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Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World

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The Canadian first lady of Iceland pens a book about why this tiny nation is leading the charge in gender equality, in the vein of The Moment of Lift. 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 betwee The Canadian first lady of Iceland pens a book about why this tiny nation is leading the charge in gender equality, in the vein of The Moment of Lift. 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 enables its society to make 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? The answer is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Eliza Reid—Canadian born and raised, and now 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. Throughout, she interviews dozens of sprakkar to tell their inspirational stories, and expertly weaves in her own experiences as an immigrant from small-town Canada. The result is 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. What makes many women’s experiences there so positive? And what can we learn about fairness to benefit our society? Like influential and progressive first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Michelle Obama, Reid uses her platform to bring the best of her nation to the world. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.


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The Canadian first lady of Iceland pens a book about why this tiny nation is leading the charge in gender equality, in the vein of The Moment of Lift. 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 betwee The Canadian first lady of Iceland pens a book about why this tiny nation is leading the charge in gender equality, in the vein of The Moment of Lift. 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 enables its society to make 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? The answer is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Eliza Reid—Canadian born and raised, and now 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. Throughout, she interviews dozens of sprakkar to tell their inspirational stories, and expertly weaves in her own experiences as an immigrant from small-town Canada. The result is 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. What makes many women’s experiences there so positive? And what can we learn about fairness to benefit our society? Like influential and progressive first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Michelle Obama, Reid uses her platform to bring the best of her nation to the world. Secrets of the Sprakkar is a powerful and atmospheric portrait of a tiny country that could lead the way forward for us all.

30 review for Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    Canadian-born Eliza Reid is the current First Lady of Finland, having met and married her husband at Oxford, and who has lived in Iceland for close to 20 years. Reid does an excellent job explaining the many reasons why Iceland has the smallest gender gap in the world for many years, a profound achievement for this small island nation. Essentially, it is due to the sprakkar: an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Women have seemingly always worked there, and a day' Canadian-born Eliza Reid is the current First Lady of Finland, having met and married her husband at Oxford, and who has lived in Iceland for close to 20 years. Reid does an excellent job explaining the many reasons why Iceland has the smallest gender gap in the world for many years, a profound achievement for this small island nation. Essentially, it is due to the sprakkar: an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Women have seemingly always worked there, and a day's strike many years ago left a profound impression on all. The social welfare system, which promotes both maternity and paternity leave as well as reasonably priced day care, allowing both parents to return to the workforce are important contributors. Female social organizations are also much more active and prevalent, for sharing ideas and initiatives. Reid warns that vigilance must be constant to promote equality, especially since there are still certain remaining male bastions (certain industries, board room, and too-often CEOs.) I would have given 4 stars, but I thought the book meandered after making a number of amazing observations, and I think it could have provided prescriptive conclusions for other nations to move towards parity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lilisa

    This was an interesting read about Iceland and the significant parity/advancement women there have made relative to their male counterparts than other parts of the western world. More importantly, what stood out for me was the everyday Icelandic social and cultural norms - operating at a practical, nonjudgmental, and higher level than other western cultures. From the independence and maturity level of kids to the “quarter to three” mindset (which I found hilarious), this book was a keen insight This was an interesting read about Iceland and the significant parity/advancement women there have made relative to their male counterparts than other parts of the western world. More importantly, what stood out for me was the everyday Icelandic social and cultural norms - operating at a practical, nonjudgmental, and higher level than other western cultures. From the independence and maturity level of kids to the “quarter to three” mindset (which I found hilarious), this book was a keen insight into Iceland and its people. Written by the current First Lady of Finland, who is Canadian born, and has lived in Iceland for close to 20 years, it’s a dedication to the achievement of Icelandic people, especially women, who have strived to make this small country thrive. Being small has advantages and disadvantages and Iceland has capitalized on its size to be nimble, faster moving, and resourceful. There were a lot of examples and stories of women achievements that the author cited to substantiate her points - occasionally parts felt a bit mired and maybe took away from smoother transitions in the book. The author’s love and embrace of her adopted country definitely shines through. I also ended up listening to her TedTalk. Overall, this was an interesting and eye-opening book on Iceland. I learned a lot and would definitely recommend it. I read How To Live Icelandic by Nína Björk Jónsdóttir a few months ago and that’s a great overall snapshot (lots of fantastic photos) of Iceland, which would complement this book well. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bronwyn

    Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada and #NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book to read in exchange for my honest thoughts. 5 stars! Eliza Reid, journalist and Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland, paints a love letter to her Iceland and presents nuanced discussions of Iceland's successes in striving for gender equality in this book. The author does not claim Iceland as having achieved perfect gender equality, and highlights ongoing issues in the country where there is a need for progress. Rei Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada and #NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book to read in exchange for my honest thoughts. 5 stars! Eliza Reid, journalist and Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland, paints a love letter to her Iceland and presents nuanced discussions of Iceland's successes in striving for gender equality in this book. The author does not claim Iceland as having achieved perfect gender equality, and highlights ongoing issues in the country where there is a need for progress. Reid brings forth stories of diverse and inspiring Sprakkar (plural noun, an Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women) to "share our success stories, learn from others how to improve areas that call for attention, and help everyone, not only women, strive to use their voices, their space" (p 236-237). Oftentimes I take breaks when reading non-fiction, finding myself needing time and space away from the book to gather my thoughts and process the facts and ideas presented by the author. Reid's words flowed off of the page, rendering her book easy to breeze through without minimizing the importance or the complexity of her material - it was hard to put down and very well researched! I was fascinated to learn more about Iceland, and am inspired by the authors sentiment that while she is immensely proud of Iceland's example on gender equality, that she hopes to Iceland and countries around the world make further strides on gender equality. I loved the final message from the author that "Equality is my right. It's yours too." Another quote from the book that I wrote down while reading is from page 12 "Being aware of ongoing challenges is the first step in eliminating them, and it does not diminish the significant advances we have accomplished together." I sat with this sentiment for a while and think it is so important, especially in the face of ongoing challenges around the world. I will be recommending this book to anyone who is interested in gender equality and learning about different countries!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kalle

    Okay this book was FANTASTIC!! Secrets of the Sprakkar is about women in Iceland and how they are changing the world. It is written by Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland and is an incredible look into feminism, gender equality, parenthood, immigration, language, diversity, politics, sports, farming, ancient Icelandic history, and the successes and issues present in the country. I am so glad that I stumbled across this book because I don't remember the last time I have been so engrossed reading Okay this book was FANTASTIC!! Secrets of the Sprakkar is about women in Iceland and how they are changing the world. It is written by Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland and is an incredible look into feminism, gender equality, parenthood, immigration, language, diversity, politics, sports, farming, ancient Icelandic history, and the successes and issues present in the country. I am so glad that I stumbled across this book because I don't remember the last time I have been so engrossed reading nonfiction! I had no idea that this book was written by the First Lady of Iceland (although I now realize that it is prominently displayed on the cover) (I also didn't know that Iceland had a president, or a prime minister, before reading this book) (Actually I didn't know much at all about Iceland until reading this book). Reid had such a unique perspective and a palpable passion for the people of her country and used her voice and the voices of many others to talk about important topics. I felt like Reid hit a great balance between showing Iceland's amazing successes and recognizing that there are still very real issues in the country. I LOVED reading about the diverse women present in the book and their unique perspectives. I really appreciated the breadth of topics and speakers present in the book. I would sometimes think "what about..." and then the next chapter would talk about LGBTQIA+ people in Iceland, or non-white immigrants, or people with disabilities, or how nonbinary individuals fit into feminism in Iceland. I feel like I got to know a bunch of amazing women and I was constantly taking out my phone to learn more about the subjects of the book. I also really enjoyed that women from the sagas and the history of Iceland is explored in a book mostly focused on modern Iceland. I felt like it set up the context for the current culture in Iceland, and they're just really great stories! Reid's love story and getting to be the First Lady is so amazing and incredible that it's worth reading this book just for that. I have already relayed an abbreviated version of her story to several people because I loved it so much. HIGHLY recommend this book if you are at all interested in feminism, gender equality, Iceland, or just a compelling nonfiction book. 5 stars. Thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    For many years I have been fascinated by Iceland, and curious about its volcanic landscape, and the people who live there. The author, Eliza Reid, who was born and raised near Ottawa, where I once lived, is a journalist, editor, cofounder of the annual Iceland Writers Retreat and since August 1, 2016 she has been the First Lady of Iceland. Sprakkar was an unfamiliar word, so I 'googled' it. SPRAKKAR (plural noun): (pronounced SPRAH-car) an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstandi For many years I have been fascinated by Iceland, and curious about its volcanic landscape, and the people who live there. The author, Eliza Reid, who was born and raised near Ottawa, where I once lived, is a journalist, editor, cofounder of the annual Iceland Writers Retreat and since August 1, 2016 she has been the First Lady of Iceland. Sprakkar was an unfamiliar word, so I 'googled' it. SPRAKKAR (plural noun): (pronounced SPRAH-car) an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women; sprakki (singular form) I enjoyed reading this memoir and learning about Iceland, its history, geography, culture, the people, and the sprakkar. Eliza Reid shows how we can all do our part to achieve gender equality, no matter where we live. The following quote by Esi Edugyan, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author, elegantly sums up my feelings for this book. "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." 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    Sprakkar is an Icelandic word that means "extraordinary women". For 12 years, Iceland has been ranked #1 on the Global Gender Gap report for their progress in closing the gap in equality between men and women. Eliza Reid, journalist, entrepreneur (she is co-founder of the Iceland Writer's Retreat), and Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland, has taken a look at the social, cultural, and political factors and priorities that have paved the way for equality. While there is a lot that Iceland gets rig Sprakkar is an Icelandic word that means "extraordinary women". For 12 years, Iceland has been ranked #1 on the Global Gender Gap report for their progress in closing the gap in equality between men and women. Eliza Reid, journalist, entrepreneur (she is co-founder of the Iceland Writer's Retreat), and Canadian-born First Lady of Iceland, has taken a look at the social, cultural, and political factors and priorities that have paved the way for equality. While there is a lot that Iceland gets right, there are still a lot of opportunities and I appreciated that Reid didn't just try to paint a rosy picture - she calls out the gaps that remain and the times that they fall short of the ideals that are professed. There is so much here in how the society values everyone's contributions and makes policy decisions that support that ideal. From parental leave programs to social support networks to far less judgement regarding women's sexuality, the impact of putting your proverbial money where your mouth is is clear when reading the book. Sprinkled throughout the book are stories of Sprakki (singular version of Sprakkar) who have made a difference - I liked the mix of analysis and discussion combined with individual stories. Reading this gave me yet another reason to love Iceland and there is a lot here that we can look to as we work to increase equality in our own countries.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susanne Latour

