cover image Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness

Marie Tourell Soderberg. Trafalgar Square, $21.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7181-8533-6

Danish actress Soderberg stitches together a multilayered description of hygge, a key Danish value, in this delightful book. It’s not an easy thing to do—hygge is at once a verb, an adjective, and a noun; the pronunciation guide included in the book requires a full (albeit short) page. Still Soderberg does her best (and her best is quite good) to compile information about what can be simply described as a “safe haven” that Danes have long created in their homes. By employing striking multisourced photography, the author efficiently illustrates how the concept applies to different rooms in a home. She also describes family traditions and foods that embody hygge, and playlists, plants, gifts, and heirlooms that might inspire an understanding of it. Although Danish expatriates interviewed here report finding hygge throughout the world, Soderberg suggests that its foundation in Denmark is especially strong because of the need there to huddle indoors as “nature is raging outside.” The book concludes with a brief but impassioned plea to maintain hygge in the face of both left- and right-wing criticism and threats from social media and other features of modern life. The book’s calming nature and simplicity make it a lovely escape from a rather noisy world. (Sept.)