3.5 I ve always been curious about Denmark and Russell s account of moving from London to a small Danish town was a fun and satisfying read She writes in a breezy, light hearted way yet also digs into the problems that Denmark faces So although it still sounds like paradise, I know now about the dark side of living in Denmark The U.S could learn so much from its policies I would have rated this book a half star higher but Russell refers to her husband only as Lego Man which I found dismissive and distracting Each time I was jolted out of my enjoyment to wonder Does she think this is funny What kind of relationship does she have with him Why didn t her editor stop her Candles, hygge and seeds of happiness if that s your mojo, this is your book.This book reflects the Utopian lifestyle of a social democracy in a journalese style, avoiding the obvious challenges of modern economic trends It s a personal memoir, after all, and an obvious editorial.I enjoyed the author s experience of a new cultural orientation in adjusting to a totally new concept for a British monoglotic citizen Although Britain is as much a social democracy and free market economy as Denmark, with of course a few differences here and there I haven t checked their tax rates, but it can be competitive.The author seeks to uncover the secrets behind the world s happiest country and provide boring statistics to establish the official status of the country on the global playing field Her approach of doing meticulous research for her freelance articles, lifts this experience up from being just an expat rendition of a new, often funny, personal memoir, to an elongated article which can be sold in some way or another as a source of information This book is one of the results Somewhat entertaining, but mostly a journalistic editorial on the world s so called happiest country with the journalist now as main character and her side kick the Lego Man, as her husband became known.I found the Danish lifestyle and outlook on life fascinating the reason why I wanted to read the non fiction book in the first place The fact that the Danes have a natural tendency to learn other languages as part of their curious culture, resonated very well with me indeed In fact they have a lifelong quest for learning.This book certainly broadened my knowledge about this country and will enable me in future to have something to talk about when I meet Danish people again But I honestly think that some personal blogs and novels will bring warmth and soul to a Danish experience, and some recipe websites can saturate a culinary curiosity There are many lessons to learn for sure.Of course I would also now want to live there Just think, just about everything is free from education up to university level as far as you want to go, health services, preschool childcare, clubs subsidized as part of the mental wellness of the population , social security, six weeks annual holiday the 13 public holidays is included for all working citizens and one year maternity leave for mothers Fathers have a shorter break, but long enough to bond with the new child Family is everything The official working hours is 37 hours per week and people leave work early on Fridays to spend time with their families FREE yes, if you don t mind the 60% tax rate Most people were happy with that Style, pride of country, and trust, fill in gaps in a multifaceted population s idea of happiness It s not unusual to observe the country s flag in just about every garden The national pride is important For real balance and depth, I had to venture off onto the internet, though And I found among other things, Lars L kke Rasmussen the prime minister since 2015 who introduced Norway s recent realities to a student audience at the Harvard Kennedy School s Institute of Politics in 2016 His viewpoint is of course much serious and scholarly than this memoir of Helen Russel, so it will be totally unfair to compare apples to chicken drum sticks The author s intent with this memoir is to sell a light read, shallow, slightly naive expos to a totally different audience CHALLENGES IN NORWAY according to Lars L kke Rasmussen The least corrupt country in the world Free market economy My words The world s darling toys, Lego, a Danish gift to the world is so expensive due to the high company taxes bestowed on it In effect the world is paying for the Danish welfare state and doing so with gusto Social mobility is high, the best in the world The changing global economy China, India and the rest of Asia have lifted than one billion people out of poverty low salaries and high skills in country like China and India Globalization challenges countries who already have a high living standard, such as Denmark jobs moving to other countries Labor and capital are easily moving to other countries where taxes are low the incentive to work in a high taxed society with high social security is currently a problem for the Danish government, particularly in lower income groups The welfare state with a large public sector prevent people from accepting personal responsibility as citizens Salaries and wealth distribution are high Lower salaries elsewhere challenges this Nordic model digital technologies are replacing manual labor jobs are needed in the private sector to safeguard the welfare sector Migrants unbalanced the Utopian state since the number of social grants to house, educate and feed them, unsettled the unemployment rate and brought too many jobless dependents into the system, which is difficult to support with the current government taxation system Companies are leaving End of Lars L kke Rasmussen notes.Sometimes people have nothing to say and then say it anyway My blabbering fits this definition of malarkey perfectly as well At least I do it for free I somehow felt it was the case with this book She needed to generate an income while living in Denmark for a year, and used her