web site hit counter The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country

Availability: Ready to download

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.What is the secret to their success? Are When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.


Compare

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.What is the secret to their success? Are When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

30 review for The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    This rant review is too long… and this is why, although I like non-fiction, I don't read it more often – too much to say in response; hard work for me to write and for others to read, if they bother. Not a habit I want to get further into. The end of the review is in comment 1. Of course she's happy: she gets to be Birgitte Nyborg for a year, her partner's played by Mads Mikkelsen (also he never complains like that beardy bloke did), and she receives as many free Gudrun & Gudrun jumpers as she wa This rant review is too long… and this is why, although I like non-fiction, I don't read it more often – too much to say in response; hard work for me to write and for others to read, if they bother. Not a habit I want to get further into. The end of the review is in comment 1. Of course she's happy: she gets to be Birgitte Nyborg for a year, her partner's played by Mads Mikkelsen (also he never complains like that beardy bloke did), and she receives as many free Gudrun & Gudrun jumpers as she wants... This book, by a burnt-out London magazine writer who emigrates to Jutland because of her husband's job, is the sort of thing I call 'trash non-fiction' in my head (less apologetic for being judgemental about factual books than novels). Has a sometimes frustratingly, needlessly, shallow approach to its topic; written in a jaunty British journalese that's not always as amusing or endearing as it thinks it is; and takes a viewpoint of relative naivety and giggly ignorance that reminds me of why school misleadingly made me feel like an intellectual giant. One of those publications that makes me embarrassed that I spent years wanting to be a journalist when I grew up. This stuff practically reads itself though: ideal for times when you're concentrating on something else. And Year of Living Danishly contains plenty of interesting factoids, even for someone who rolls their eyes at having hygge or Jante Law - concepts I very much like - explained in a patronising tone reminiscent of mediocre primary school teachers. Near the end, she spends the best part of a page explaining Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It's possible to write about things some of your readers already know without irritating them, but Russell doesn't understand how to do that in her narrative. She does, however, manage it when reporting on interviews with others who show greater depth of thought: e.g. a Danish feminist academic who explains that the higher reported rates of domestic violence in Denmark - as compared with, say, Poland or the former Yugoslav countries - have a lot to do with a) differing legal definitions, b) women understanding their experiences that way and not considering some aggression normal, c) authorities who readily accept reports of these crimes. It's like a more politically acceptable version of Eat, Pray, Love for the 2010s (being about a mostly-white country where most people have better quality of life than in the writer's own). Elizabeth Gilbert got a lot of flak for being focused on her own experience as a yoga tourist. Helen Russell says more about wider society, but that's because she's exploring a communitarian culture as part of her personal-journey-or-whatever. She ignores aspects of society that aren't personally relevant to her: the most disappointing aspect of the book. Fair enough, this could be called whataboutery - but there were things missing that I just really wanted to hear about, and with them the book would have been more interesting, more popular sociology than semi-oblique self-help. [The critical comment below at #2 was posted to an unfinished version of this review which ended here. Can't say it induced me to make the rest any less of a hatchet job.] The book could be a lot worse: there's still plenty of interesting information here (the main reason to read it), but it's not examined with much critical depth or an eye to the future, ending up as a mixture of self-help and tourist PR; the writer irritates me sometimes – this is not one of those occasions where you find yourself wanting to be friends with an author - but there are bits where I still found her likeable and reasonably entertaining. The lack of depth might be more forgiveable if there wasn't already a small glut of similar-toned infotainment books on Scandinavian life, e.g. The Almost Nearly Perfect People; or How to Be Danish, not to mention a zillion articles in newspaper lifestyle sections. This one is duplication rather than a useful addition to the field. Not that the cover or blurb are misleading: I only read it because I could borrow it - I'd never have paid for this book. It's actually more informative than I expected, though really I'd have liked to read something more serious-minded and wide-ranging: not an actual textbook but a few rungs closer to one than Russell's book is. Here, more than enough research studies are cited – but it becomes parrot-like, press-release-like, one per point with minimal analysis. And lifestyle 'experts' are wheeled out, often in ways that plead for satire: I ask Charlotte to recommend five key Danish design touches that will sate my in-house Scandophile and help make our home hygge. Or my cultural integration coach Pernille Chaggar has warned me that Christmas lunches in Denmark can be six, eight, even ten hours long; the imagery being somewhere between desperately glib journalist and bored super-rich housewife (after all, the latter generally seems to be the over-optimistically imagined reader for the former). What's wrong with looking up stuff on the internet, a quick call to the tourist information board, or asking a neighbour when you happen remember? It's common knowledge that Scandinavian nations are better at environmentalism than most of the rest of the developed world. Russell's experience repeats the usual cliches. To start with, eetting ticked off by her new neighbours for not sorting the recycling correctly. Okay, I'm a recycling nerd who'd probably fit in better over there than here, but unless you've got a learning disability or are too depressed or ill to face sorting the stuff, how is this task actually so challenging that its arduousness has become a mini-trope among Anglo journalists? It's like the supposed inability to visit a branch of IKEA without buying more than you went in for: not actually difficult, but these little memes make people feel it's weird or impossible. So it's obviously a bit much to hope she might point out areas in which they could still do better. If Danes are the world's biggest per capita spenders on new furniture and silly scatter cushions (this book reads embarrassingly like a advertorial sometimes, a disappointingly picture-free one but then many standard magazine articles, on which she cut her teeth, are just a step away from being ads), what happens to the old stuff? Is there a good second hand market? (That would fit the minimalist, egalitarian ethos she seeks, but it's as if, after years immersed in consumerism and lifestyle journalism, she and her husband no idea how not to get all the new stuff all the time. Or is it like Iceland – a former Danish colony - where there's traditionally an aversion to used items?) I love the idea that most Danish homes have showers not baths (I've ruled out a few cheap, otherwise nice places here because they had a bath and no shower) but these wall hung loos with hidden tanks limit ways of saving water if you can't pour any into the cistern, as well as making plumbers more costly. And she accepts the presence of a lot of animal farming as being simply part of The Danish Way, keen not to seem too squeamish, sentimental and British about animals – but what about all the greenhouse gases from continuing to have five times as many pigs as there are people? Are there any plans to scale that down long-term? The author and her husband attend free state-sponsored language classes (obviously they're near the bottom of the bottom set and all tee-hee about this; it's better than football hooliganism I suppose, but still one of the aspects of Brits abroad really not worth encouraging). Among the people she meets at the classes are a Ukrainian woman working in a fish processing plant (better at the language than the Russells are), Poles employed as cleaners and handymen in hotels, and a group of Filipino girls who earn more as au pairs in Denmark than as a nurse, a physiotherapist and [even, shockingly] a psychiatrist, at home - people who all speak better English than Danish. It's possible Russell did write more about these classmates and that it was left out of the final edition of the book. But the absence of more about them means that, whilst there are dozens of conversations with native middle-class Danes in professional and creative jobs, and a couple of other Anglo expats, saying how happy they all are on a scale of 0-10, with no-one volunteering less than an 8, there are no first-hand accounts anywhere from people of nationalities who might face racist or xenophobic discrimination, and nothing about the experience of working-class workers. It makes for a noticeably incomplete picture of a nation – and I'm not even asking that the author went out of her way here: these folk were plonked in front of her, in a place she was attending regularly anyway. It seems insular and snobbish not to have said more about them: surely they would be interesting because their lives were different from hers? (And a type one hears less from and about in the British media, the main market for this book.) Racism is relatively well known as the dark side of the Scandinavian ideal, but this is mentioned only a couple of times in the most superficial ways: the far-right Danske Folkeparti gained supporters as a result [of the cartoon controversy]...growing steadily ever since and won nearly 27% of the vote in the 2014 European elections... A small sector of society is intent on blaming immigrants for everything, but nothing's rotten in the state that isn't also afflicting other countries with none of Denmark's advantages…. Attempts are being made to help native Danes understand those from other cultures... An interview