Over the weekend, my uncle stopped by with a book he wanted J and I to read. He had finished reading it, lent it to a friend who finished it in just a few days and was now bestowing it on us. It was called The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country by Helen Russell and J dove right in and started reading right away. He was instantly hooked, laughing and smiling and telling me little bits every few pages. Sunday, when he and Coco went up skiing for the day, I saw the book on the bookshelf and started reading it myself. I was also hooked. Theo and I spent a good portion of the day sitting together by the fire while he played with Legos and toys, or just sat and snuggled with me while I read. There may or may not have been an episode or two of Chuggington thrown in the mix.
I drank tea and flew through the chapters, unable to resist filling the book with little post-its covered in notes, or exclamation points, or stars, or hearts. There are so many places where she describes something and it's exactly how we felt in Switzerland. For example, just swap out Denmark for Switzerland in the following description of visiting Italy: "There is noise and color and passion in abundance. It is the antithesis of pared-down, ordered Denmark and we revel in its difference." It's as if she pulled that thought right out of my head. Then, she points out the ways that living in a country with a broad and buoyant safety net reduces stress and improves quality of life, and again, it's as if she's articulated the sense of insecurity and lack of safety that I've felt ever since getting back to the US. Russell's writing is warm and conversational, like chatting with an old friend over coffee. She makes me laugh out loud and nod appreciatively.
More than anything, reading the book makes me wish that I had been able to adopt her same approach to writing about our day-today while in Switzerland. It's a real talent to be able to recognize the differences between one's adopted home and home after they've become normal. The way she writes about the everyday adventures she's on in Denmark is inspiring, funny and entertaining. If you're looking for a quick and engaging read that gives an insight into Danish culture, politics and work-life balance, I highly recommend it.
And what are you reading these days? I'm always looking for reading material now that I'm not wasting all my time on Facebook anymore. ;) Thanks for sharing in the comments below! xo
(Photo of Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair via Avant-Scene on Flickr)