The 2020 Gift Guide: Jolabokaflod Edition

Here at Common Era, we are enthralled by, enamored with, and inspired by history and literature. We believe that the human condition can be uncovered, turned over and examined, celebrated and honored through written word; in the pages of a book or the arc of a character, there is something for everyone.

This brings us to our 2020 Gift Guide. We were inspired by Jolabokaflod, or “the Yule book flood,” the utterly delightful Icelandic tradition in which friends and family gift each other recently published books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading together.

During WWII, paper was one of the few commodities that was not rationed in Iceland. Out of necessity, books became one of the most common holiday gifts, and so they remain even after the island nation gained independence from Denmark in 1944. Today, Iceland is a nation of storytellers, home to numerous brilliant authors and some of the most prolific publishing houses.

To create the perfect holiday gift, we have thoughtfully paired each timeless necklace from the Mythology and Talisman collections with a novel or set of short stories—the kinds of books that you can eat up on a cozy holiday evening.

For the wild woman:

Artemis Diamond Medallion + Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

When and where: Massachusetts, 1960s.

In a few words: Mordant, tumultuous, flippant, cold, lilting, blossoming.


For the enigma:

Magic SATOR Square Talisman & Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

When and where: England and beyond, 2010s.

In a few words: Strange, solemn, memory, cryptic, hazy, otherworldly, bizarre.


For the ardent romantic:

Persephone Ruby Medallion & Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

When and where: England, 1930s.

In a few words: Alive, ephemeral, audacious, playful, juxtaposition, satisfaction.


For the tragic romantic:

Aphrodite Garnet Medallion & The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

When and where: France, 1710s, New York, 2010s.

In a few words: Dark, turbulent, tender, palimpsest, surrender, maudlin, ghost.


For an old soul:

Eternal Secret Talisman & Pachinko by Jin Min Lee

When and where: Korea and Japan, 1930s-80s.

In a few words: Pride, violence, womanhood, war, conviction, hope, eternal.


For the witch:

Circe Diamond Medallion & Circe by Madeline Miller

When and where: Mediterranean, Age of Heroes.

In a few words: Freedom, knowledge, irony, compassion, resonant, transformative.


For the self-possessed:

Medusa Emerald Medallion & Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

When and where: America, current day.

In a few words: Subtle, human, flawed, clever, forgiveness, justice.


For the giving tree:

Gaia Emerald Medallion & The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

When and where: France, 1930s-40s.

In a few words: Invisible, sisterhood, unflinching, shining, tentative, bold.


For the free of spirit:

Eye of Horus Talisman & Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

When and where: Mexico, 1920s.

In a few words: Whimsical, passionate, defiant, magical, headstrong, spicy.


For the naturally curious:

Athena Sapphire Medallion & The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

When and where: Europe, 1990s.

In a few words: Intuition, preservation, dedication, resilience, grandeur.


For a little extra luck:

Ancient Scarab Talisman & The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

When and where: America and beyond, 1910s.

In a few words: Curious, uncanny, particular, delicate, fluid, fierce, companionship.


Shop small for the holidays! Order online to support independent bookstores, or support your community by buying from local booksellers. Happy gifting!