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Book Review: The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

A Year of Living Danishly book cover

Imagine a place where you could leave a sleeping baby in a car seat while you run into the grocery store knowing that they would be safe.  Or, what if you could quit your job in search of one that would make you happier knowing someone would take care of you in the meantime? What about a place where equality for women, minorities, and wage earners was real?  Imagine a place where employers strongly discouraged working a full 40 hour week so you could spend more time with your family.   In her book, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, Beth Russell uncovers a place where this all exists…….in Denmark.

When Beth Russell’s husband is offered a job at Lego, she and her husband must decide whether they want to move from fast-paced, cosmopolitan London to a job in a small city in Denmark.  Encouraged by her husband, Beth agrees to move to Denmark for a year and sets out on a project to uncover why the Danes are consistently ranked as the happiest countrymen in the world.

With brutal winters that only see 10 hours of light some weeks and taxes that can exceed 50% of your income, Denmark is not the first country many would consider to have such happy people.  But Beth starts to realize, these are some of the reasons that this little country of only 5 million people are so happy.

Russell does a great job of unveiling what life is really like in Denmark, even the not-so-great aspects.  Overall, The Year of Living Danishly is a great read that will make you consider how we could all live just a little bit happier if we live the Danish way.

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