Friday, August 26, 2016
Book Review: Hygge
Denmark is definitely having a moment in the publishing world.
Whereas a couple of years ago we were all seemingly trying to emulate the French (with all those titles telling us French women don't get fat, their offspring are charming, their sex lives sizzling and their homes highly covetable), now all things Scandi/Nordic are having a bit of a moment.
According to the World Happiness report, Denmark is the happiest nation on earth, and has been for some time. The top ten in this chart each year always seems to feature the Scandi/Nordic set, plus Australia, NZ, Canada and a couple of other nations (at the moment, Switzerland and the Netherlands). Other countries may have other titles locked down, but when it comes to being happy, the Danes seemingly have it sewn up! There are several reasons people cite for that, and one of those is the importance of hygge.
I first came across the idea of hygge (a Danish term which has no direct English translation, but which means a kind of cosiness, comfort, sort of creating a cocooned, safe space) last year, when reading Helen Russell's wonderful book The Year of Living Danishly.* I loved the whole idea of creating a warm and welcoming nest during the colder months - as someone who has spent many winters in Scotland and Germany, where cold weather means that cosy home time is the way to go it really appealed. I'm also a big fan of living seasonally anyway - as I type this I am heartily tired of the hot temperatures and more than ready for autumn to sweep in, bringing with it so many delights that I am oh-so-ready for!
In his book, Hygge* (pronounced HUE-gah, fact fans), Meik Wiking (who is the CEO of the awesomely named Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, a place I clearly want to visit) talks you through the many and various aspects of Hygge and offers hints, tips and ideas for bringing a little hygge into your world.
First things first, this is a beautiful book. The scandi-style cover in gentle creams and blues with metallic accents is delightful, a real treat for the eyes, and it has fit onto our coffee table very happily - it adds a lovely little lift to the room. Once you are within the covers, the book continues to be a beauty, with small, easy to read chapters, beautiful photographs, and easy to understand diagrams and tables.
Wiking covers every element of hygge, from decor to cooking, and offers so many ways to embrace this idea in your own life - whether it's by cooking a hearty meal, sharing time with loved ones, dressing for comfort and cosiness, or bringing a little hygge to your festive celebrations. From cosy blankets to candles and lamps, he explains how adding a few little touches can make your home a little more hygge.
As I read through the book I realised that hygge is certainly something I already do - indeed my propensity to hibernate in the winter is pretty darn hygge in and of itself. Whehn I looked down the list of things which Danes feel contribute to hygge, I found some many of my own autumnal and winter favourites - hot drinks, baking, candles, Christmas, books and board games and blankets. How hygge might change my behaviour a little will be that this year I think I'd like to share the cosiness a little more.
Usually, my winter habits involve spending more time at home, with Matthew and the cats. But hygge is all about sharing the comfort, and I'll certainly be trying to do more of this - having friends around for supper, or a board game night, or just to have tea and cake while reading books and relaxing.
I really enjoyed reading this book and it gave me all kinds of ideas for making our home a little cosier, and a lot more hyggelig, this year. It was the perfect thing to read in my current mood, and I can't wait to bring some of the ideas into my life as we head into the cooler weather. There is a chapter on hygge in the summer but in the current weather my mind is more on ice lollies and chilled cocktails - I'll be going full hygge once the mercury starts to drop. Bring on the knitwear, low lighting, and stews!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by Penguin Living in return for an honest review. Thank you, lovelies!