How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life

How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life

The “Danish coziness” philosophy is fast becoming the new “French living” in terms of aspirational lifestyle books and blogs. There are countless viral articles comparing the happiness levels of Americans versus Danes. Their homes are more homey; their people are more cheerful. It’s an attitude that defies definition, but there is a name for this slow-moving, stress-free...

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Title:How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life
Author:Signe Johansen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life Reviews

  • Amanda

    I initially had no plans to delve into the seeming fad of Hygge, but after learning what it is I realized how much it appealed to me and seemed like something I was already doing. So naturally I had to hit up the library and see what it is all about. Turns out it's not a fad, it's a way of life, specifically for Nordic countries. So much of it reminds me of my own upbringing, my lifestyle, or my parents' lifestyle. (I am, after all, of nordic descent.) Some of the food isn't quite to my taste,

    I initially had no plans to delve into the seeming fad of Hygge, but after learning what it is I realized how much it appealed to me and seemed like something I was already doing. So naturally I had to hit up the library and see what it is all about. Turns out it's not a fad, it's a way of life, specifically for Nordic countries. So much of it reminds me of my own upbringing, my lifestyle, or my parents' lifestyle. (I am, after all, of nordic descent.) Some of the food isn't quite to my taste, or the design style, and I'm not all that outdoorsy, but the idea behind it really appeals to me.

    Some reviewers felt that the author took a condescending viewpoint, and I can see where that comes from, but it didn't really come off that way to me. She does say a few times that we are free to adopt or ignore or adapt whatever works for us best, and much of the text is personal to her upbringing and personal opinions. I also could have used some more photos or even illustrations to help highlight the text. I'd like to read some other books on Hygge to get a more well rounded view of it.

  • Alexandra Consolver

    Full Review:

    4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn more about hygge.

    A guide to hygge living, this book is filled with recipes, design tips, and memories from the author's childhood.

    Starting out I enjoyed this book. I don't think it is a particularly good overview of Hygge. It sort of assumes that you already know something about it. I felt that the print was VERY small and I have pretty good eyesight. I enjoyed her Nordic mindset that bodies are looked at in the way of their

    Full Review:

    4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn more about hygge.

    A guide to hygge living, this book is filled with recipes, design tips, and memories from the author's childhood.

    Starting out I enjoyed this book. I don't think it is a particularly good overview of Hygge. It sort of assumes that you already know something about it. I felt that the print was VERY small and I have pretty good eyesight. I enjoyed her Nordic mindset that bodies are looked at in the way of their usefulness and not in how they look. However, a few times in there it did feel a little like... but I can't go cross-country skiing in the evening, even if I wanted to. There is a sort of privilege that came with the perspective on that chapter. I did enjoy the commentary on the vikings and their nature to adventure and to move. Also on the idea that we forget to have fun and worry about being silly. I feel that way about exercise and sports. Though I do not in other areas of life. So that was food for thought. Overall I enjoyed this book, I thought that there were some good ideas within it, it was filled with reasonable information, and was inspiring especially during the winter season. If you are looking for an INTRO to hygge, I would go with The Little Book of Hygge instead.

    Right After Reading:

    Would pick this up for an info to hygge, but enjoyed this with prior knowledge. Had some great ideas, points, imagery in it. The font is verrrry small and there are not a lot of photos. Overall I enjoyed this book.

  • Kimber

    this book is more about Scandinavian culture in general and not too much about the subject of hygge of which there is only scant advice on: use lots of candles, get some plants (succulents are recommended for their simplicity) and bouquets of flowers (one kind, not mixed) and preferably in odd groups such as 3, 5 or 7....

    I have an affinity for the Nordic region and all of their principles of living, but this book was somewhat long-winded.

  • Bobbi

    I'm very disappointed that this book was the first book I've read on the subject of Hygge. I found the author to be self-righteous and arrogant in the sense that she seems to imply that if you want a life built around the concept of Hygge you must follow her recipe to the letter...which apparently includes hunting and fishing, trekking through the woods, and being willing to stuff your body with meat, salt, and sugar. I'm all for a good hike or some snow-shoeing but that's not for everyone and

