All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Audiobook Review: The Little Book Of Hygge by Meik Wiking

on April 13, 2021

The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well
Meik Wiking
Narrated by the author
Penguin Audio
2015, 3hrs 13m
Listened to via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: 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. 

The more I read about hygge the more I’m convinced I should’ve been born in Denmark. This was the book most recommended to me about the concept, but when I requested it from my local library, I noticed that their copy was due back over a year ago and hadn’t been returned, so was probably not likely to ever be. So I got the audio version, read by the author, from Borrow Box. It’s quite short, only 3 hours, so it took pretty much no time at all.

Meik Wiking is the CEO of Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. It’s literally his job to research why people are happier in certain parts of the world (Denmark is often regarded as having the happiest citizens in the world) and what can be done to improve happiness levels. It sounds like a dream job and given their role, care is taken to make their workplace comfortable and a great advertisement for hygge.

I feel like this book covers hygge a lot more comprehensively than the others I’ve read and mixes how deeply ingrained in the Danish culture it is with examples of creating hygge spaces in the home, alone or with others. Basically everything he describes is my ideal living environment – soft, cosy spaces with mellow light (I hate overhead lights, I’m forever turning off lights in my house as it seems the other occupants do not share my dislike!), lots of textures, little things of comfort. In one section, there’s an entire ‘kit’ suggested, which is a box with things described as hygge – a blanket, book, chocolate, favourite tea, soft socks, a cushion, a new notebook, a favourite pen, among other things.

I find the concept of a happy society really interesting, especially with what is considered as markers of happiness. Quite often you hear about countries like Denmark and other Nordic countries being regarded as the happiness in the world, rotating around the top few spots and a lot of this is also attributed to the excellent services the countries provide: ie, they are what is known as ‘welfare states’ with free education, a generous and wide ranging welfare system that supports its unemployed, studying or lower earning citizens and also provides things like free medical care. According to the World Happiness Report, these are the top 10 happiest countries for 2021:

  1. Finland (for the 4th year in a row)
  2. Iceland
  3. Denmark
  4. Switzerland
  5. The Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Germany (jumped 10 places)
  8. Norway
  9. New Zealand
  10. Austria

Apart from New Zealand, which also shares a lot of the same traits such as free education and medical care, a welfare system, etc as well as a high level of trust in its government, pretty much all of these countries are confined to the same part of the map in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Another thing that’s quite heavily supported in some of these countries, Denmark and Finland specifically (but probably others that I haven’t read as much about) is the work-life balance and this book touches upon that as well. In Denmark, this balance is very important and Danes keep quite strict (but flexible) work hours. Those with children often leave at 4 to pick them up from school or daycare and apparently, you won’t find them staying back after hours or popping into the office on weekends to catch up. A lot of these countries also promote an outdoor lifestyle in downtimes as well – in parts of Sweden, summer island homes are popular, skiing is a winter pastime in many of these countries. Many of them are bicycle and public transport friendly. Also – the more participation citizens have in representative government decision making, the happier they tend to be. My country, Australia, ranks 12th in this index.

Now, I don’t think it’s as simple as the fact that Danish people own a lot of candles/have fireplaces/fluffy blankets/enjoy warm drinks after a bracing afternoon hiking or skiing or something similar. But to be honest, it seems like a pretty good place to start.

I really enjoyed listening to this!

8/10

Book #56 of 2021


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