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Meik Wiking – The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

Posted in Book reviews, and Non-fiction

I’ve spent only two winters in Sweden and Finland, but nevertheless I have some sense about this hygge fuss. Yeah, you read correctly, I’ve never been to Denmark and yet has experienced real hygge millions times already. It is true? Most likely. How is it? Well, I must admit it’s a lovely experience and I’ve always enjoyed it a lot. Is it worth writing a book about it? Probably not. Yet still I’ve read The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. And I wasn’t hooked.

Don’t get me wrong in here – I’m this person who would be the first one suggesting to stay at home, talk, watch a movie after eating a homemade dinner, play some game and just chill. It’s also very important for many people to slow down and enjoy their free time differently than by cruising a local shopping mall; not to mention to reflect on their privilege. But do I really need to read a book about which things are more hygge than the other? I suppose IKEA’s revenues must have skyrocketed, since everyone should get as many candles as possible – wait, Meik said NON scented, OK, I take that back. But you, dear reader, be sure to eat only heavy meals with the sweetest dessert afterwards, because you having diabetes and following a raw food diet means you obviously don’t understand what is hygge about, do you?! You see, I have some issues and more are about to follow.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well is a weird mix of a self-help book, a cookbook, an Instagram photo album and a life style magazine. While I agree the term is difficult to determine with just one phrase, at least the book could be somehow systematical. The repetition of some elements in this book is almost unbearable. I’m quite sure that if I read it in my woolen socks with candles lighten up all over my living room, I would need to go and burn these socks in the candlelight, and throw all candles afterwards out of the window.

The most annoying issue is probably the whole concept of hygge addressed as being entirely Danish. What?! No, not only Danish families meet on Friday evenings to eat sweets and enjoy each other’s company (yes, I’m talking about fredagsmys in Sweden). I believe many people, let’s say in Canada and Greenland, appreciate a warm home, filled with the smell of their favorite coffee and meal, after the sun goes down at 4pm, etc., etc.

Maybe all my nagging was caused by incomprehensible expectations. The author stands behind Happiness Research Institute and therefore I hoped to read something new; what isn’t in every second life style magazine and YouTube video. Give me some more research, show me the facts that will blow my mind away and not a page with iconographic trophies, showing how many times Denmark has had the happiest residents in the world. Sure, it is interesting, but I could read it in a sentence and would care at the same rate.

What I’m trying to say, is that I do understand why to sell such book and spread hygge all around – it’s good not only for its author’s bank account, but also for the rest of us, who would use some advice on how to enjoy our lives differently. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well would be a lovely coffee table book, if it weren’t so little, but not in my living room.

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