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Review: The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

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My Interest

This is my pretend add-on book to the box from the Bibliophilic Excursions box I’ve been reviewing this week. I chose it because it went with the Danish theme and was on my Kindle not being read. That it sounded similar to Beth O’Learys books made it even more appealing.

The Story

“She’d changed Louisa’s sheets, the new cream duvet cover smelling of lavender washing powder, the duck-feather pillows impossibly soft. She had unearthed the softest grey cashmere rug [throw] from the top of the wardrobe and had it draped over the duvet. She lit a candle by the side of the bed, pulled out a dog-eared novel from her rucksack and nestled down under the covers. Despite the heaven she’d created, however, she barely slept….” (p. 52)

“He looked at the table set with placemats and napkins, a glass filled with spidery branches and curling leaves in the middle, candles dotted around. ‘I don’t normally….'” (p. 116)

“He thought about her explanation of hygge and knew that was a philosophy for the way she lived her life. He had paid so many professionals to help him find a way of being happier with his lot. Had he missed something so simple?” (p. 154)

Clara Kristensen has arrived in Yulethorpe and lands at the only place in town that has a room to rent–the pub, of course. There she meets some of the locals including Louisa, owner of a nearly dead toy store and the one in the village best known for starting wild schemes and not finishing them. When Louisa makes good on her threat to just go to Spain and enjoy the sun she suddenly decides to let Clara house and toy store sit for her. Oh, and pet sit–she has a cat and an parrot who doesn’t filter.

In the background is a town that has slowly died. The joy is gone. Even the mothers of toddlers have to make do with the nursery school gate and a pilates class. No place to gather and talk and enjoy their expensive coffee drinks. Also looming is Louisa’s driven London high-flying son, Joe. Danish Clara has a cure for all of this: Hygge, the Danish form of cozy, heart-warming, love-draping atmosphere. She sets out to hygge the toy store, hygge and village, and maybe even hygge herself a guy!

My Thoughts

While there was one single line that stood out in stark contrast to the rest of the book–one line probably put there for that seemingly mandatory list of things that are required in a book today even if they do not fit the story. The conflict seemed unnecessary–again as though put in to meet some arbitrary requirement. I do not understand why conflict is so necessary.

This was a sweet, fun book. I loved the emphasis on homey details–the homemaking notions and atmosphere creation that are essential for that hygge-feeling. Ok, it’s not too believable that someone would dump their home and business on a stranger, but hey, who cares, right? It’s a story and a well-told one. And, what’s not to love about building a vibrant community where once there was only defeat? Or eating cake. Or draping soft blankets and lighting candles and enjoying being with good friends and doing fun, ordinary things?

My Verdict

3. 5 Candles

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake currently $2.99 for Kindle

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Review: Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking and a Bonus Review

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Trendy I’m not! Nothing like reviewing a book four years or so after it was a “thing.” Nonetheless, this little book packs a good punch in terms of the information presented. I listened to the audio, charmingly read by the author himself. I learned so much!

First, what I was already getting right. Cook good food at home and enjoy it with those you love. Done. Have cozy blankets. Got ’em, complete with warm purring cats. Enjoy a good book. No problem.

Second, what I could do better at or start doing. Get outside and not just to get into the car or get the mail. Enjoy the outdoors again. Hmmmm. That will take work. Get together with people more often. COVID is affecting this, but I miss my Sunday School class so much. We should be having our Christmas party in a week or so, as well as the ladies fun sock-swap party at church. Those are big events in my calendar, by the way. Candles. I’m not anti-candle and I am glad to hear that for hygge non-scented is the way to go. That helps a lot. And at 12 (2 of them) and 13-years old my cats are not likely to knock one over and burn the house down. I do have a fireplace, so I could buy some wood. I’d need a couch first though–I threw it out this year due to the state it was in.

My Conclusion? Everything about this resonated with me much more today than when it was at peak trendiness. It always takes me a while to like new things. My only regret was the recipes were a bit hard to follow on audio and they are apparently not on the author’s website, which I thought was odd. [See my review of Invisible Women. Probably the men at the Happiness Institute didn’t think of women listening to the book and wanting to cook the hygge-ish dinners, LOL.]

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

This is one of the books in the Bibliophilic Excursions subscription box that I am reviewing this week.

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Who doesn’t want to be happier?

Here’s what Danes do that most Americans don’t–and the Danes are happier:

  • Bike to work
  • Eat dinner nightly at home with their family
  • Work a 30 hour week with weeks of vacation
  • Have affordable childcare
  • Have free medical care

Oh, and be sure to light candles!

Ok, I’m joking. The Danes just do not settle for anything but a decent work-life balance. Dinner at home with the family is almost sacred. Workaholic hours are scorned. People care about being with their families and friends instead of just their boss and coworkers.

