Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World (Paperback)
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A New York Times Book Review Editor's Pick
"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 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
"With warmth, wit, and insight, First Lady Eliza Reid explores the reasons why Iceland is one of the best places on earth for women, as well as the challenges still ahead in achieving full gender equity. Secrets of the Sprakkar is an illuminating, inspiring, and absorbing book about how a more equitable society could elevate us all." — Cheryl Strayed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wild
"A warm and intimate exploration of what one small country can teach the world about gender equality. Eliza Reid charts her personal journey from a Canadian farm to Iceland’s Presidential Residence and along the way proves to be the best possible guide to the historical, geographical and cultural factors that helped women thrive and built a vibrant modern society." — Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
"The fact that the Icelandic language includes the word ‘sprakkar’—an ancient term that translates to mean ‘extraordinary women’––in its lexicon tells you a great deal about the country of Iceland. And in her marvelous memoir, Eliza Reid tells us a great deal more: not only about her life in Iceland, but also about gender equality in action, and the sense of purpose that all of us seek. This is a charming and necessary book." — Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author
"What a world of possibilities Eliza Reid unveils in this warm and wonderful book! It made me want to pack my bags and move to Iceland." — Ruth Reichl, New York Times bestselling author of Save Me the Plums
"Charting her own love of the nation and her journey to becoming its First Lady, alongside histories of other formidable women, Eliza Reid’s Secrets of the Sprakkar sheds light on Iceland’s unique approach to gender equity – an emblematic look at what’s possible in the fight for women’s rights worldwide. A fascinating, hopeful and inspiring read." — Esi Edugyan, bestselling author of Washington Black
"Everyone who visits Iceland quickly learns that the little country contains some of the world’s most extraordinary women, their lives rooted in a social and political culture that nurtures equality between men and women without ignoring the pleasures and complexities of family life. It’s a pleasure to see that culture marked out for us through the sometimes wry but always beautifully personal and perceptive lens of the remarkable Eliza Reid." — Adam Gopnik, New Yorker staff writer
"A breath of fresh Icelandic air! Eliza Reid crafts a highly original, warm and honest journey into the heart of the small Nordic island nation and its rich culture and history, creating an empowering read on how striving for equality can improve everyone’s lives." — Katja Pantzar, author of The Finnish Way
"Reading Secrets of the Sprakkar is like sitting down with your favorite, smartest, warmest girlfriend and hearing all about the extraordinary women, history, and culture of her tiny adopted country. Reid celebrates Iceland and its attitudes toward women while also discussing where it has some room for improvement. By the time I finished this book, I felt I had traveled to Iceland and gotten to know its beauty and quirks and, most importantly, its sprakkar." — Ann Hood
"An intimate and inspiring glimpse into a better world for women—and for us all. Eliza Reid’s Iceland is utterly captivating." — Alison Pick, Man Booker Prize nominated author of Far to Go
"Iceland is full of extraordinary women, and in this delightful and engaging book Eliza Reid will introduce you to many of them. Prepare to be charmed and enlightened by the sprakkar, and their secrets for living meaningful and fulfilling lives. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself booking a trip to visit." — Elizabeth Renzetti
"Each time I visit Iceland I leave wondering just what it is that makes this forward-thinking nation so magical. Secrets of the Sprakkar answers that question and many more. It is a road map to a better society. Such an important book should not be this enjoyable a read. It left me feeling that a better world is possible." — Mark Critch, author of Son of a Critch and An Embarrassment of Critch’s
"Insightful and encouraging." — Stacey Lindsay, senior editor of Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper