Are you planning on moving to Denmark? Do you love culture and history? Do you want to make an honest attempt at integrating into Danish society? Then you are just like us 🙂
The first couple of days we spent in Denmark I felt utterly out of place as I didn’t know nearly as much about Denmark and Danish culture as I wanted to. I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t know the food and I was lost when it came to the most simple things. I felt like an ignorant foreigner and was determined to change that! Naturally, you learn most about a country and its people by interacting with, well, people, but I needed something quicker with more tangible results.
The following four books about Denmark are what I ended up with. They serve as a nice and light introduction to Danish history, language, and culture. Perfect for one of these rainy Copenhagen afternoons 😉
1. A History of Denmark
by Palle Lauring
Okay, we’re starting heavy, but no gain without pain! This is one of the most comprehensive yet concise history books I have ever read (and mind you I studied history for 5 years). There are several other books about Danish history on the market, but this one starts from the beginning if you want. The other books I have come across have their starting point either in Medieval or Modern history, whereas Lauring also gives a pleasant introduction to the prehistoric and the Viking age. Only the last 30 pages are dedicated to modern Danish history, so if you want to know more about that I would perhaps recommend finding some supplemental reading 😉
2. How to be Danish
by Patrick Kingsley
This travelogue is such a delightful read, you will not regret buying it. It’s a humorous collection of observations from a British perspective which still resonates with other foreign readers. Kingsley touches several topics, such as food, design, TV, and politics. If you feel like a fish fresh out of the water, buy this book 🙂
3. The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well
by Meik Wiking
Now, what would Denmark be without hygge? I mean, everything here is just so hyggelig! Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has much to say on the topic. Hygge is such an essential concept in Denmark, it touches nearly all aspects of Danish society and everyday life. In his book, Wiking not only gives you the facts but helps you to make your own life hyggelig – for example by including deliciously Danish recipes!
4. The Little Book of Lykke – The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People
by Meik Wiking
Although Denmark recently lost the title of world’s happiest country to Finland, Danish Lykke is the buzzword of the year. Lykke is Danish for happiness, but it is also a state of mind. In his newest book, Meik Wiking explores what the rest of the world can learn from Denmark about personal fulfillment. It’s a modern discussion of the Scandinavian Model, an almost utopian approach to social care.
Bonus: 80 Fairy Tales
by Hans Christian Andersen
Ah, I had to throw this book into the mix. As you may or may not know, Hans Christian Andersen is a Danish writer famous for his fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid or The Ugly Duckling. I picked up this collection during one of our many day trips exploring the surroundings of Copenhagen. It includes more than enough reading material to fill gloomy evenings and looks fabulous on any bookshelf. How could your Danish collection be complete without this masterpiece?! <3
Now, what do you think? Would you add any other books to this list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!