with a geneticist cites studies such as a correlation between the genetic distance within a country and its well being, even when factors like GDP per capita are taken into account. Niels continues, And Denmark is the country with the lowest genetic distance between its population, because we've had less migration historically…. A study from the University of Warwick into happy Danes also found that the greater a nation's genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported wellbeing of the inhabitants. … if you look at the frequency of the long-form 5-HTT [serotonin transporter] gene worldwide, Denmark comes out on top. … we score in the top percentages in the world alongside Holland. A new and uniquely Scandinavian phenomenon, unmentioned in this book, is a strand of politics that's strongly in favour of a generous welfare state, and strongly opposed to accepting further immigrants: you can see how such findings could enhance their seductive message. Scandinavia's largest mosque has been built in Copenhagen, combining Islamic and Scandinavian architectural features to encourage integration, she says (I paraphrase). So what about, you know, visiting it and interviewing attendees and seeing what they think? And about life in Denmark as well as the design? The writer is from highly multicultural London, yet she displays very little interest in the experiences of people unlike herself. Basically, this book would be a whole lot more interesting to me if the author thought like a news journalist rather than a glossy lifestyle magazine writer. Likewise, the first-hand experience of poorer, elderly and disabled people is absent. I really like a Danish film called Bænken (Bench); it's about an alcoholic who hangs out around a bench in a small town, and his family – a Scandinavian Ken Loach type of thing – and after over 250 pages of The Year of Living Danishly I hadn't learned anything extra about life for disadvantaged people in Denmark on top what I knew from that film and a couple of old news reports. (Then there was the opinion of a Norwegian I knew who, seeing a UK documentary about people on deprived estates, thought it looked like one of the poorer parts of Eastern Europe, not like his idea of Britain and certainly nothing like any conditions in Norway.) Looking into the job market and stress at work (Russell's poster-kids for the Danish approach to workplace stress are a political spin doctor turned yoga teacher, and an author of business books, very ordinary…) she notes that After 5 weeks, someone who resigned is entitled to same unemployment benefit as someone who was made redundant: 80-90% of salary for up to two years.. Which for a lot of people is a bloody good deal compared with life in Britain. But does she say anything about what happens after that? What happens for people who are long term sick without any means of financial support? Nope. As far as I understand, for the long term unemployed there is some sort of workfare – it's also in that film – but this book is not about life in Denmark in general, it's about life in Denmark for a particular section of upper-middle class society. It's noted that professionals and non professionals live harmoniously side by side but the author never gets to know anyone who' d be significantly outside the sphere of 'professionals', the odd successful blue collar tradesman but that's it. And whilst I'm laying into the superficial approach to the Danish welfare state, another thing she could have gone looking for was to find people who dislike the big state information systems – she mentions computerised IT systems for medical and other records (not to mention different approaches to personal data, for instance a bank staff member changing one's account type over without asking, and that this is a good thing): she just takes it on trust that all Danes like this, that nothing goes wrong, no effort to find counterexamples, whether there are many reasonable nay-sayers over and above the inevitable small number of tin-foil-hatters who'd object to anything. [An aside: if Denmark has one of the highest levels of trust globally, do problems like paranoia or schizophrenia manifest at all differently when people have them? Are there different preoccupations? Are people considered problematically paranoid at a lower level than they might be here?] On a similar note, I roll my eyes at the author for saying Denmark's taxes are high rather than Britain's outrageously low (although their starting threshhold of around £4k looks a bit soon), for not having thought outside our paradigm before – but as decent journalism she should have found out a bit more variety of opinion about the system, rather than simply saying Danes are content. I've seen articles about Norwegian and Swedish entrepreneurs who want to go abroad because they want to live in lower tax systems. What about their Danish equivalents? I might not agree with those people, but this is a book for goodness sake, not a 500 word article: there's room to examine different sides. Oh, also, there's nothing at all on LGBT life. You'd presume it's quite good there, little reason to think otherwise (though it may not be as welcoming in the small Jutland town where she settles as in Copenhagen...) but she never even asks once, and apparently doesn't meet anyone queer. Though in quite some detail we hear that Danes sound unusually open-minded about some kinds of straight perviness: swinging and dogging are popular pastimes that appear to be quite widely talked about. Here, I can't resist quoting another GR reviewer who describes the author as having' the sexual morality of a Jane Austen character'. She is rather easily shockable. Apologises to readers for “become a bit sweary” at one point. And more specifically to this topic, how has she got to her age in her meedja milieu without knowing what some of these terms are, e.g. glory hole? (Which isn't the same as having seen or used one!) Has she not read a few seedy literary novels? Comprehensive sex manuals? Visits to posh sex shops like Coco de Mer? Articles about Killing Kittens and other snooty shag-party networks? (She did work in women's glossy mags and Sunday supplements after all, and they're what publishes most about such places.) “Swinging in Denmark is really popular – especially compared to the rest of Scandinavia.” About 90 000 Danes [out of a population of 5.5 million] say they swing regularly; though many more admit to being curious... A recent YouGov survey reported in The Copenhagen Post showed that 41% of Danes had tried dogging. Yet another random expert links this aspect of culture, not the first thing in this book to be explained by Denmark having been an overwhelmingly rural society until more recently than Britain: “In the old days we did it all the time in the open, so it is more natural for us to lie in the grass rather than on a bed. That's something we are discovering now and which is making us return to our roots.” Ms Russell, no doubt unacquainted with anyone involved in polyamory or BDSM and the associated intricately planned schedules such friends tend to have, is shocked that There's nothing spontaneous about dogging, or swinging, or any kind of sexual proclivity in Denmark. Lectures? Diarised events? Best practice guidelines? Okay, this has been a bit of a bitchfest so far: here are a few things I did like. The writer may for some unaccountable reason find the idea of making local friends ' scary', despite being so fucking normal she even says at one point: We are normal people. But we'll clock that up to momentary apprehension, given that a few weeks later she says: So far this month I've been to a Tupperware party, a drum and bass night, crab racing (a popular pursuit in seaside Jutland), and line dancing (with mixed results). There are also various sports and a choir. It's hard not to kind of like someone who's up for trying such a bizarre variety of activities whilst they can. Also, the author is only slightly younger than I am, and mid-to-late thirties might just be the optimum point for feeling comfortable with both stereotypically 'young' and 'old' pastimes – it's the when you could do the widest range of things like this without being a prat, and she takes advantage of it. She knowingly complains about being kept awake three nights running by owls … I've wanted to complain before about being unable to concentrate on reading because of cuckoos: but like her I was aware how fortunate it was to be somewhere you could hear them regularly...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    A really enjoyable and enlightening read. A great book for readers like myself who have not been able to travel over the past 9 months due to Covid 19 but still want to embrace new countries and cultures res. I just wanted something different before stepping into December, a book to take me on a trip to one of the countries on my bucket list. Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country was such an enjoyable and surprising A really enjoyable and enlightening read. A great book for readers like myself who have not been able to travel over the past 9 months due to Covid 19 but still want to embrace new countries and cultures res. I just wanted something different before stepping into December, a book to take me on a trip to one of the countries on my bucket list. Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country was such an enjoyable and surprising read. When Journalist Helen Russell’s husband is offered a Job in Denmark, they leave their London home, family and friends for a year out in Denmark. The opportunity of discovering what makes this the happiest place on earth becomes Helen’s new quest. From child care, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and unfortunate predilection for burning witches, the author takes us an entertaining and interesting Journey. I love gravelly around Europe and Denmark is one of the countries that I have longed to visit. I feel I have gotten a wonderful insight to what it means to be Danish and their quirky traditions and lifestyle from this book. I admire people who challenge themselves and move to countries especially ones where the lifestyle and language are foreign to them and to fit in they must make a huge effort. I loved the facts and stories that she revels when she immerses herself in the couture, and certainly leaves no stone unturned in her quest to understand what makes Danes so content and happy. I loved the book and really did not want it to finish. Its informative and witty. I listened to this one on audible and I really enjoyed the experience.

  3. 4 out of 5

    N

    Ehhhh. In some ways, this book delivered exactly what it set out to do, so I don't feel like I should rag on it too much. But, by the same token, my ~real and honest~ review of this would be 72pt pink sparkletext that reads A N N O Y I N G ! ! ! Because, my god, this book is annoying. Smug Helen Russell leaves behind her smug London life as a smug magazine writer to smugly travel to Denmark and live there (sooooo smugly) for a year. Have I used the word 'smug' enough yet? (SMUG!) I suppose it's no Ehhhh. In some ways, this book delivered exactly what it set out to do, so I don't feel like I should rag on it too much. But, by the same token, my ~real and honest~ review of this would be 72pt pink sparkletext that reads A N N O Y I N G ! ! ! Because, my god, this book is annoying. Smug Helen Russell leaves behind her smug London life as a smug magazine writer to smugly travel to Denmark and live there (sooooo smugly) for a year. Have I used the word 'smug' enough yet? (SMUG!) I suppose it's no surprise, since Russell is/was a lifestyle magazine writer, but The Year Of Living Danishly is all surface and no substance. At no point did I emotionally connect with any of her adventures, because everything's slathered with cutesy alliteration and half-baked jokes that aren't even half-funny. Worse still is the fact that at some point Russell came up with the idea that her year spent living abroad would be a ~quest for happiness~ in a country that regularly ranks as the world's happiest. Even setting aside the fact that Russell's loving husband, cute dog, health, wealth and unstrenuous job somehow do not(!) make her(!!) happy(!!!!!!!), this wafer-thin premise means that whenever she finds out any fact about Denmark (Danes pay a lot of taxes! Danes join a lot of clubs!), she follows this factlet with, "maybe that's why they're so happy!" It's repetitious bordering on mental torture. Sure, Danishly makes for a decent-enough vicarious holiday and I learned a few wikifacts about Denmark. But it also made me realise that a memoir sinks or soars on the basis of its characterisation. Even after 12 hours in their (audiobook) company, I couldn't tell you a damn thing about Russell, her husband, or her assortment of Danish friends. (At some point, she MUST have told us who buddies Viking Man and Helena C are, but I guess I missed it and, thereafter, these cardboard cutouts amble frequently into the narrative, yet give absolutely no hint of internal life. WHO ARE YOU, HELENA C?) In conclusion: no.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Despite its brutal winters and incredibly high taxes, Denmark seems like a great place to live after reading The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. Helen Russell agrees to relocate from London to Denmark for a year when her husband is offered his dream job at LEGO. With Denmark named the happiest country in the world, Helen begins her quest to find out what makes Danes so happy. Each month, she shares a primary takeaway contributing t Despite its brutal winters and incredibly high taxes, Denmark seems like a great place to live after reading The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. Helen Russell agrees to relocate from London to Denmark for a year when her husband is offered his dream job at LEGO. With Denmark named the happiest country in the world, Helen begins her quest to find out what makes Danes so happy. Each month, she shares a primary takeaway contributing to the country’s general happiness level and the related lessons she learned. The Year of Living Danishly was really interesting and a lot of the factors leading to strong happiness in Denmark made sense. For example, though the taxes are high, the government handles a lot of things for its citizens, from healthcare to education. Danes truly value their work-life balance, frequently working (just) 30-40 hour weeks and taking all of their time off, most notably for vacations in July and December. Denmark goes all out for Christmas each year too. Danes make an active effort to get hygge, which is essentially creating a comfortable mood and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. They are far more trusting than many other cultures - For example, leaving a bike unlocked and unchained outside a shop, not necessarily concerned it will be stolen. Among other things, the Danish are less hierarchical in regard to careers than many other cultures, often seeing jobs as equally important and focusing on enjoyment rather than title, status, or pay. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis, who did a great job. I also liked Helen’s humor throughout the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Apparently, genetics do count for a great deal. I may be only half Danish in ancestry, but I have somehow come to enjoy many of the same things that the Danes do. I’m glad to know that there are other people out there who light the long winter nights with plenty of candles. As an enthusiastic consumer of coffee and wine, I am living up to my genetic heritage. And I must confess that I cook and eat a great deal of pork and potatoes, so I have that in common with the people of “Sticksville-On-Sea, Apparently, genetics do count for a great deal. I may be only half Danish in ancestry, but I have somehow come to enjoy many of the same things that the Danes do. I’m glad to know that there are other people out there who light the long winter nights with plenty of candles. As an enthusiastic consumer of coffee and wine, I am living up to my genetic heritage. And I must confess that I cook and eat a great deal of pork and potatoes, so I have that in common with the people of “Sticksville-On-Sea,” where the author lives. Combine that with a love of spending time with my family, and I think I would fit in rather well in rural Denmark. I have been practicing hygge without knowing it. I liked the author’s light-hearted way of looking at her Danish adventure. Her nicknames for those about her match a tendency of my own to bestow monikers known only to myself on the people around me. While she has Friendly Neighbour, American Mother, and the Viking, however, I have Monkey Boy (he climbed up the balconies on our building when he forgot his keys), Spatially Challenged Woman with Big Truck (who has thankfully moved), and Peking Man (who rather resembled a caveman and spent a lot of time peering out of his venetian blinds). I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but the exploits of Ms. Russell’s dog had me in tears on a couple of occasions, I laughed so hard. Perhaps I was a trifle over-tired. Like many other facets of life, Danes consider dogs to be fine if they are well trained and well controlled. Unlike this particular British dog, which mortifies his owners on a regular basis with his uncontrolled antics. Russell doesn’t shrink from telling the not-so-wonderful parts of living in Denmark either—the subtle and not-so-subtle sexism, the rather self-congratulatory assumption that their way of life is superior to the rest of the world, and the problems accepting outsiders. Like Iceland, Danes are all quite closely related compared to other countries and they have some issues with those who are not like them. But even a country as multicultural as Canada struggles with that issue. By and large, the problems seem to be well balanced with the advantages. Denmark’s problems are definitely first world problems. It seems that most of the Danes who were restless moved to other countries long ago, and left behind those who enjoy the quiet pleasures. I know I will be living life a bit more consciously Danishly from now on.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    I can’t seem to stop talking about The Year of Living Danishly. This memoir about living in Denmark for a year suited me perfectly. The author moved to Denmark from England with her husband. Each chapter takes place during a different month in the year and focuses on a different theme. She mixes her own experiences with interviews and research. She talks about work, money, the weather, taxes, education, raising children, entertaining, etc... She has a great self-deprecating sense of humour. Unde I can’t seem to stop talking about The Year of Living Danishly. This memoir about living in Denmark for a year suited me perfectly. The author moved to Denmark from England with her husband. Each chapter takes place during a different month in the year and focuses on a different theme. She mixes her own experiences with interviews and research. She talks about work, money, the weather, taxes, education, raising children, entertaining, etc... She has a great self-deprecating sense of humour. Underlying the book is a basic question about what makes for a happy life. Intelligent, funny and timely. And the audio was lovely as read by a narrator with a lively British accent.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I'm green with envy after reading this book. Denmark sounds like a nordic Celestial Kingdom. Everyone thinks I'm nuts but I love the short, cold, winter days. This whole Hygge thing is right up my street. Everything sounds amazing over there in Denmark, YES, that includes their whole 'tax you like crazy but give you amazing quality childcare, education, etc., etc., etc.' system. This book is well-written, entertaining, and smart. Helen Russell perfectly balances her personal memoir with a very i I'm green with envy after reading this book. Denmark sounds like a nordic Celestial Kingdom. Everyone thinks I'm nuts but I love the short, cold, winter days. This whole Hygge thing is right up my street. Everything sounds amazing over there in Denmark, YES, that includes their whole 'tax you like crazy but give you amazing quality childcare, education, etc., etc., etc.' system. This book is well-written, entertaining, and smart. Helen Russell perfectly balances her personal memoir with a very informative and interesting non-fictional account of life in Denmark. I really couldn't put it down. 5 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Candles, hygge and seeds of happiness - if that's your mojo, this is your book. This book reflects the Utopian lifestyle of a social democracy in a journalese style, avoiding the obvious challenges of modern economic trends. It's a personal memoir, after all, and an obvious editorial. I enjoyed the author's experience of a new cultural orientation in adjusting to a totally new concept for a British monoglotic citizen. (Although Britain is as much a social democracy and free market economy as Denma Candles, hygge and seeds of happiness - if that's your mojo, this is your book. This