    Very interesting read on how Iceland while it may not be perfect is a country leading the way in closing the gender gap. First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid interviews numerous female role models from various walks of life (politicians, athletes, students, entrepreneurs, farmers, immigrants) and discusses a breadth of topics (racism, LGBTQIA +, people with disabilities, juggling family and work, government policies etc) and how these extraordinary women are paving the road for others. Favourite Quo Very interesting read on how Iceland while it may not be perfect is a country leading the way in closing the gender gap. First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid interviews numerous female role models from various walks of life (politicians, athletes, students, entrepreneurs, farmers, immigrants) and discusses a breadth of topics (racism, LGBTQIA +, people with disabilities, juggling family and work, government policies etc) and how these extraordinary women are paving the road for others. Favourite Quotes: Chapter 2 Helping Parents Helps Us All: “Accept imperfections. Ask for help. Offer it. No one is an island.” From Chapter 4 Stigma-Free Sexuality: “…people’s choices in their romantic lives….none of this is about me. It’s about allowing people to live the lives they want, as the people they know they are.” Chapter 6 Being Seen and Heard in the Media: “…it’s an equality battle, not a women’s rights one…men must be involved too. If our feminist role models are only women, how can young boys see themselves in that?”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wendy W.

    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 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 red 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This insight into Icelandic life really made me want to move to Iceland and experience their culture. While Reid (and all the women she interviewed) try to be realistic about the myriad positives in Icelandic culture (gender equality, support for parents, free education, health care, etc), it's hard not to be a little jealous. It does make me curious as to why Iceland can accomplish so many positive things for their society and while other, more affluent but larger countries (I'm looking at you, This insight into Icelandic life really made me want to move to Iceland and experience their culture. While Reid (and all the women she interviewed) try to be realistic about the myriad positives in Icelandic culture (gender equality, support for parents, free education, health care, etc), it's hard not to be a little jealous. It does make me curious as to why Iceland can accomplish so many positive things for their society and while other, more affluent but larger countries (I'm looking at you, USA) can't. There wasn't any real exploration of that (to be fair, that wasn't Reid's focus) but it's a question I'm interested to explore. Reid's writing style is clear (she's originally Canadian, but has spend the last 20 years in Iceland - so her adopted cadence/inflection comes through in her writing - very charming). All of the interviews that she conducted were very interesting - a great variety of perspectives from women across many industries and walks-of-life in Iceland. I do think it could have used a tighter edit as some sections felt repetitive. But an usual book that I enjoyed reading. Definitely recommend if you're interested in looking at women in Icelandic culture! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a digital ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I found this book in a local Ottawa bookstore and was immediately intrigued. It did not let me down, but really how could it? A book for and about women and gender equality, discussed through Icelandic policy and programs that is beautifully written from the perspective of an immigrant who also happens to be the First Lady of Iceland … inspiring and engaging!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Loved! Such a powerful and interesting take on women’s equality. I read an early copy while in Iceland, so my curiosity as already peaked and this book certainly delivered. I can’t wait for more people to learn how far Iceland is already ahead in changing the world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    kaylasbookishlife

