By the time everyone had learned to pronounce hygge, a Danish word connoting comfort and contentment that became a bona fide lifestyle trend, publishers were on the lookout for the next self-care watchword.
“We’re searching for other ways to live,” says John Siciliano, executive editor at Penguin Books and Penguin Classics. “People are deeply unhappy, and that helps to explain why there’s been this explosion in publishing global lifestyle. Readers are clearly responding to these books in a way that says they’re looking for other models.”
Titles rounded up here suggest new points on the map where readers may find the secrets to happiness, resilience, and success.
The Art of Making Memories
Meik Wiking. Morrow, Oct.
The CEO of Copenhagen’s Happiness Institute blends personal anecdotes with research takeaways in his third book, which follows 2017’s The Little Book of Hygge (200,000 print copies sold, per NPD BookScan) and 2018’s The Little Book of Lykke. Wiking asked people to describe happy memories in his latest global study; responses came from 75 countries. Though the specifics may differ from one culture to the next, meaningful, emotional experiences that engage the senses are the foundation of happy memories the world over, Wiking writes. “We might be Danish, Korean or South African, but we are first and foremost human.”
Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, trans. from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle. Penguin Life, Jan. 2020
Tracing the concept of ichigo ichie, which recognizes the fleeting uniqueness of each moment, to a 16th-century Japanese tea ceremony master, García and Miralles show readers how to approach even the most mundane experience in a way that engages all five senses, without regard for the past or future. Their previous book, 2017’s Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, has sold 50,000 print copies, per BookScan.
Laura Weir, illus. by Rose Electra Harris. HarperOne, Nov.
Weir delights in simple pleasures, many of which revolve around staying warm during a drizzly chill, in this “winsome, particularly British riff on the hygge craze,” PW’s review said. Harris’s illustrations, reminiscent of Quentin Blake, match Weir’s Roald Dahl–like observations. “The more rom-com the rain, the better the catalyst for cosy,” Weir writes, setting up her meditations on the perfect cuppa, cable-knit sweaters, and the precise temperature for a bath worth lingering in.
Tomás Navarro, trans. from the Spanish by Jennifer Adcock. Sounds True, Nov.
When Navarro, a psychologist in Spain, noticed that many of his patients referred to themselves as “broken,” it got him thinking about kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery with visible golden pigment. He began incorporating into his practice the concept of illuminating, rather than obscuring, scars, and likewise uses kintsugi “as a metaphor for personal healing in his approachable debut,” PW’s review said.
Euny Hong. Penguin Books, Nov.
Roughly translated as “eye measure,” nunchi is the art of sizing up the energy of a room with the goal of building connections and improving relationships. Interspersing cultural history with nunchi dos and don’ts—scenarios include buying a house and sharing a meal—Hong, a Korean-American journalist and the author of 2014’s The Birth of Korean Cool, makes the case to Western readers for more silent observation and fewer dramatic entrances in what PW’s review called a “deceptively simple yet profoundly wise guide.”
A version of this article appeared in the 10/14/2019 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: International Aid: Self-Help Books 2019–2020