book reflects the Utopian lifestyle of a social democracy in a journalese style, avoiding the obvious challenges of modern economic trends. It's a personal memoir, after all, and an obvious editorial. I enjoyed the author's experience of a new cultural orientation in adjusting to a totally new concept for a British monoglotic citizen. (Although Britain is as much a social democracy and free market economy as Denmark, with of course a few differences here and there). I haven't checked their tax rates, but it can be competitive. The author seeks to uncover the secrets behind the world's happiest country and provide (boring) statistics to establish the official status of the country on the global playing field. Her approach of doing meticulous research for her freelance articles, lifts this experience up from being just an expat rendition of a new, often funny, personal memoir, to an elongated article which can be sold in some way or another as a source of information. This book is one of the results. Somewhat entertaining, but mostly a journalistic editorial on the world's so-called happiest country with the journalist now as main character and her side-kick the Lego Man, as her husband became known. I found the Danish lifestyle and outlook on life fascinating (the reason why I wanted to read the non-fiction book in the first place). The fact that the Danes have a natural tendency to learn other languages as part of their curious culture, resonated very well with me indeed. In fact they have a lifelong quest for learning. This book certainly broadened my knowledge about this country and will enable me in future to have something to talk about when I meet Danish people again. But I honestly think that some personal blogs and novels will bring more warmth and soul to a Danish experience, and some recipe websites can saturate a culinary curiosity. There are many lessons to learn for sure. Of course I would also now want to live there. Just think, just about everything is 'free' - from education up to university level as far as you want to go, health services, preschool childcare, clubs (subsidized as part of the mental wellness of the population), social security, six weeks annual holiday(the 13 public holidays is included) for all working citizens and one year maternity leave for mothers. Fathers have a shorter break, but long enough to bond with the new child. Family is everything. The official working hours is 37 hours per week and people leave work early on Fridays to spend more time with their families. FREE yes, if you don't mind the 60% tax rate. Most people were happy with that. Style, pride of country, and trust, fill in more gaps in a multifaceted population's idea of happiness. It's not unusual to observe the country's flag in just about every garden. The national pride is important. For real balance and depth, I had to venture off onto the internet, though. And I found among other things, Lars Løkke Rasmussen - the prime minister since 2015 who introduced Norway's recent realities to a student audience at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics in 2016. His viewpoint is of course much more serious and scholarly than this memoir of Helen Russel, so it will be totally unfair to compare apples to chicken drum sticks. The author's intent with this memoir is to sell a light-read, shallow, slightly naive exposé to a totally different audience. CHALLENGES IN NORWAY according to Lars Løkke Rasmussen. - The least corrupt country in the world. - Free market economy. (My words: The world's darling toys, Lego, a Danish gift to the world is so expensive due to the high company taxes bestowed on it. In effect the world is paying for the Danish welfare state - and doing so with gusto. Social mobility is high, the best in the world.) - The changing global economy - China, India and the rest of Asia have lifted more than one billion people out of poverty; - low salaries and high skills in country like China and India; - Globalization challenges countries who already have a high living standard, such as Denmark - jobs moving to other countries; Labor and capital are easily moving to other countries where taxes are low; - the incentive to work in a high-taxed society with high social security is currently a problem for the Danish government, particularly in lower income groups. - The welfare state with a large public sector prevent people from accepting personal responsibility as citizens. Salaries and wealth distribution are high. Lower salaries elsewhere challenges this Nordic model; - digital technologies are replacing manual labor; - more jobs are needed in the private sector to safeguard the welfare sector. - Migrants unbalanced the Utopian state since the number of social grants to house, educate and feed them, unsettled the unemployment rate and brought too many jobless dependents into the system, which is difficult to support with the current government taxation system. Companies are leaving. ** End of Lars Løkke Rasmussen notes. Sometimes people have nothing to say and then say it anyway. My blabbering fits this definition of malarkey perfectly as well. At least I do it for free :-) I somehow felt it was the case with this book. She needed to generate an income while living in Denmark for a year, and used her experience as a seasoned journalist to freelance from Jutland. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. There was a certain British aloofness to the text, but it nevertheless did not reduce this introduction to this fascinating country and its people. To be honest, I never considered reading anything similar before on Denmark. The Nordic countries did not fascinate me enough. Sad but true. I enjoyed photographic journals of a beautiful awe-inspiring landscape in winter. It was the novels of Fredrik Backman, Jonas Jonasson, and Stieg Larsson who opened up a curiosity to explore these Nordic countries more. Of course there are a multitude of wonderful translated novels now available to keep us forever happy. A SMALL SELECTION: Ordeal: A Mystery. By Jorn Lier Horst. Faithless (Oslo Detective Series) By Kjell Ola Dahl. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series. By David Lagercrantz. The Scarred Woman (A Department Q Novel) ... The Devil's Wedding Ring. ... The Snowman (Harry Hole Series) Just Google 'Nordic Noir' - because those seems to be the most popular, then browse through Goodreads' own selection Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature" But as a non-fiction experience, in the journalese style, this is an interesting read and a good experience after all. I had a few good laughs in the process, for instance: fart kontrol means 'speed limit'; slut - 'end' (of washing cycle for instance!); slut spurt - 'closing down sale'; gift - 'married' or 'poison'! I will do you a favor and stop the blabbering here and now :-)) I really enjoyed the experience. Enjoy a great day!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    Another truly FABULOUS book. Slightly more whimsical and funny than a normal read for me and it genuinely made me really laugh out loud which *never* happens to me! I'm so glad I read this, and I will have more thoughts on this when I'm more awake! For now, solid 5* again... so good!! ------- Full review: So this book is a non-fiction recounting of the year when Helen Russell and her husband (Lego Man) went on a life-changing adventure into the unknown wilds of Denmark. Russell has a way of writing Another truly FABULOUS book. Slightly more whimsical and funny than a normal read for me and it genuinely made me really laugh out loud which *never* happens to me! I'm so glad I read this, and I will have more thoughts on this when I'm more awake! For now, solid 5* again... so good!! ------- Full review: So this book is a non-fiction recounting of the year when Helen Russell and her husband (Lego Man) went on a life-changing adventure into the unknown wilds of Denmark. Russell has a way of writing which both captures the mind and makes you hook into the story. It reads almost like fiction, but actually everything that Russell mentions is real and she's a journalist who has done a fair bit of research into everything....her main aim? To find out why the Danes are so happy in a grey country where there's a lot of cold and darkness... What I truly loved about this book was that there were moments where I truly laughed out loud and this very rarely happens for me when reading. Sometimes I read and smile or cry, depending on the book and how invested I am, but I think humour is a little more personal and sometimes humour just dons't come through to me. This book was constantly making me smile, but there was one particular moment (involving a lamp and birds in a bedroom) where I just burst out laughing (bear in mind it was 1am and I was staying up to finish this too). It's hilarious, witty, funny and enchanting, and that is the theme of the whole narrative. I just loved this, I wouldn't say it's made me want to move to Denmark, but I do wish I could experience Hygge, and I also think it sounds like a cool place to visit. Also, Legoland HQ sounds like such a fun place to work (according to Lego Man himself and the office antics). 5*s and a book I'd thoroughly recommend reading even if you have no interest in going to Denmark becuase it's a really fun book either way and is wonderfully told!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [3.5] I've always been curious about Denmark and Russell's account of moving from London to a small Danish town was a fun and satisfying read. She writes in a breezy, light-hearted way yet also digs into the problems that Denmark faces. So although it still sounds like paradise, I know now about the dark side of living in Denmark. The U.S. could learn so much from its policies. I would have rated this book a half-star higher but Russell refers to her husband only as Lego Man which I found dismis [3.5] I've always been curious about Denmark and Russell's account of moving from London to a small Danish town was a fun and satisfying read. She writes in a breezy, light-hearted way yet also digs into the problems that Denmark faces. So although it still sounds like paradise, I know now about the dark side of living in Denmark. The U.S. could learn so much from its policies. I would have rated this book a half-star higher but Russell refers to her husband only as Lego Man which I found dismissive and distracting. Each time I was jolted out of my enjoyment to wonder "Does she think this is funny?" What kind of relationship does she have with him? Why didn't her editor stop her?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jo Coleman

    Well! My mum foisted this book upon me because, like the author, I spent some time living in Denmark and evangelising enthusiastically about it. It turns out I have many thoughts about it! The book has an infuriatingly twee premise; she spends a year trying to figure out why Denmark is supposedly the happiest country in the world and can barely get through the most commonplace interaction without phoning up a Danish expert for advice, and to ask them how happy they are on a scale of one to ten. E Well! My mum foisted this book upon me because, like the author, I spent some time living in Denmark and evangelising enthusiastically about it. It turns out I have many thoughts about it! The book has an infuriatingly twee premise; she spends a year trying to figure out why Denmark is supposedly the happiest country in the world and can barely get through the most commonplace interaction without phoning up a Danish expert for advice, and to ask them how happy they are on a scale of one to ten. Everyone she meets is infernally content! Which is fair enough, but doesn't entirely tally with my experience of Danish people... Nevertheless, I did actually quite like this book. The author is agreeably wide-eyed and cheery and gives Denmark her best shot even when it's miserably dark and cold and nobody talks to her for several months. She bases herself in a provincial Jutland village rather than Copenhagen and deals with boredom and bland food. She has some sensible things to say about how a sturdy welfare state and a decent life-work balance are Good Things, and eventually gets over her discomfort at having to pay 50% tax (also a Good Thing, IMO...). Some of her odd experiences made me laugh as they were very much like mine, e.g. being told off by a stranger for incorrect cycling, and encouraged to make Christmas decorations out of lumps of moss. And there is a good chapter where she suffers a blip in her positivity and notes some of the negative aspects hiding under the surface of Denmark: an annoying smugness about how great their system is, a certain unwelcoming feeling towards foreigners from different cultures, really bad treatment of pigs... In the end, I'm not sure whether this book was a little annoying or whether I was just jealous. It's not so hard to settle into a new country if you already have a job, a firm that goes to some efforts to help you find a home and integrate, and a perfect husband to talk to while you're trying to find some friends. She is full of praise for the apparent equality of CEOs and "lowly cleaners", though she never seems to meet the latter and ask if they agree. I was that lowly cleaner, and my own years of minimum-wage jobs and unrequited crushes were a little harder, though I still had the advantages of speaking a language that everyone knew and not looking too different from everyone around me. Integration can be very tough for people who move there from further away, and who might not be able to buy a nice designer lamp when they arrive. Denmark is a very likeable country, but the suggestion that you might be content all the time if you lived there is really flawed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This is one of those books that I personally really liked, but I'm pretty sure you're only going to like it if you have an interesting in learning more about the Danish people (or your own people, if you're a Dane). This book speaks about traditions and way of living in Denmark, and it investigates why it is that Danes are the happiest people on Earth. Being a Dane myself, I agreed with a lot of the things that Helen Russell finds out during her year here, and especially the beginning with it's g This is one of those books that I personally really liked, but I'm pretty sure you're only going to like it if you have an interesting in learning more about the Danish people (or your own people, if you're a Dane). This book speaks about traditions and way of living in Denmark, and it investigates why it is that Danes are the happiest people on Earth. Being a Dane myself, I agreed with a lot of the things that Helen Russell finds out during her year here, and especially the beginning with it's great discoveries and sassy commentaries on the Danish way of living cracked me up. There were some inaccuracies at some points, but they were very few. Also, I was mildly irritated with how Russell calls every Dane she meets under the name of Viking (and claims that we're proud of it). All in all, I loved how this book opened up my eyes to my own people and put words on what we're really like. That's why I think this book was a success and a must-read for everyone who wants to get to know us Vikings better.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    If you are interested in Danish culture, this is an enlightening, informative and entertaining book that is worth a look (or ear as in my case). The narrator for the audio book does an outstanding job. For me, this book doesn't really read like other non-fiction books. The author does cite a number of statistics but doesn't bury the reader with study after study of research references. She approaches the subject matter, why Danes are the happiest people in the world, with first hand experience as If you are interested in Danish culture, this is an enlightening, informative and entertaining book that is worth a look (or ear as in my case). The narrator for the audio book does an outstanding job. For me, this book doesn't really read like other non-fiction books. The author does cite a number of statistics but doesn't bury the reader with study after study of research references. She approaches the subject matter, why Danes are the happiest people in the world, with first hand experience as well as research. She writes of her's and her husband's experiences with a good amount of dry English humor. The author and her husband worked for years in the London rat race, when the husband (referred to in the book as Legoman) has an opportunity to work for a year for the famous Lego toy company in Denmark . The couple decide to move and the journalist wife decides she can work freelance on a project on what makes Danes so happy. Neither person knows the language of their new home for the next year. They start off from square one. I won't go to into the book except on one topic: Danish pastry. The author sold me on the concept that fresh baked authentic Danish pastry is really really good. I think the book is very well written and uncovers the pros and cons of living Danishly. A Year of Living Danishly is a fascinating and enlightening topic that is worthwhile reading. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kylie H

