I can honestly say that I can’t remember the last time that I read, or as has been the case here listened to, a book which I almost wish I hadn’t. Not because it is a terrible book, it’s not poorly written or tedious. The story isn’t violent, or upsetting, or offensive. The reason that I almost wish I had never consumed this book is because…well…it made me think about things that I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding thinking about.
The Year Of Living Danishly is a non-fiction book by British freelance journalist Helen Russell documenting the happenings of her first 12 months of living in rural Denmark. She shares the highs and the lows of uncovering cultural differences and how this impacted her mentally, physically and every other way.
I think for me this book struck a chord because I’m a journalist, albeit not freelance and not living in London. A lot of the things that she talks about in the start if the book still ring true though. I feel like at this point everybody knows that the Scandinavian countries rank at the top of the world for most of the desirable lifestyle traits. I don’t know if I would ever honestly believe someone who said they didn’t want that kind of Scandinavian perfection. This book is basically Helen saying “it sounds too good to be true…but it really is true.”
Imagine a life where working is actually worth it, because family and your own wellbeing are put ahead of everything? Imagine going to work and looking forward to the end of the day, because there’s a distinct separation between work and life and it doesn’t feel like you’re just working to earn the right to retire? A life of hygge. I want hygge – we all want hygge. (also, because of this book I now actually know how to pronounce hygge – winner!)
Anyway, I digress – I suppose I better not tell you too much about what happens or else it won’t be worth you checking out this book for yourself! Also…I called this a review and I’m not even sure if I’ve really done that yet. Here we go…
The Year Of Living Danishly is well written, honest and immersive. It’s like listening to a friend telling you a story, but a bit more focussed. I personally quite like that style of storytelling, it’s conversational and not overly formal but also not wildly informal. It’s not aloof or alien or patronising, it’s wonderfully down to earth and full of heart. You will ride the rollercoaster of The Year Of Living Danishly with Helen.
I realise that it might have sounded quite negative in the earlier stages of this post, but I think what I’m trying to say is that I would highly recommend this audiobook, and the book, to absolutely everyone. It’s such a wonderful tale of real life adventure, and all of the negativity which I hoard towards it is purely jealousy. I am so incredibly jealous of Helen’s adventure, even though I know it’s not something that I really want to do. Her bravery to not only set up life in a new country but to document it and share it so that it could bring joy to so many ‘back home’ earns her 7 stars out of 5, as far as I am concerned.