For those of you who have not yet come across hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) it can best be described as a philosophy, culture or way of life originating in the Nordic countries. It is sometimes directly translated as ‘cosiness’ and incorporates everything from food to interior decor. Hygge became a bit of a buzz word in 2016 and, as I’m a sucker for anything remotely wintery, I decided to add this book to my ‘post-Christmas and pre-returning to work week’ reading list.
The book is designed to act as an introductory guide to the ideas underpinning hygge. It divides hygge into its various aspects and provides an explanation of the key concepts along with examples of how these aspects are practiced in the Nordic countries. There are also a large number of recipes from the region that are accessible to cooks of all levels.
Many of the ideas around hygge are useful to those seeking to live a greener lifestyle, most notably its focus on self-sufficiency and rejection of excessive consumerism. Coming at this book from my science background I was perhaps expecting more of a how-to-guide, with x + y / z = hygge, but I suppose philosophies don’t really work that way. Instead, the book provides a flavour of the concept of hygge with ideas on how you can incorporate it into your everyday life. Some of the ideas don’t always translate very well over here (afternoon cross-country ski anyone?) but the author acknowledges this and provides suggestions on how hygge can be worked into even the most suburban life. It does lead you to wonder, however, whether this compromise causes you to lose something of the key elements of hygge. Maybe it is so deeply rooted in the Nordic landscape that it can never be fully realised elsewhere? I will though attempt to take some aspects of hygge and see if they can indeed help create a sense of cosiness in my own urban jungle.