by | Dec 11, 2020 | The Writer's Life | 9 comments

by Carla Neggers

Winters are long, cold and dark in northern New England where I live, but they’re made not just bearable but enjoyable with the Danish art of hygge. It’s a concept—an intentional way of life, really—that’s gained international popularity. Pronounced “hue-guh,” hygge isn’t a word that translates easily into English. “In essence,” says Visit Denmark, “hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.”

A great place to incorporate hygge into our lives is a reading nook. I can and do read anytime, anywhere, but I love my reading nook experience. 

Here are a few hygge ideas for your own reading nook:


Nothing creates hygge like candles. A lot of candles. These days there are flameless versions that are (almost) as atmospheric but I’ve never tried them. I like to light candles and tuck in by the fire with a book. Pillar candles are my favorite but on particularly short winter days, I’ll often float a votive candle in my small Simon Pearce bowl. It doesn’t have to be dark to light candles. Or cold. A friend lights candles on her South Florida patio. 


Cold feet do not make for a cozy reading nook experience. Slip those toes into your favorite socks. I love my one pair of ultra-soft cashmere knee-socks. They’re a bit frayed but that adds to their hygge charms. There are all kinds of fun socks on the market perfect for enhancing your reading-nook experience. 

A comfy shawl or throw 

Snuggling under a soft, comfy shawl or throw with a book is definitely one of the good things in life! I curl up with a handmade Irish shawl. It reminds me of picking out with my husband at a favorite shop on the southwest Irish coast, run by a woman who’s become a friend, adding to its hygge qualities. But I love my ragged fleece throws, too. Key is comfort and cocooning. We want to read, not fuss with a shawl or throw, right?

A hot drink 

Hot mulled cider, hot mulled wine, hot chocolate or hot tea enhance an afternoon or evening curled up in our reading nook. It’s a great time to grab that pottery mug you love but don’t use often enough. Making reading time an experience is what it’s about. Check out my hot mulled cider recipe below.

An absorbing book 

Candles lit, fire crackling, hot beverage at our side and socks and throw keeping us warm and cozy, we’re ready to dive into an absorbing book. Savor the characters, the descriptions, the sense of place, the plot twists, the writing. It’s an opportunity to discover or rediscover such authors as P.D. James, Elizabeth George, JRR Tolkien, Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child, Ken Follett and many of the writers interviewed and recommended here, or finally dive into that thick biography on your TBR pile. 

Here’s my recipe for hot mulled cider:

2 quarts fresh apple cider

2–3 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

½ teaspoon whole allspice

¼ small orange

Dash of grated nutmeg 

¼ cup brown sugar (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes. Strain spices and serve. You can combine the spices into a cheesecloth to create a bag and simmer with the cider. You can also heat the mulled cider in a slow cooker. 

Hygge works whether you’re in a warm or cold climate or season. Here are some tips for warm-weather hygge: www.hyggelife.com/blogs/news/hygge-in-the-summer

What’s your favorite spot to read? What says hygge to you? Are you trying anything new this winter? Let us know!

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  1. Rogue Women Writers

    When I started to read this blog about hygge – my first reaction was: maybe she's talking about a hug. But no, it's about finding a great place to read. I confess I have several spots (but none involve hot cider). First, I read while on my exercise bike – yes, it makes the time on the bike go faster. Second, I read in bed, and third, I don't exactly read, I listen to an audio book in the car….that way I have three different stories going on at the same time – trying to keep all the characters straight…but I love all three "venues." Thanks, Carla, for the additional suggestions….Karna Small Bodman

  2. Gayle Lynds

    I'm enchanted by hygge, Carla. You're in Vermont, and I'm in Maine, and oh my goodness a warm and inviting atmosphere in the winter is so necessary! Also, the book nook. I no longer have one, but now I'm going to look around my house to see whether I can create one. Thank you for a wonderful blog!

  3. Jenny Milchman

    Oh, here is just nothing better. I remember my first hygge–on a window seat–very Gothic. I was reading Jane Eyre. What a great post!

  4. Lisa Black

    I love this idea! I was about to whine that what can I do when I live where it rarely goes under 70 degrees, then I clicked on the link about warm weather hygges!!

  5. Carla Neggers

    Three stories at a time! I’ve been known to miss exits while listening to audio books but they are wonderful on long drives especially.

  6. Carla Neggers

    Thanks, Gayle. A nook helps on these northern New England winter days!

  7. Carla Neggers

    I love this, reading Jane Eyre on a window seat (hope it had a cozy cushion!).

  8. Carla Neggers

    Hope you have fun with it. One of my favorite hygge experiences was in South Florida.

  9. Chris Goff

    OMG, you just made me place and order with my King Soopers pick up for the ingredients for the Cider. Cannot wait!!! I've always loved a book nook. Our old house actually had it's own library with cozy reading chairs. The condo has the bookshelves. A little rearrangement of the furniture and I'm there.