How to Hygge: My Best Books on Hygge

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons… I love how the crisp, cool evenings creep in encouraging you to head home for a mini-hibernation every evening. Home is fast becoming my favourite place to be. As an extrovert I never thought this would be case…

I’m not sure if it’s just my old(er) age, but I definitely enjoy being home a lot more than I ever have. Another factor may be that I’ve spent the past year making home a much happier space. And by happier I mean cosy, welcoming, comfortable and warm. I definitely feel that this has contributed to my current love of coming home… and staying home!

My first wave of making home a haven came just after I completed my home renovations project. I was super excited about decorating each room in our home after we moved back in (see my Room Reveals)

During that process I discovered Hygge – a Danish inspired concept that encourages creating cosiness, inspiring intimacy and soothing the soul with pleasurable experiences, textures and tastes!

I fell in love with this concept, hard, and have spent the past few winter seasons ensuring that my own home is hygge-fied!

Obviously the Danes enjoy celebrating Hygge all year round due to their much longer winter, in South Africa we have far shorter to embrace the hygge, but the happiness it has brought me over the past few seasons means that I want to share the hygge-hype with you all too to encourage your own embrace of this experience.

I’ve blogged a few times about how to hygge your home, today I’m continuing this series with a round up of my favourite books about hygge…. as you will see I’ve REALLY taken the topic seriously!

Best Books on Hygge

So here is a round up about all the books I’ve acquired in my mission to “Hygge-fy” my home. I hope that they will inspire you to start doing your own hygge research and revamp!

Hygge – The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg

Book blurb: Others books will tell you how to be hygge. This is the only book that will show you. Though we all know the feeling of hygge instinctively, few of us ever manage to capture it for more than a moment. Danish actress and hygge aficionado Marie Tourell Søderberg has travelled the length and breadth of her home country to create the perfect guide to cooking, decorating, entertaining and being inspired the hygge way. This book will teach you how to say hygge, how to find hygge and how to create hygge. It will help you to appreciate just how important these moments are, and why in our busy modern lives it’s more vital than ever to switch off and make time for hygge.

My thoughts: Full of beautiful authentic photographs, a sprinkling of recipes and simple, practical steps to make your home and life comfortable and cosy, this book is an easy and easy-on-the-eye read. I loved the beautiful pages of this book that is touches on ways to include hygge in your everyday life. Every page felt like a little slice of hygge. I enjoyed the varied interpretations of hygge shared in this book by a variety of regular Danish people. There are many facets to hygge, and different people interpret them in such an array of ways.

Best for: The beautiful cover, gorgeous photos and variety of content. This is a great book to dip in and out of – preferably in front of a roaring fire.

Name: Hygge – The Danish Art of Happiness

Author: Marie Tourell Soderberg

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780718185336

Price: R252

Buy online


How to Hygge – The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen

Book blurb: Nordic countries have consistently been rated as the best places to live for quality of life. What’s their secret? One key factor is ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hoo-ga’), a word that translates as ‘cosiness’ and which implies warmth, conviviality and kinship. Hygge is also about finding solace in nature, taking pleasure in outdoor activities, and celebrating the simple things in life. It’s about being able to make a few useful things. And it’s about everyday acts of kindness, both to yourself and others. In How To Hygge, Leiths-trained cook and food writer Signe Johansen explores the secrets of Nordic living and shows you how to adopt these elements into your daily life, wherever you are in the world. With 50 delicious recipes, this book explains how to enjoy the outdoors the Nordic way, not to mention the joy of ‘fika’ (coming together over cake and coffee). With an economy of effort, hygge can be achieved at any time, anywhere.

My thoughts: How to Hygge is written by a chef so it stands to reason that this book is filled with more recipesm than most books on the subject. An informative, lighthearted how-to guide to hygge I found this book fresh and easy to read. The photos are less frequent but the ones used are beautiful. I found myself devouring the content section of the book (aside from the recipes) in one quick sitting. This is more a “good living guide” complete with advice on a healthy diet, how to really enjoy the treats you have, clean living, exercise, self sufficiency and a smattering of  a Norwegian-American Signe’s family memories. I enjoyed the style of this book – from the cover, the easy layout and the simple wisdom. This is a very balanced book which shares Signe’s viewpoint on Hygge – that it should be a way of living. Rather than an escape from life. It covers aspects such as design, work, exercise and food and the vital role it plays into fueling an active lifestyle, maintaining a wholesome diet, bringing loved ones together etc.

Best for: Experienced Hygge fans who want to delve futher into their understanding of Hygge. This would make a great Hygge manual for someone who is ready to move on from a simpler form of hygge and really wants to incorporate it into all areas of their life.

