Recent reads: girl up and get happy.

I recently discovered A Great Read, this amazing site dedicated to selling books to us, the die-hard book lovers, at a significantly lower cost than your local high street book shop. Now, you may wonder why I'm looking at any other book seller at the moment, given that I get mad discount at my workplace, but actually some of the deals on this site worked out as even better than what I could get with my precious staff card at work! 

So this is where I went for the two books I'll be mentioning/raving about in this post; 'Girl Up' by the legendary Laura Bates, and 'The Little Book of Hygge' by Meik Wiking, a guide to the carefree and content way the Danish folk live their lives. 

First, we'll look at 'Girl Up'.
I'll keep this review short and sweet (very unlike me, in terms of writing and physical being) because there really is just this one thing to communicate: READ. THIS. BOOK. (ASAP. PLZ.)
It's safe to say I write my fair share of book reviews in blog posts, yes. BUT I rarely full-on force my readers to grab a book immediately and cling on so hard and never let go. Y'know? So therefore you must all take this instruction quite seriously.

I first discovered Laura Bates, as I'm sure many women did, through her Everyday Sexism project. I stumbled across the hashtag on Twitter, #EverydaySexism, and was astonished. Because whoa, women everywhere are experiencing the absolute worst kinds of hateful and misogynistic behaviour from all kinds of people – it isn't just me.
Of course, I bought that first book. It sits in pride of place on my non-fic shelf, alongside several other excellent pieces of feminist literature. For some reason though, I kept seeing 'Girl Up' at work (on a table in the Smart Thinking section, hell yes) and in friends' Instagram snaps, and not buying it. I genuinely believe that was because I knew I'd love it; I knew I needed it in my life at a time when I could give it the time and attention it deserved. Or maybe I was waiting to come across A Great Read and snatch it up from them... 

'Girl Up' covers everything. I mean it. Every damn thing about being a young woman in today's society. Peer pressure, bullying, mental health, relationships, sexuality, actual sex, pornography, proper genitalia, mass media and SO MUCH MORE.
The first chapter on social media and its influence on us is entitled 'Fakebook, Fitter and Instaglam'. I mean, yes. Sold.

What I really loved was how I was able to read the book in Laura Bates' perfectly unique voice – maybe because I'd recently listened to her interview with Emma Gannon on the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast, but also because the book is written in that way, that awesome way, that makes you feel it's just for you, and a friend has written it. No bullshit, either. 100% real and honest and true. 

The book is also beautifully put together. Blunt and bright cover art is totally the way to my heart. Seeing the recommendation from Emma Watson before the introduction got me even more excited than I already was – and the artwork on the inside cover is, well, sublime. 

I plan on keeping this book close for a very long time, and if I ever decide to have kids you can bet they'll be getting a schooling from it. Of course, by then, Laura Bates will be in some position of supreme power and her messages will be streaming across the globe 24/7 – I hope so, anyway.
So thank you, Laura. Mwah. 

(Whoops, this wasn't as short as I'd planned. It's rather sweet though, right?)

The next book I'll be talking about is 'The Little Book of Hygge (The Danish Way to Live Well)', by Meik Wiking (from The Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen).
I sometimes cover in The Rye Bookshop (hold on, this is relevant) when Waterstones Hastings doesn't need me, and I am always stunned by the difference in appearance (it's approximately 1/10th of the size of the Hastings store, and quite a bit more chic tbh) and even more so by the difference in customers. Books that hardly ever see the light of day and escape the shopping centre in my usual workplace and out in the front display in Rye, and are snapped up quick. Although the Hygge hype has been big in both stores, to be fair, in Rye it has its own table. One petite set-up near the non-fic shelves there, the Hygge literature sits alongside several hand warmer cushions, scented candles, city guides and 'The Year of Living Danishly'. Hygge is a big deal. And I'm all for it. 

(The table in The Rye Bookshop; ta for the photo, Lizzie!)

Now, I will start with a confession: I, like many others it turns out, at first had no clue how to pronounce 'Hygge'. The phenomenon was coming at me full pelt, and I was welcoming it in, and yet...the pronunciation was the only grey area for me. I assumed it sounded like simply 'higg'. My bookseller friend was convinced it was 'hugguh'. A friend insisted it was how it looked; 'hyyyy-geee'. I of course Googled it to find it is in fact 'hoo-guh'. There are some lovely videos of Danes explaining the term, and I think I got the feeling just from seeing them speak about it. Seeing the true happiness that they possess and we so crave ignite and shine in their eyes.
Anyway, I needn't have concerned myself with the matter of pronunciation. Because here's the first page...

That's right, the lovely author says to us straight away, in the introduction, that we don't need to concern ourselves with the correct way to say Hygge. Because 'you don't spell it, you feel it'. N'aww. 

My personal favourite bits of this book were: the Hot Drinks pages within the fourth chapter 'Food and Drink'; the Danish hair rules 'casual to the point of being borderline lazy'; the Danish home decoration styles which boil down to books, blankets and cushions, ceramics, wood, vintage and above all tactile; the 'Hygge Emergency Kit' on page 134 (see below)...

I also adore the entire third chapter entitled 'Togetherness', especially the 'Socializing for Introverts' stuff. And one cute sub-section within that on how to make memories. And the graphs representing activities happiness ratings vs hours spent doing them (sex gets the highest happiness rating, lowest time spent; work has the lowest happiness rating and highest amount of time...let that sink in, guys). 

Something else I loved in this book: ALL OF THE PHOTOS. My goodness, the photography was warm and kind and gentle, but then there was also some crisp and exciting glimmers in there too. The city of Copenhagen is beyond awesome, as are Danish home interiors, as are the fashion trends, as are the animals, as are the families, and the photos show us all of that.

I implore all of you readers to give these books a spin ASAP. Get educated about womankind, and then bring on the unique Danish happy vibes. 
(And while as a chain store bookseller I couldn't possibly encourage you to use a beautiful discount webby......check out A Great Read, guys. Do it.)


  1. Oh, these books sound so fab. Girl Up and Everyday Sexism are two books I just HAVE to read soon. Michelle x


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