experience as a seasoned journalist to freelance from Jutland Absolutely nothing wrong with that There was a certain British aloofness to the text, but it nevertheless did not reduce this introduction to this fascinating country and its people To be honest, I never considered reading anything similar before on Denmark The Nordic countries did not fascinate me enough Sad but true I enjoyed photographic journals of a beautiful awe inspiring landscape in winter It was the novels of Fredrik Backman, Jonas Jonasson, and Stieg Larsson who opened up a curiosity to explore these Nordic countries Of course there are a multitude of wonderful translated novels now available to keep us forever happy A SMALL SELECTION Ordeal A Mystery By Jorn Lier Horst.Faithless Oslo Detective Series By Kjell Ola Dahl.The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye A Lisbeth Salander novel, continuing Stieg Larsson s Millennium Series By David Lagercrantz.The Scarred Woman A Department Q Novel The Devil s Wedding Ring The Snowman Harry Hole Series Just Google Nordic Noir because those seems to be the most popular, then browse through Goodreads own selection Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature But as a non fiction experience, in the journalese style, this is an interesting read and a good experience after all I had a few good laughs in the process, for instance fart kontrol means speed limit slut end of washing cycle for instance slut spurt closing down sale gift married or poison I will do you a favor and stop the blabbering here and now I really enjoyed the experience.Enjoy a great day Denmark Is Officially The Happiest Nation On Earth When Helen Russell Is Forced To Move To Rural Jutland, Can She Discover The Secrets Of Their Happiness Or Will The Long, Dark Winters And Pickled Herring Take Their Toll A Year Of Living Danishly Looks At Where The Danes Get It Right, Where They Get It Wrong, And How We Might Just Benefit From Living A Little Danishly Ourselves I can t seem to stop talking about The Year of Living Danishly This memoir about living in Denmark for a year suited me perfectly The author moved to Denmark from England with her husband Each chapter takes place during a different month in the year and focuses on a different theme She mixes her own experiences with interviews and research She talks about work, money, the weather, taxes, education, raising children, entertaining, etc She has a great self deprecating sense of humour Underlying the book is a basic question about what makes for a happy life Intelligent, funny and timely.And the audio was lovely as read by a narrator with a lively British accent. Another truly FABULOUS book Slightly whimsical and funny than a normal read for me and it genuinely made me really laugh out loud which never happens to me I m so glad I read this, and I will have thoughts on this when I m awake For now, solid 5 again so good Full review So this book is a non fiction recounting of the year when Helen Russell and her husband Lego Man went on a life changing adventure into the unknown wilds of Denmark Russell has a way of writing which both captures the mind and makes you hook into the story It reads almost like fiction, but actually everything that Russell mentions is real and she s a journalist who has done a fair bit of research into everything.her main aim To find out why the Danes are so happy in a grey country where there s a lot of cold and darknessWhat I truly loved about this book was that there were moments where I truly laughed out loud and this very rarely happens for me when reading Sometimes I read and smile or cry, depending on the book and how invested I am, but I think humour is a little personal and sometimes humour just dons t come through to me This book was constantly making me smile, but there was one particular moment involving a lamp and birds in a bedroom where I just burst out laughing bear in mind it was 1am and I was staying up to finish this too It s hilarious, witty, funny and enchanting, and that is the theme of the whole narrative.I just loved this, I wouldn t say it s made me want to move to Denmark, but I do wish I could experience Hygge, and I also think it sounds like a cool place to visit Also, Legoland HQ sounds like such a fun place to work according to Lego Man himself and the office antics 5 s and a book I d thoroughly recommend reading even if you have no interest in going to Denmark becuase it s a really fun book either way and is wonderfully told I m green with envy after reading this book Denmark sounds like a nordic Celestial Kingdom Everyone thinks I m nuts but I love the short, cold, winter days This whole Hygge thing is right up my street Everything sounds amazing over there in Denmark, YES, that includes their whole tax you like crazy but give you amazing quality childcare, education, etc., etc., etc system This book is well written, entertaining, and smart Helen Russell perfectly balances her personal memoir with a very informative and interesting non fictional account of life in Denmark I really couldn t put it down 5 stars. If you are interested in Danish culture, this is an enlightening, informative and entertaining book that is worth a look or ear as in my case The narrator for the audio book does an outstanding job.For me, this book doesn t really read like other non fiction books The author does cite a number of statistics but doesn t bury the reader with study after study of research references She approaches the subject matter, why Danes are the happiest people in the world, with first hand experience as well as research She writes of her s and her husband s experiences with a good amount of dry English humor.The author and her husband worked for years in the London rat race, when the husband referred to in the book as Legoman has an opportunity to work for a year for the famous Lego toy company in Denmark The couple decide to move and