    Fascinating! I love learning about different countries and learning about Iceland from the perspective of the first lady, who is also a Canadian immigrant to the country, was so cool. I love the scope in this book and found that the topics covered were different yet cohesive. Iceland women are so inspirational and it definitely had me contemplating how I could move to Iceland lol (if only I liked winter more).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Goodmurphy

    An interesting, honest and easy-to-read look at gender equality in Iceland written by Eliza Reid, the country's Canadian-born first lady. In the first chapter, Reid notes the Icelandic idiom that translates as "a guest's eyes see more clearly" to explain how she, as an immigrant, could see the normalization of gender equality in Iceland. As a result, she wanted to better understand how the country reached the point where the "debate is no longer whether gender equality is an important objective An interesting, honest and easy-to-read look at gender equality in Iceland written by Eliza Reid, the country's Canadian-born first lady. In the first chapter, Reid notes the Icelandic idiom that translates as "a guest's eyes see more clearly" to explain how she, as an immigrant, could see the normalization of gender equality in Iceland. As a result, she wanted to better understand how the country reached the point where the "debate is no longer whether gender equality is an important objective but how best to achieve it". Reid's starting point is the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report which has ranked Iceland as number one in terms of advancing equality between men and women for more than a decade. To better understand how Iceland reached that point and how to continue moving forward, she examines the culture, history and geography of the country and conducts interviews with the "sprakkar" - an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Reid brings her curiosity and unique perspective to the topic, conducting interviews with dozens of formidable women from all walks of life to highlight their achievements and to explore what it's like to live as a woman in Iceland as well as the factors that have led to Iceland becoming a more equitable society. While the interviewees celebrate the culture and history of Iceland and the advances made towards equality, they also acknowledge that there is still room for improvement in many areas. The overall message of the book is that there are "sprakkar" across the planet and the road to equality involves elevating them, letting their voices be heard and advocating for change. Reid concludes with the important message: "Equality is my right. It's yours too."

  14. 5 out of 5

    ❀ Susan G

    Iceland is on my bucket list so I loved learning more about this volcanic country and the extraordinary women that live there! it was interesting to read about the experiences of the First Lady of Iceland who grew up near Ottawa, in Ontario. I loved the term "household CEO", was validated by the "mental load" that women take on and inspired by the "value of friendship for their own well-being and its' importance in inspiring others, especially women to set high goals and defy expectations". It wa Iceland is on my bucket list so I loved learning more about this volcanic country and the extraordinary women that live there! it was interesting to read about the experiences of the First Lady of Iceland who grew up near Ottawa, in Ontario. I loved the term "household CEO", was validated by the "mental load" that women take on and inspired by the "value of friendship for their own well-being and its' importance in inspiring others, especially women to set high goals and defy expectations". It was great to reinforce the importance of prioritizing personal development, time for oneself and having important role model such as mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, hearing stories of women making a difference! Here are a few great quotes: "Speak up. Speak up for others, speak up for yourself and more will follow" "Eg thori, get go vil" or "I dare, I can, I will" "help one another shine and share the proverbial mic to have our voices heard" "I am not going to change the world on a large scale. But I can do my part to nudge things in the right direction"

