10 books to help you explore Copenhagen

I wrote a while ago about fiction books based in Copenhagen or Denmark and today I thought I’d write about a selection of books which give you an insider view of Copenhagen. Although I have lived here a very long time I still enjoy reading these types of books, especially if they feature interviews or essays about the city. If you a new to the city these books are the perfect way to delve a little deeper into life here.

So here are 10 books to read about Copenhagen (in no particular order except size for the photo!)

Number 1 Wallpaper City Guide: Copenhagen

The Wallpaper Guides are a perennial guides to cities that not only look good on your shelves but also feature cool rather than fashionable places in the city. Concentrating on landmarks, hotels, 24 hour guides, urban life, architecture, shopping, sports and escapes outside the city they are perfect for both travellers and new locals.

Number 2 CitiX60 Copenhagen

This funky little guide features recommendations in the city from 60 local creatives. I found this guide refreshing as it doesn’t serve up the same old ‘hidden’ places as other guides. Just a question how many guides does a place have to be featured in before it is no longer a hidden gem?

Number 3 Copenhagen Green: The Guide

Copenhagen is a pretty green city but there are many more places to enjoy the outdoors and ‘green’ lifestyle than the usual spots. This guide will introduce you to a whole new aspect of the city.

Number 4 88 Sights in Copenhagen

The strapline of this book say it covers ‘the well known, less known and completely unknown’. It does exactly that and there are some fascinating places in the book that would otherwise remain hidden to you. A book to help you really explore the city. Look out for this book in various bookshops in the city, I got mine in the bookshop in Magasin.

Number 5 The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen

This is possibly my least favourite of the books here, simply because a lot of the places in the book are not really hidden. Nevertheless it lists fives of many different types of places in the city from food places to historical castles. It is a worthwhile addition to your bookshelves as a reference book to help you find places you need. But skip the 5 Danish phrases section as there are grammatical errors in the bit.

Number 6 Secret Copenhagen

Now here is a book that lives up to its title. I had heard of literally a fraction of the places in this guide and I am certainly going to explore the secret Copenhagen more with this book as my guide.

Number 7 Destination Copenhague

This is a beautiful little book of mainly photographs of the city with addresses of places featured. I love it as it really is ‘my’ city in the pages here.

Number 8 The Monocle Travel Guide: Copenhagen

This is also a guide with lists of places to visit, shop etc but also features a section of fascinating essays about the city and also some really interesting walking tours. This is a book to understand more about the culture of the city as well as places to go.

Number 9 Lost in Copenhagen

I simply love the typography of this series of city guides. This guide is the most hipsterish of the selection here as is shown by the fact the only two neighbourhoods it features are Vesterbro and Nørrebro. The interviews in the book really show you another side to the city  including ones with a Christiania resident, fashion designers, DJs and food bloggers, amongst others.

Number 10 Startup Guide Copenhagen

This is part of a series of guides about the startup scene in a number of cities and is the book to have if you are looking at starting up here or want to be part of that scene.

I picked all of these up in various shops around the city but most are available either via the links in the titles or via Amazon.

Six books set in Denmark to read this holiday

There are many books around at the moment about Danish life but there are others that I have read over the years that are worth loading up your bedside table with (or your Kindle) over the holidays.img_6929

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell

(Helen also has a new book out which I haven’t read but sounds interesting called  Leap Year: How to make big decisions, be more resilient and change your life for good.)

This book by Liz Jensen, My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, is a wonderfully imaginative fiction book set in part in Østerbro in the past. I love it and re-reading it living in Østerbro is fascinating.

If you enjoy crime then Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg is one for you. And this is another exciting book set in Denmark, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol. Both these authors are prolific writers so if you enjoy these there are many other books to read.

I know the hygge thing has been appropriated by the world but there are a couple of good books amongst the many out at the moment. I reviewed The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (and you can hear him being interviewed on this podcast) but I have also enjoyed Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg.

And don’t forget if you have a relocation on the cards in 2017 this book may be right up your street (shameless plug!)

Happy reading!

