At first glance, this statistic stuns. 1 in 10 almost seems like a typo, or a miscalculation. But Iceland has such a strong culture of writing and storytelling that they even have a saying for this phenomenon – “ad ganga med bok I maganum”. Everyone gives birth to a book.
They are not just a country of writers, but as a natural extension, they are voracious readers. Book catalogs get passed out to every house, and public benches even have barcodes that will read audiobooks to you as you sit. They have more books read per capita than any other country in the world.
The country’s natural landscape has been cited as an inspiration even to non-native authors such as JRR Tolkien (who studied Icelandic in college) and has served as a dramatic backdrop for storytelling in other media as well. The HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones has shot in Iceland for season 4, and the upcoming Thor movie shot Icelandic landscapes as well.
If you’re curious to find out more about this unique cultural situation, check out the article from BBC that inspired this post.