The Year of Living Danishly Book Summary - The Year of Living Danishly Book explained in key points
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The Year of Living Danishly summary

Helen Russell

Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

4.4 (62 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell provides an insightful, humorous account of a British couple's year-long experience of living in Denmark. Through the lens of the Danish culture, they learn how to embrace simplicity, happiness, and the hygge way of life.

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    The Year of Living Danishly
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    Danish happiness begins with a comfortable and stylish home life.

    When most people think of Denmark, their mind will jump to LEGO, frigid winters and a confusing language. But more recently, this Nordic nation has come to be associated with a new word that Danes absolutely love: hygge.

    While many people still struggle to explain what it means, it’s actually quite simple: hygge just refers to coziness and a nice home environment.

    For instance, just about everyone in Denmark likes to stay indoors with family and friends during the winter; this is their time to get hygge. The word can also be used as an adjective or verb, and essentially means having a cozy time. In other words, it’s a lifestyle concept that’s associated with home, people, food, drinks and cold weather.

    That means a nice dinner with friends can be hygge, but so can cuddling on the sofa with your sweetheart, or a glass of wine and some candles to chase the chill of the dark, cold weather.

    To ensure such experiences are ready at hand, Danish people transform their homes into environments of pure comfort. For instance, most Danes keep their houses tidy; people are expected to remove their shoes when entering a house and, to create small cozy corners, they use lots of lamps. These range from stylish ceiling chandeliers to floor and table lamps.

    In addition to this electric light, they also use tons of candles for a warmer ambience. In fact, Danes burn more candles per person per year than any other European nation.

    The final basic addition are blankets and cushions to help them stay warm. These vary by season and it’s quite common to have different sets of cushions for winter and summer.

    So, why do the Danes go to such great lengths to set their homes up for hygge?

    Well, research shows that a comfortable and stylish home makes you happy. For example, a 2011 study done by the University College London. It found that simply looking at something you consider beautiful will release dopamine in your brain, making you happy. As such, having a comfortable home environment, marked by a tidy and stylish interior, is key to Danish happiness.

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    What is The Year of Living Danishly about?

    The Year of Living Danishly (2015) is all about Denmark and why it is considered such a great place to live. These blinks take an inside look at Danish culture and society to explain why this small Scandinavian country consistently tops the UN World Happiness Report, as well as the well-being and happiness index of the EU Commission.

    The Year of Living Danishly Review

    The Year of Living Danishly (2015) is a delightful exploration of Danish culture and the concept of hygge that will leave you yearning to incorporate some Nordic practices into your own life. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • It offers insightful observations about the Danish way of life, revealing the secrets to their happiness and well-being.
    • The book combines humor, personal experiences, and research to paint a vivid picture of life in Denmark, making it a captivating and enjoyable read.
    • With its engaging storytelling and thought-provoking reflections, the book keeps you hooked from start to finish, proving that learning about a culture can be anything but boring.

    Best quote from The Year of Living Danishly

    Denmark is very much a design society, and this plays quite a big part in happiness.

    —Helen Russell
    example alt text

    Who should read The Year of Living Danishly?

    • Students of sociology and researchers interested in happiness measurements
    • Supporters of social democracy
    • Anyone fascinated by Danish culture

    About the Author

    Helen Russell is a British journalist and author whose work has appeared in The Times, the Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

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    The Year of Living Danishly FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Year of Living Danishly?

    The main message of The Year of Living Danishly is to find happiness by embracing the Danish way of living.

    How long does it take to read The Year of Living Danishly?

    The reading time for The Year of Living Danishly varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is The Year of Living Danishly a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Year of Living Danishly is a captivating book that offers insights into Denmark's secrets of happiness. It's certainly worth a read.

    Who is the author of The Year of Living Danishly?

    The author of The Year of Living Danishly is Helen Russell.

    What to read after The Year of Living Danishly?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Year of Living Danishly, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
    • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
    • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
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