I’ve temporarily abandoned the Big Books I’m reading (the VR and Olympics ones) and naughtily skipped past Bruce Springsteen to pick off some lighter and BookCrossing ones, the latter so I can shore up our BookCrossing Zones with less work. So prepare yourselves for – shockingly – some out-of-order reading! This one, though, was bought along with “Spectacles” and can be seen in the latest TBR pic, near the front!

Helen Russell – “The Year of Living Danishly”

(29 April 2017, The Works)

Helen has a hectic life being a journalist in London, seeing her husband for a few minutes each evening before falling into an exhausted sleep. They’re also trying for a baby, and that’s not happening. But she has her mum nearby, a great group of friends, a social life and all the vibrant capital has to offer. Can she swap all this for a year in Denmark – and not even Copenhagen but seaside, empty Jutland, where the new foodie revolution has certainly not hit and most of her neighbours are retired? When her husband gets offered a job at Lego HQ, she gets the chance to find out – and write a book about it. Going freelance and with a more flexible life, Helen decides to concentrate her research on the “World’s Happiest Country” tag Denmark has apparently earned.

The book is well-structured, funny and honest. The chapters go through their experience month by month, but then also concentrate on a topic, for example food, sexism, education or taxation, as well as asking experts from that field how happy they are. Of course, Helen also talks about her neighbours and the friends she makes as they settle in. We follow their attempts to join clubs, learn the language and not break too many rules (there are many rules) in this engaging and fun but realistic and very readable book. I also enjoyed the bits of Danish included and their similarities to Icelandic, including the words for tax and teddy bear! A very enjoyable addition to the expat/immigrant experience literature.

 


Do you like reading about people’s experiences in new countries? What do you recommend?