Every year by about November, I get into a reading slump. And by a reading slump, I mean an everything slump. I start feeling tired and grouchy and apathetic, and it likely has something to do with the weather changing and that beautiful sun going away. So that’s why discovering hygge (hue-gah or hoo-gah) was a game changer for me.
What’s hygge? It’s a Danish way of life. It has no direct translation (“coziness” is often used), but my favourite explanation I’ve read is “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” It’s true in summer, too–picnics are hygge–but it is especially important in long Danish winters, and it helps Danish people stay one of the happiest countries on Earth.
We may not have discussed hygge by name on Book Riot before, but I think we get the general concept. I think readers intuitively grasp the appeal of getting cozy while settling down with a good book. I thought I would gather these together, though, to help you hygge your reading life.
- Build yourself a reading nook. You want a space that quiet and comfortable–but maybe not so comfortable that you’re going to fall asleep. The point here is making your reading life as pleasurable as possible.
- Add cozy blankets to that reading nook. The book theme is optional. In the spirit of hygge, I’ve acquired a new fluffy blanket and it has added so much pleasure to my life.
- Don comfy PJs or hoodies. (For serious, the Book Riot hoodie is the coziest piece of clothing I own. I have two and I layer them because I want only them on my torso.)
- You want just a shitton of candles. Candles are very hygge. I was never much of a candle person, but reading about hygge made me try them and now I’m inhaling the buttery smell of a peppermint mocha soy candle and I feel like I’m floating.
- Tea or coffee, I’m not here to judge you. Coffee is more traditionally hygge, but tea is more traditionally bookish. The point is, you should be able to warm your hands around a steaming mug. I’m not saying that mug has to be bookish, but it’s not going to hurt.
- Reading snacks. Think pastries. Cookies. Something… I feel like we don’t even have a word for it, because “indulgent” comes with the idea that you should feel guilty about it. In the hygge mindset, there is no guilt in enjoying food, especially in the winter. We should be looking forward to winter treats, not dreading them.
- Get outside! Yes, I just told you to set up the most perfect reading nook in your house, but hygge is not just about rich food and relaxing; it’s also about enjoying nature. It’s about enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Why not pair audiobooks with a nature hike?
- If it’s too cold to even step outside, try mix and matching audiobooks and a relaxing hobby, like knitting!
- Host a reading party! Yep, as tempting as it is to burrow into your blankets with only books for company for the season, a big tenant of hygge is enjoying yourself with friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate reading! Host a silent reading party. Or try a book club. Do a book exchange get together!
- Keep it simple. Hygge is about taking time to enjoy simple pleasures. So don’t stress out about page counts or anything else that’s making things too complicated. Take some time to devote to reading that is pleasurable. Read slowly. Remember why you fell in love with reading in the first place.
- There are no rules!
Surprise! These are hygge suggestions, but there are no hygge commandments. This is about what makes you feel comfortable and happy and fulfilled, so there are no hard and fast rules. Definitely don’t drop a bunch of money on the right blankets, mugs, candles, etc just to fit the hygge ideal, especially if that’s money you don’t have and it’s stressing you out.
If you find the flicker of candles distracting while you read, leave those out. If you’re an iced coffee all year long person or a just-water-please person, that’s not going to wreck your reading life. If you find the idea of loading up on sugary snacks more anxiety inducing than relaxing, that’s not hygge for you. Do hygge your way! Find what makes your reading life feel like it’s recharging your batteries, even when the sunlight has gone away. That’s the true spirit of hygge. (Err, from what I’ve gathered from reading some internet articles, at least.)
Go forth, and read happy this winter!