    This book is quite a nice and funny relief in these pandemic times. It is a memoir style book by Helen Russell, former editor of Marie Claire. She uproots from her hectic London life to move to rural Denmark when her husband is offered a twelve month position with Lego. Helen decides to research and write about what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. She soon finds out that key to Danish life is trust, honesty and great pastry. However along the way she discovers a 'porny fountain' This book is quite a nice and funny relief in these pandemic times. It is a memoir style book by Helen Russell, former editor of Marie Claire. She uproots from her hectic London life to move to rural Denmark when her husband is offered a twelve month position with Lego. Helen decides to research and write about what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. She soon finds out that key to Danish life is trust, honesty and great pastry. However along the way she discovers a 'porny fountain', accidentally calls her language teacher a bitch (not a great start) and upsets her neighbours with her haphazard recycling attempts. If you want a book that is uplifting and entertaining then this is what you need.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    A perfect example of how a clever title can snag a reader. Once I'd mentally complimented the author on the title I was taken with the idea. Denmark is regularly at the top of lists of the "world's happiest country" so when author Russell's husband is offered a job in Denmark (at Lego no less) they pack up and move from the UK to Denmark. It's a trial idea to be revisited after a year. The author is a journalist so she takes on the assignment of finding out why Danes are so happy, indeed cross-e A perfect example of how a clever title can snag a reader. Once I'd mentally complimented the author on the title I was taken with the idea. Denmark is regularly at the top of lists of the "world's happiest country" so when author Russell's husband is offered a job in Denmark (at Lego no less) they pack up and move from the UK to Denmark. It's a trial idea to be revisited after a year. The author is a journalist so she takes on the assignment of finding out why Danes are so happy, indeed cross-examining them to see if they're really happy. The result is an amusing book that chronicles their troubles adapting to Denmark in diverse matters as recycling, the national flag, the various holidays, strange traditions, incredible income taxes (with equally incredible social programs) the language and the significantly different Danish winter. Throughout the book Russell maintains a proper journalistic skepticism but is honest in admitting the many good things that Denmark possesses. Her first discovery was sneagle, Danish pastry which is lovingly described. The book is much more than brief impressions as Russell interviews many experts on Danish life, concluding each interview with the question "on a scale of one to ten how happy are you?" All her interviewees clock in a no less than eight and the occasional ten. Despite the light tone the book offers an interesting glimpse into a country whose social policies are very far removed from America's. As we argue our way through entitlements, security, tax rates, income equality and access to health care Denmark provides an interesting window on alternate social policies.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    As a Dane, I must say that I enjoyed looking at my country and my traditions through the eyes of an outsider. The writing is hilarious, and I laughed out loud more times than I care to admit. There were a lot of descriptions which were spot on and a few things that I, as a Dane, thought were a bit off or misunderstood. Overall, this book is food for thought, and I highly recommend it. Not only if you want to learn more about living in Denmark, but also if you want to think about your own way of As a Dane, I must say that I enjoyed looking at my country and my traditions through the eyes of an outsider. The writing is hilarious, and I laughed out loud more times than I care to admit. There were a lot of descriptions which were spot on and a few things that I, as a Dane, thought were a bit off or misunderstood. Overall, this book is food for thought, and I highly recommend it. Not only if you want to learn more about living in Denmark, but also if you want to think about your own way of living and get more happiness and hygge into your life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    María Alcaide

    I have enjoyed this book a lot. It was as if I was in Denmark again. It has made me realized how many things I miss from there... how I miss Denmark and how I wished I had used my time better when I was there. It is absolutely true that Denmark is the happiest country in the world and it is also ture that you can reach happiness (or something very close to it) there. Of course it is not all perfect, but it gets close sometimes. It really does! Funny and witty, I think you will all enjoy this boo I have enjoyed this book a lot. It was as if I was in Denmark again. It has made me realized how many things I miss from there... how I miss Denmark and how I wished I had used my time better when I was there. It is absolutely true that Denmark is the happiest country in the world and it is also ture that you can reach happiness (or something very close to it) there. Of course it is not all perfect, but it gets close sometimes. It really does! Funny and witty, I think you will all enjoy this book. I highly recommend it! :9

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    After relocating because of her husband's job, Helen Russell describes her year of living in Denmark in this wonderful book. It was laugh-out-loud funny at points (thank god I didn't read it in public) and an overall joy to read. Part memoir, part self-help, part travel book, but wholly entertaining. I had my concerns that it would fall into the stereotypical view that everything in Denmark is perfect and wonderful and that the people living there have no problems at all. Thankfully, Russell enti After relocating because of her husband's job, Helen Russell describes her year of living in Denmark in this wonderful book. It was laugh-out-loud funny at points (thank god I didn't read it in public) and an overall joy to read. Part memoir, part self-help, part travel book, but wholly entertaining. I had my concerns that it would fall into the stereotypical view that everything in Denmark is perfect and wonderful and that the people living there have no problems at all. Thankfully, Russell entirely avoided that. She talks about both the good and the bad aspects of "living Danishly". I'll admit that I lean towards books about happiness because it's something I struggle with. I'm not ridiculous enough to think that reading a couple of books and lighting more candles around my house is going to miraculously cure any of my mental illnesses, but it's still nice to remind myself that there are a couple of things that you can do in your everyday life that can bring a little happiness into it. And if there's one thing I think I can definitely do to "live more Danishly", it's that I'm going to start eating more pastries.

  19. 5 out of 5

    RitaSkeeter

    I read this on a whim, and I'm really glad I did. I thought it was a fascinating look into Danish culture, and particularly the aspects that lead to Denmark being the 'happiest' country in the world. The takeaways for me from that were; the importance of connection; of having hobbies and interests; of working with the weather rather than against it (snuggling down in winter rather than trying to continue a 'summer' lifestyle - count me in!!), the importance of trust, community responsibility, an I read this on a whim, and I'm really glad I did. I thought it was a fascinating look into Danish culture, and particularly the aspects that lead to Denmark being the 'happiest' country in the world. The takeaways for me from that were; the importance of connection; of having hobbies and interests; of working with the weather rather than against it (snuggling down in winter rather than trying to continue a 'summer' lifestyle - count me in!!), the importance of trust, community responsibility, and a social welfare system that protects its citizens, a work/life balance, and... pastries. I can't really get behind that last one, I'm not into sweet pastry. I think the attitude you approach the book with will ultimately dictate whether or not you enjoy it. If you open it with openness to learning about another culture and what they do that makes them happy then there is a lot to be learnt. If you approach it from a perspective of being critical and looking for the dark sides of Danish culture, then you're not t really open to what this book has to say.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Borsey

