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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I decided to try this as I visited Iceland within a couple of weeks of Stephen Markley's visit, embarking on a similar sort of trip, and found it interesting to compare. I can totally understand when he says that he fell in love with the place, and felt inspired to write a book about it. But what sort of book did he write?

The book takes the form of an abbreviated comedy road trip, with informative sections inserted here and there on topics such as glaciers, history and economy. Essentially it's "what I did on my holidays" padded out with some background information.

For me, that background information felt a little bit clunky and awkward, especially as the author himself seems to realise how much it detracts from the humourous tone of the rest and keeps trying to insert little "what's with all this learning Markley?" comments, or giving all the historic figures the names of American actors to make it funnier (there is a long section on Icelandic history, more or less ripped from Wikipedia, in which every single King or significant character is given an actor-equivalent by which they are then referred. Although potentially amusing, I found this just confused matters). Some of the facts are interesting, some less so (he goes on for far too long about glaciers, and ablution rates, and the arguments he had with Icelandic glaciologists), and there are some areas he clearly knows more about than others. The constant references to Vikings settling Iceland irritated me (Viking refers to an activity [i.e. raiding], not a people), especially since his description of them is a sort of Disney version of the Vikings.

As it points out very clearly at the start however, it is not a detailed understanding of Icelandic culture, or a guide to the best spots to visit. In fact it is admirably up front about exactly what sort of book it is, and you will know very quickly whether you want to read the rest or not. The stated intention is to provide an amusing account of his travels - and in this the book certainly succeeds. The best and most informative parts of the book are when he's out partying with Icelandic girls, and funny stories can co-exist with interesting tidbits of information that are authentic and unique and well worth reading. Although I'd say Icelandic girls aren't quite as easy as he makes out (he makes out they're very, very easy!), his descriptions of Icelandic drinking culture, eccentricity and friendliness are accurate and insightful.

Overall it's an entertaining e-book, worth buying if it's cheap enough and you're interested in Iceland or planning to go. The lack of scope is a bit of an issue for me however - Markley only spent a couple of weeks there, and large parts of his travels are described very briefly, if at all, leaving only the occasional party and drunken anecdote left to mention, along with some information of variable reliability. Did I enjoy it? Yes - it is funny, and Markley has a very charming writing style. But it lacks the detailed scope of Bill Bryson, and (as it admits) doesn't come anywhere near the league of great travel writers such as Colin Thubron or Paul Theroux.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2014
Absolutely incredible book! I know it proudly professes to be a rubbish travel guide and more just a tale of three hapless blokes driving around Iceland, but as well as being RIDICULOUSLY hilarious it is also so informative and interesting. The author, Stephen Markley, has an incredible talent for making even basic politics and history sound amazing - and honestly his humor had me in stitches by his sheer, brazen audacity for noticing everything funny in life that I would never have noticed before. I'd recommend this book to *almost* everyone (I say almost - my only downside for it was some cringe-worthy crudeness, which was albeit all part of the adventure so I would still read the book a thousand times, but if some bad sometimes-sex-related jokes and humorous slander is not to your taste I'd say you'd have to take it with a pinch of salt and try to skip those very small bits) but yes, overall it was a very excellent book!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2013
I started reading the book ahead of my visit to Iceland to get a feel of what people experience when going there. Don't expect any actual usable tips about Iceland though but it is a great addition to the general pre-trip research.

This book felt like I was sitting in the pub with a friend who's just come back from holidays. It's full of anecdotes and stories of their road-trip, the places they saw, the people they met. There is also a little over-sharing... and it is punctuated with factual informations about the environmental, political, etc... situation of Iceland.
I really enjoyed reading it and I am now looking forward even more to my visit!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2015
The clever mixture of blunt, unapologetic humor and Markley's ability to spin a cracking yarn out of anything is what makes this book so fantastic. It is descriptive and vivid but also completely unique in offering 'anti-travel advice' mixed with a compelling tale of friendship and discovery. Awkward enough snorting and dribbling on myself from laughter during an hour long commute to London every morning for about three days whilst reading it, but the trains were packed and one person genuinely asked if I was Ok. Sign of a good book? Yes. Yes it is.
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