The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
Nonfiction | Home & Living | Self-Help
Published by Penguin Life
Released September 1, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon
“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”
Meik Wiking is the CEO of an organization called the Happiness Research Institute and considers himself an expert in happiness. How do people in Denmark stay so cheerful? After all, citizens of Denmark are thought to be the happiest in the world. Part of the secret is practicing hygge.
Hygge isn’t a word or concept that is easily defined, but the sense that I got from Wiking’s book is that hygge is anything that makes you feel cozy and comfortable. My sense of hygge actually fits in with Dictionary.com‘s definition:
“the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friends or family, enjoying food, etc.”
Throughout The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking gives us many easy ways to bring hygge into our everyday lives. Many of these suggestions are things that are universally associated with coziness, like candles, blankets, and great company.
Before I get into the rest of the review, I want to share my favorite portion of this book, regarding a Danish tradition that I had never heard of but that I find morbidly delightful. At Danish birthday parties, there is a character called Kagemand (Cakeman) who is a giant gingerbread man. Cakes are baked in his image and decorated with candles and decorations. And then, this:
“Part of the tradition is that the birthday boy or girl cuts the throat of the Cakeman while the other kids scream.”
I found it difficult to rate this book over three stars because I didn’t learn anything new from it. Perhaps that’s because my partner and I have always gone out of our way to make our home comforting and cozy and we already practice most of Wiking’s suggestions. (We have so many candles and blankets. It’s absurd.) However, if you want a short and sweet book to give you some ideas to turn a chaotic home into the kind of place you look forward to coming home to, you might want to pick this book up.
The presentation of The Little Book of Hygge is wonderful. I read it on my Kindle, and it was a pleasant experience. There are a ton of cute drawings throughout the pages, and the chapters are nice and short, making it a very easy book to read. Another cute aspect is that there are recipes scattered throughout.
In the end, I’m not sorry I read this book and I don’t feel that I wasted my time, but I do feel that I could have gotten the same information from reading a much shorter article on hygge rather than an entire book.