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How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark
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How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,119 ratings  ·  160 reviews
What links Sarah Lund and Lars von Trier? Or Carlsberg and Kierkegaard? Or even Shakespeare and Metallica? The answer lies in Denmark, the country that has gripped the British imagination more than any other in recent memory. But though we watch their TV series, wear their jumpers, and play with their toys, how much do we really know about the Danes themselves?

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Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Atria Books/Marble Arch Press (first published October 2012)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having lived in Denmark for some time, I was very eager to read this book. It was not exactly what I imagined it to be but was enjoyable /educational nonetheless.

I did not agree with everything Kingsley professed; I did have to remind myself I have not lived there for 20 years. Yet, the author’s discussion of hyggelig brought so many happy and cozy memories. Was very glad he mentioned it as Danes do take great pride in creating an atmosphere that is warm, cozy, welcoming, hospitable and filled w
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Did this book teach me to be Danish - no, that is just a clickbait title. This book is a gap toothed impression of Denmark today.

Here are some highlights:

“Since 1980, their economy has grown by 70%, while their electricity usage has stayed the same. Copenhagen wants to become the firs carbon-neutral capital...”

“To smooth the way, the state government has introduced a 180% tax on car sales. An integrated public transport system also helps, as does cycling infrastructure.”

“74% of Danish mothers w
Frk. Hyms
One of the things I love is hearing people from other countries and cultures talk about Denmark – my small, but lovely country. The different opinions, the general assumptions and the (mainly) nice things people say make me happy, make me laugh and they make me proud. I knew, I had to read Patrick Kingsley’s book – if for no other reason than to see how much I could recognize.

Unfortunately (for me), I know less about Denmark than he does and I actually find that kind of embarrassing. But I don’
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You should probably just watch Anthony Bourdain's Copenhagen episode of Parts Unknown or read Being Danish. ...more
Christine Spoors
It was really interesting to read about Denmark and the Danish from the POV of someone from the UK, as previously I’ve read about Denmark from the POV of Danes.

This was a very interesting book covering a variety of topics from the Nordic food revolution to the issues of immigration. I liked that this book showed both the good and the bad sides to the country and attempted to explain both throughout.

I definitely recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about Denmark, I recently got back from a t
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breezy, but pithy. Fascinating snapshot of modern Denmark, in all its hygge glory. Good, thought-provoking insights on the travails of community-minded Danes' coming to grips with multiculturalism, being exceptional, and maintaining their core cultural values in this rapidly globalized new era. ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
B O R I N G.
3.5 stars

This review is based on an ARC received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. Below is the scale I use in rating books.

Provides a highly informative and easily read introduction to life in modern Denmark, from the culinary trends and green living to immigration and the welfare state.

full review
Author Patrick Kingsley certainly seems to know what he's talking about when it comes to modern Denmark. In his informal na
Sleepless Dreamer
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a really short read. It took me about an hour to get through the whole thing. Totally slaying the reading challenge this year.

I had hoped to read a book about each city/ country I'd visit during my trip in Europe so this is my read for Denmark, although I read The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well not too long ago.

Anyway, there's something about countries and their cultures that strike me as entirely laughable, as fake and made up. Like yeah, as an Israeli, I'll joke ab
Jeffrey Howard
Kingsley is an international journalist writing this book primarily for a British audience. It's an easy read with 8 chapters which dip into several key aspects of the Danish culture. It's the first book for the young journalist, but it reads like something from a more seasoned writer. It was well-researched, witty, and insightful.

Denmark, like its Nordic siblings, is en vogue. From its bike-centered cities, folk high schools, New Nordic Cuisine, to tv/film exports--and of course, the hoopla ab
Alys Grey
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Patrick Kingsley offers up a little for everyone in "How to Be Danish." While Danish architecture and design aren't my milieu, I particularly enjoyed the chapters on education, immigration, energy, and transportation (read: cycling). He also includes all sorts of interesting tidbits; I found his exploration of Danish knitting (by way of Danish television exports) surprisingly engaging.

