The Erbology Book Club is something we have been thinking about for a while, and its amazing to be able to now share it with everyone. One of the main objectives of the organisation to not only to provide access to top quality produce, but to be able to explore the health and wellbeing industry, and that means every aspect. The Erbology magazine as a whole embodies the industry, but the Book Club is mainly going to explore the literary options out there to the public. We aim to highlight those that can provide true value, and indeed identify the myths and the texts that seemingly provide inaccurate of misleading advice. We promise to post weekly and welcome all recommendations from you, the readers. With that being said we have chosen The Little Book of Hygge as our first review.
The Review … Have the Danes cracked the code to living a happier existence?
Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world, as demonstrated by its abnormally stable mental health statistics. There are thought to be a number of reasons for this reality however amongst the list, one becomes oddly enticing. Known as hygge.
“Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things”.
In as few words as possible, The Little Book Of Hygge is about the difficult-to-describe, yet seemingly powerful Danish attitude and perception towards living, which repeatedly scores Denmark amongst the happiest countries on the planet. The primary aim of the book reveals itself to be a instructional and guiding piece of writing, aiming to educate others outside the Danish borders how they too can cultivate it for themselves and lead a happier existence. (1)
Hygge is one of those wonderful words that cannot be translated straight to English, inspiring a greater sense of purity around the idea, It is often associated with a state of great comfort, and intimacy as stated above, however many advocates for the concept suggest a definition is subjective to the perceiver, meaning there is no universal consensus. (1)
Upon first glance and maybe even the second, Hygge is seemingly a fluffy concept, and many are offset by absence of a clear and concise definition. However some describe it as “the feeling you get when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, in warm knitted socks, in front of the fire, when it is dark, cold and stormy outside. It that feeling when you are sharing good, comfort food with your closest friends, by candle light and exchanging easy conversation. It is those cold, crisp blue sky mornings when the light through your window is just right”.
Denmark is supposedly the happiest country in the world and Meik, the author, credits this significantly to the Danish people “living the hygge way”. They really focus on the smaller, personal things that matter most in the bigger picture, that so often people forget to do or dismiss as they get caught up in the whirlwind of work and responsibility. These things include spending more higher quality time alongside family and loved ones, and enjoying the indulgence life has to offer. The Little Book of Hygge will give you practical steps and tips to become more of an hygge individual: how to decide on the appropriate lighting, how to orchestrate a social event and perhaps how to dress in a more hygge fashion. All of these suggestions are enforced by the authors extensive experience and research into the science of happiness. (1)
Unfortunately, I feel with this book, and many other similarly written pieces of writing in the self help sphere, London culture has done what is so often has been guilty of doing before. It has Identified a organic and indeed pure concept, imported it and commercialised it to mass use. Most of the books available exploring the Danish concept, are so blatantly written for online traffic purposes, ensuring they use all of the key words to maximise traffic, without caring about creating a more informative piece of writing, The books, often hundreds of pages long, are missing real value to the reader. What was originally an lifestyle change has become a quick fix philosophy, appealing to readers desire for immediate changes. (2)
Whilst the intentions behind this book appear to be sincere, the reality is that it does have something to offer, but a lot less than I personally expected. Throughout, It seemingly discusses obvious and relatively straight forward ideas, dressed up to inflate their true value. At times the book seems to delve into the fluffy ideas of wellbeing, drifting away from the more dense offerings, often reading as a little patronising, implying over simplistic solutions to what is, in reality, a very complex part of an individuals life.
This isn’t to say there aren’t some lessons to be learnt. It may seem like I have been somewhat critical, but there are a number of things that I personally was able to take from the book, that have added value to my routines. The first lesson I identified was one of great familiarity. The setting of an atmosphere. This idea delves into priming territory, as discussed in the Erbology Lifestyle series. Hygge is however quite specific as to how one may set the scene. The use of tools such as candles and other external stimuli are ideas commonly practiced amounts similar disciplines. (2)
The question is, is the book worth reading? I believe so, circumstantially. Many people may take some value from reading it, particularly those who are not new to the health and wellbeing world. Those who are a little more seasoned and experienced, will quickly identify the lack of real substance to the book and may find it a waste of their time, that could be better spend on a book of a higher calibre. Please do check it out online as there are a plethora of other opinions.
- 1) The Little Book of Hygge – https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/298804/the-little-book-of-hygge/
2) Katie O’Malley, 9 Ways to be more Danish – https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/culture/news/a31867/hygge-9-ways-to-be-more-danish/