If ever I go bankrupt, I want you to know that it will not be because of my extravangant spending on shoes, clothes, meals out or holidays. No, siree.
If ever I go bankrupt it will be because my money, every spare bit of it plus a little extra, goes on books. Real books, second hand or new books, Kindle books or hardback. Books are my thing. I am a Tsundoku Sensei. Books are pretty much the first thing you see when you enter the house, and the last thing I see when I fall asleep at night. Thank goodness for Kindles or, with four active readers in the house, we’d be overflowing. As it is, I could set my Kindle collection up as a library all by itself. True, it’s lacking in a lot of Westerns, modern horror and some fantasy, but it’s well up there with classical literature, lifestyle books and guides and cookery.
And comfort reading. Cosy books to enjoy on cold, wet days and comfortable sagas to enjoy over a weekend. The sort of reading that Great Writers get sniffy about but that sells by the barrow load, so someobody out there must like it. The sort of writing that goes best with a mug of hot cocoa and a cinnamon bun. I really do love my comfort reads.
So I spent some time this weekend lining up the books that I either want to review on the blog during November, some that I will be gifting to myself as advent books during December and others that I just want to read and enjoy in the run up to Christmas. It’s a bit of a long list, so grab your favourite cuppa and settle down.
Books To Review:
Sometimes I just collect a random book on a walk through a bookshop, others I am searching for a book on a particular topic. Mostly, I just collect books that look good and I think I will enjoy. The books I choose for review on the blog are ones that have been recommended to me by various sources, or that seem to me to capture the essence of hygge: simple, basic living, an emphasis on home or family and often an element of food or drink about them. Book Fridays are my favourite posts to write, because who wouldn’t like saying “This book is great”.
I usually only review the books I like: that means you never see the ones I’ve bought and left or that I read and hated. November is only a short month, especially since Advent this year will officially start on 28th November, so I only have three bookposts set aside for reviews on the blog. And a choice of four books.
Christmas at River Cottage by Lucy Brazier. I haven’t even opened this yet, but I think I’m going to like it. I’m a sucker for a good Christmas book, especially ones that are so much more than cookbooks (that’s why Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles is one of my favourites) and I hope this will be something similar: more than recipes, more than just stories.
Rachel Ashwell’s Painted Stories. Again, a book I haven’t even peeped inside yet, beyond the Amazon sample on the page, but I liked the idea of reading another person’s notebook, and the handwritten, hand illustrated feel appealed to me. You’ll know it’s any good if I really review it on the blog.
How to be Sad by Helen Russell. Yes, hygge makes me happier than anything else, but life without shade would be a half life, so learning to deal with sadness when it comes your way makes sense. Feeling sad is a natural part of life, so we might as well make the most of it.
Little Stories of Your Life by Laura Pashby. I’m very aware that my photography is very snapshot, not staged, not thought through sometimes, and although I like my spontaneity, I would like to do better framing, more considered pictures. Add to that Laura’s conviction that it is the little moments, the little stories that light up life, and I’m looking forward to reviewing this.
The past few years I have gifted myself a book a week on the run up to Christmas, little Advent Sunday presents to myself to let me have a few moments peace in what is often the busiest month of the year. I found that, often, Christmas Day worked out to be a bad day for a mother to try and enjoy her presents at leisure and that, if I wanted to enjoy the books I had chosen, spacing them out seemed like a good idea.
I choose at least four books, wrap them, number them 1 to 4, Boxing Day and New Years Day, and unwrap them at the appropriate times. Sometimes they have a theme, sometimes they’re just the books I liked the look of best. This year’s selection is:
Advent by Anja Dunk. I liked the look of this one, and I have already had a peep inside. It looks lovely: nostalgic photographs, clear recipes and storytelling in between that will be a cosy, comfortable read. It will, as the Germans would say, fill me with Gemutlicheit.
Curate by Lynda Gardener and Ali Heath. I chose this one purely because its description of home as a feeling not a place that grows with time and gets better with age. I liked the photographs as well.
Dwell, Gather, Be by Alexandra Gove. I love reading hygge blogs,and Alexandra’s, attached to her online shop, has got to be one of the leading ones. Her book has a forward by Meik Wiking, and an emphasis on designing for hygge. With an irresistible Danish coolness of design, what more could I want?
The Almanac 2022 by Lia Leendertz. With a theme this year of Folklore, and a few good years of recommendations behind the series, I will enjoy opening this as near to the new year as I can. I know it has all sorts of useful information, with moon phases and seasonal highlights, so I hope it will encourage me to live even more in line with the natural world than I already do.
The Literary Almanac by Francesca Beauman popped up as an Amazon recommendation after The Almanac above, and I fell for it. Seasonal reading? Yes, of course. I haven’t even looked through the book, so I have no idea what’s in store, just that there are lots of books in the world and I like them all.
Reading For Pleasure
My Choco-lit books, those best read over a wet weekend or in a cosy armchair as the fire crackles nearby. I don’t have a real fire, so I’ll make do with a woodwick candle and my imagination. It hadn’t occurred to me before I collected my thoughts and these book titles together quite how many of them are based in or around shops, and bookshops in particular. It makes sense to me, though, because one of my favourite novels of the summer was The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday, so perhaps I’m just seeking the winterised version of that.
Jenny Colgan’s The Christmas Bookshop was preordered before summer had gone and arrives on my Kindle in the next week. I’m looking forward to this Edinburgh-based story, as I’ve been to Edinburgh a few times over the years.
Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop is written by an Australian but set in Lapland, where the heroine travels after losing her job. I’m expecting cute, snowy and romantic ever afters.
The Christmas Holiday by Sophie Claire was bought almost solely for the fact Trisha Ashley described it as ‘a fun and festive read’. Evie moves away to set up her dream craftshop… but ends up spending Christmas in France with Jake who, for various reasons, wants to escape the season as well.
Have I mentioned One More Christmas at the Castle already? By Trisha Ashley, it’s a lovely story of a dying lady’s last wish. I really enjoyed it, having read it last week, but I will probably read it again as part of a Trisha Ashley Marathon in December.
A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton is set in York, and has a bookshop in, so that’s two of my favourite things covered. Add in snow, and I’ll be a happy bunny.
Christmas Magic at the Writer’s Retreat isn’t about a bookshop, but is about writing books, so I suppose it counts. It’s by Julia Sutton. I have no idea where it is set, but the cover has snow on, so I’m hoping for some white action at least.
And to sip along with all of these? I’m still hooked on Pukka Tea’s Wild Apple and Cinnamon, or a Turkish Delight Hot chocolate. It depends on my mood. Although, as soon as I can officially declare it Christmas, I think Marks and Spencer’s Vanillan Rum with a ginger mixer may well make my heart sing.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.