the journalist wife decides she can work freelance on a project on what makes Danes so happy Neither person knows the language of their new home for the next year They start off from square one I won t go to into the book except on one topic Danish pastry The author sold me on the concept that fresh baked authentic Danish pastry is really really good.I think the book is very well written and uncovers the pros and cons of living Danishly A Year of Living Danishly is a fascinating and enlightening topic that is worthwhile reading Highly recommended. This is one of those books that I personally really liked, but I m pretty sure you re only going to like it if you have an interesting in learning about the Danish people or your own people, if you re a Dane This book speaks about traditions and way of living in Denmark, and it investigates why it is that Danes are the happiest people on Earth.Being a Dane myself, I agreed with a lot of the things that Helen Russell finds out during her year here, and especially the beginning with it s great discoveries and sassy commentaries on the Danish way of living cracked me up There were some inaccuracies at some points, but they were very few Also, I was mildly irritated with how Russell calls every Dane she meets under the name of Viking and claims that we re proud of it All in all, I loved how this book opened up my eyes to my own people and put words on what we re really like That s why I think this book was a success and a must read for everyone who wants to get to know us Vikings better. Ehhhh In some ways, this book delivered exactly what it set out to do, so I don t feel like I should rag on it too much But, by the same token, my real and honest review of this would be 72pt pink sparkletext that reads A N N O Y I N G Because, my god, this book is annoying Smug Helen Russell leaves behind her smug London life as a smug magazine writer to smugly travel to Denmark and live there sooooo smugly for a year Have I used the word smug enough yet SMUG I suppose it s no surprise, since Russell is was a lifestyle magazine writer, but The Year Of Living Danishly is all surface and no substance At no point did I emotionally connect with any of her adventures, because everything s slathered with cutesy alliteration and half baked jokes that aren t even half funny.Worse still is the fact that at some point Russell came up with the idea that her year spent living abroad would be a quest for happiness in a country that regularly ranks as the world s happiest Even setting aside the fact that Russell s loving husband, cute dog, health, wealth and unstrenuous job somehow do not make her happy , this wafer thin premise means that whenever she finds out any fact about Denmark Danes pay a lot of taxes Danes join a lot of clubs , she follows this factlet with, maybe that s why they re so happy It s repetitious bordering on mental torture.Sure, Danishly makes for a decent enough vicarious holiday and I learned a few wikifacts about Denmark But it also made me realise that a memoir sinks or soars on the basis of its characterisation Even after 12 hours in their audiobook company, I couldn t tell you a damn thing about Russell, her husband, or her assortment of Danish friends At some point, she MUST have told us who buddies Viking Man and Helena C are, but I guess I missed it and, thereafter, these cardboard cutouts amble frequently into the narrative, yet give absolutely no hint of internal life WHO ARE YOU, HELENA C In conclusion no. Apparently, genetics do count for a great deal I may be only half Danish in ancestry, but I have somehow come to enjoy many of the same things that the Danes do I m glad to know that there are other people out there who light the long winter nights with plenty of candles As an enthusiastic consumer of coffee and wine, I am living up to my genetic heritage And I must confess that I cook and eat a great deal of pork and potatoes, so I have that in common with the people of Sticksville On Sea, where the author lives Combine that with a love of spending time with my family, and I think I would fit in rather well in rural Denmark I have been practicing hygge without knowing it.I liked the author s light hearted way of looking at her Danish adventure Her nicknames for those about her match a tendency of my own to bestow monikers known only to myself on the people around me While she has Friendly Neighbour, American Mother, and the Viking, however, I have Monkey Boy he climbed up the balconies on our building when he forgot his keys , Spatially Challenged Woman with Big Truck who has thankfully moved , and Peking Man who rather resembled a caveman and spent a lot of time peering out of his venetian blinds I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but the exploits of Ms Russell s dog had me in tears on a couple of occasions, I laughed so hard Perhaps I was a trifle over tired Like many other facets of life, Danes consider dogs to be fine if they are well trained and well controlled Unlike this particular British dog, which mortifies his owners on a regular basis with his uncontrolled antics.Russell doesn t shrink from telling the not so wonderful parts of living in Denmark either the subtle and not so subtle sexism, the rather self congratulatory assumption that their way of life is superior to the rest of the world, and the problems accepting outsiders Like Iceland, Danes are all quite closely related compared to other countries and they have some issues with those who are not like them But even a country as multicultural as Canada struggles with that issue By and large, the problems seem to be well balanced with the advantages Denmark s problems are definitely first world problems.It seems that most of the Danes who were restless moved to other countries long ago, and left behind those who enjoy the quiet pleasures I know I will be living life a bit consciously Danishly from now on.