It’s a funny thing, but I can almost separate my Hygge book reviews into those before I wrote a book about hygge myself and those I have thought about and not written since. It’s almost as though I think that reviewing someone else’s book on hygge would be like the mother in maternity who looks at you baby and sniffs, before saying “It’s alright, but the nose is too long and there’s a squint in the left eye.” before showing off her own mis-shapen thing and saying, “But this one is beautiful. Look at the smile when it burps and how it makes a funny face when it fills its nappy.”
I never really thought of it, but having a book is like having a baby. It just is. You gestate and gestate (either an elephantine time like 22 months or just 20 days in the murine* version!) and then give birth to something that, really, you are just too close to to judge accurately and should show to impartial judges for the true opinion.
But I am still a reader, and a lover of hygge books after that. And even if I have my own Frankenstein’s monster to promote and preen over (my next quiz show I am going to introduce myself as Office Ninja and Author) I haven’t completely lost my impartiality, I hope. An inspiring text is still an inspiring text, while a cobbled effort will still be a clog dance of chaos and badly edited text.
Today’s book is one of the first wave of 2016 Hygge books, by which I mean published in September 2016 and available 8 days after The Little Book of Hygge’s publicity machine had cranked into being. Riding the wave, The Art of Hygge focuses on the visual side, rather than the metaphysical elements of what makes hygge hyggely.
At 140ish full colour pages and measuring 7 by 7 inches (that’s 17.78 cm apparently) the book doesn’t set out to be complicated or to take a long time to read. It’s a visual experience, with a long list of credits via Shutterstock. Six chapters cover hygge at home, hygge through craft, hygge at home again in a different way (and again), seasonal and outdoor activities and simple pleasures. Most pages have photo collages on, or full page spreads with recipes, notes and advice. Hygge is explained in a simple page at the beginning as “a state of being and of finding joy in the simple pleasures of everyday life”.
The Art of Hygge won’t really teach you anything you don’t already know: the recipes are very heavily biased towards Christmas favourites and the craft ideas look borrowed from other books or websites. It’s full of the photographic cliches of hygge, with socks and warm drinks in abundance. In so many ways I shouldn’t like this book….
But I do like it, not so much for the content or the recipes as for the pictures themselves. The collages are very appealing, bright and cheerful. I know that my daughter has looked and loved many of them, and the book is very photogenic. I don’t think you will read it and find much earth-shattering information, but you can read it again and again and enjoy the pictures. If you are a very visual learner, and easily bored by long paragraphs, then this book has much to recommend it to you.
If you’re looking for a longer, deeper book on hygge, with history, origins and the inspiration to align your life according to hygge principles and concepts, then possibly look elsewhere. This is a mouse*, not Jumbo. That said, the Recipe for Hygge page fits very nicely into anybody’s ethos.
*murine means mouse-like. There we are, a new word as well.
****How to Hygge the British Way Blog isn’t monetised. I have taken the decision that I want to remain neutral and not to promote things just because. I will only ever review items that I have bought myself, or that I think will help to promote hygge in a busy life. To do this, I need support. Even just the price of a coffee adds up to a book over time, and it means I can stay independent. Would you help? Please consider clicking through to paypal.me/HyggeJem and leaving even a small amount. I’d be very grateful. Thank you.***