The first months of the new year in Michigan are usually pretty cold and grey and dreary. Here are some of the best and most interesting reads from the past few months. I definitely went down the rabbit hole on the topic of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) and all things Scandinavian. If you haven’t heard of hygge it’s the Danish concept having to do with “the everyday mindfulness that comes from a wholehearted participation in life” (Louisa T. Brits). Being grateful and fully engaged in the present can be tough sometimes, but it’s worth the effort. Here are the best reads from the past few months:
How to Hygge by Signe Johansen
This book is full of unique and interesting recipes. If you want to freshen up your repertoire of baked goods or add some new ingredients to your cooking, this will definitely inspire all bakers and cooks who enjoy exploring in the kitchen.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
Full of infographics and bits of information, this book on hygge is a good overview and introduction for those who love to glean facts visually.
The Book of Hygge by Louisa T. Brits
The most poetic and visually beautiful book about hygge. It is full of quotes and reflections on the central characteristics of this Danish practice. This one is best read curled up with a blanket while sipping tea with nowhere to go. This one is good to savor slowly.
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Written by a British journalist who moves to Denmark, this is full of well-researched facts and personal anecdotes. What I appreciated most about this memoir is the presentation of the good and the not-so-good aspects of Danish society and culture. She presents a balanced perspective on this (sometimes) idealized nation.
The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
Written by a Finnish journalist who moves to the U.S., this is the counterpoint to The Year of Living Danishly. She describes the culture shock and adjustments she makes. This is an organized and thoroughly researched look into the differences between the U.S. and Finland (she uses Finland primarily, but includes other Scandinavian countries too). She organizes her findings focusing on relationships: parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens.
Passion Translation: Psalms, John, Acts
The Passion Translation has been so refreshing to my devotional life. It’s vibrant language and fascinating footnotes infuse new energy into reading the Bible.
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
Written a few years ago, this is an excellent book for anyone needing to prioritize and figure out what rest looks like in the 21st century. The last two chapters do a phenomenal job outlining the reality and necessity of working hard without burning out.
Perspective changing memoirs
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
There are a handful of books I read every year that really impact me and this is one of those. It is heartbreaking, eye-opening, and beautifully written. The personal story is presented alongside thoroughly researched statistics making the personal memoir also a story of a whole community.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I laughed and cried through the entire book. We all need to hear stories of individuals who persevered and faithfully pursued their passions without giving up or compromising. An inspiring and entertaining read for those of us who are nosy and love to learn about other people’s lives.
Home and family
Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
This easy to digest memoir and cookbook is full of practical tips for anyone getting started in the kitchen to those who have been cooking for ages. It’s especially encouraging for anyone who has young eaters in their home.
The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron
An enlightening read for anyone who has kids, works with kids, or spends a lot of time with kids. It breaks down the characteristics of highly sensitive children, provides insight to help them thrive, and offers advice for each stage of development from age 0-18.
Simply Styling by Kristen Grove
Sometimes you just need to look at photographs of beautiful spaces and this totally delivers plus more. Kristen Grove gives practical and easy to follow advice for discovering your own home style and how to make a space cozy and personal.
In the Woods by Tana French
I’m may be a little late to discover Tana French, but after reading In the Woods and The Likeness I’m a fan. Her mysteries are rich in plot and character. If you enjoy a twisty, detective story, check her out.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
A poignant and profound novel about a handful of individuals living in Chechnya spanning the decade between 1994 and 2004. It is raw in portraying some of the violence, but the depth of characters and socio-geographical setting make it well-worth the read if you have the patience for fiction that conveys a powerful message with artistic subtlety.
What have you been reading lately? I would love to hear your favorites and what’s been inspiring you.