  15. 5 out of 5

    Enid Wray

    WOW! What a positive, fabulous, empowering title (and the cover rocks as well!). Why do I love it? I’ll let her words speak for themselves: We need to “share our success stories, learn from others how to improve areas that call for attention, and help everyone, not only women, strive to use their voices, their space.” (pp236/7) Yes, the setting is Iceland. But… she brings her Canadian background - sensibilities, worldview - to it… and, more importantly… the subject matter is so profoundly univers WOW! What a positive, fabulous, empowering title (and the cover rocks as well!). Why do I love it? I’ll let her words speak for themselves: We need to “share our success stories, learn from others how to improve areas that call for attention, and help everyone, not only women, strive to use their voices, their space.” (pp236/7) Yes, the setting is Iceland. But… she brings her Canadian background - sensibilities, worldview - to it… and, more importantly… the subject matter is so profoundly universal. Notwithstanding that every nation/country brings its own moment in time - which is the sum total of its own unique historical path to this moment - there are so many lessons to be learned, bits of wisdom to be gleaned, so much that can inform our own journey towards true gender equality at whatever scale we choose to work at. She reminds us that “(f)or those of us who don’t determine policy, we bring gender equality within reach by using our voice and making ourselves heard.” (p245) It feels so good to read a great book. Maybe I’ll get on a roll after this one… I deserve it. I’ve read lots of crap already this year, and it’s only the first week in February! And by the way.. Not that I would ever judge her on account of the accomplishments of a (male) member of the family (read the book, you’ll laugh…!)... but she is the sister to another fave Canadian author of mine (who also has a new book coming in September)... none other than Iain Reid!! This is a happy reading day. Everyone needs to read this book and feel as good as I do right now... and then get back to work striving for true gender equality. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for granting me early access to a digital ARC.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pam Masters

    SPRAKKAR (plural noun): (pronounced SPRAH-car) an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women; sprakki (singular form) This short work of nonfiction is a letter from Eliza Reid to her adoptive country. It is also a letter to the world explaining how Iceland has worked hard to achieve a gender balance and is working to ensure all people have an equal foothold in society. Secrets of the Sprakkar is an eye-opening look at how one country is working hard towards gender equity. It SPRAKKAR (plural noun): (pronounced SPRAH-car) an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women; sprakki (singular form) This short work of nonfiction is a letter from Eliza Reid to her adoptive country. It is also a letter to the world explaining how Iceland has worked hard to achieve a gender balance and is working to ensure all people have an equal foothold in society. Secrets of the Sprakkar is an eye-opening look at how one country is working hard towards gender equity. It encourages every reader to think of sprakkar in their lives. And how they can be the sprakki in their own life. For the non-female readers, it encourages them to support the females in their life to help achieve their goals and to take up their space. For a more in-depth review, visit my blog post: https://readbakecreate.com/secrets-of...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ken Fredette

    I wanted to find out about the Sprakkar of Iceland and I thought that Eliza Reid would be a good place to begin, and I was right. Being The First Lady of Iceland but also being Canadian I find this quite interesting. She gives examples of women who have tough it out in a would that is presently a mans world. She gave examples of women who are single, gay, mothers who have been in a mans world like in the fishing industry, as a CEO or as a Captain of a boat. They have taken on being people who ha I wanted to find out about the Sprakkar of Iceland and I thought that Eliza Reid would be a good place to begin, and I was right. Being The First Lady of Iceland but also being Canadian I find this quite interesting. She gives examples of women who have tough it out in a would that is presently a mans world. She gave examples of women who are single, gay, mothers who have been in a mans world like in the fishing industry, as a CEO or as a Captain of a boat. They have taken on being people who have been interested in volunteering in non-profit organizations. This was not a crime novel but a novel about women in Iceland. It gave a lot of insight into how the women of Iceland have become involved in their country. It cannot be hard without an army, or giving Countries which are small monies with no benefits, such as in the U.S. does, but there are things like parental leave for a year to be shared between spouses. Which seems to be a wonderful benefit to have. Why can't we learn from this? We are far behind Iceland on having women in a greater role in our own congress. It seems we have a long way to grow into what Iceland has. I learned a lot from this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Manda Nicole

