SECRETS OF THE SPRAKKAR by Eliza Reid published in the US yesterday and has been receiving some incredible reviews and press, including in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Forbes and the Washington Post!

“Reid’s story is riveting in and of itself… At its heart, Reid’s book is also a “love letter” from an immigrant to a country afflicted with the insecurity she labels “Small Nation Complex.” (Most of the country stayed up all night when Iceland won its first Oscar in 2020.) And like all love letters, it shines when it’s personal. The most vivid sense of Iceland’s unique approach to gender comes through Reid’s own experiences: How in her first job there, she walks by the conference room to see the board chair nursing a baby while running the meeting, no one batting an eyelash. How she dutifully rushes to a doctor as soon as she gets pregnant, only to have the physician wave her away with “a quintessentially Nordic, hands-off approach,” and send her to a (free) midwife. How she comes to understand the communal attitude toward parenting by seeing her neighbors leave their babies in strollers on the front lawns of their buildings, knowing that any stranger seeing an infant crying will help out instead of dialing 112 (the European equivalent of 911). Throughout, her newcomer’s delight in Icelandic details will charm readers, from the explanation of the nomenclature (you’ll finally understand the dottir methodology!) to the Nordic idioms (“never peed in a salty sea” for someone with little experience; “quarter to three” for the hookup moment at the end of a night; “Reykjavik handshake” for chlamydia, the unfortunately common effect of too much quarter to three).” – New York Times

“Reid writes in hopes that the rest of the world might see Iceland as a model, and, in addition to agreeing with her, I also recommend her short, well-written, amusing and detailed book.” – The Washington Post

Eliza Reid was interviewed by The Boston Globe about her book and to try to answer “How did Iceland become a model of gender equality?” and she was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition about her new book and why her country is a great place to be a woman.


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.

About the author:

Eliza Reid is a journalist, editor, and cofounder of the annual Iceland Writers Retreat. Eliza grew up on a hobby farm near Ottawa, Canada, and moved to Iceland in 2003, five years after meeting the man who later became her husband, Gudni Th. Jóhannesson. When he took office as President of Iceland on August 1, 2016, Eliza became the country’s first lady. In that capacity, she has been active in promoting gender equality, entrepreneurship and innovation, tourism and sustainability, as well as the country’s writers and rich literary heritage.

Eliza is represented by Samantha Haywood.