Book Friday: Cosy Happy Hygge by Jo Kneale

Do you believe in serendipity? I have a friend that calls coincidences Godincidences, little things that happen for a reason, or when several things happen within a short time and you think… Ah! That’s what that is for!

I’ve had a few nudges from the Universe this week. I met a friend in the Post Office: she was masked, and busy posting a parcel, but we still got a good few minutes waiting in the queue when we talked about life, the universe and how life is at the moment. She was saying that since March she has been working from home and increasingly finding herself working over 11 hour days. The proximity of the computer, the inner drive and energy she has and the fact she is a hard (and I mean HARD) worker mean she doesn’t have limits on her work. She was complaining saying she found taking breaks and getting away from the work mindset hard. Well, I’m a natural at breaks and time away from work (this whole blog is mostly written as a break from work) so we were talking about building in routines, setting times to stop and then making a ritual of them so that you keep to them every day without fail.

Then today I was reading my copy of the revised and updated Simple Abundance and found the post (first one I’ve read for a while: I tend to dip in and out of Simple Abundance because I’ve read it through a few times) was one of my favourite ones: Ceremonials for Common Days. It’s about precisely what I wrote about in Cosy Happy Hygge: that creating a ritual, a ceremony, around our daily life can lift it from a daily trudge to a sacred experience in the beauty and joy of life.

Ceremony and custom give birth to beauty, restoring a sense of wonder to our daily round.

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance 2019

In some subtle way this entry, and indeed most of the book, must have inspired me in my life. I read it as a new mother, and it helped me deal with life then. Certainly, I felt it was an inspiration to me when I wrote Cosy Happy Hygge. The rhythm of life, of the year and of daily living was sacred to me even as I changed the nappies, washed several loads a day and pushed full pushchairs to and from nursery.

Anyway, onto my book review today. This is for Jill, in particular, and anyone else who feels that perhaps they need to look at life with a new perspective and set up pauses, points of action or simply adjust life to allow for breaks in a world where there seems to be none.

Cosy Happy Hygge is a book which, at just under 200 pages, is not a long read. All told, it takes about three hours if you rush it through, and a few days if you savour it and think about how to apply it to your life.

It’s divided into three sections: 24 Hours of Cosiness, Building a Week of Happiness and A Year of Comfortable Living. Each sets out to show how to elevate small moments of rest or routine into a ritual, an action with a definite intention, of soothing the spirit or feeding the soul. Each section works through its time period in order, showing how each little ritual feeds into each other. It’s written from an incredibly personal point of view, with anecdotes taken from life but it also has relevant information to back up the claims when necessary.

The sections have a list of actions at the end that should help to create that moment of calm or peace. The actions aren’t complicated, or usually require equipment, time or much beyond a willingness to look at life with a less jaundiced eye. For “Friday Night is Cosy Night”, for example, the actions include: designating a clear point when you can declare Friday Evening Officially Started, turning down the lights to boost the room’s hygge and serving snacks or food in a creative way.

Boxes dotted through the book contain advice on cosying up parts of your life either virtual or physical. Cosy up… your lunchbox, your office, your bookshelves or your car contains more practical advice on making life more comfortable, welcoming and cosy. Create a cosy nest, a happy hygge home, and you will always have a retreat to return to whatever stresses the world throws at you.

A short resources section at the end lists books and websites that were used in the writing of the book, because often the bibliography can be the impetus for further research and deeper exploration.

The paperback version, at 6 inches by 9, has very readable big text but is only in black and white so the quotes that head each chapter are monotone. The ebook has colour illustrations if read on a tablet or smartphone. Quotations are carefully chosen to match the subject and the pictures used as backgrounds help to create the atmosphere of the book.

Now here comes the hard part. Is the book any good? Well, I’m biased, so I can only rely on other reviewers for this. The book has a five star rating on Amazon, and almost five stars on Goodreads, along with a couple of reviews.

I read part of this book during my lunch each day, and it was thirty minutes of pure calmness before facing another 32 middle schoolers. It put me in a a state of serenity and joy. The last half I read in bed snuggled with my dog and raspberry cocoa truffle tea. Pure heaven!

Bonnie Westmark

Thank you, Bonnie! A state of serenity and joy sounds lovely. While Becky writes:

A lovely manual on how to apply the concepts of hygge to your daily life throughout the seasons and to your spaces, both at home and at work, to maximize comfort and happiness.

Becky Galambos

It’s so strange as an author (and Goodness knows it took me long enough to decide I must qualify as one!) to see how one’s book gets used. I know that implementing cosy, happy hygge principles in my life have worked for me. I hope they work for other people, and it’s heartwarming to think that they do, and that others find inspiration to improve their life through my books. As the world slides into second waves and winter creeps across the North, I hope that setting in place rhythms and rituals will provide families and individuals across the globe with a heartbeat of peace onto which the vicissitudes of life lie like a temporary veil, insubstantial, and having little impact on our inner, deep lives of grace.

If you’d like to support me….

I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.

That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.

My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.

 Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.

Cosy Happy Hygge

My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way  was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.

How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the summer months. I strongly believe that hygge is so much more than throws and warm drinks.

Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Happier on Amazon

I have three Christmas books,

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.

3-Have Yourself A Happy Hygge Christmas

A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.

Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.

If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.

If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.

Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.

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