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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Year of Living Danishly

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country - Helen Russell

8 years ago, I was working in the American office of a Danish company, waiting for the paperwork to go through on my transfer to Denmark, when I met my (now) husband and ended up moving to Australia instead.  I have a fair few friends there in Denmark and that decision was the sliding doors moment of my life in very significant ways.  No regrets, just a nagging suspicion that I'd like living in Europe a lot.

 

Dashing through the bookstore the other day (I was playing roulette with the parking meter) this book caught my eye from the bottom shelf of the recessed nook it was relegated to and I snatched it up - this might be a great way of finding out what it might have been like for me (from a cultural perspective) had I continued on through door #1.

 

The book is told from the perspective of a UK journalist who agreed to move to Denmark for one year so her husband could take a job with Lego and is split into 13 chapters, one for each month and one for Christmas.  Knowing nothing about the culture or the language, they transplant themselves to the wilds of Jutland (Billund, to be exact - I'd have lived in Aalborg, about 2 hours north) and the author decides to view the whole thing as an experiment:  could living "Danishly" help her find a more centered, balanced, and less stressful lifestyle?  Help her re-arrange her priorities?   

 

A funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud read that includes a deceptive amount of research and statistics - I enjoyed the whole thing.  It's longer than one might expect from a humorous memoir, but it's never boring.  Overall, the author is fair, relying on stats to make her comparisons, although she often makes Denmark sound rather cultish, with her numerous references to "The Danish Way" and there's a touch or two of demonising the good old USA but I'm coming to expect that anyway, and there's a lot less of it than there could be.

 

Entertaining and informative, at the end, I was left with the certainty that I could live there (they "overheat" their houses, so I'd actually stand a chance of being comfortable!) but I'd struggle with their level of faith and trust in their government (it's not wrong!, just dramatically different than the "challenge everything" ethos I was raised with).  But then again, I'd have 5 weeks of paid holiday to get over it...