I don’t know about you, but I love to read a good book or two during the holidays. Finally, you have some extra time to focus on other things than just work and everyday things, and what better way to spend that time than relaxing with a good book (hopefully on a beach somewhere warm..) I have put together a list of books to read if you are after that Scandinavian feeling and want to create the ultimate hygge time!
1 // THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE by Anu Partanen
“In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares and contrasts life in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships—parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist “nanny states,” revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. As Partanen explains step by step, the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and independence than we do.
Partanen wants to open Americans’ eyes to how much better things can be—to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream—to provide the opportunity to live a healthy, safe, economically secure, upwardly mobile life for everyone. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore true freedom to our relationships and lives.”
2 // THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY: UNCOVERING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S HAPPIEST COUNTRY by Helen Russell
“Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth. When Helen Russell is forced to move to rural Jutland, can she discover the secrets of their happiness? Or will the long, dark winters and pickled herring take their toll?
A Year of Living Danishly looks at where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.”
3 // HYGGE: A CELEBRATION OF SIMPLE PLEASURES. LIVING THE DANISH WAY by Charlotte Abrahams
“In Hygge, Charlotte Abrahams weaves the history of hygge and its role in Danish culture with her own attempts, as an English woman, to embrace a more hygge life. In this beautifully written and stylishly designed book, she examines the impact this has on her home, her health, her relationships and, of course, her happiness.
Light a candle, pour yourself a glass of wine, and get ready to enjoy your more hygge life.”
4 // VIKING ECONOMICS: HOW THE SCANDINAVIANS GOT IT RIGHT – AND HOW WE CAN, TOO by George Lakey
“Liberals worldwide invoke Scandinavia as a promised land of equality, while most conservatives fear it as a hotbed of liberty-threatening socialism. But the left and right can usually agree on one thing: that the Nordic system is impossible to replicate elsewhere. The US and UK are too big, or too individualistic, or too . . . something.
In Viking Economics—perhaps the most fun economics book you’ve ever read—George Lakey dispels these myths. He explores the inner-workings of the Nordic economies that boast the world’s happiest, most productive workers, and explains how, if we can enact some of the changes the Scandinavians fought for surprisingly recently, we, too, can embrace equality in our economic policy.”
5 // MIDNIGHT SUN by Jo Nesbo
“He calls himself Ulf—as good a name as any, he thinks—and the only thing he’s looking for is a place where he won’t be found by Oslo’s most notorious drug lord: the Fisherman. He was once the Fisherman’s fixer, but after betraying him, Ulf is now the one his former boss needs fixed—which may not be a problem for a man whose criminal reach is boundless. When Ulf gets off the bus in Kåsund, on Norway’s far northeastern border, he sees a “flat, monotonous, bleak landscape . . . the perfect hiding place. Hopefully.”
The locals—native Sami and followers of a particularly harsh Swedish version of Christianity—seem to accept Ulf’s explanation that he’s come to hunt, even if he has no gun and the season has yet to start. And a bereaved, taciturn woman and her curious, talkative young son supply him with food, the use of a cabin deep in the woods, a weapon—and companionship that stirs something in him he thought was long dead.
But the agonizing wait for the inevitable moment when the Fisherman’s henchmen will show—the midnight sun hanging in the sky like an unblinking, all-revealing eye—forces him to question if redemption is at all possible or if, as he’s always believed, ‘hope is a real bastard.'”
6 // HOW TO BE DANISH: A JOURNEY TO THE CULTURAL HEART OF DENMARK by Patrick Kingsley
“Denmark is the country of the moment. Recently named the happiest nation in the world, it’s the home of The Killing and Noma, the world’s best (and most eccentric) restaurant. We wear their sweaters, watch their thrillers, and covet their cool modern design, but how much do we really know about the Danes themselves? Part reportage, part travelogue, How to Be Danish fills in the gaps—an introduction to contemporary Danish culture that spans politics, television, food, architecture, and design.”
7 // A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman
“Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.”
8 // THE HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson
“After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle.”
9 // THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE: THE DANISH WAY TO LIVE WELL by Meik Wiking
“You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.
Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.”
Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts on them!