Denmark and it’s near Scandinavian neighbors are often held up to Americans as models of what we should “have” in terms of bang for the buck from the government. I’m not sure how a nation as vast as hours, where nearly everything runs 24 hours a day anymore could do that. Aside from the obvious such as how do I bike to work if my job is 73 miles away? Or how do you work a 30-hour shift as a nurse and the surgery you are assisting on goes into emergency mode and you can’t leave. I’m sure Danes have jobs that DO require overtime, but I imagine it is paid and extra leave allotted.

I’ll leave the political part to the new Congress, but I liked the sound of all of this even if it is done with an American 40 hour week being held to 40 hours or vacation time that can be taken without snarky comments, side-eye looks, or a coworker trampling you when you are off. Those would be great for nearly everyone.

Have I mentioned how soothing it was to listen to the two little audiobooks? Light a candle, snuggle under a soft blanket, pour yourself a drink or brew some tea or coffee, open up some fine chocolate, and just listen and dream.

The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking

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Bibliophilic Excursions Subscription Boxes

A lot of people are discovering the fun of curated box subscriptions. Makeup, candles, snack, books–you can find a subscription box right now for anyone! One of the ones that piqued my interest was Bibliophilic Excursions–think homeschool unit studies for grown-ups, but without the lapbooks. I looked at the display of past boxes and really liked them. I saw many books I’d already read. I decided first to try out a past box for free–that is to read the books and maybe an add-on “extra” book purchase. Fun! I chose the box from Denmark with lots of hygge to it. Hygge was all the rage a few years ago. (On the Bibliophilic Excursions site they do not say when this box was offered). I figured I could drag out a few of my Mom’s annual Danish commemorative plates, print out a map and a picture of the Danish Royal Family–maybe look at Queen Margarethe’s Tolkien illustrations on-line and have some blue cheese and sour-creamed herring to give a little ambiance. Since it’s Christmas I could drag out the adorable sweaters from Denmark my brother and I wore, his kids wore, and my kids wore too. Plus I could enjoy the scrapbook pages of my kids wearing them on Christmas day! These boxes spark that kind of joy!

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, I’ll be reviewing the two included books from my chosen box and my add-on book.

Coming up this week: The Book Reviews

The Signature Journey box offers both a novel and a nonfiction title, along with other things to enhance the reader’s virtual “journey.” This would be a fun way to tackle some countries on a “reading the world” journey. This box offered a blue and white nightlight. There was also a cute pair of socks for keeping warm ala hygge. I had The Hygge Holiday sitting unread on my Kindle so I made it my pretend “add-on purchase.” Add-on purchases are a big deal in subscription boxes and I didn’t want to miss out on that fun. This company also “gives back” to local communities. You can see examples of their giving here.

Image: https://www.biblioexcur.com/whats_inside 

First The Numbers

Currently, the yearly subscription to the Signature Journey Box is $45.00 per month.  There is a fiction-only version or a nonfiction-only version as well–both of which are slightly less per month. There are other boxes than these–Ladies At Lunch is a fun one and Mystery and Mixology, which includes the stuff to mix -up a classic cocktail, well except the booze–there are a host of laws on shipping booze to deal with,  to drink while you read and solve your mystery. [I would like to have been able to include pictures, but their photos are not set up to be shared even with due credit given.]

The Books Chosen for the Boxes

Whoever chooses the books seems to have a good eye. For Ghana, they’ve picked Maya Angelou’s classic All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes and Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi, which was an Amazon’s Editor’s pick. Other books shown in sample boxes include Behind the Beautiful Forevers and the God of Small Things (India). The Mystery box featured the Agatha Christie charmer, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, while Ladies At Lunch has had Miss Buncle’s Book and  Olive Kitteridge. Very decent selection all. Nonfiction selections include We Two about Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert.

My Thoughts on Bibliophilic Excursions

Judging by what’s shown on the website of past boxes, I’d say this would be a wonderful box to look forward to each month. Is there really value for money? No. Not if you are just counting up the prices of a few fun extras and the cost of a likely remaindered paperback. But someone put it all together, mailed it out in a hopefully attractive package, and it comes right to your door. You get to open it and discover the surprises. In the year of Covid, that’s a bright spot. And, since Covid seems to have been renewed for Season II, why not sign up and enjoy it? Plus, through your purchase, you are helping a worthy charity or two. Win-win.

Interested? You can reserve a 2020 Holiday Box now.

NOTE: Bibliographic Excursions has no clue I wrote this. I did not seek a sample box. Did not subscribe. I just thought it would be fun to try it and share the fun without my debit card needing to be involved.