Thursday, February 2, 2017

This 'n That Thursdays: How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen


Lately I have been seeing comments here and there about a concept called "hygge" which, according to Norwegian chef and author Signe Johansen, is a Danish/Norwegian word that translates as a feeling of cosiness, kinship, and conviviality.  There are several books out on the subject, and I decided that I would purchase one to learn more about hygge.  The one I settled on is called How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life (2017) by Johansen, mostly because I liked her concept of balancing cosy interior activities with a good dose of outdoor living.  She claims that hygge is grounded in the Scandinavian philosophy of embracing their sometimes challenging climate and finding ways to bring comfort and enjoyment to life no matter what nature has to offer.  In fact, it is the challenges that make one appreciate the comforts even more.

The book is about 200 pages long, and the type is rather small, but the eight chapters are arranged in an easily followed manner, starting with the influence of nature, then a description of the Nordic trait of self-sufficiency fostered by their connection to the outdoors, progressing to the concept of "fika" or convivial gatherings, and then moving on to some specifics on how to hygge.  Photographs scattered throughout provide a visual sense of the subject as well.

Since Johansen is a chef, she includes a number of recipes, but this book is more than just a cookbook.  It describes a philosophy of life uniquely Scandinavian that is catching the attention of people all over the world.  Even if you are perfectly satisfied with life as you know it, reading this book will give you a glimpse of a lifestyle in what many feel is one of the happiest places on earth to live.  The author even includes a one-page summary on how to hygge at the end of the book, and I can almost guarantee that her 16 points will draw you in for even more information!

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