by Eliza Reid
Publication Date February 8, 2022
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Genres: Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs, Political Science / Civil Rights, Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social, Social Science / Women's Studies
Reading Challenges: 2022 Nonfiction Challenge
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"Secrets of the Sprakkar is a fascinating window into what a more gender-equal world could look like, and why it's worth striving for. Iceland is doing a lot to level the playing field: paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and broad support for gender equality as a core value. Reid takes us on an exploration not only around this fascinating island, but also through the triumphs and stumbles of a country as it journeys towards gender equality."
—Hillary Rodham Clinton
Iceland is the best place on earth to be a woman—but why?
For the past twelve years, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report has ranked Iceland number one on its list of countries closing the gap in equality between men and women. What is it about Iceland that makes many women's experience there so positive? Why has their society made such meaningful progress in this ongoing battle, from electing the world's first female president to passing legislation specifically designed to help even the playing field at work and at home? And how can we learn from what Icelanders have already discovered about women's powerful place in society and how increased fairness benefits everyone?
Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland, examines her adopted homeland's attitude toward women—the deep-seated cultural sense of fairness, the influence of current and historical role models, and, crucially, the areas where Iceland still has room for improvement. Reid's own experience as an immigrant from small-town Canada who never expected to become a first lady is expertly interwoven with interviews with dozens of sprakkar ("extraordinary women") to form the backbone of an illuminating discussion of what it means to move through the world as a woman, and how the rules of society play more of a role in who we view as "equal" than we may understand. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.
Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid is a nonfiction book written by the first lady of Iceland, highlighting the country’s focus on women and women’s rights. It’s a powerful book, and full of hope.
Eliza Reid was born and raised in Canada, and then went to university in England where she met her husband, who would later become the president of Iceland, making her the first lady. As an outsider, she spent much of her time learning the language and culture of Iceland, especially from the women of Iceland.
First, you have to be wondering what the title is about. Here is the definition from the book: “SPRAKKAR (plural noun): An ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Pronounced: SPRAH-car (singular: sprakki).
This extremely well-researched book is full of facts about the women of Iceland, and how the country is working for equality between the sexes. The author makes it clear that they are not perfect, but that Iceland is getter closer to changing the gender gap more than any other country.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I found interesting:
“I live in one of the happiest nations on earth. Iceland continues to rise on the Rainbow Europe rankings for LGBTQIA+-friendly countries. It is the world’s most peaceful country, helped no doubt by the fact that it has no military.”
“Iceland has one of the world’s highest proportions of women working outside the home, and an “it takes a village” mentality is a crucial component of this achievement.”
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read nonfiction and wants to know more about gender equality, and how one country is making a difference.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid counts towards my 2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge. In category 1. Social History.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Sounds like many countries can learn a lot from the things Iceland is doing. Thanks for sharing!
Yes! It’s amazing what they have been able to do.
There’s a long library waitlist for this book, but I will be reading it as soon as there’s a copy available for me. It sounds amazing. Thanks for mentioning it here.
Thank you, Lydia. It was very eye opening and also frustrating because, why can’t the rest of the world do this too?
This sounds like such a great read Wendy! If only every country could be so together! Thanks for sharing.
I know! If Iceland can do it, why can’t the rest of the world do it!
Even though I don’t have the attention-span for nonfiction, this story does sound very interesting. Excellent review!
Thank you, Tessa. It was interesting, but I’m glad to be back to my fiction again! 🙂
This sounds like a really great book. I have heard that Iceland is one of the best, if not the best, in gender equality. I think I remember hearing something that years ago, women went on strike to get more equality. Am I thinking of the correct country? I always want to think of Iceland as part of North American, instead of Europe. I know it is right in the middle between the two, but it always catches me off guard when I see it mentioned as part of Europe.
You’re right, Melanie. Iceland it at the top for most gender equality issues. They’ve worked hard on it, and it’s paying off for them. And yes, they are the country where the women went on strike. It’s really amazing what they have done there.
Sounds interesting 💕
Thank you, Jenny
She sounds like an amazing female leader. I am always blown away by someone who can speak fluently in a second or more language. Then to be able to use it publicly and effectively? Kudos to Eliza Reid.
She’s really amazing.
This sounds fascinating and a model for us all.
It really was inspiring. If Iceland can do it, we should be able to do it too.
It does sound like a fascinating book. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you, Cindy.
This book sounds incredible, I love the strides they are making. Great review!
Thank you, Rae, it was really interesting, and kind of frustrating too, because if they can do it, why can’t the rest of the world!
This sounds like a really important book, thanks for the review.
Thank you Rosie!