    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 enables its society to make 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? The answer is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icela 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 enables its society to make 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? The answer is found in the country’s sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word meaning extraordinary or outstanding women. Eliza Reid—Canadian born and raised, and now first lady of Iceland—examines her adopted homeland’s attitude toward women and more by including not only her own voice, but many wonderfully executed interviews that are inspiring and insightful. Truly eye-opening, Secrets of the Sprakkar is a beautifully written, expertly guided discussion on what it means to be a woman in the world as it is right now. The subject is one that should interest all women and this book is the one to turn to for a stimulating, enchanting journey readers are sure to remember.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    This book is comprised of stories about each of the individual women interviewed for the book. Eliza Reid's premise interested me hugely and she aptly told stories to share the 'secrets of the Sprakkar' - "extraordinary or outstanding women." However, despite the book being organized by chapters related to sisterhood, sexuality, the corporate world, media, nature, the arts, working in groups, and politics, I found the book more a compilation of anecdotes rather than a cohesive story. With that sa This book is comprised of stories about each of the individual women interviewed for the book. Eliza Reid's premise interested me hugely and she aptly told stories to share the 'secrets of the Sprakkar' - "extraordinary or outstanding women." However, despite the book being organized by chapters related to sisterhood, sexuality, the corporate world, media, nature, the arts, working in groups, and politics, I found the book more a compilation of anecdotes rather than a cohesive story. With that said, despite my response to the book's approach, I enjoyed the women's stories and by book's end felt as though I had been at a motivational talk. Indeed, curious to hear Eliza Reid's actual TED Talk, I watched Pulling Back the Curtain: Life as a First Lady. From there I found and read her NY Times Opinion piece from 2019, "I'm a First Lady, and It's an Incredibly Weird Job." Finally, here is a print interview on Inspired by Iceland from February of this year (2022) with Eliza Reid, A Chat With Eliza Reid On Iceland's Sprakkar." I share these additional resources because, while still being motivational, they helped ground things a bit more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    The national population is less than that of Cleveland, Ohio! Eliza Reid was born in rural Ontario, later moved to the UK, and later joined with the man who would later be elected president of his home country. She has maintained her own career while they raised children because of the attitudes and support given to parents by the government of Iceland. The country does more things right than most in supporting families and is ahead of the curve in terms of women in leadership positions. No place The national population is less than that of Cleveland, Ohio! Eliza Reid was born in rural Ontario, later moved to the UK, and later joined with the man who would later be elected president of his home country. She has maintained her own career while they raised children because of the attitudes and support given to parents by the government of Iceland. The country does more things right than most in supporting families and is ahead of the curve in terms of women in leadership positions. No place is perfect, but this country has a long and documented history of strong independent women, and they are justifiably proud of it. Many examples of women and their particular contributions are generously given. Looking forward to getting a more permanent copy for my very own! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Sourcebooks via NetGalley. Thank you!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Insightful look at a country I knew nothing abouts policies and attitudes toward gender equality. How lifting us all up benefits us all and that women should be taking up space in politics, sports and the arts. I fully support their philosophy to community child rearing - family is involved, there is adequate and affordable care and women are encouraged to return to work and their lives instead of being trapped at home as "mothers". This should not be a full time job - it takes a village! And th Insightful look at a country I knew nothing abouts policies and attitudes toward gender equality. How lifting us all up benefits us all and that women should be taking up space in politics, sports and the arts. I fully support their philosophy to community child rearing - family is involved, there is adequate and affordable care and women are encouraged to return to work and their lives instead of being trapped at home as "mothers". This should not be a full time job - it takes a village! And the economy thrives for it. Now I want to create my own jellyfish and snowdrifters club ;)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Randi

    A bittersweet read because it's amazing to see how other countries are striving for gender equality while my country is a dumpster fire for women. A bittersweet read because it's amazing to see how other countries are striving for gender equality while my country is a dumpster fire for women.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I visited Iceland last fall and have been enjoying learning more about this country through books and other media. It is a special place and a wonderful place to live as a woman. Reid provides a clear and concise look at the women in Iceland who are trying to make the world a better place to live.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Devon Stringer