    I'm very disappointed that this book was the first book I've read on the subject of Hygge. I found the author to be self-righteous and arrogant in the sense that she seems to imply that if you want a life built around the concept of Hygge you must follow her recipe to the letter...which apparently includes hunting and fishing, trekking through the woods, and being willing to stuff your body with meat, salt, and sugar. I'm all for a good hike or some snow-shoeing but that's not for everyone and as a healthy vegan neither is killing animals or putting cholesterol-raising meat or sugar laden cake into my body for me. Ok, I do occasionally have a piece of vegan cake but I also love a good bliss ball and eating a couple while reading by candlelight feels pretty Hygge to me despite the lack of refined sugar and cows milk (my lactose intolerant digestive system appreciates the lack of dairy as well). In all honesty I didn't mind having to skip the section on hunting and fishing even though I didn't really understand what it has to do with cozy living. Nor did I mind skipping the section on food and recipes as I knew it wouldn't work with my dietary choices. I have no problem with her sharing her culture's sporting or food traditions but I did not open this book expecting to have a large aspect of my (and my wellness tribes) way of life so blatantly criticized, ridiculed, and disrespected or to basically be told that if I'm not willing to give up a part of my value system and desire for healthy living I'm never going to fully be able to experience true Hygge. I have several more books on the subject waiting for me and hopefully they will be more inclusive to all lifestyles and teach that anyone can create a sense of Hygge in any circumstance (even those of us who are allergic to milk and can't eat the cake).

  • Mil111

    Despite the author claiming several times that she wanted to avoid sounding pretentious this book is extremely pretentious! Its like the pretentious equivalent of saying "I'm not racist but..." which is always guaranteed to follow with a racist comment. Her assurances always end up following through with pretentious comments.

    This book feels like there is lots of 'padding' in it in order to make it long enough for a book format. Many things are repeated and there are way too many pointless

    Despite the author claiming several times that she wanted to avoid sounding pretentious this book is extremely pretentious! Its like the pretentious equivalent of saying "I'm not racist but..." which is always guaranteed to follow with a racist comment. Her assurances always end up following through with pretentious comments.

    This book feels like there is lots of 'padding' in it in order to make it long enough for a book format. Many things are repeated and there are way too many pointless quotes that make it feel like a high school essay.

    I chose this author over other authors that have written books on this topic as I thought seeing as she had grown up living a hygge life it would be more authentic than others. While this book gave some interesting insight into the concept of hygge it felt very tokenistic and shallow. I was expecting it to be an exploration and celebration of this concept but it came across as a rule book of do's and don'ts.

  • Jill Crosby

    Unbeknownst to me, a product of growing up in a lower middle-class home in a northern mid western state, I've been living the Hygge dream for most of my life.

    The author spends a lot of time talking about "foraging" and "hunting," as Hygge Nordic pursuits, and maintains an air of "when I was a child, we loved climbing the mountains to look for the berries we'd have for dessert that night." Her Hygge experiences come across as luxury, and not necessity. In this, her appeal seems to be directed

    Unbeknownst to me, a product of growing up in a lower middle-class home in a northern mid western state, I've been living the Hygge dream for most of my life.

    The author spends a lot of time talking about "foraging" and "hunting," as Hygge Nordic pursuits, and maintains an air of "when I was a child, we loved climbing the mountains to look for the berries we'd have for dessert that night." Her Hygge experiences come across as luxury, and not necessity. In this, her appeal seems to be directed more to urbanites and those who never had to cut kindling and bring in the firewood as one of their daily chores.

    Also, 91 pages of this book are recipes (with gorgeous photographs!) made from ingredients hard to find in anyplace outside the great population centers of Europe and America.Seriously--I can't waltz into my local Walmart grocery store and score a bag of muscovado sugar, and finding my own fresh cardamom pods to grind

    is another quest that would end in disappointment.

    Included, too, is a section on collecting high-end Nordic art & furniture pieces that can grace your Hygge'd living spaces with some degree of class. We never had original eero saarenin pieces in my house growing up, but we DID have handcrafted homemade furniture and linens, once again, out of necessity.

    My search to find THE book capturing the spirit of Hygge continues...

  • Jill Courser

    I was curious about all the buzz around hygge, so I checked this out at our local library (because it was the only book on the subject they had). This book was disappointing in many ways. There is an air of smug superiority throughout that I found off-putting. The author can't seem to sing the praises of nordic culture without slighting other views at the same time. It's not her love and pride of heritage that I found distasteful, but rather her repeated little comments about how wrong everyone

    I was curious about all the buzz around hygge, so I checked this out at our local library (because it was the only book on the subject they had). This book was disappointing in many ways. There is an air of smug superiority throughout that I found off-putting. The author can't seem to sing the praises of nordic culture without slighting other views at the same time. It's not her love and pride of heritage that I found distasteful, but rather her repeated little comments about how wrong everyone else is. In particular, she insinuates (many times) that any diet other than the nordic one must be some crazy fad diet.

