it feel as if you’re sat having kaffi (oh, a bit of Icelandic slipped in there) with Ed while he tells you tales from his adventures. For me, the friendly style was really enjoyable and I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys chatty blogs or funny columnists.

Another thing that I love about Iceland Defrosted is the length of the chapters and the frequency of the page stars (you know the ones- they tell you it’s an okay place to stop even though it’s mid chapter). Being able to read a 279 page book in shorter stints than the 13 chapters was really lovely and it allowed me to get through it a few pages at a time. This also makes it the perfect handbag (or man-bag) book because you can pick it up and read during a spare minute, without having to think too hard about what’s happened so far.

I’ve never read a travel book before and I was expecting pictures like in autobiographies. At first I did feel that it would have been better with visual aid but as I continued to make my way through I decided that it feels more magical without. For all the reader knows, Ed might never have even been to Iceland and I enjoy the thought that it could all be fabricated even though I do believe what he says…

As is evident from what I’ve written so far, I really did enjoy this book. However, I don’t like the cover. To me, the cover portrays the book as being dark, intense and moody when in actuality it’s the complete opposite! The stories are light and funny and even the more negative points of his trip are told with such hilarity that I felt happy the whole way through. I know that it sounds so shallow to comment on the cover of a book but I always take into account the appearance of books before I buy them and I so wish that this was brighter and jollier.

I adored Iceland Defrosted and I’m definitely keen on visiting Iceland; a huge feat because my mum’s been talking about visiting for years to which my response has typically been a dirty look and an ‘urrrghhhhhh no’. I particularly enjoyed learning new Icelandic words and facts and have revelled in using the knowledge in public to look clever. I look forward to reading more of Ed’s writing in the future (he has a blog icelanddefrosted.com) and also look forward to seeing him when he’s next in the shop because other than beloved Jaqueline Wilson he will be the only author that I’ve met whose book I’ve actually read!

Ed’s unwavering and infectious passion for Iceland is what makes this book so special and I urge everyone who reads this review to give it a read. This book has taught me many wonderful things including how ‘hot pot’ doesn’t always refer to a stew, that a baby puffin is called a puffling and that shark meat should always be avoided; but certainly the biggest lesson that I’ve learnt is to never, ever judge a book by it’s cover.

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