Ask the book buyer about what to read to help rebalance and refocus your life


Do you know your Hygge from your Wabi Sabi? Learn to appreciate the small but vital things in life with a book that will help refocus your mind, says Jarrold book buyer Holly Ainley.  

Dear Reader,

It feels to me like an in-between time of year. You can no longer claim to have the January blues, but the joys of Spring are still a way off. Like me, you may be torn between wanting to spend your days hunkering down with a good book (we can help!) and knowing you ought to kick start those new year’s resolutions for self-improvement. This internal conflict can leave you feeling out of sorts, perhaps letting the days pass you by without appreciating the small but vital things in life.

Enter Lagom, Ikigai, Wabi Sabi and Hygge. No, not characters from a fantasy novel, but four recently popularised lifestyle philosophies that might just be the antidote to this sense of ‘in-betweenness’. Swedish, Japanese and Danish respectively, each philosophy has been exported to the U.K. via a bestselling book over the past few years and though each is distinctive, collectively they encourage and suggest ways for us to seek balance in our lives and refocus on those small but vital moments.

This past fortnight I’ve explored a guidebook to each philosophy (each from a different publisher but all pocket-sized and beautifully-produced with a calming, pastel-coloured cover) and have given each a review below. If you’re looking for it this month, I hope one of these might help you find your balance again (or your Lagom, Ikigai, Wabi Sabi or Hygge – whichever suits you best!)


The Little Book of Hygge

Meik Wiking

Penguin Life


‘The Danish way to live well’, Hygge is probably the most well-known of these lifestyle philosophies here in the U.K. Hygge is a feeling somewhere between ‘soothing’ and ‘being cosy’. With no actual dictionary definition, instead it’s something you apparently experience when part of a warm, home-like atmosphere. This little book has colour photographs and highlights include lots of delicious Danish, hygge-inducing recipes, graphs analysing some intriguing ‘happiness research’ and ideas for how to achieve Hygge inside and out, alone or with your loved ones.



Niki Brantmark



The Swedish art of living a balanced, happy life, Lagom is the epitome of balance – ‘not too much and not too little – just right’. For me this was the most accessible and digestible of the four philosophies, helped by the layout of the book. Again with colour photography throughout, Brantmark explains how to apply the principles of Lagom at home, work, school, with friends and through the seasons. What stood out is the focus on eco-friendly ideas, in the kitchen and garden or with travel and shopping. According to Lagom, being green adds to a greater sense of wellbeing and happiness.



Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles



The Japanese secret to a long and happy life, based on the principles of passion, mission, profession and vocation. No pictures here but fascinating insight into a philosophy that aims to bring meaning and joy to everyday life and in the process, help you to live longer. With practical advice for diet, movement and breathing in ways that promote strength and longevity, my favourite chapters in Ikigai included ‘lessons from Japan’s centenarians’ and ‘words of wisdom from the world’s longest-living people’, supercentenarians, or, those who are 110 year of age or older – amazing!


Wabi Sabi

Beth Kempton



Mentioned briefly in Ikigai, Wabi Sabi is a Japanese form of wisdom for living a ‘perfectly imperfect’ life, seeing beauty in and celebrating imperfection. Like Lagom, it respects the seasons and encourages us to reconnect with nature in order to achieve a simpler attitude to life. Kempton isn’t Japanese but has absorbed the culture and its traditions and her keenness to spread the word about this philosophy makes Wabi Sabi the most seriously-presented of the four books. It ranges from celebrating the process of ageing to the wonder of asking childlike questions. I’m sold.


Meet the Jarrold book buyer

Holly Ainley started her career in bookselling at an indepdenent bookshop in Brighton, since then she has worked as a literary scout and has worked in publishing as an editor. Here at Jarrold Holly brings an understanding of books and publishing from a variety of perspectives and she cannot wait to meet you to help make finding your next perfect read a magical experience. Holly and her team are available instore to help with all your book buying needs, so pop in, browse and say hello! 

Back to top