    Yes there is more to this country than hygge! This book is a humorous and informative look into the lives of the Danish. I enjoyed this book immensely.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY is an enjoyable, if at times doggedly lighthearted look at "Deep Denmark" -- not the wonderful, wonderful metropolitan Copenhagen that tourists the world over know and love, but a small rural village subject to very short winter days and the rain, snow and wind that accompany them. In the Forties and Fifties, some very effective satire was written by Americans from small towns who moved to big cities, or big city-dwellers who assayed suburbia: MY SISTER EILEEN and PLE THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY is an enjoyable, if at times doggedly lighthearted look at "Deep Denmark" -- not the wonderful, wonderful metropolitan Copenhagen that tourists the world over know and love, but a small rural village subject to very short winter days and the rain, snow and wind that accompany them. In the Forties and Fifties, some very effective satire was written by Americans from small towns who moved to big cities, or big city-dwellers who assayed suburbia: MY SISTER EILEEN and PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES, for example. In this century the same sense of alienation and mild cultural clash are more likely to come from native speakers of English who wind up in similarly well-developed countries with different languages and cultures: France in the highly successful FRENCH KIDS EAT EVERYTHING or this THE YEAR OF LIVING DANISHLY, in which a go-getting London journalist and her amiable husband ("Lego Man") commit to a year in a remote coastal village on Jutland. What could go wrong? Well, lots of things according to author Helen Russell, who admits that going to such a remote small town early in winter is not a way to meet the local Danes, because people tend to hole up during long winters full of short days. More or less stuck at home, but armed with cell phone and the Internet, she proves her intrepidity by interviewing all manner of Danish experts on such topics as the elusive quality of "hygge" (which roughly translates as *Gemuetlickeit* though "cozy" is only a vague approximation and perhaps the recent buzzword "cocooning" comes closest of all) -- also Danish attitudes toward religion, day care, the rearing of children, and the role of government-sponsored health care. Russell's core concern is that the Danes regularly count as among the happiest of people, perhaps THE happiest, though at times she finds her new environment more than bleak and her neighbors a bit stand-offish -- even her high-tech dryer flashes "SLUT" at her when done, because that's the Danish word for "Complete." With the changing seasons and her growing competence at modern Danish life providing minimal narrative "glue," the focus of this book is really a series of brightly written lifestyle articles based on her interviews with those Danish experts. While Russell kindly translates the value of DKK (Danish Kronor) into both Pounds Sterling and US Dollars, some of her UK locutions sent me straight for the dictionary: a "gilet" is what we Yanks would call a padded vest, and "Salopettes" are something like "overalls" for example. Many books currently on the market set out to define the elusive "hygge"; this book makes it clear that what you really need, besides a well-built, snug and orderly house with furniture and candles of the very first order, are something of a Danish mindset that LIKES to cocoon during the cold months. A fun book, though at times the attitude of a go-to journalist who was clearly unhappier than she liked to admit got a tad wearing. (To be fair, it seems that Russell and Lego Man did decide to extend their stay.) Recommended, with the above reservations. Despite my reservations, this book appears to be selling well still. (Update: September 19, 2018)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Denmark is in the American news in 2016 as a potential model for reform or else an example of why reform is impossible. From this book, it does seem believable that the Danes are the world's happiest people, and that it is a result of their social system, which is very deliberately maintained by a complex web of traditions. Since the Danish system exists, it is possible. But it's not clear where one would start if one wanted to replicate it. I learned a lot of pertinent, interesting information Denmark is in the American news in 2016 as a potential model for reform or else an example of why reform is impossible. From this book, it does seem believable that the Danes are the world's happiest people, and that it is a result of their social system, which is very deliberately maintained by a complex web of traditions. Since the Danish system exists, it is possible. But it's not clear where one would start if one wanted to replicate it. I learned a lot of pertinent, interesting information about Denmark, but overall this book was a mish-mash of genres that I found superficial and unappealing. The book was structured around an incessant drip of the author's whining about her personal problems. Maybe she was trying to emulate "A Year in Provence." If so, she is no Peter Mayle. One doesn't feel the love of the other culture that made his books enjoyable. Saying "80%" or "7 children" or "7 days" over and over does not make one funny. Another annoying thing is the frequent dropping in of "research shows" headlines as if one random psych study from somewhere proved anything. If this is meant to be a serious exploration of whether and why Danes are happy, then that important question deserved more depth of inquiry.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I had been meaning to read this book for a couple of years, and then a friend (Hej, Bruce!) recommended it to me, and THEN I was having a really bad day/week, and my husband bought me a copy to cheer me up. (Reader, I married him.) Super fun, and actually quite different from what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a rather dry explication of why the Danes are consistently ranked so happy, but instead found it to be a bit of a romp, at time cynical, at times very loving, through life in I had been meaning to read this book for a couple of years, and then a friend (Hej, Bruce!) recommended it to me, and THEN I was having a really bad day/week, and my husband bought me a copy to cheer me up. (Reader, I married him.) Super fun, and actually quite different from what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a rather dry explication of why the Danes are consistently ranked so happy, but instead found it to be a bit of a romp, at time cynical, at times very loving, through life in Denmark as a British ex-pat. Some of the customs are weird, some make sense, some are amazing. Helen Russell breaks down their first year by the month, and writes up what she learned about that month. She seeks out people on the street and experts on different topics like going on holiday, schools, church confirmations, hygge, and pastries. She is the perfect mix of outside observer + someone who wants to understand and love living in Denmark. She's not shy about pointing out flaws in the Danish system, but she's also not shy about complimenting and implementing what is working. This book was both a great memoir and a fascinating look at life in "the world's happiest country" and what makes it that way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    If you like the idea of an ignorant woman, so wrapped up in the idea that she has the sexual knowledge of a Jane Austen character, and whom CONTINUOUSLY likes to spout statistics (that hold far more weight with her than is warranted) then this book could be for you. It's eye-opening, humorous and interesting at times, but Helen Russell's infuriatingly stubborn and stressful character quickly wears thin. She gives women a bad name as her husband seems to settle in easily, while she frantically ru If you like the idea of an ignorant woman, so wrapped up in the idea that she has the sexual knowledge of a Jane Austen character, and whom CONTINUOUSLY likes to spout statistics (that hold far more weight with her than is warranted) then this book could be for you. It's eye-opening, humorous and interesting at times, but Helen Russell's infuriatingly stubborn and stressful character quickly wears thin. She gives women a bad name as her husband seems to settle in easily, while she frantically runs around this country, erratically spewing her neuroses on everyone she meets. I'm not sure why I stuck this whole book out, maybe I was hoping I'd learn more new things about the Danish than I was set up to from this book, or maybe it's because it's one of the few books I've had to pay for in the past few years. Either way, it's done now. Yes, the Danes seem happy. Yes she seems happy living there - I just can't say I've heard any "secrets" as the book title professes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ❂ Murder by Death