Name: How to Hygge – The Secrets of Nordic Living

Author: Signe Johansen

Publisher: Bluebird

ISBN: 9781509834860540

Price: R283

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Hygge – A Celebration of Simple Pleasure. Living the Danish Way by Charlotte Abrahams

Book blurb: Hygge: the wonderfully onomatopoeic Danish word that is central to Danish culture. Hygge is about cherishing yourself, about making time to enjoy everyday pleasures. It prioritises experiences over things. When writer Charlotte Abrahams first came across the term, her interest was piqued. Is hygge the reason that Denmark consistently tops world happiness polls? If so, what can non-Danes learn from this approach to life? This books tells the story of her attempts to embrace a more hyggelig life, interwoven with meditations on hygge as a cultural phenomenon and its role in making Denmark such a happy state. It is also an exploration of contentment. What it is, why it is important and whether allowing ourselves to raise the white flag from time to time can help us to achieve it.

My thoughts: With two divorces behind her and her 50th birthday rapidly approaching, journalist Charlotte Abrahams ponders whether it’s hygge that’s been missing from her life. Is it a philosophy we can all embrace? In a society where lifestyle trends tend to centre on deprivation – be it no sugar, no gluten, no possessions – what does cherishing yourself actually mean? And will it make her happy? Charlotte Abrahams weaves the history of hygge and its role in Danish culture with her own attempts, as an English woman, to embrace a more hygge life. She examines the impact this has on her home, her health, her relationships and, of course, her happiness. I found this book an interesting read, although not as enjoyable as others books I have read on the subject. I think this was because I didn’t really want to know too much about the author’s personal problems which made more of a feature than I felt was necessary. She is an outsider, looking in on a practice and mindset that is intrinsic to being Danish and in that respect, she has done a great job in laying out the ideas behind hygge and its physical manifestations. Her journey to discovering a way of life that encourages us to be kinder to ourselves, to take pleasure in the modest, the mundane and the familiar is a celebration of the everyday. I found the topics covered a bit disjointed as she covers Hygge by Design, Hygge Living and then Hygge for the Soul along with many of her personal stories in which Abrahams examines her own life and describes her attempts to make small changes here and there to bring about a conscious experience of heightened happiness. I love the cover of the book, which features felt trees, I did feel the book could have had more photographs as there was a lot of text to read. This is probably my least favourite of the books listed in this article.

Best for: Those looking to read about someone else’s experience of incorporating Hygge into their home and life.

Name: Hygge – A Celebration of Simple Pleasure. Living the Danish Way

Author: Charlotte Abrahams

Publisher: Trapeze

ISBN: 9781409168003540

Price: R373

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The Hygge Life by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy

Book blurb: Embracing the nordic art of coziness through recipes, entertaining, decorating, simple rituals and family traditions. Usher in life’s small pleasures and a sense of comfort and contentment with the Danish practice of hygge. Hygge (loosely translated as “coziness”) is centered around the idea of inviting comforting elements into day-to-day life while creating warmth, community, and intimacy. The Hygge Life teaches you how small gestures (putting wool blankets and warm cider out for guests) or larger undertakings (building bonfires and making campfire bread to celebrate solstice) can warm the psyche and foster hygge, with more than 30 recipes for cozy and comforting food and drinks. Equal parts cookbook and lifestyle guide, this cozy little book shows you, with practical advice and inspiration, how to cultivate a cozier, more centered existence. The Scandinavian spirit overflows with hygge. Drinking hot spiced wine while wrapped in blankets by a glowing fire is hygge. A candlelit meal of warm comfort food with friends is hygge. A summer festival celebrating the longest day of the year with blazing campfires and live music is hygge. Wool socks, aromatic tea, and a good read at a cabin are hygge. A bakery with freshly baked bread is hygge. Bikes are more hygge than cars. Fluorescent lights are never hygge. Relaxing on the couch with a birch schnapps cocktail, your feet kept toasty nestled in the fur of a loving dog, is hygge.

My thoughts: Ultimately, hygge is meant to be felt. It’s the art of creating intimacy and the comforting sense of togetherness. It’s about eschewing an abundance of material possessions for wealth derived from friendship and solidarity. I loved this book for the way it encouraged me to get more social. Many people can think hygge is about retreating into your own home for some self-seclusion but this book is about inviting friends for a picnic beside a river, it’s about listening intently to the stories our loved ones have to tell, about gathering around tables filled with delicious food to share. I really enjoyed this book filled with wisdom of lifelong learning and the compounded gratification of tending to others and ourselves. Creating an atmosphere, making time to pause and tapping into gratitude and all aspects of the hygge lifestyle that I wish to cultivate, and this book certainly inspired me to do just that! There are plenty of recipes with beautiful food photos so this book is practical in that sense but there could have been a bit more emphasis on other aspects of Hygge and how to practically include them into everyday life. I did enjoy the gorgeous design of this book however, the photos really do transport me to another world.

