Book review: 88 by Alva

“we’re supposed to throw ourselves out there, take risks! but never ever show any kind of pain or sense of failure if things don’t turn out the way we hope they will.”

There was a statistic in the news last year stating that 1 in 10 Icelanders will publish a book. Iceland is a country for book lovers although only a very small percentage of those published are then translated into English. It’s probably no wonder that many people interested in Iceland turn to bloggers to find out more about daily life and their thoughts on current events. Iceland Eyes was a hugely influential blog for me. Maria has covered just about every aspect of Iceland you can think during the many years she has been blogging. In recent years it’s been interesting to see through her blog and other social media that she has become more introspective in her writing and interested in more mystical topics. I was really excited when she announced she would have a book out. 88 was written under the name Alva to deliberately make it more artistic and less completely “her”.

88 is actually quite hard to review as I feel like it’s a very personal book. Maria gave 88herself a timeline of 88 days to write this book in. Because of this, the book is reflective of her daily life and thoughts during this period, dipping in and out of life events and coming back to include Iceland’s natural surroundings. Writing without an idea of the overall outcome as you don’t know what will happen during those days is an interesting concept. Having read her blog I had several moments where I “recognised” what she was talking about and knew more of the wider context, and it was interesting to read about the same events in a different format. Having said that, there is an element of fiction as this is not a diary and you should not assume that everything in this book happened at all, or specifically to Maria.

This book has a style that you could either love or hate, it’s non-linear and almost reads like a poem in places. It means you could just read a few random pages without feeling that you’ve missed out  by not reading it in order. It is full of emotion and I would imagine it was pretty cathartic to write. Maria is a natural writer and proven she can adapt her writing style, and be a creative writer as well as she can cover factual topics.

You can buy this book in the Mál og Menning bookstore on Laugavegur in Reykjavík, via Blurb (UK link here but should take you to your local website) or download via iTunes.

 

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