Book Friday: My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

Yes, it has taken me two weeks to write the review. Being honest, it took me until last weekend to stop running long enough to read it. I’m happy being busy… but at the moment I feel too busy and with stuff that doesn’t feed my soul.

Never mind. I took the weekend to stop and breathe and read, and this week has been slower, depsite the things I have to do, not busier because of.

Meik Wiking (and still what a fantastic name for a Dane to have!) has put out his fourth book, My Hygge Home, at a good time. When stresses come knocking and life outside seems hard, we all need a sanctuary and for many of us that’s our home. It might as well be a happy, safe, secure, hygge place and a little thought, a touch of work and (occasionally) a little judicious purchasing can do that.

My Hygge Home is an interesting book because the claims it makes (that you can design a better home for boosting happiness and live in a way that helps to foster hygge) are backed up by research, polls and interviews with experts. As Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, that’s not unexpected. It’s also a tremendously practical book, and full of advice for the home you have now, not a perfect but unattainable mansion. Some of the advice will be familiar to hygge homemakers, but it can be worth revising why exactly we need to pre-clutter, how companies only want your money and why hygge is a great path to happiness.

The book has eight chapters: Danish Design, Hygge: A Perfect night In, Shining a Light on Happiness, Space for Hygge, How to Design for Connection, Work Hygge/Play Hygge, The Cezanne Effect and Hygge is Homemade as well as a Conclusion called A Healing Place for the Soul.

Hygge, for me, is very connected to the modern idea of Sanctuary, as a special and safe place (physical or mental) to leave the stresses of the world behind, even if only temporarily, and find space to breathe in happiness. Meik says that hygge “is the feeling of home”, and I can get that. If ‘home’ here means the place we feel secure and safe, welcome, cosy, comfortable and able to just be*…. then, yes, hygge is that in one simple word. (*and, yes, not everyone is lucky enough that ‘home’ means all those things. Striving to make a world where everybody has a home like that is part of our purpose in life, isn’t it?)

The book looks at the role our physical world plays in enhancing and helping hygge… and no, it’s not about fluffy cashmere socks and expensive fur rugs at all. Meik encourages us always to start with what we have. Look at what doesn’t need changing before looking into the things we can alter.

Creating a hygge home needs lighting, comfortable surroundings (rugs or throws) and light that is adaptable enough to create pools of magic. On a dark night, the softness of candles creates spaces to be safe together. He also advises against sharp angles, especially in furniture. A round table, he claims, brings equality and peace as well as a cosier atmosphere since it encourages eye contact and makes both space and time more personal and intimate.

Rather than racing out and buying products marketed as hygge (a phenomenon Meik calls ‘Hygge Washing’, start with what you have and look out for which small changes can make a difference. It may be that repositioning a table or a couch enables smoother movement or easier conversation. He recommends creating spaces or nooks, corners where people can retreat from the bigger space to feel secure and alone. He calls the corner chair the Viking-proof seat, because no Viking can creep up on you there. I call it the Mafia Seat, because it’s the only place a Mafia Boss would be happy to sit for pretty much the same reason.

And he advises us to take time to create our hygge homes. The journey… the process of curating and collecting a hygge home together… is part of the experience. He writes

“Hygge is about enjoying the process. About taking things slowly. And the enjoyment of looking forward to the delicious results you will enjoy tucked up at home on a quiet wintry evening.”

LIghting, of course, plays a crucial role. Letting in natural light aids better sleep and living, while creating islands of light on a cold night creates warmth and brings people together. Almost every aspect of home life is covered: cooking, sleeping, reading and working from home, which since 2020 is a part of many people’s lives in a way we would never have dreamt.

I found myself noting down whole quotes from the book in my notebook, about enjoying what we have, how hygge is not able to be bought, about what home is to us. I’ve read My Hygge Home once to review, and flipped through a couple of times in writing this post, but it’s another book I want to revisit. I need to get my sticky markers out and put slips in where the phrases just catch the meaning I need, or where the idea has set me off with a small action… and a lot of the inspiration in the book is for small actions, not big renovations… that I know will make this corner that much cosier, or that shelf so much more meaningful. As Meik writes,

“Our home is a collection of our lives. It shows who we are and where we have been… a hygge home has personality — it shows people who you are.”

At 9 inches by 7 inches, it’s a different sized hardback book to Meik’s previous works. That’s a shame, because it sits very well alongside the Little Book of Hygge, Little Book of Lykke and The Art of Making Memories. The full colour illustrations are well chosen to reflect the content of the chapters and although there is no recommended reading list or pages of stores (because hygge can’t be bought, it really can’t) that’s no loss. It’s not a step by step guide, with how to advice on every page. It really is a ‘why to’ guide.

I’m hooked on the information tables. Especially the one on average number of books per household. Real books? I must be topping 2,000 and always had hundreds of books for my kids to read. Kindle-wise? 4,000 easily. I’m a walking library all by myself and mostly all bought by myself, including this one. I don’t read it and recommend it unless I know I’ll like it and I think you’ll like it too.

Sadly, no flipthrough this week, but time, dear boy, time.

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. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

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. And it’s always the little things.

And if you, like me, like to plan ahead, then my Christmas books are always available: Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, while Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

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.

The photo between post and promotions is by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash . It’s Autumn still, for another month, and I loved the colour of leaves against the cream background. I have plans for an autumn stripe blanket…… And the header is a photo of the new book, complete with Tomte mug of sage tea, and a Craftpod embroidery that was in their winter box a couple of years ago.

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