Book Reviews · Non-fiction · Personal

The Little Book of Hygge

There are times when we can all use a little more peace and coziness in our lives, and this week has been one of them. Yesterday morning I discovered that one of the pipes beneath my kitchen sink has been leaking for the past couple of weeks (quite possibly longer), forming a lake in the bottom of my cabinet. Since I have a cat who splashes water all over my kitchen floor on an almost daily basis, I didn’t know there was actually a serious problem. Until I tried to move things around under the sink…and found my cleaning supplies submerged in about an inch of stagnant water.

It took me a while to get the mess cleaned up and, in the process, I was exposed to some mold that left me wheezing and coughing for the remainder of the day. Fortunately I was able to get a plumber out to fix the leak this afternoon, but now I find myself facing the pleasant task of replacing my damaged cabinet. I don’t even want to think about what we might find beneath it when it’s removed.

As it happened, I had picked up a copy of The Little Book of Hygge from the library just in time for the plumbing crisis. The book was written by Meik Wiking, who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. I’d come across the term “hygge” a couple of times (most recently in a fanfiction story I was reading over on AO3), and was very interested in learning more about this Danish term and its application.

It’s hard to define a term that doesn’t have a direct English translation, but The Little Book of Hygge does a great job of explaining the essentials. As I understand it, hygge is all about happiness that comes through having a sense of security, being comfortable and cozy, and maintaining quality relationships with others. There’s actually more to it than that, but those were the things that jumped out at me as I read.

The book is very easy to read, as it is divided into sections that discuss the elements of hygge, and how it can be created in different locations and at various times of the year. Wiking even includes some recipes for favorite hygge appropriate dishes. I particularly enjoyed The Hygge Manifesto, an infographic that showed a list of ten things that make up a hygge experience. These included: atmosphere, presence, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness, and shelter (Wiking 30-31).

It’s also worth noting that books are also a big part of hygge, which is great news for all of us book lovers! According to the Wiking, “Taking a break with a good book is a cornerstone in the concept of hygge. The genre does not matter – romance, sci-fi, cookbooks, or even horror stories are welcome on the shelves” (102). Books have always made me happy, and it’s wonderful to see people around the world having that same experience!

Speaking of which…I’m going to grab a blanket and cup of tea, light a few candles (LED because of my overly curious feline roommate), and curl up with my current book for a night of hygge. Happy reading!

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