Blog post

One book a month: January

January 31, 2019

Here’s the first of my one book a month posts, about The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell…One of the things I decided to do this year was read more books. Last year I read three, which was an improvement on the year before’s one-and-a-half, which is shocking considering pre-children I used to read about one a day and my degree should have been called ‘Reading millions of books in bed.’

This year I settled on the idea of reading one book a month – which is doable… right? – and thought I’d record it all for posterity. So here we go:

What book did you read in January? The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell.

(Thanks to my children for taking these photos of me ‘reading’ it!)

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

What’s it about? The Year of Living Danishly is about Helen, the author and magazine editor, moves from urban London to rural Denmark, when her husband gets a job with Lego. The book is split into 12 chapters – one per month – months and charts their discovery of Danish culture and attempts to integrate into society and make it home. There’s also a lovely surprise pregnancy sub-plot which means a big focus on how pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is done Denmark-style.

Why did you pick it? We were visiting the library for the children and it suddenly struck me that you can take out books for adults too (I KNOW! Who’d have thought?) I spied The Year of Living Danishly on a display about the ‘cool Nordics’ and vaguely remembered people discussing it when it came out.

(As an aside, when F goes to school I’ve decided I’m going to make trips to the library, just for me).

How easy is it to read around children? Actually, very. One of the reasons I’ve not read so much is that I generally get so absorbed in good books that I have to read them all straight away, which isn’t practical when you have to fetch snacks, make dinners and stop children from waving in the face of mild peril. The Year of Living Danishly is a book I loved reading and wanted to read all at once, but the chapters are quite distinct, so it was easy to put down.

What did you think? I loved this book, I thought it was fascinating and interesting and, honest and truthful, which made it, unlike the weather in Denmark, really warm. There’s a good mix of a story – about the first year the writer and her husband spend in Denmark – alongside history, facts and cultural insights. I loved all the mentions of Danish design. And yes, it did make me want to move there. I’m not sure I could cope with the cold, though.

I also found all the details about pregnancy and parenting really interesting. One thing that did surprise was I’d always thought children in Denmark didn’t go to school till seven, which is something I’ve talked about a lot with my friends when it’s school application time (as in a ‘Waaa, we should move to Denmark!’ type of way). This is true, but they don’t stay at home till then – they attend full-time subsidised nurseries and pre-schools from about six months (and according to the book, SAHMs aren’t really a thing).

Have you read The Year of Living Danishly; what did you think? Also what shall I read next?

What else have you read in January? Lots of frustrating things about Brexit / lots of brilliant vegan parent bloggers for a round-up on my work blog about, well, vegan parent bloggers / Brexit is just really depressing, isn’t it? I’ll be back again next month with another book.

3 Comments

  • Sarah Rooftops

    January 31, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    I was also surprised about the nursery thing – and a bit depressed by it. I’ve just read her follow up book, Leap Year (I think I said on Instagram?), which I enjoyed just as much. I love her writing style and her pop culture references are just the era for me!

  • The Reading Residence

    February 1, 2019 at 11:10 am

    You know I loved this book. I wanted to move to Denmark, too, but it was also the cold dark days that put me off!

  • Shirley

    February 1, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    In September you should set one day a week as a “me day” to charge your batteries and just sit and read

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