*this post does not contain affiliate links.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well – Review

I have been very aware that the Danish concept of hygge is reaching wider than our shores and I do have a fear that the media will over sell it and make it into this year’s mindfulness. However hygge is certainly something I value and allows me to slow down and enjoy life.  Hygge has a real place in life in Denmark and you can’t really interact with Danes without hearing about it on a daily basis. Even at the swimming pool last week I heard three twenty something women agreeing how hyggeligt their swim and sauna session had been.little book of hygge

I was asked by my Australian friend about which of the many books about hygge out this autumn she should read and after a quick perusal of the titles and contents I recommended The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well  by Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute (yes that really is a place and one I’d love to work at). It seemed to be the one that, to me, really summed up hygge.

Last week a reader here also recommended the book to me as it was written by a friend of his (by the way I love hearing from readers especially actual Danes and men!). I downloaded the book onto my Kindle app and got reading. I have to say I love it. It really sums up what I understand to be real hygge and it is funny and not a sugar-coated read at all. As something of an introvert at heart, I loved the connection Meik made between hygge and how introverts like to socialise. Being hygge is not about large busy crowds but small intimate groups. There are so many lovely messages in this book and even if you embrace a handful of them you will go someway towards a more relaxed life.

It made me feel warm and dare I say it, hyggelige, whilst reading it. So if you are curious about what hygge is all about and you only want to read about it in one book, make this one the one you read! Don’t forget to get your warm blanket and hot drink ready!


If you fancy really indulging in hygge there other books out now (search on Amazon for hygge and you will find them) or you can read what I said about it on the Huffington Post here.*

* This post contains affiliate links.

Getting hold of English books in Copenhagen

I am a huge reader and my son is fast taking after me with his love of books. After eight years of living out of the UK I still really miss being about to pop into a bookshop of a good browse. The good news is that books shops offering a good selection of English language books are on the increase in Copenhagen. So here is a short guide of the places I know that sell English books but please do leave me a comment if you know of others and I will add them in.


New Books

Books and Company – Sofievej 1, 2900 Hellerupbooks and coI have written about this bookshop before here and I still maintain that the selection here is outstanding and the assistance they give is amazing. Well worth the trek to Hellerup from the city.

ARK books – Møllegade 10, 2200 København NDSC00422Again this is a place I have written about here and if you are looking for more usual books or to try something new this is the place. Their motto is “Home of the best stories you’ve never heard”. Run by passionate volunteers who love literature its a great place to visit. They also run a selection of courses and events in English. There are other bookshops in this street which are also worth a visit if you can read Danish.

Palermo Hollywood – Jægersborggade 31, 2200 Copenhagen N

This is a little quirky boutique on the trendy Jægersborggade that carries an interesting selection of books by female authors. I have made some great discoveries here.

Thiemers Magasin – Tullinsgade 24, 1618 Copenhagen Vthiemers mainThis is another little independent bookshop with a small selection of English books, they also have book readings and events. Here is my post about this bookshop, located off Værnedamsvej.

Arnold Busck – Købmagergade 49, 1150 Copenhagen K

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This Danish bookshop chain has a huge shop on Købmagergade and carries probably the largest selection of English books, fiction and non fiction, in the city.

Magasin – Kongens Nytorv 13, 1095 Copenhagen K
The book department on the third floor at Kongens Nytorv has a selection of English adult fiction books.

Second-hand Bookshops

Rasmussen the book trader – Skindergade 23, 1159 Copenhagen K

This second-hand book shop has been around for years and if you have the patience to poke around its busy interior you may come out with a treasure.

Næste Runde at Riccos – Sluseholmen 28, 2450 CopenhagenDSC01215The Riccos coffee shop in Sluseholmen is home to a second-hand bookshop run by Næste Runde as well as selling great coffee. The books are sold by a separate business but you can pay for them at the counter. Again some interesting books here.


Public Libraries

The library system in Copenhagen has a central website where you can search for specific titles and either reserve them (if they are out on loan) or order them to be delivered to your closest library (if you have a CPR number). You can also return them there. The main library at Krystalgade 15 has a large English language section if you want to browse including a number of books for children and young adults.


Kindle books

If you are looking for Kindle books then you may not be able to buy them from the UK Amazon store but you can from the German one.


And thanks for my readers for the following suggestions:

Academic Books – online and at various University locations in the city.

Owl Books – this is a book rental scheme that you need to sign up to.

