Published November 16th 2016 by Penguin Life (first published September 2016)
Full title: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
Author: Meik Wiking
Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help, Psychology
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Hooga? Hhyooguh? Heurgh? It is not important how you choose to pronounce or even spell ‘hygge’.
Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge.
‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’
You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.
Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.
Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.
I write this in a bedroom that is distinctly un-hygge. There are books strewn everywhere including the floor. There’s no real design, the most recent additions are a bookcase and a desk, which if placed in a completely empty room with walls painted a calming blue, or even cream, they’d definitely look stylish.
(There’s also piles of teddies from childhood, and boxes and boxes of old uni work, but we don’t need to talk about those today).
However, beside me I have the heater on, am wearing a warm jumper with cosy socks, and I’m sat on my comfy (ok, broken) bed. Sadly, there are no candles lit, but it’s almost 10am on an excruciatingly cold day, candles have no place here right now.
Eventually, I will get a cup of tea and eat some porridge, and I’ll feel a lot better. So why am I sat here, in a book review, considering my surroundings and how they may impact on how I feel? Because this book has given me everything I need to be able to know what is ‘hygge’ and what isn’t.
The book itself is a nice little hardback which feels good in the hand, and the words and pictures inside are beautiful. The writing is easy to read, well spaced out, and there are illustrations all the way through. Reading this book can be done while relaxing. You can be hygge while reading it.
The book is split into a number of chapters which introduce you to the idea of hygge and what it means. In essence, I now associate it just with feeling cosy things. That could be a certain room (not my bedroom, unless I light a candle), a certain café, types of clothes, food, people…I could go on.
All elements of life are pretty much covered here, with a hygge twist. But I think the most hygge thing (aside from candles) is Christmas. That’s the best way to explain what it is, and here I’m talking about the ideal Christmas: warm fire, Christmas lights flashing, scented candles burning, family laughing, dinner on the table…that whole setting.
But what this all boils down to is happiness. The author, Meik Wiking, is CEO of The Happiness Institute, Copenhagen. It’s his job to find out what makes people happy. Denmark is consistently rates one of the happiest countries in the world, and I won’t go into the reasons for this, because this book holds the key to happiness…or at least what makes the Danes so happy. And I have to say, I’d love to visit there and I would probably love to live there. It sounds like a place that puts well-being above wealth, by investing wealth in well-being.
But what this book shows is that you don’t have to live in Denmark to bring hygge into your life. It’s really easy to do, it’s as simple as buying a candle, lighting it in the evening and basking in the warm and cosy feeling it emits.
In Nottingham, where I live, there’s a wonderful shop called S∅strene Grene, and for anyone reading this who lives nearby and doesn’t know this shop, seek it out, pay a visit, and you’ll have just entered a very hygge place.
This book would make the ideal Christmas presents, as I feel hygge is very much needed going into the new year. It’s a wonderful little book, and will continue to be a guide for me whenever I want to add something hygge into my life.
Right, I’m off to make a cup of tea and eat my porridge. Happy hygge-ing readers!
(For the record, I gave up on trying to pronounce it, and I just go really simple and say ‘HIG’. That’s it, there’s no going back for me now.)
Link to the book on Goodreads: The Little Book of Hygge