Kingsley isn't Danish and as such his perspective may be expected to differ in meaningful ways from that of a Da
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory-of-bloom
Something is cool in the state of Denmark

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-ebooks
Like other scandinavian countries, Denmark has been seen as a welfare state utopia, with its generous entitlements from cradle to grave. However, Denmark is more than that. With the world become more integrated, Denmark faces many contradictions. While its politics are centrists for most of the time, the third largest political party is a far-right party, which without its support, the ruling party would face a hard time governing. It is remarkably liberal, with legalization of same-sex marriage ...more
Patrick Kingsley is a young British journalist whose short study of Danish society today has the advantage of being written by an outsider. He observations about key issues in Denmark today -- immigration, the welfare state's economy, internationally Danish TV shows, New Nordic Cuisine among them -- are well researched and presented in an engaging manner. I'm not sure everyone in Denmark will agree with all of his conclusions, but in typical Danish fashion I'm certain there will be lively discus ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
well. I slogged through this, then skimmed a bunch. The beginning of the book made me think it was going to a fun quick read, but the chapters on politics and the killing were so slow going for me I ended up skimming. This book was more a highlight of current topics in Denmark than a "how to be danish". Not bad, but not what I expected.

I found it interesting that just like other countries, Denmark has a problem accepting immagrants and has a problem with racism. Although, they don't like to admi
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like (I imagine) many of the readers of this book I was inspired to learn more about Denmark by a combination of glowing international reports on its commitment to egalitarianism and the sombre and complex brilliance of 'The Killing'. More a collection of extended magazine articles than a book which must be read from page 1 to page 180, this thoroughly entertaining book is superb for those looking for an introduction to several key aspects of modern Danish society. Highly recommended. ...more
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brief overview of what outsiders would consider 'Danish' - design, the welfare state, a closely-held monoculture, dark crime shows - that whets the appetite for more serious reading.

The book doesn't claim to have all the answers, or anywhere near a complete portrait, but it's remarkable to read a little about approaches that seem to have succeeded where our own systems may falter.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading books in preparation for my trip to Denmark. This is eclectic and I have no sense of it as a scholarly book, but the ad box observations (based on the author’s travels and popular culture) gave me fun “hooks” for bits of pop culture knowledge on my own trip.
Sarah Clifford
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History, travel tips, pop-culture references - This books covers it all.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture
Denmark is the country of the moment. This book explains why and how to be Danish.
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting, easy to read, well written. The past and the present of Denmark in less than 200 pages. I totally recommend it!
Nicki Markus
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
How to be Danish is a fun and interesting read for anyone interested in Denmark's people and culture. ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
A fun short book on various aspects of living in Denmark.
Rasmus Raspel
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
A quick overview nothing top special but simple to read and presents the general idea about the Danish mentality and culture
Vaiomo ♡
Nov 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Idk why I even gave this 2 stars before looking back this is more of a 1'er ...more
Katrina Sark
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Work Well, Play Well: A Scandinavian Education

p.20 – Danish students are in a sense paid to go to university: they receive around £500 a month in living expenses. It’s a different mentality. Students aren’t seen as a burden on the state, but as people whose skills will one day support it. They’re future participant in Danish life, and they’re treated as such. Every effort is made to make them better able to participate. In Denmark, a well-rounded personality is seen as a key component of this ab
Stephen Porter
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book while on vacation in Denmark and it was perfect for that. As the author says in the intro, it’s not really about “how to be Danish”. It is, however, a good book about modern Danish culture - entertaining and informative. Not to heavy on the history, but enough to put everything in context.
Rob and Liz
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book while visiting Denmark. The book helped me to understand a little more about my Danish friends and provided good material for dinner conversations. It's not the most compelling read but it is filled with fun facts and interesting conversations with leaders of Danish society. ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know more about Danishness and Scandinavian culture in general, read “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Michael Booth. That book, I read before moving to Denmark, and still think about regularly.

Not this.

In contrast, Kingsley’s “How to be Danish,” at a mere 180 pages bloated by random and not particularly helpful illustrations, reads more like parachute journalism. Kingsley tries to get to the heart of Danishness through several aspects of recent culture, but never really goes
Soobie's scared

I've never lived in Denmark. I've only Inter-railed there back in 2000. Jeez, 17 years ago... I remember buying a Danish version of Welcome to Dead House (I still have it!) and admiring the Danes because their cigarettes cost a huge amount of money. But this book popped up as a suggestion and I bought it.

SIGH! I really like the starting point: Danish TV series but I didn't like the road the author took to describe Denmark. The chapter about schools was OK. The one about food was loooong an
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Patrick Kingsley is a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, and was previously the Guardian’s inaugural migration correspondent. An award-winning journalist, he has reported from more than twenty-five countries and is the author of THE NEW ODYSSEY and HOW TO BE DANISH.

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