Book Swap in a Pub monthly meet up – details here.

Facebook group – Free your books

Cinnabar close to the round tower – The shop presents a handpicked selection of international, visually inspiring books on graphic design, illustration, architecture, street art, fashion and industrial design.

St Albans Church summer fete – check their website for details but it seems it takes place in June.

 

Coffee and books in Sluseholmen

There are two things in life I enjoy – a good cup of coffee and a good browse in a bookshop. Sadly living in a country where the native language is not my own, finding browsing opportunities is hard. There are some English bookshops here and they offer a reasonable selection (such as here, here and here) but I really want to see a bookshelf that looks like the one below to really delve into.DSC01215

So you can imagine my delight when I discovered this one at the back of Riccos in Sluseholmen. My new morning beat is completely new to me and all my old haunts for coffee after school drop off are not so convenient anymore. One of the mums at my son’s new school told me there was a coffee shop close by to the school so I headed off in the right direction and sure enough there it was. DSC01218

First of all some thoughts on the coffee shop itself.  Like most of you I was familiar with Riccos and have a few favourites already. such as the one on Strandboulevarden, so I knew the coffee would be good. This place has only been open since March this year and is currently the largest Riccos in the city. I like the way that each Riccos is different and fits with the vibe of the area and the building it is located in. Sluseholmen is a newly built area so they had a blank canvas to work on for the coffee shop and I love the cosy, arty but industrial feel of the place. It fits with the variation and modern feel in the area but also still manages to be hyggeligt (the most important box to tick in regard to Danish coffee houses!)DSC01221

But let’s get back to the vast floor to ceiling bookshelves. They are not for decoration but an enormous selection of new and secondhand books to buy. There are many shelves of English language books and loads I have never seen before but really want to discover – plus they are reasonably priced. I came away with this book, which I have never seen before but thought sounded interesting. The bookshop is operated by a third-party called Næste Runde, which was formerly a bookshop on Jægersborggade and still has a presence there in Rubæks Bøger, and the coffee shop staff take the money on their behalf.

IMG_1756Sluseholmen isn’t difficult to get to from the city centre and the number 14 bus stops almost outside Riccos or why not get the boat bus and enjoy a harbour ride on your way to get your next new read?

Address: Sluseholmen 28, 2450 Copenhagen

 

Open your eyes wide and stay curious – Destination Copenhague

Do you ever do that thing where you are browsing the internet – perhaps looking through your Twitter feed and you find yourself off on a tangent, discovering something wonderful and then completely forgetting how you got there? Well that is how I came upon Caroline Gomez’s Destination guides. Caroline is a French photographer and art director whose slightly enigmatic strapline is ‘slow and travel design’ and she has published a number of city guides about places across the world including Copenhagen and Berlin. Caroline’s website describes these as a collection of contemporary inspirational books about travel and lifestyle.DSC00712My curiosity was piqued so I, of course, ordered the Copenhagen one as I like to see how others interpret my city. I often read guides and articles about Copenhagen that seem to me to have been written without ever having been here. Destination Copenhague certainly does not fall into this category.

With her camera in hand, Caroline has found some of the best, hidden spots of the city as well as some better known ones. This book of photographs  shows the fascinating side of Copenhagen beyond the tourist spots  and really does invite you to explore the city. As the back of the book says – open your eyes wide and stay curious – a motto I very much live by. I now want to get my hands on some of her other books, particularly Berlin and Marrakech – one place I know well and another I have always had an enormous curiosity about.

If you also want to explore vicariously through Caroline or see how she saw your city this is her website.

Lykken er is – happiness is ice cream

And who can argue with that? With a country as obsessed with ice cream as Denmark is, I am sure this is a widely held sentiment.

On Friday I lured my son to a book signing with the promise of free ice cream. Maja Ambeck Vase and Anne au Chocolat were signing their beautiful new book, Lykken er is, at Cafe Nutid in the Latin Quarter. lykken er is - toppings

The ice cream was made from two of their recipes by Hansen’s and the little toppings bar was amazing. We tried both flavours – raspberry and nutella and were surprisingly moderate with the toppings as we really wanted to taste the ice cream. Both flavours got the thumbs up.lykken er is - booksI love to have books signed by the authors and it is wonderful to see the success these two talented ladies have achieved. I wish their publishers, Politikens Forlag, would consider bringing their books out in English, especially Lykken er Chokolade, as I am sure they would be a hit in the UK.lykken er is - signingI have had a flick through the book and many pages have been marked. I think our ice cream maker is going to be on overdrive this summer!

