Book of April: A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

This book was terrific, I adored it, I read it religiously every night, piping up with Danish facts such as ‘The latest Eurobarometer survey found Denmark has the happiest workforce in the EU” literally every other page throughout the whole book. The idea of reading this quietly in the corner could not, and would not ever happen. I had to impart my new-found knowledge with Defender man every time.

The prose itself is beautifully written, fluid and entertaining.Russel has the capacity, probably due to her stellar career, to write beautiful pages full of information. She is a British journalist, author and speaker and these origins can be traced throughout the book which is less of a novel but more of a autobiography/ lifestyle account of a year living in a foreign country with an alien culture. Russell’s career for budding writers is fascinating, she’s written for pretty much every published genre out there from press to lifestyle to glossy magazines. This book is a testament to this as it covers literally every aspect of danish culture from work ethic to child rearing, in beautifully written prose.

Not only did this book provide a rare insight into another culture but it also shared a glimpse of how to better your own life. Helen enlightens us on the concept of ‘hygge’ a Danish terminology which Hyggehouse defines as ‘A danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary but is always cosy, charming or special.’ Hygge has experienced a bit more coverage recently due to the increasing popularity of Scandi culture and the increasing self awareness movements which promote being presents and switched off from all our phones and gadgets. Another interesting concept covered in the book was the shape and efficiency of the home you live in. Design plays a huge role in the life of the Danish, they will efficiently spend money on quality items which will last a lifetime that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Cultivating an environment which will make you happy.

There are many things to be learnt from this book, if anything you will come out of the other side more culturally rich than ever before. The idea of moving to Denmark really appealed to me after reading this novel, not that I’m ready to up sticks yet, but it’s well worth the read and escaping into the blonde haired, horn-rimmed lifestyle of the Danes.

A Year of Living Danishly is available to buy from Waterstones and other booksellers. Russell has also released since Gone Viking and Leap Year since the success of A Year of Living Danishly. You can see all her published books by clicking here.

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