    This book hits the spots on so many levels and will appeal to so many readers. I picked it up as Iceland is one of my favorite places on Earth but in the end I learned so much more. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone. Ever.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    How do I describe Secrets of the Sprakkar? This is a book that I’ve had to sit with, reflect on, and mull over. It has a journalistic feel, complete with ample data, interviews, and stories. Reid depicts Icelandic society and analyzes how they strive for gender equality. She also points out areas where Iceland can improve. Between each section, Reid places a historical account of a sprakki (ancient Icelandic meaning extraordinary or outstanding woman). The women Reid includes in her book are fro How do I describe Secrets of the Sprakkar? This is a book that I’ve had to sit with, reflect on, and mull over. It has a journalistic feel, complete with ample data, interviews, and stories. Reid depicts Icelandic society and analyzes how they strive for gender equality. She also points out areas where Iceland can improve. Between each section, Reid places a historical account of a sprakki (ancient Icelandic meaning extraordinary or outstanding woman). The women Reid includes in her book are from all walks of life: immigrants, farmers, politicians, entrepreneurs, mothers, feminists, and athletes. This is an inspiring account of Iceland’s women—those who have fought for their land, for their rights, and for their voices, those who have shouted, “I dare, I can, I will” (Reid, 2022). Reid’s collection of interviews demonstrates how unique and wonderful each woman is and highlights that every woman has a voice and needs to be at the table, no matter their background, upbringing, or status. Even though Iceland is considered the best place for women, Reid writes about mental and physical abuse, racism, and misogyny that Icelandic women have experienced. She discusses how there is work to be done and points out that because something has worked in Iceland, does not mean that it will necessarily work in other places. However, no matter the country, equality is about including each voice and providing a safe space to be heard. She ends the book with a personal story of her own experience with the imposter syndrome, which I would imagine, all women have experienced at one point. Reid writes that her response to the imposter syndrome is to lean “in to that uncomfortable feeling. It’s our inner voice’s way of confirming we’re on the right path…If I don’t use this unique opportunity to speak up for issues I know are important, who else will? And how can I possibly expect others to take such risks if I don’t?” (Reid, 2022). Do yourself a favor and read this book! It is empowering, uplifting, and encouraging. Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    ✨ Book Review ✨ "Eliza Reid—Canadian born and raised, and now 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." Secrets of the Sprakkar is a compelling and powerful take on women's equality with a journalistic feel. Expertly and beautifully written in both Reid's own voice and inspiring interviews, S ✨ Book Review ✨ "Eliza Reid—Canadian born and raised, and now 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." Secrets of the Sprakkar is a compelling and powerful take on women's equality with a journalistic feel. Expertly and beautifully written in both Reid's own voice and inspiring interviews, Secrets of the Sprakkar explores Iceland's views toward women. Reid analyzes how Iceland strives for gender equality, and how, sometimes, efforts fall short. Reid gives generous space to wonderful Sprakki throughout Iceland's history, letting their stories and lives breathe through the pages and come to life. I particularly loved how Reid was able to speak directly to readers and let herself be vulnerable. Reid discusses her experiences with imposter syndrome and how she deals with it by leaning “in to that uncomfortable feeling. It’s our inner voice’s way of confirming we’re on the right path." (Reid, 2022). She goes on to tell readers "If I don’t use this unique opportunity to speak up for issues I know are important, who else will? And how can I possibly expect others to take such risks if I don’t?” (Reid, 2022). Being able to open up and not shy away from her personal story adds to an already awe-inspiring work. This is a work I will continue to think about and go back to for years to come. Go pick it up when it is out on February 8, 2022. It will not disappoint. (I will be buying several copies to give out) Thank you @netgalley and @sourcebooks for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. 5/5 ⭐️