Ark Books and a literary street

As soon as I walked into the newish English book shop, Ark Books on Møllegade I was offered a fresh cup of coffee by the friendly young woman working in there. Books and a free coffee what more could you ask for? Møllegade, a little side street off the bustling thoroughfare of Nørrebrogade, has gained a reputation as a literary street with Ark Books joining Det Poetiske Bureaus Boghandel (a poetry bookshop), Møllegade Boghandel (selling new Nordic literature) and Literaturhaus, Denmark’s first live venue for literature in a formerly abandoned church offering a varied programme.DSC00427

 

The cosy but bight bookshop was opened as a not for profit shop by four young female literature students and sells a wide range of English language books. They are all books read and enjoyed by the volunteers and offer a different choice than you typically find in a mainstream bookshop. These girls are passionate about books! With mottos like ‘prose before hoes’ and ‘Home of the best stories you’ve never heard’ this is a unique place to come and browse away an hour and take something special home.ark2

 

After paying their costs the owners plough the remaining money into buying more books! The shop also runs a number of events including readings, workshops and chess evenings – it really is a vibrant location. To find out what’s on you can follow their Facebook page or on Twitter. Also the shop opens at 12 noon.DSC00422ark1

Address: Møllegade 10, 2200 København N

Website

New Grød cafe and cookbook

Grød, the Copenhagen (and maybe the first in the world) porridge cafe , has opened another small place on Guldbergsgade in Nørrebro, just a stone’s throw from Sankt Hans Torv. Blink and you miss it, this little cosy place serves the same menu as the other two outlets but the place has a slightly more bohemian atmosphere. It’s a lovely place to drop by for your porridge fix and Guldbergsgade is certainly a street worth exploring.DSC00429Also as part of the Grød ’empire’, Lasse Skjønning Andersen has written a second porridge cookbook and this time it is available in English as well as Danish. The photography in the book is by the talented Chris Tonnesen (@lachristus on Instagram) so if you want to try your hand at some exciting porridge dishes at home this is the book for you. Blurb in translated from Danish about the book says:

‘The cookbook is a collection of the best recipes we have tested since opening in 2011. In the book you will find both new interpretations of traditional porridge flavours of øllebrød , porridge and rice pudding , as well as more modern variants including roast pork bygotto, tiramisu porridge and Asian chicken rice porridge.’

You can buy the book in all three shops (you may want to check availability of the English version) or via the Grød website.

grod1DSC00435Address: Guldbergsgade 7a, 2200 København N

Website

 

Book review – A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

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I read this fantastic book last month and loved every bit of it. My friend in the UK sent me a copy of an interview with the author in Grazia and I immediately downloaded the book and got reading. My son was off school  sick  so I had plenty of time to devour it – in fact I read until 1am to finish it. It was refreshing to read a positive take on the expat experience.

Helen moves to Billund when her husband gets a job at, where else, Lego. Each chapter covers a month of her first year living Danishly and not only does she share her experiences but also a lot about Danish culture and traditions, which are very accurate (which isn’t always the case in these kind of books).

This book really spoke to me.  I loved it – for once it was a positive take on expat life here in Denmark. I found almost everything she said about her life in the UK when she made the decision to move here mirrored my feelings all those years ago (minus the trying for a baby bit). I do wonder if conceiving my son would have been so easy had I still be living the stressful life back in the UK.  I saw myself all those years ago in her descriptions of experiencing Danish life for the first time. It is a funny, intelligent and realistically positive book.

It is interesting how interested the British public are in life in Denmark since Danish crime hit the TV screen. Seven years ago people seemed to think I was moving to Holland, I doubt that would happen now.

I can really recommend this book if you are new to living in Denmark, it will give you a really positive feeling about the experience. In fact anyone with any interest in living in Denmark as an expat should read this -right now!

You can buy A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell on Amazon.