The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits was one of the first wave of Autumn Hygge releases but has been outshone by Meik Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge, possibly because his was published by Penguin with the massive publicity machine while Louisa’s is published by Penguin Random House…. oh, wait. That can’t be the reason.
It may well be, then, that Louisa’s beautiful volume is the more highbrow offering. Where Meik’s is bright blue and gold, filled with wisdom and charts and facts and advice from his very hyggely life, Louisa’s is a more sombre grey, orange and a beautiful shade of green that is like grey-ish jade. Her content is far more wordy as well, although her photographs used as illustrations throughout are beautiful, clean, aesthetically pleasing and very, very Danish interior catalogue. You could make a note card set from all of them and want to keep them yourself, they are that appealing.
Louisa has also concentrated so much more on the theory of hygge as a mental observance. She’s big on observances, and people looking for the simple to do list as a first step to hygge may well want to look elsewhere. Louisa’s volume is not full of instructions for recipes, how to hygge in the summer or even how to create a hyggekrog, and her book is no good read all in one sitting. Your head will spin and you’ll be bewildered.
It is freely littered with quotes from experts of hygge or a hyggely life; Kierkegaard, Thomas Moore, Thoreau, Ilse Crawford… the bibliography is a course on the Well Observed Life on one page. But the quotes are well chosen, little nuggets of information that each call out to be ruminated over, considered, accepted or denied. The whole book cannot and should not be downed in one sitting, and even needs to be re-read again to pick the meat from the bone.
The Chapters are deceptively simple; Belonging, Shelter, Comfort, Well-being, Simplicity, Observance. But within each one there are comments, quotes, illustrations taken from life that need mulling over. Stewing in the head. You won’t be able to pick this up and list ten things you need to buy to hygge. You’ll be lucky if you list anything to buy or do, only a way of being. And all the better for that.
This book is like a fine wine of hyggerology. You should sip it, slowly. Enjoy the small parts of each chapter, read, breathe, think and read again. A whole lesson in hyggely mindfulness awaits.
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