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The Year of Living Danishly:
Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

Helen Russell

Average Review Rating Average Rating 6/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Icon Books Ltd

Published : 2015

Copyright : Helen Russell 2015

ISBN-10 : PB 1-78578-023-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-78578-023-3

Publisher's Write-Up

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.

What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made?

Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. From childcare, education, food and interior design (not to mention 'hygge') to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

'A wryly amusing account of a new life in a strange land.'

Choice Magazine

'Russell is possessed of a razor-sharp wit and a winning self-deprecation – two of the things that make this book such a delight.'

The Independent

'A lovely mix of English sensibility and Danish pragmatism. Helen seems to have understood more about the Danish character than I have! My only worry is that it will make everyone want to have a go and my holiday home area will get overcrowded.'

Sandi Toksvig
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310519) Rating (6/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 6/10

IWe are often told that different countries have different levels of happiness, and satisfaction, caused by all types of factors, ranging from education, environment, jobs and job satisfaction, to how people relate to each other, and we are also told that Denmark is one of the happies, most fulfilled places in which to live.

The writer Helen Russell is given the chance to find out when her partner, who works for Lego is offered a job there, so forgoing her career as a relatively successful writer for newspapers, she goes to Denmark for a year, to see if the land of long, dark nights, Lego, cured herring, and pastries really is a land of new opportunities.

Russell’s background as an editor for Marie Claire does her well, for the book has that level of accessible tone, whilst also being informative. So, although it is largely written in the format of a diary of her experiences, there is also room for facts about Denmark, and how those relate to life in Britain. So we learn that although the work-life balance in Denmark is better, the relentless dark winter days are not for everyone, although there are fewer people in Denmark, the sense of community is often stronger, so there are pros and cons to each place.

The end of the book sees massive changes in Russell’s own life, as she becomes a mother, and obviously this changes how she and her partner see their places in the world, and adopt Denmark as the place to bring up their child. This book was an interesting read, with much to say about modern life, and how adopting practices from other cultures can add to our own.
Ben Macnair (31st May 2019)

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