Book Cover: The book of Hygge: The Danish art of living well

Malcolm's sister Alison gave Rachel this book for her birthday this year, leading to half of her special day spent outside in the garden, happily reading. We recommend the book because it's a book about creating and enjoying the pleasures in life -- with a particularly charming, Danish slant of simplicity, calm and a welcoming of everyone. Five Senses celebrates using your senses to connect with and savour life, and this books provides many suggestions on how to do this in your home.

'Hygge' is the Danish concept of a quality of cosiness and warmth and sensual delight that you deliberately create, especially when you want to fend off the cold and the dark.

Wood burning fireplace

Hygge is often found near a fire.

It's the intimate gathering of good friends round the table for food and nourishing talk, the decision to place your lunch carefully on a china plate rather than eat it straight out of the container, or to light a fire on a rainy day (which is what we're doing today as we write this). You can also find it in simple but beautiful things.

China cup of tea, floral scissors and quilt

Hygge found in beautiful and well-made objects.

For all its Scandinavian-ness, Hygge applies very well to our Scottish lifestyle and climate, where you want to curl up in the front of the fire after many a day out in mist and coolness. It also applies to anyone who is having a crap day, feeling worn out and fed up and desperately in need of comfort.

Forest in mist

'Glen Of The Bar' on the Queen's Way in Galloway Forest, Scotland

The book is poetic in its explanation of what hyyge is and how to create it, valuing the natural, the simple and the well-made over anything flashy. What we appreciate about the book is that it encourages us to think about how to create these comforting, welcoming moments throughout our day.

It reminds us to look for small steps like turning on the electric underblanket and lying down to meditate instead of enduring the sitting pose. Or lighting a few candles at dinner.

Even the act of simply reading this little book provides hygge. Read it when you next need a book to wrap around you like a deliciously soft blanket.

Excerpt:

Listen

There is a quiet pulse at the heart of hygge that cannot be heard through a cacophony of noise. To feel wrapped in the comfort of sound, we need to be able to discern what we hear.

Hygge is the quality of engagement. When we hygger, we want to be able to hear each other, to be in a position where we can remain on our frequency or tune in and out of each other's at will. Domestic appliances that call for our attention, or the interruption of electronic notifications that pull us away from the moment or from each other, detract from a hyggelig experience.

Natural sound is universally comforting: rain on a roof, light wind, bird song, the cracking of an open fire. Or the sound of a lover's heartbeat.

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We are all attracted to different levels of sound. For some of us hygge is evoked by music or the bustle of a busy street. For others it is found in the solace of silence. The chatter of diners enjoying themselves in a restaurant is hyggelig. A strident or loud individual is not. - p.106

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