***I was actually sent a free copy of the book to review, but all thoughts and reactions are my own and not at all biased***
OK. At least, not biased by being sent the book to review, only by the fact that Brontë Aurell is an awesome Motherhygge who puts into one sentence as much common sense about hygge as many writers take a book to do. This is a Yoda of a book, by which I mean it’s only 5 inches by 5 inches (14.5cm by 14.5cm, if you’re being pedantic) and 160 pages, including content and index. It’s small enough to slip into a bag or coat pocket and carry around with you for a week as I have, dipping in and reading it a little at a time. Good things do indeed come in small packages.
Twelve short, simple chapters including about 3 of Brontë’s own recipes per chapter*** cover how hygge is relevant to happiness, baking, time, stress, nature, stuff…. and each chapter is beautifully prefaced with a stylish photograph by Peter Cassidy, who also did the photography for Fika and Hygge which I reviewed here on the blog.
The quotes at the start of each chapter range from Lao Tsu to Oscar Wilde and are a prime proof that a hygge quote doesn’t even need to mention hygge. I found myself scribbling several out into my Bullet Journal, and I fully expect several to make their way here and onto Facebook, Twitter etc….
Brontë is also a practical lady. Her hygge is as achievable as a night in front of the TV. She’s very much an advocate of the idea that hygge is the feeling, not the frills and that everybody will feel hyggelig/t in a different way. “What makes you feel relaxed in your own space really is a personal thing and there are no amount of how-to lists and guidebooks that can help you get there.” and “A home is what happens when you fill a space with things that make you feel safe” are just 2 of the gems that she has in the book. Honestly, in a couple of weeks I feel tempted to underline the mottoes that speak to me… but I’m afraid that might mean underlining half the book. Better just to carry it with me and read it when I feel the need.
If you’ve read every hygge book going then there probably won’t be anything new in this book, but what there is, is a distillation of all the wisdom in one place. It’s not prescriptive, it doesn’t say “This is the way and you must hygge this way or else.” It’s a gentle reminder that hygge is a feeling, not a stage set of beautiful pieces.
For that alone, presented in such a beautiful, visual manner, it deserves a place alongside Meik and Louisa Thomsen Brits. And if you’re a hygge newbie, or in search of a book to give to a newbie, then this book is the best combination of eye candy and brainfood I’ve seen. This, a copy of Meik Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge, a couple of tealights, chocolate bar and fluffy socks would be the start of a hygge gift box fit for any friend. I have a few relative’s birthdays coming up and, yes, this book is going to be one of my go-to never-fail presents.
The Essence of Hygge is available from all good booksellers, but if you click through any of the links on my blog you can buy from Amazon and give me a couple of pence per copy. Not enough to escape, yet, but every penny helps.
***I haven’t concentrated on the recipes at all, have I? That’s because the book is so much more than just a recipe book. But if you’re a baker, then there are enough ideas here to keep you happy, including Kladdkaka, Loki’s Brownies, Apple cake, Smørrebrød and cinnamon buns. It’s like a Hall of Fame of Scandikitchen’s best. I’m there again in February and I CAN’T WAIT!!!