Like a lot of people, I fell in love with the idea of hygge and lagom when it became popular in the UK a few years ago, but after a brief look the books ended up gathering dust on my bookshelf. It wasn’t until lockdown this year that I was truly ready to read them and embrace the culture.
So although I could say that my journey began with The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking and Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne, it was kickstarted when I picked up a copy of Brontë Aurell’s ScandiKitchen: Fika and Hygge in a charity shop.
I love baking, and and I was sucked in by the pretty pictures. The first recipe I tried was apelsinpepparkakor (deliciously crunchy little gingerbread and orange biscuits) and it was a total hit, and so were the kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) I made recently. The recipes are not overly sweet, which I like.
After revisiting the Hygge and Lagom books, and watching Alexander Skarsgård speaking Swedish slang, I decided to learn a Scandinavian language. But which one? I read (which means this may not be true!) that there are similarities across them all, but Norwegian would be easier to learn and quite well understood by Danish and Swedish people, so that’s what I went for.
I’m using the Duolingo app, along with my dictionary and phrasebook. I also bought Short Stories in Norwegian for Beginners, a book designed to help you learn through reading, which I haven’t properly started yet but I can already see words I recognise.
What I am reading just now is Nørth: How To Live Scandinavian by Brontë Aurell, yes, the author of the bakery book. Brontë is Danish and her husband is Swedish and, alongside running the busy Scandikitchen cafe and food shop in London, she’s an author. Nørth is a brilliant, funny, informative read about the differences and similarities between Scandinavian countries.
Which Scandi books do you have on your shelf?