Best for: Foodies who want to really indulge in the hygge way of cooking, eating and entertaining.

Name: The Hygge Life

Author: Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

ISBN: 9780399579936

Price: R263

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The Book of Hygge – The Danish Art of Living Well by Louisa Thomsen Brits

Book blurb: Hygge is a feeling of belonging and warmth, a moment of comfort and contentment. This beautiful little book will help you to find hygge and embrace it every day. Make a pot of coffee, relax in your favourite chair and discover for yourself how life is better with hygge.

My thoughts: This is a most beautiful guide to the Danish custom of hygge, the everyday life philosophy for better living. Simple images and lovely sentiments, this book is the epitome of minimalism. There are just six chapters (belonging-shelter-comfort-wellbeing-simplicity-observance), and the book is minimalistic in both structure and design (but thankfully not in the content). A quick and easy read highlighting the concept of Hygge lifestyling this book contains lots of practical tips to include in daily living that will enhance well-being, peace of mind, connection and time allocations. The book encourages you to appreciate the small things, enjoy what you have, examine the relationships you have and cultivate a life that makes you happy – with a focus on people and relationships rather than things and business.

Best for: Discovering the philosophy of hygge and mindful living. This is a really beautiful little book that is easy to dip in and out of. It has lovely photographs and a wonderful layout. The perfect gift book.

Name: The Book of Hygge

Author: Louise Thomsen Brits

Publisher: Ebury Press

ISBN: 9781785034466

Price: R256

Buy online


The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Book blurb: New York Times Bestseller. Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge—pronounced Hoo-ga—is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”  Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day. Embrace Hygge and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being that introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life, such as:

My thoughts: This was the first book on Hygge I picked up and I loved it from first sight. It is beautifully presented with engaging graphics, beautiful photos and simple infographics that make for an enjoyable read. Written by an actual Dane who is well versed in the concept of happiness in his own right, this book contains some great insights into the concept of happiness and hygge that are grounded in legitimate studies. As the title states this is a “little book” It is not a comprehensive study, but then it never claimed to be. This is a quick read. The writing style is quick, down to earth and friendly. I appreciated the authenticity of the author and the frankness with which he dispenses his brief but complete introduction to the concept of hygge.

Best for: Those looking for quick intro to Hygge that they can dip in and out of. A beautiful gift book.

Name: The Little Book of Hygge

Author: Meik Wiking

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780241283912

Price: R169

Buy online


Now this book doesn’t really fall under the heading of Hygge, but it is written by Meik Wiking who wrote the book featured above so I thought I would include it here should you wish to buy both of his books….

The Little Book of Lykke – The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking

Book blurb: From the author of the international bestseller The Little Book of Hygge ­, Meik Wiking, CEO of the world’s only Happiness Research Institute this is a little book all about his happiness research based on his findings during his travels around the world where he would seek out the happiest people and uncover what they do differently. This captivating read features case studies from Bhutan to Australia, South Korea to Canada, France to Denmark, taking the reader on a happiness treasure hunt. Written in the same warm tone as Meik’s phenomenal bestseller The Little Book of Hygge, this easy-to-understand book will change the way you think about how you relate to your neighbours, the rituals around cooking and eating dinner, and when to book your next holiday – and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

My thoughts: It’s easy to see why Denmark is often called the world’s happiest country. Not only do they have equal parental leave for men and women, free higher education and trains that run on time, but they burn more candles per household than anywhere else. Nobody knows more about happiness – lykke – than Meik Wiking, but he believes that, whilst we can certainly learn a lot from the Danes about finding fulfilment, the keys to happiness are actually buried all around the globe. Divided into chapters that cover topics such as togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness, I loved this lovely little book and found it a breath of fresh, positive air – something the world needs more of! Enjoyable, funny and intelligent this book offers a different perspective on the key factors that contribute to our happiness daily and long-term. Filled with practical small tips and suggestions for realistic changes that can be made to our daily lives , this is a pleasurable, practical guide that is great to dip in and out of as the mood strikes – or when the mood strikes – and will ensure a happy outcome for all who read these pages!

Best for: Those needing a boost of happiness in their lives. A gorgeous gift idea.

Name: The Little Book of Lykke

Author: Meik Wiking

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780241302019

Price: R169

Buy online



I hope you enjoyed this round up of my favourite books on Hygge and feel inspired to add some Hygge to your own life this winter! Let me know if you incorporate any changes I share on this blog or that you discover in one of these books!

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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