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Hygge: Comfort and Food for the Soul is a thin book of 95 pages. It’s a lovely big size at 7 inches by 10. The contents include section names such as Indulgent hygge, Outdoor Hygge and (which I personally love) Hygge Yoga, but by far the biggest slice of the book is recipes for breakfast, bakes, cakes and drinks.
The book has no photographs, but does have simple line drawing illustrations of hyggely objects like chairs, cushions and the ubiquitous candles. The imagery is under credit from Shutterstock, so no illustrator is listed.
The blurb on the back describes it as “The perfect introduction to the Danish art of happiness.”, which is a big claim for any book to make. I’m not sure it applies here, either.
Hygge is simple to read, and light on in depth info. It concentrates mostly on the comfort & warmth side of hygge: the idea that it’s wrapping up in a blanket, drinking hot chocolate, eating comfort food all the time. The section I have a real issue with is:
“Eat cake. Cake is hygge. Eat it when you want. It’s comforting and like nothing else. Be generous — if you want a large piece, have it. Savour it and the moment with no guilt — just the pure pleasure of eating cake. If you want a second piece — that’s ok too!!”
Erm, pardon? Eat cake? As much as I want? When I want? I’m not sure if that’s a recipe for hygge or for indigestion. I’ll pass on that advice and stick to the cake as a treat to be taken seriously.
Where this book really comes into its own is as a recipe book. There are nearly 60 recipes in the book, and they cover soups, cakes and bakes. I really want to make several of them, especially the cheese scones because I’m a sucker for a good cheese scone. The recipes are simple, with a clear ingredient list and numbered method. There are no pictures of the finished products, but then there are no complex danish or hideously difficult manoeuvres to manage. Lots of them rely on sugar, so I’d warn any diabetics to proceed with caution, but if sweet is your poison, then go for it.
Information boxes along the way provide hints and tips or a brief description of the food. Things like “If there are two things near the top of the hygge list it would be coffee and cake. Combine them together and you have the ultimate hygge treat.” Good advice.
The cutest part of the book is the chapter on Yoga and hygge. I’ve never seen that in any other book, and I presume that the author (no named author is given) likes yoga and sees it as a hyggely activity. It’s a fun chapter, with a set of poses given that are designed to relax, and I can believe they do. It’s yogahygge or hyggeyoga. Either way, it could catch on. Do the yoga and then eat the cake. Lots of it. As much as you want.
Okay, then. Do I like the book? Well, it has faults. The unabashed espousal of cake eating for one, and the big text with open space meaning there’s a lack of really meaty content here, but the recipes are ones I’d make if I were in the right mood, and they are comfort food. The hyggeyoga is a novelty, but overall the book is a bit short of substance. What’s here is lovely…. but there’s not a lot of it. It won’t make it as a solo guide to Hygge, but it might work alongside a more detailed book, such as Bronte’s Essence of Hygge. (Read my review here)
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My book, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way will be available on March 17th and is available to pre-order now from Amazon. I can’t do signed copies. Yet.
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