After reading the article in the NYTimes about hygge and creating my New Year’s Hygge-themed Fashionable Friday, I decided to get more familiar with the concept of hygge and what might make the Danes so happy and well-adjusted. So I decided to read The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the book. Was it going to be a self-help book like Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up book?
Well, it turned out to be more of a memoir of Russell’s year of living in Denmark having relocated there after her husband got hired on to work at Lego. Each chapter is one month of their year with an aspect of the Danish culture revealed in that month. She discusses politics, taxes, trust, sex, childcare, healthcare, traditions, pastries and family to name a few things. And while she finds many things to recommend the Danish way of life, there are also many things that perplex her as well. In the best way, the book is not rose-colored glasses. I found it very interesting and enlightening in the way that any book about someone immersing themselves in a new way of life discovers what is really important and what they can easily live without.
Russell is British so, while the book is witty, the humor is quite dry. Some parts I laughed out loud though but I do lean to the dry humor.
So, if you’re looking for a book to make you reconsider how you see your place in the world, and whether you have it good where you are, this might be a book you would enjoy. I certainly found parts that made me think that I have it quote good where I am and parts where I thought “Why can’t we do thing more like the Danish?”
This book isn’t specifically pen- and paper-related but I do think anyone who wants to think about how to slow down, get hygge or simplify their life might appreciate the ideas offered in this book. We tend to be a literary lot in general and I know we all appreciate a good cup of coffee and a snegle.