    As for the content of the book...that too left much to be desired. At least half the book is recipes, many of which are unrealistic for the average family, despite the author's insistence on simple, no-frills meals using what's available in your own kitchen. There were some recipes that sounded really good though, and I do plan on trying a few of them. Her advice on lifestyle, exercise, decorating, etc. seemed mostly like common sense to me. Go outside more, choose local fresh ingredients for your meals, cut back on clutter, keep your house clean. I don't really think anyone is going to argue with that! Since we live in a rural area already, we naturally live by most of her hygge principles already, without making a big to-do about it. It's just the way we live.

    I'm giving this book 2 stars (instead of 1) because for the most part the advice is sound, it just seems a little obvious to me. I sincerely hope that this book is not truly representative of the whole concept of hygge, because the book left me feeling like hygge is little more that a hipster-fied spin on natural living.

  • Shannon

    I really wanted to like this book. From what I've previously read about hygge I'm interested in incorporating more coziness and simplicity into my lifestyle. However this book is the opposite of hygee. Incredibly over written, small text, limited photos and more like a text book than a how-to guide encouraging a simpler life. Personally the meat heavy diet doesn't appeal to my lifestyle or health but to each his own. Skip this book and check out hygge blogs and websites.

  • Corrie

    This book should be titled How to be a Condescending Nordic Asshole: Why We Do Everything the Right Way and Everyone Else Does it Wrong.

  • Lisbet

    This book felt like the author couldn't make up her mind if she was writing a pretentious, self-indulgent memoir of her perfect childhood in Norway, a cookbook, or a textbook on how to do everything the way she does (and then calling that way "HYGGE!" because hygge sells right now).

    I grew up in Denmark and am very familiar with the concept of hygge, and sincerely hope no one thinks they can't find or create hygge in their life if they don't follow the author's often unrealistic idea of hygge

    This book felt like the author couldn't make up her mind if she was writing a pretentious, self-indulgent memoir of her perfect childhood in Norway, a cookbook, or a textbook on how to do everything the way she does (and then calling that way "HYGGE!" because hygge sells right now).

    I grew up in Denmark and am very familiar with the concept of hygge, and sincerely hope no one thinks they can't find or create hygge in their life if they don't follow the author's often unrealistic idea of hygge must dos. I couldn't help but think the author managed to take all the hygge out of a discussion about hygge, and twisted it into a very upper-middle class concept, rather than something that doesn't - and shouldn't - cost you a cent to enjoy in your life.

    There were so many absolutes in this book, that I initially thought they were supposed to be tongue-in-cheek funny and just wasn't coming across, but I quickly realized this was not a book that believed in humor (which again, clashes with my idea of what hygge is). For example, in Chapter 7 (design & home) she states "the easiest way to categorize books if you have lots to display? Always by subject." (p. 175). Seriously? I'm going to disagree and say the easiest way to categorize books is by size or color or author or whatever floats your damn boats and enables you to enjoy them!

    My major issue with this book is that she has chosen the word "hygge" to connect the stories of her idyllic childhood in Norway, her choice of often complicated recipes (posted after a chapter disparaging vegan and low-fat food), and her lengthy treatise on Nordic design (mentioning one iconic and expensive design after another) when what all those things really have in common is her take on the perfect Nordic life. To me, hygge is about comfort and being happy and content. It varies from person to person, but generally implies a feeling of warmth and contentment this book seems to lack. The author's version of hygge feels cold, sterile, and comes with a checklist that seems unrealistic for anyone on a budget, who doesn't have unlimited time to fish and hunt and ski, or doesn't want to cook elaborate recipes from scratch every day.

    She makes passing references to hygge not costing a lot of money, but it comes across as incredibly disingenuous given all the "musts" she's scattered throughout the book For example: you must spend lots of time frolicking in nature (preferably on skis), you must live in a clutter-free home with bouquets of flowers that are all the same color (because mixed color bouquets are apparently the antithesis of hygge), you must eat lightly salted butter on all the things, and "master at least five ways to cook with nature's original superfood: the egg" (p. 58) - and that sentence is pretty much a perfect example of everything that's wrong with this book.

    Parts of this book could have worked as a cookbook. Parts could have worked as a textbook on Nordic design. Parts could have worked as a memoir of her childhood. But those parts in no way worked together to make a book about hygge.

    ___________________

    One thing I took away from this book: Use Japanese kombu when making vegetable broth to add umami flavor. I'm going to try it!

    ____________________

    One final picky point. As I mentioned earlier, she spends a lot of time (a LOT!) on Nordic design, yet only includes one picture of the items she discusses, so readers now have to spend time searching for images online if they want to know what the hell she's talking about. Very frustrating. Especially when several of the chapters contained a full-page picture of the author which just came across as "Look at me - I'm Hygge!"

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