This September the smallest of books hit the shops with the biggest of bangs. It helps when you’re published by Penguin and the publicity machine can go into overdrive, but I suspect that this little book, The Little Book of Hygge, would have done well anyway, simply because it has impeccable credentials.
Its author is Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He’s Danish, one of the Chosen People at the moment. They are, after all, the happiest people in the world, having topped the list for 3 out of 5 years… 4 out of 6 years? I can’t remember, I might check later, but in any case it doesn’t matter. Theirs is the happiest country on the Earth. So what is the secret of their success? How does a country of 5 million people and 12 million pigs get to be so happy?
Meik reckons it’s due to Hygge, the untranslatable word that the Danes nicked off the Norwegians and made their own in the face of a few bad years in the mid 19th Century. And he should know. He’s researched happiness and hygge for years.
Meik’s book is a beautifully produced little volume. It’s very good quality and has a beautiful hand feel. That’s important, because hygge involves all your senses and a cheap quality paperback wouldn’t feel right.
Meik Wiking is Danish and looks a lot like Viggo Mortensen, so he’s well worth finding on TED or YouTube to watch and listen to. I have the book on Audible as well, so I regularly fall asleep to his voice in my ears. (don’t tell the husband)
With chapters entitled We need to talk about Hygge, Hygge outside the Home, Five Dimensions of Hygge and Hygge All Year Round, the book covers food, clothing, places, why Denmark is the home of hygge and how to hygge properly. It’s heavily Danish, by which I mean everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is looked at first from the aspect of how it’s done in Denmark and then how we mere mortals can do it as well. If you’re a Scandi fan it’s really fun. He looks at the rise of Nordic Noir, essential kit to get your hygge on and tells lots of little short stories about his life to illustrate what and how to hygge.
My favourite parts? I used his recipe for Skibberlabskovs, because it is the origin of the name for people from Liverpool, Scousers, and I love it. It was well received by all my family, and is very simple, tasty fare. And I loved his list for a hygge emergency kit, with candles, chocolate, tea. It makes me wonder if I should subscribe to a hygge box service… for a few months at least… as a treat for the weary soul.
And my best and most favourite page is the Manifesto. I want this as a poster on my wall. If you see Meik, tell him….