Yes, yes, I know – do we really need another post about hygge books? My answer is YES, because it’s Christmas and because I want to. Rest assured though, these book gift ideas won’t ALL be about hygge, so for those of you who find the idea abhorrent needn’t look away just yet.
The Little Book of Hygge
Look, I know what I just said, but this really does need to be at the top of the list. I wrote about The Little Book of Hygge back in September when I interviewed Meik Wiking, so I won’t repeat myself, but this really is the book to buy for anyone you want to introduce to winter’s cosiest concept. It’s witty, it’s informative and it goes into a lot more detail than some of the other hygge books which are little more than a series of cosy photos (though they have their place too – this is just my preferred choice). It’s a total bargain at a fiver, so pick up a couple of copies as stocking fillers and get ready to hygge your way through winter.
Monthly book subscription
I love a subscription box (like the Living Hygge subscription service), and you can get virtually anything delivered in a nice little monthly package now. Makeup, snacks, socks… you name it, you can probably subscribe to it. But for the book lover, a book subscription can be a brilliant idea. When I was a student, I used to like rummaging through my local independent bookshop, so I was very excited to find that they now have the Big Green Bookshop Book Club. Other options include the Willoughby Book Club, which allows you to personalise by genre, or the Daunt Books subscription for people with a severe case of wanderlust (bonus book-lover points for the very Instagram-friendly Daunt cotton bag).
I wrote recently about ways to stay connected from afar, and for the faraway friend or relative (or the eco-conscious pal closer to home), why not go for an ebook subscription? Joosr is like a magazine subscription for the 21st century, offering book summaries to busy people in digital form. Lots of people just don’t have time to sit and read a full book, so this is the perfect way for your friends to explore the topics that interest them without having to carve hours out of the day to do it. A Joosr subscription is perfect when you have a spare 10 minutes for a cup of tea and a quick spot of hygge between tasks, especially because there’s such a great range of book summaries available – some of the most hyggeligt reads include Happy by Derren Brown, The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington and, of course, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. The gift of knowledge will never be a bad thing, so this is the perfect gift for someone who craves learning and information 24/7. What’s more, you can always snap up a subscription at 11.50pm on Christmas Eve… just don’t tell the lucky recipient that, OK?
I’m that tragic person who reads cookbooks in bed. You don’t need to tell me how sad I am, don’t worry. A book that caught my eye when I was browsing my new favourite site, Cloudberry Living, is Signe Johansen’s Scandilicious Baking. Baking is a massive part of the Nordic food scene, from Danish pastries to cinnamon buns and gingerbread to sticky chocolate cake, so this is essential bedtime (breakfast time, mid-afternoon, 3am…) reading for anyone who wants to embrace the Scandi lifestyle. This book isn’t about fiddly icing or GBBO-esque layers – every recipe you follow should leave you with something looking and tasting homemade, which is exactly what I want from my baking. The recipes which caught my eye include vanilla bread, the Scandilicious fish gratin, the skoleboller and the almond kringle wreath, but this is by far one of the most versatile Scandi recipe books I’ve ever come across. For me, Signe is like the Norwegian Nigella Lawson, which is just about the biggest compliment I could possibly give, so this is definitely the book for the foodie in your life.
Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness
I know I said this won’t just be a list of books about hygge, and I promise this is the only other typical ‘hygge book’ I’ll mention. This time it’s Marie Tourell Søderberg’s Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness. This has everything you’d expect to find in a book about the world’s cosiest concept – recipes, beautiful photos (pleasingly, presented in Instagram-style grids) and of course, some delightful anecdotes from Marie. This is a great option if you’ve already read The Little Book of Hygge, and I love the practical tips for living a more hyggeligt life. I really like the intimate, candid tone of this book – it’s exactly what a book about hygge should feel like, and I think this would be the perfect remedy for the slightly sluggish Twixmas period while you (hopefully) have the luxury of time to read as much as you like.
If you’re planning a trip to Scandinavia in 2017 (and if not, why not?), you’re probably going to want to learn a few key phrases. While virtually everyone I’ve ever met in Scandinavia speaks flawless English, I still feel like it’s polite to make an effort with the basics, and this four-in-one Nordic phrasebook is a cost-effective way to pick up the most important phrases in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish (sadly no Icelandic!). This is perfect if you’re planning several weekend breaks in a year or a little tour of the region. Also, quick tip: from my days as a Linguistics student, I remember discovering that Norwegian is the ‘in-between’ language for Danish and Swedish – if you can learn a little bit of Norwegian, you should find that Danish and Swedish aren’t vastly different, while Danish and Swedish are a little further apart linguistically, so Norwegian could well be the place to start if you have ambitious travel plans. Why make a New Year’s resolution to learn one language when you could learn four?
Wait! Hear me out on this one. I first saw Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way in Waterstones about a year ago, before the Great Hygge Hype of winter 2016. I picked it up, flicked through it, thought ‘Who the hell would buy a book about woodcutting?’ and put it back. But I thought about it and thought about it, and something compelled me to go back for a second look. And I’m glad I trusted my intuition, because this is about so much more than just how to chop and store wood. It’s almost anthropological in its approach to woodchopping, with the opinions of enthusiasts (yes, they exist, and yes, they seem great) interwoven with practical tips to chop and store only the finest wood. It’s an unconventional choice, yes, but this will be one you’ll keep coming back to for another look.
If you’re looking for even more book inspiration, take a look at this post from last year. So what’s on your list this year, bookworms? Have any of these wriggled their way onto your letter to Father Christmas?