Up front declaration: I had never heard of Jenny Mustard until I bought the book, Simple Matters but she’s an influencer, a content creator, a Youtuber and more besides. Never mind. I liked the look of the book, and it was a suggested like on a page of other books I like, so I took the plunge.
I rather suspect I’m not Jenny Mustard’s intended audience, being well over my 30s, happily suburban rather than edge of chic urbanite and dedicated to a meaty diet, not a vegan. That’s the wonder of books, though. Sometimes you read one by a person whose life is so diametrically opposed to your lifestyle and so completely different in appearance, profession, preferences… you shouldn’t enjoy it. It’s chalk and cheese. But opposites attract, and I find getting a view into the kind of life that I will never…and I mean never… get to live now is appealing.
Simple Matters is subtitled ‘A Scandinavian’s Approach to Work, Home and Style.’ It’s a proper coffee table book for the insta generation, elegant in colour palette (the most colourful thing about the book is the little red bird logo for Gibbs Smith the publisher) and filled with minimalist, monochromatic photographs. It’s beautifully designed, with text set out simply and plenty of clear space as well as loads of photographs on whole pages or set into the text.
The book is divided into seven sections: At Home; At Work; On the Table; On Your Body; In the Suitcase; On Your Mind; and In Your Company. Jenny writes about her life and experiences, and each section is a collection, I think, of some blog posts from her website and some new content. The writing is eclectic: some posts are like lists of things or ideas to do, others like small essays on travel, home or work. Jenny tells her life story without chronological direction, and gets her own personal point of view over very well. For example… in her post ‘Social Media: A Defense (sic)’, she writes that sharing on Instagram “was about enjoying (the beauty) all by myself too. You can call this fake…. but I see it this way: whenever one of our favourite musicians releases a new album with beautiful songs for us to enjoy, do we also insist on hearing all the crappy songs that didn’t make the cut?”. It’s good to see a defence of social media that basically says she finds herself consciously making life prettier because she knows she will be sharing it.
I think my favourite section is, of course, At Home. I’ve read a fair share of books on simplicity and minimalism and they are (sometimes) the most tediously bossy books around, telling me what to wear, when to clean, what to keep in my drawers. Jenny’s chapters on simplicity in the home tell me what she thinks, how she views simplicity and why she chooses to curate and crop her life down in size. I’m not sure I could ever crop the memories of my life to the shoebox of past items that Jenny has, but her philosophy of knowing what one needs, of what simplicity is to you, is one that I share. Like hygge, everybody has a different point at which simplicity flips to ascetism or collections flip to clutter. Recognising that, owning our individual preferences and living by them, that’s simplicity.
The book is not a how-to book, it doesn’t contain long lists of instructions on what items to own, how to declutter a wardrobe, where to store stuff. It’s very clearly Jenny’s thoughts on simplicity, but all the better for that. I wouldn’t want to live in Jenny’s home and I have no doubt she’d take one look at my red carpet, blue walls and piles of books and walk out of mine. I can appreciate the ascetic quality of her simplicity, though, and I hope she’d appreciate the heart-felt simplicity that lies behind my home. Cosy minimalism, with an emphasis on cosy.
The book isn’t about decor, although Jenny’s home features heavily. It’s more personal. I’ve enjoyed reading it to review, but I think the benefit will come when, as a good coffee table book does, I lift it to flick idly through it in a few months time and read an essay slowly, taking the time to think what Jenny means for her, and whether the essay and its subject has an application for me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.