When I was reading for lagom, I came across this recipe for ostkaka in Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way, by Anna Brones. It was translated to mean “cheesecake,” with a disclaimer that it’s not the American cheesecake. I have never eaten, seen, or heard of ostkaka before coming across this recipe, but I thought, “Why not make it myself?” Don’t I always have the best ideas?
For this special installment of our Scandinavian–themed month, we’re doing not one, not two, but THREE books on living lagom!
Living lagom is about finding balance in our lives. It’s about stopping when we’ve had enough (however we define “enough”). It’s about having just the right amount to be content. Whether it’s work-life balance, or balance with nature, or balance between solitude and community, lagom is about finding that balance for ourselves.
While lagom is about what’s the right balance for you, there are common tenets. After extensive research (reading three books on one topic for anything other than an academic paper is considered extensive these days!), I have narrowed down these tips for living lagom.
Continuing with the Scandinavian theme, we move on to The Little Book of Lykke the second book by Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge. Lykke (pronounced loo-kah) is the Danish word for “happiness,” and as a happiness researcher, Wiking should know what he’s talking about. Plus, we could all use a little lykke in our lives, right? Now that we know how to cozy up our homes and lives, let’s move on to bigger things, and demand happiness!
“Hygge has been called everything from ‘the art of creating intimacy,’ ‘coziness of the soul,’ and the ‘absence of annoyance,’ to ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,’ ‘cozy togetherness,’ and… ‘cocoa by candlelight’.”
By now, most everyone has heard of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). It’s a Danish concept, one of those words that don’t fully translate into English. I was drawn to it because I was trying to simplify my life; the values and principles are very similar to my own, things I’ve been working on this past year.
The Little Book of Hygge is pretty hygge itself (yes, I’m aware it’s a noun – consider it a stylistic choice). The pages are filled with warm, muted, faded shades of orange and blue. It’s an easy, cozy read – something to curl up with at the end of the day, something positive that doesn’t require too much energy, something that embodies how to hygge.
I have secrets, I have books, and now I have scones! I went through a phase at the turn of the decade when I read a lot of cozy mysteries. Like Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen Mysteries, Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion Mysteries – I had to look all of these up, I haven’t read any cozy mysteries since 2011. Though The Secret, Book, and Scone Society doesn’t exactly have the same feel as the ones mentioned. But I was very much attracted to the title; when you judge books by their covers, it encompasses much more than just the physical cover. I love books, I love scones, and secrets make literature oh so interesting/frustrating.
The Secret, Book, and Scone Society is about a fictional town with healing properties. Visitors come hoping to cure their ills. The story launches with an out-of-towner being killed. He ordered a scone from the baker and made an appointment with the bookstore owner, Nora, before being pushed off a cliff. The sheriff is pushing to rule his death a suicide. But the bookstore owner is doesn’t believe that, and neither does the baker. So they team up with two other friends to prove the murder.
“Stories are just like people. If you don’t approach them with an open mind and a healthy dose of respect, they won’t reveal their hidden selves to you. In that event, you’ll miss out on what they have to offer. You’ll walk through life an empty husk instead of a vibrant kaleidoscope of passion, wisdom, and experience.”