    About 8 years ago, I almost moved to Denmark though a company transfer, but ended up in Australia instead. I always wondered what it would have been like to live there. This book was a funny, informative, research-rich look at what sets Danes apart from a cultural perspective, as well as what ties them to the rest of the world. Full review: http://jenn.booklikes.com/post/111369... About 8 years ago, I almost moved to Denmark though a company transfer, but ended up in Australia instead. I always wondered what it would have been like to live there. This book was a funny, informative, research-rich look at what sets Danes apart from a cultural perspective, as well as what ties them to the rest of the world. Full review: http://jenn.booklikes.com/post/111369...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    Mixed feelings about this book about the author swapping her busy London life to move to rural Jutland for a year due to her husband's job at Legoland. The book had a different chapter for each month of the year, and this worked well especially the descriptions of the weather (pretty grim in winter when everyone hibernates) and also the various traditions to be celebrated as the seasons pass. I enjoyed finding out about everyday rural life in Jutland (something I knew absolutely nothing about) - w Mixed feelings about this book about the author swapping her busy London life to move to rural Jutland for a year due to her husband's job at Legoland. The book had a different chapter for each month of the year, and this worked well especially the descriptions of the weather (pretty grim in winter when everyone hibernates) and also the various traditions to be celebrated as the seasons pass. I enjoyed finding out about everyday rural life in Jutland (something I knew absolutely nothing about) - what people ate, drank, how they spend their leisure time etc. Russell tries to discover the secret of why Denmark often comes out in surveys as the happiest country. I have to say I wouldn't want to live there! Ok, so they have short working weeks, free education and a recycling system that should make England hang its head in shame. But sky high taxes, soaring divorce rates, high percentages of smoking and also increasingly high antidepressant use makes me wonder. Russell bombards us with facts and figures throughout the book - too many to be honest. I also found her use of 'alternative' names for people more than a bit irritating. Her husband remains Lego Man throughout the entire book for instance.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I have been coveting Helen Russell's The Year of Living Danishly since its publication. I am a fan of all things Scandinavian, and loved Copenhagen when I visited a few years ago. Whilst the rest of Denmark is on my to-visit list, I have so many trips planned at present that I probably won't get to go back for a few years at least. I therefore thought that it would be a good idea to scour bookshops for a copy of The Year of Living Danishly to (hopefully) sate my interest in booking another trip I have been coveting Helen Russell's The Year of Living Danishly since its publication. I am a fan of all things Scandinavian, and loved Copenhagen when I visited a few years ago. Whilst the rest of Denmark is on my to-visit list, I have so many trips planned at present that I probably won't get to go back for a few years at least. I therefore thought that it would be a good idea to scour bookshops for a copy of The Year of Living Danishly to (hopefully) sate my interest in booking another trip to the beautiful country. (Of course, this could have backfired, but thankfully it did not!) The whole of The Year of Living Danishly has been simply but cleverly structured, following a calendar year from January to December. This begins with Russell and her husband, 'Lego Man', moving to a tiny coastal town in rural Jutland, where Lego Man receives a dream job offer to work at Lego HQ. The Year of Living Danishly was written as a project of sorts for journalist Russell, who had to resign from her full-time job at Marie Claire magazine to move. She tied this in with the many polls and surveys which have deemed Denmark the world's happiest country: 'I decided I would set out to discover the key to getting happy in every area of modern life. I would learn something new each month and make changes to my own life accordingly. I was embarking on a personal and professional quest to discover what makes Danes feel so great. The result would, I hoped, be a blueprint for a lifetime of contentment. The happiness project had begun'. Each chapter within the book deals with a different experience of Danish life. January is devoted to the trendy concept of hygge, and how one can introduce hyggelig elements into their life. There are sections devoted to Danish industries, designers, and childcare, and much about the pastry for which the country is famous. Practical issues, as well as necessities of making such a move, from obtaining Danish identity cards to setting up bank accounts, and finding the words for the most simple of concepts (the supermarket, the library) have been included. I love travelogues in which the author has moved to an entirely different, sometimes even alien, country, and relays their experiences of adapting to a new life. Russell's in particular is one of the most readable which I have come across to date; her writing style is both chatty and informed, to the extent that it feels as though you are settling down with a good friend when reading. Russell's writing is often quite light, but in a refreshing way. The prose style helps to balance the many facts which have been crammed into its pages, as well as the interviews with those experts whom Russell seeks out to discuss certain aspects of Danish life, from education to religion. What overwhelmingly comes through on the page is Russell's eagerness to adapt to her new life, and the relief which she feels when getting away from her previous, stressful North London lifestyle. Whilst uncertainty, of course, begins to creep in once the couple land, and the force of the move becomes apparent, one gets the sense throughout that Russell is still trying to make the most of the place in which she finds herself. She gives a fascinating glimpse into a different culture, and the pride and patriotism which Danes have. The Year of Living Danishly is both interesting and insightful, and will be invaluable for anyone considering such an upheaval in their own lives, as well as the perfect transportative tome for the armchair traveller.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    UPDATE: the narrator in the audible is👌 I enjoy listening for the laughs and entertainment —— I have no idea who I would recommend this book to... someone going to Denmark... or an American or British expat moving to a more rural part of Europe that neEd’s to feel some solidarity (perhaps)? This book is a little odd. On the one hand it is a HILARIOUS memoir. I don’t say that lightly. Even actual comedians cannot get me to LOL like this author could. At one point I was giggling so hard in bed it w UPDATE: the narrator in the audible is👌 I enjoy listening for the laughs and entertainment —— I have no idea who I would recommend this book to... someone going to Denmark... or an American or British expat moving to a more rural part of Europe that neEd’s to feel some solidarity (perhaps)? This book is a little odd. On the one hand it is a HILARIOUS memoir. I don’t say that lightly. Even actual comedians cannot get me to LOL like this author could. At one point I was giggling so hard in bed it was shaking, prompting my husband to ask me what I was doing in bed... alone. (He did not believe me when I said “reading a book about Denmark”) Her (often embarrassing) experiences and observations are hilarious and made the “memoir”’portion quite enjoyable. Within her “memoir” are a barrage of facts, some quite interesting and others that felt a little too “wikipedia” — I started to get tired of the citations and statistics... it’s a Wikipedia for Denmark, which isn’t how I like to learn about culture... I also came into this book expecting it to be self-help-y... a Danish version of “how to be Parisian” and it is definitely not that at all, so if you’re looking to learn how to live the Danish way or hygge, this is most definitely not your book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I'm moving to Denmark. I'm tempted to leave my review at that, but the author deserves a few words too. I really enjoyed this book. I loved how interesting quirks about Danish culture weren't just observed, they were investigated, but in an informal, humorous, conversational way. I loved the tone, loved the structure, and I'm sad the book is over. I want her to move on and try living Chinesely and Americanly, and Spanishly. I'm moving to Denmark. I'm tempted to leave my review at that, but the author deserves a few words too. I really enjoyed this book. I loved how interesting quirks about Danish culture weren't just observed, they were investigated, but in an informal, humorous, conversational way. I loved the tone, loved the structure, and I'm sad the book is over. I want her to move on and try living Chinesely and Americanly, and Spanishly.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Faye

    Read: May 2017 Helen Russell's account of her year of living abroad in Denmark was a wonderfully entertaining, funny read. I have always had a longing to live in one of the Scandinavian countries and now for me Denmark has overtaken Iceland as the place I really want to live and work in one day. Russell talks frankly about the ups and downs of being an immigrant in Denmark, the language and culture shock, incredibly high taxes, high divorce rates and the fact the Denmark has the highest number of Read: May 2017 Helen Russell's account of her year of living abroad in Denmark was a wonderfully entertaining, funny read. I have always had a longing to live in one of the Scandinavian countries and now for me Denmark has overtaken Iceland as the place I really want to live and work in one day. Russell talks frankly about the ups and downs of being an immigrant in Denmark, the language and culture shock, incredibly high taxes, high divorce rates and the fact the Denmark has the highest number of female lung cancer sufferers in the world (on account of the fact that smoking is still incredibly popular there). But there are also so many positives to the Danish way of life; one of the best healthcare systems in the world, free education, heavily subsidised childcare fees, low rate of unemployment and a welfare system that puts every other country to shame. Russell tells her immigration story in a funny, self-depreciating way that reminds me a little of Bridget Jones' Diary. For me this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but there were times when it felt a little forced. This didn't put me off reading in any way and overall I very much enjoyed this book. Rating: 4/5 stars

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.