For some, Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joy and warmth. For others, it's a time of stress. Finding the right gift for someone you might only see a couple times of year can be challenging. But does it have to be? Should we search for hours at large retail stores for that perfect gift which may end up returned after Christmas? Isn't there a better way?
The country of Iceland seems to have a cool tradition which could easily solve that problem. Today, I learned about something called Jólabókaflóð. Essentially, it's an Icelandic tradition where people give each other books on Christmas Eve. That night, the books are read while drinking hot chocolate or a special Christmas ale. I don't know about you but I think I just found my new favorite holiday tradition.
Jólabókaflóð gets its origins from World War II where books were common gifts to give, as paper was one of the only commodities not being rationed for war time. Every year since 1944, the people of Iceland receive a bulletin featuring many books. They use this bulletin to order books for one another. Amazing, right?
Instead of buying random kitchen appliances or shirts that might not fit for extended family members, I think it would be neat to start buying books. The tradition I would love to start would be each member of the family buys a book, from their favorite local bookstore of course, and gifts it to someone else. From there, it can be handled like a Yankee Swap (Chinese gift exchange, White Elephant, or whatever you want to call it). At the end of the night, everyone has a book they should read at least one chapter of that night. It would be a great way to explore new authors and get into a better habit of reading.
Let's join Iceland in reading more books during this holiday season. Who else is thinking about following the Jólabókaflóð tradition? Are you thinking about making your own? Let me know what your plans are in the comments below! And, as always, thanks for reading!
P.S. You could always gift your family one of my books 😉 What? You thought I would write an article about gifting books and wouldn't try to slip in a promo?
You are able to read this right now because of the free and open internet we enjoy. In fact, the internet allows me to realize my dream and get my work out there for the world to see. You're only able to read it because of the open internet. Imagine if that were gone? How many of your favorite artists would cease to create? Without a platform in which to share their work, how could they? Millions of dreamers across this country would lose that dream. And many of you who support them and enjoy their content would lose out.
This is exactly the thing the current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is trying to create. Listen, there have been a lot of articles floating around stating the "government has no business regulating the internet." Unfortunately, these articles are taking advantage of people who don't understand what the FCC actually did to protect the internet.
In 2015, the FCC passed a regulation known as Title II. This gave the FCC the power to keep companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast from throttling, blocking, or interfering with web traffic. What does that mean? Well, it means these corporations would not be allowed to slow down internet speeds, forcing you to pay more for higher connections. It also means they would not have the right to block content they did not agree with. The FCC is not "controlling" the internet the way they see fit. They are making sure it's being distributed fairly. In fact, they're stopping private companies from controlling it.
Pai is suggesting we hand control of the internet over to private companies and allow them to decide how to police it. That would be like allowing your neighbors the ability to arrest the people on their block. Would that power get abused? Maybe not. Maybe they would only arrest those who are actually breaking the law. But what happens when someone does something they just don't like? Maybe they don't like their new neighbors. Maybe they don't like the candidate you plan to vote for. Maybe they don't like the kind of car they drive. How long before they abuse that power? And with no consequences, what would it matter?
Right now, there's law to protect the internet and us from being taken advantage of. The only thing keeping us safe from losing the internet as we know it is Net Neutrality. Taking it away could also mean higher prices for the internet you already use. Imagine having to purchase your internet much like you would cable or a car. Would you just like the basic internet? You're able to browse a few selected websites and have access to email, only $29.99! Want to connect with friends and family? Get our social media package. Comes with access to Facebook, Twitter, and basic access to the web. Only $39.99! Want to watch videos and stream content? You need the entertainment package. Access to Youtube, Netflix, and more. Only $59.99! And with this bundle you get up to 55GB of data! What a great deal! *Access to data sold separate*
I think you get the point. We shouldn't have to pay more for the content we want to see online. We should have all access to it. Small businesses generate revenue and traffic from their online presence everyday. Artists create their work and use the web to distribute and advertise their art. Students use it to study. Families use it to connect. News outlets use it to inform. The internet is a much more powerful tool than many realize.
We need to save the internet as it is today. Keep Net Neutrality laws in place. Let's keep Pai and his lobbyists' hands off of the internet that we know and love. This weird, funny, loving, awful, wonderful, and passionate place where we can all thrive and explore. Call your congress representatives, send them an email, sign online petitions, even share this blog. Do anything! The FCC votes on this Dec. 12th. We can't allow Pai to win!
Click HERE to sign the online petition.
Click HERE to email your member of congress.
Click HERE, HERE, and HERE to learn more about Net Neutrality.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.