  27. 5 out of 5

    BookStarRaven

    Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid is a delightful book about the strong women who make up Iceland’s economy. Eliza Reid is a Canadian-born citizen who became the First Lady of Iceland. Reading this book made me wish I could move to Iceland with their generous paid maternity leave (for both parents) and subsidized childcare. Throughout her book Reid strives to show how a mix of social policies and cultural norms lead by strong women allow Iceland’s women a gender equality that women in other Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid is a delightful book about the strong women who make up Iceland’s economy. Eliza Reid is a Canadian-born citizen who became the First Lady of Iceland. Reading this book made me wish I could move to Iceland with their generous paid maternity leave (for both parents) and subsidized childcare. Throughout her book Reid strives to show how a mix of social policies and cultural norms lead by strong women allow Iceland’s women a gender equality that women in other countries rarely experience. She portrays life in Iceland through the eyes of the women who live and work there as well as through Icelandic folk tales. I appreciate that Reid not only talks about Icelands’s successes but also areas they still need to improve like more female CEO’s at top companies. In one quote from the book Eliza says, “Most importantly, though, we must stop assuming that a benchmark for success for women is the length to which each can efficiently balance personal and public , career and worker. There is no magic, one-size-fits-all formula for how to achieve this, and to assume so does a disservice to all women, adding pressure and wasted energy that we all know can be well used elsewhere.” I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the strong women of Iceland and what gender equality can look like when women step forward. I will hope to go forward as one of the Sprakkar - a fearless woman who can bring about change for herself and others.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    Sprakkar: extraordinary women. Eliza discusses how many sprakkar have changed Iceland's views about women and what they can (and should) achieve. Iceland, Eliza's adopted homeland, is known for it's progressiveness in gender equality. Eliza interviews women who have achieved much in various endeavours: politics, farming, sports, employment and motherhood. These sprakkar have become role models for young girls to follow. But it's not only the women who are leading out. Many laws and practical meas Sprakkar: extraordinary women. Eliza discusses how many sprakkar have changed Iceland's views about women and what they can (and should) achieve. Iceland, Eliza's adopted homeland, is known for it's progressiveness in gender equality. Eliza interviews women who have achieved much in various endeavours: politics, farming, sports, employment and motherhood. These sprakkar have become role models for young girls to follow. But it's not only the women who are leading out. Many laws and practical measures have been put into place by men and women that help women be able to achieve many goals. Healthcare is free and parental leave is not only available for both women and men, but actively is used by new parents without any stigma attached. Childcare is very affordable for preschool children, leaving parents free to combine family with work. Equality between the sexes comes easier in some areas than in others. Sports is an area that is still growing towards equality. Men's sports seem to gain more fundraising than women's leading to higher pay and better equipment but women are actively working to level the playing field. Eliza also discusses racism, disabilities and domestic violence in her adopted country in her engaging book, leaving the reader with hope that life will get even better in Iceland and around the world as others follow in the footsteps of these incredible sprakkar. Thanks to Simon & Shuster for a free ARC.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeni

    Eliza Reid is the wife of Iceland's president which a focus on gender equity. Utilizing the fact that she is now "known", as an International figure, Reid has written this journalistic look into how Iceland continues to excel at lessening the gender gap. She touches on the many different areas that impact this equity - parental leave policies, cultural standards of parenting, the population of Iceland, and even the natural environment. Something I enjoyed most about this book were the numerous i Eliza Reid is the wife of Iceland's president which a focus on gender equity. Utilizing the fact that she is now "known", as an International figure, Reid has written this journalistic look into how Iceland continues to excel at lessening the gender gap. She touches on the many different areas that impact this equity - parental leave policies, cultural standards of parenting, the population of Iceland, and even the natural environment. Something I enjoyed most about this book were the numerous interviews that Reid did with woman from around the nation. She did an amazing job in finding a diverse group of woman to speak to and using there life experiences to inform. The women interviewed were native born, immigrant, straight, gay, young, middle-aged, married, single, parents, etc. - and this created such a varied look into the various ways once "is a woman" in Iceland. Another exceptional aspect of this book was Reid's willingness to explore where Iceland can take things further and to critique areas where she still feels they fall short in gender equity. Finally, I found it very interesting that she is Canadian-born, spent her college years in England (where she met her husband), and has now lived in Iceland for two decades. This gave depth to her overview as she has various experiences in other countries to draw on as comparison points. Highly recommend!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    Eliza Reid, Canadian-born journalist and First Lady of Iceland, shares her experience of immigrating to Iceland and her observations of gender equality in her new country. Through interviews with contemporaries and stories of historical role models, Reid examines Iceland's attempts at gender equality through the lenses of parenting, friendships, sexuality, business, media, politics, and art. I was somewhat disappointed with this book for two main reasons. First, it's dispiriting to learn that eve Eliza Reid, Canadian-born journalist and First Lady of Iceland, shares her experience of immigrating to Iceland and her observations of gender equality in her new country. Through interviews with contemporaries and stories of historical role models, Reid examines Iceland's attempts at gender equality through the lenses of parenting, friendships, sexuality, business, media, politics, and art. I was somewhat disappointed with this book for two main reasons. First, it's dispiriting to learn that even Iceland (the country voted 1st in gender equality) still struggles with an equal balance of household tasks between heterosexual couples, misogyny, domestic abuse against women, gender pay gap, etc. It didn't actually feel like this book was meant to help "change the world". Second, while the interviews and personal stories were charming, they got to be a bit tedious. I especially disliked the tone that some of the women took when speaking about their personal accomplishments (that other women need to just do the thing and stop being self-defeatist). While I agree with that sentiment, it's much easier to do that when you have all the luxuries that Iceland has. The tone felt a bit off considering it is meant for a non-Icelandic audience.

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