A person reading a book on a bed with a cat and a cup of coffee.

Recommended Reads, Trends

Get cozy: 12 books on hygge, niksen, ikigai & more for a balanced, happy life


Jan 16, 2024

I’m good at many things, but nothing isn’t one of them. A self-proclaimed multitasking overachiever, I don’t often take breaks until my body decides it’s time to take one for me (hello, exhaustion-inspired respiratory illness). While I’m learning busyness is no badge of honor, many cultures around the world have already discovered the mental and physical health benefits of a cozy, intentional, slower-paced lifestyle. The Danish light a candle and curl up on comfy cushions and the Swedes enjoy a twice-daily coffee ritual while the Japanese savor small moments like the morning air or a compliment.

All sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? As we embrace a fresh start in January, what better time to snuggle up in your home, give yourself a break and learn about how to live a more balanced, appreciative, enjoyable life? Especially when it’s all for free on the Libby app, thanks to your public library.


A Danish term, hygge is the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, such as being wrapped in a blanket, lighting candles or taking pleasure in food.

My Hygge HomeMy Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

An inspiring book about how to use space, light and Danish design to transform your home to fit your needs. With simple tips based on new research from The Happiness Institute in Copenhagen, this book explains the difference between space and size, the importance of lighting and how to foster better connections with our loved ones.

American CozyAmerican Cozy: Hygge-Inspired Ways to Create Comfort & Happiness by Stephanie Pedersen

The wildly popular phenomenon of hygge gets a warm American twist with this guide from the bestselling Danish-American author. Filled with charming four-color illustrations, it explores organization and home décor, entertaining, cooking, creating a happier life, de-cluttering and slowing down.

The Hygge LifeThe Hygge Life: Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes, Entertaining, Decorating, Simple Rituals, and Family Traditions by Gunnar Karl Gíslason

Equal parts cookbook and lifestyle guide, this cozy book shows you how to cultivate comfort and contentment and embrace life’s small pleasures. Recommendations include putting wool blankets and warm cider out for guests, building bonfires and making campfire bread to celebrate solstice.


Described as the Dutch art of doing nothing, niksen helps to relieve stress through idleness, such as staring at the trees or listening to music.

NiksenNiksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking

Perfect for anyone who feels overwhelmed, burnt out or exhausted, Niksen does not tell you to work harder. Instead, it shows you how to take a break from all the busyness while giving you sincere, heartfelt permission to do nothing.

The Happiest Kids in the WorldThe Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less by Rina Mae Acosta

Calling all stressed-out parents: Imagine a place where young children play unsupervised, don't do homework, have few scheduled activities and rank #1 worldwide in happiness and education. It's not a fantasy—it's the Netherlands! Discover their secrets in this book.

The Lost Art of Doing NothingThe Lost Art of Doing Nothing: How the Dutch Unwind with Niksen by Maartje Willems

A timely guide on how to make the most of your life when there's nothing to do, whether by choice or not, niksen is the Dutch philosophy teaching us how to rest and relax. It's the opposite of productivity, and it's incredibly good for you.


Swedes practice living a balanced, sustainable, low-fuss life by taking time to appreciate surroundings, taking breaks during the day, embracing minimalism in the home and wardrobe and treating others kindly.

LagomLagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

This charming book introduces readers to a new way of balanced living that promises happiness and sustainability in work and in life. Lagom provides simple solutions to juggle everyday priorities, reduce stress, eat well and save money, with lessons on the importance of downtime, being outdoors and Sweden's coffee break culture.

Live LagomLive Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way by Anna Brones

From home design and work-life balance, to personal well-being and environmental sustainability, the author presents valuable Swedish-inspired tips and actionable ways to create a more intentional, healthy lifestyle. Instead of thinking about how we can work less, lagom teaches us to think about how we can work better.


Translated as “a coffee and cake break,” this Swedish word is both a noun and a verb meaning a taking time out for a break with friends and treats at home or work.

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee BreakFika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats by Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall

An illustrated lifestyle cookbook on the Swedish tradition of fika—a twice-daily coffee break—including recipes for traditional baked goods, information and anecdotes about Swedish coffee culture and the roots and modern incarnations of this cherished custom.


Coming from the Finnish root word that implies “inner” or “inside,” sisu can be described in English with words like “willpower,” “courage” or “resilience.” It’s a mindset that can help you accomplish goals and find happiness.

The Finnish WayThe Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar

In this engaging and practical guide, journalist Katja Pantzar shows readers how to embrace the "keep it simple and sensible" daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest populations in the world, year after year, from cold water swimming to forest therapy to the Nordic diet.


Rooted in Japanese culture, ikigai is your own personal reason for being, and those who follow the concept undertake work, family and hobbies with willingness and a satisfying sense of meaning.

IkigaiIkigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles

According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai— a reason for living. And according to the residents of the Japanese village with the world's longest-living people, finding it is the key to a happier and longer life. Having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning. Because who doesn't want to find happiness in every day?

Awakening Your IkigaiAwakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day by Ken Mogi

Weaving together insights from Japanese history, philosophy and modern culture, Mogi skillfully shows the way to awaken your ikigai through five pillars that will help you make the most of each day and become your most authentic self.

*Title availability may vary by region.

Reading absolutely fits into a more relaxed, cozy and purposeful life. Start today by borrowing any of these books on the Libby app.


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


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