In the next topic in the rather marvellous Non Fiction November, which I am enjoying very much (waves at new blogging connections) we have Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert, which is hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey. The idea is to …

Share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert)

I have chosen the first and last to talk about here. Not that I know everything on everything that interests me, but my main development this last few months has been around reading more books again on experiences of people that don’t reflect my own experiences, but I found I had two books based around disability, three on immigration and three on non-white experience on the TBR, some with bibliographies, so might get swamped if I asked for more reccs (please always feel free to recommend further reading on my reviews, though!)

Be the Expert: Iceland

I’ve been to Iceland four times (including to run the Reykjavik Marathon) and I’ve been fairly obsessed with the place since I was 8. I studied Old Norse as part of my English degree and spent some time trying to learn modern Icelandic. So here are some books from my older and more recent reading which I recommend.

Four books on Iceland

W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice – “Letters from Iceland” – The two poets took a trip around Iceland in 1936 in order to write a travel book they were commissioned to do, and the result is a mix of reportage, poetry and prose with lots of misery and laughs.

Simon Armitage and Glynn Maxwell – “Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland” – These two modern poets decided to go in the footsteps of Auden and MacNeice, making these books go well together. This was in 1994, so just before it became trendy to visit. Reportage, play scripts and poetry riff off the older writers.

Edward Hancox – “Iceland Defrosted” – The modern book on Iceland I recommend the most. Hancox spends lots of time in Iceland and has made friends there, so he gives us a partial insider’s view – it’s also very funny. The review linked to here also tells you about a great work of fiction!

Sarah Moss – “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” – In 2009, Moss saw an advert for a job in Iceland and shipped her family including two small children over to live there for a year. The financial crisis has hit, and she’s shocked that no one seems to want second-hand items. I have a few reservations about this book but it does give lots of detail of day-to-day living in the country.

Become the Expert

I mentioned in one of my other posts that I appear to have a lot of books on birdwatching on the TBR, given that it’s a fairly minority interest and you wouldn’t expect there to be THAT many books written about it. And this is just the books specifically about birdwatching – I’ve read Stephen Rutt’s “The Seafarers” this year, which has a lot of detail about being a birdwatcher but isn’t entirely about that, and have a few others on my TBR around rewilding which are bound to include it. But here are four books about birdwatching which I fear will make me an expert (I am already a birdwatcher, though not an expert one. We have done ‘twitching’ once, and that involved walking from Penzance to Newlyn to look for an Icelandic gull, a walk of about 15 minutes, so very mildly!

Four books on birdwatching

In order of acquisition, though I bought the bottom two on the same shopping trip, in the same shop:

Alex Horne – “Birdwatchingwatching: One Year, Two Men, Three Rules, Ten Thousand Birds” – Horne goes birdwatching with his dad for a year.  He’s a comedian, so I’m expecting laughs.

Joe Harkness – “Bird Therapy” – The only Unbound campaign I’ve taken part in that’s got published, this is about the therapeutic effect of watching birds. I bought this for my best friend, Emma, for her birthday, so might read it along with her.

Stephen Moss – “A Bird in the Bush: A Social History of Birdwatching” – I don’t think he’s related to Sarah Moss, although I don’t know for sure. This looks to have a historical aspect and I love the cover image – I took a similar picture on the Isles of Scilly the one time we went.

Mark Cocker – “Birders: Tales of a Tribe” – I think more about modern birding. Bill Oddie is mentioned on the front cover.

So there we go! I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts. Have I piqued your interest in Iceland? Do you know yet more books on birdwatching? (I know at least one of the bloggers I follow has read “Bird Therapy” and also did the Unbound thing).