Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Turell Soderberg

  • PopSugar #44: read a book during the season it’s set in

I’m trying to recall when I first learned of the concept of hygge. A couple years ago, I guess. I don’t remember the exact circumstances–it was on the Internet, obviously, but I can’t be more specific than that. Some item somewhere. A link to Facebook? A book review of The Year of Living Danishly?  Gaia knows.

What I do recall is the deep sense of recognition, that aha! moment, when I saw the term and its definition. Hygge–which, roughly speaking, unpacks to an amalgamation of coziness, contentment, enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures–is about the most natural habitat for this homebody duck as I could possibly imagine.

I think I learned the concept a tiny bit ahead of the big hygge craze in 2016-2017, but I did take the opportunity that craze provided to get a couple books about hygge into my home library. (Which, in typical fashion, I never got around to reading.)

But Mr. Mezzo and I have been intentionally doing things this winter to “get our hygge on,” so when I saw this particular category on the PopSugar list, I knew exactly what I wanted to choose for my “season.” And so I pulled out the prettiest of my hygge books and put it on my “challenge shelf.”

Well, it certainly is a pretty book.

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I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed in this one. It’s like Søderberg never decided exactly what sort of book she wanted to write. It was too many different things—inspirational photos, examples of everyday people and their hygge, DIY projects and recipes, academic scholarship, what-have-you—and not enough of any one of those things.

Søderburg also keeps rocketing back and forth between talking about hygge as uniquely situated to Danish/Scandinavian culture, especially the very long nights during a Danish winter, and then talking about hygge as something that’s everywhere around the globe. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the gesture towards inclusivity.* Just something about this inconsistencies felt off to me.

Like maybe she kind of wants hygge to stay a locally-grounded tradition, but realizes she has to say inclusive things in order for her book to have a market during the U.S. hygge craze? #SpeculatingWildly

Having said all this, the book wasn’t a total waste. There’s one recipe for no-knead rolls that I’m eager to try (once I figure out the metric conversion for the ingredients), and I want to incorporate the term vovsehygge (dog-hygge) into my descriptions of Cinnamon cuddles stat.**

And, having had a very tight elision between hygge and winter in my previous understanding, I did appreciate Søderburg’s perspective on how the spirit of hygge can be expressed in all four seasons.

I’m still taking credit for my chosen category by reading this book in winter.

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* I am, after all, sitting here trying to co-opt the concept into my own Boston life.

** I forget: have I mentioned that we now have a dog named Cinnamon? I think that happened during one of my glacial blogging “vacations.”

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Image credit: Photo taken by the author, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.ø

One thought on “Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Turell Soderberg

  1. Pingback: January Recap – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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