Tales of Iceland or “Running with the Huldufólk in the Permanent Daylight” is the fast, fun, informative, and true story about my trip through Iceland with two friends in June. It’s written by Stephen Markley, a Chicago author, journalist, and friend who traveled with me in Iceland. This whole thing came about somewhat accidentally. I had no intention of publishing a book about Iceland, and certainly no intention of publishing one that features me as a main character.
Here’s how it all happened: I asked for a 7-month sabbatical from IBM to travel and live around Europe on my own terms. I ended up booking a one-way ticket to Iceland because it was the cheapest flight I could find from the US to Europe. My friend Mike booked a ticket as well. Steve had always wanted to travel to Iceland, and when he heard Mike and I were going in June, he jumped on the opportunity. What started as a seemingly simple trip of three late twenty-something pals turned into a project at the intersection of travel, art, business, and a desire to create something worthwhile.
On one of our last days in Iceland — June 17 and Iceland’s National Day, to be exact — Steve and I were walking around the streets of Reykjavík, chitchatting idly as friends often do while wandering foreign streets.
[Adapted excerpt from Tales of Iceland]:
Steve: I feel like I could write a whole book about this place.
Me: You should.
Steve: Not like a real book. Not something I’d spend two years on and bleed my eyeballs out over, but something fun and fast, informative but mostly full of dick jokes and F-words. Publish it as an e-book and not even fuck around with a publisher.
Me: Yeah, man, that sounds great. Why not?
Steve: I don’t know, why not?
Steve: You’re such a stupid optimist.
Me: I just get excited. I think people should do things that excite them.
Steve: This is going to be a much more abbreviated conversation if I actually write it down in the book, but will you help me?
Me: Sure, man. You’re such a funny, talented writer, but so totally hopeless when it comes to marketing yourself or getting the word out about your writing. That’s the kind of stuff that excites me: entrepreneurship and building platforms and all that good stuff. You need to think about other methods, other avenues. And I think travel writing—not Rick Steves or anything like that—just Steve Markley going places and kind of making weird, Steve Markley observations—I’d read the shit out of that. Then who knows? Maybe if it sells enough, you go do one of these every year. Go to interesting places, learn about them, have Steve Markley-like adventures, write short e-books.
Fast-forward 10 months later to present day. Little did I know that conversation would become recorded for the remainder of written history.
Steve ended up writing the exact type of travel book we both wish existed before our own trip to Iceland: something funny, but educational; fast, yet full of insight; a little raunchy, but smart. Something that gives useful cultural and historical context to compliment one’s own journey through a place.
Tales of Iceland picks up where guidebooks fall short: they’re too static and stale. They encourage us to consume sites and cities like the way we consume LCD TVs and food.
As I traveled through 18 European countries, I didn’t pick up a single travel guide. Instead, I used free, curated websites like TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet for travel tips. I polled friends on Facebook and Twitter to determine my next destinations. Better yet, I simply asked locals for advice when I arrived in a new city or country. The internet has made information a commodity — travel info being no different. Honest, educational, and fun Tales, on the other hand, are in short supply. And it’s too bad, because they’re the stuff of life.
We aim to fix that.
Tales of Iceland is the anti-guidebook to Iceland, because unlike guidebooks, it doesn’t suggest we should travel like tourists. Instead, it suggests we should travel like explorers: full of curiosity, intrigue, and a strong desire to live out our own tales.
If you’re going to Iceland, dreaming of Iceland, or simply would like to read a fun book, I really hope you pick up Tales of Iceland. Even if you have no intention of visiting Iceland, I hope you pick up the book if no other reason than to throw me a karmic high-five in this new endeavor.
There are 5 ways to pickup the book:
I’ll be honest, there are some embarrassing stories about me in the book, as should be expected when three single twenty-something friends embark on a foreign adventure. You may be wondering why I would promote such a book. Here’s why: As I continue to write on GiveLiveExplore, I’ve learned to become more open with sharing who I am. If someone wants to judge me, so be it. Life’s too short to spend it paranoid or embarrassed. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
[Side Note: if you’re easily offended by crude language or older than 75, I gently advise against reading the book. It’s a lot of fun, but Grandpa, you probably shouldn’t read it.]
If you’ve gotten anything out of my blog: insight, inspiration, entertainment, or all of the above, I really appreciate your support in picking up a copy. Plus, 5% of our book profits are donated to the Icelandic environmental non-profit Seeds. Iceland’s nature is one of the things we fell in love with, and we want to do our part in helping preserve it.
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Here are some glowing reviews so far (even some from native Icelanders!!):