Woman sitting in a chair on the beach, reading a book, in West Jutland

The best books about Denmark

Photo: Niclas Jessen

All the best non-fiction books about Denmark and being Danish. Find a comfortable spot and let’s get reading!

If you’re curious about Danish culture and lifestyle, we’re here to turn that interest into a full-blown love affair. From recipe books that can take you to the heart of New Nordic cuisine, to expat experiences, journalistic investigations into hygge and parenting guides, we’ve got the lot right here.

Danish recipe books

Noma: Time & Place in Nordic Cuisine – Rene Redzepi

When it was launched in 2010, the Wall Street Journal called ‘Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine’ the most important cookbook of the year. It’s still the key tome when it comes to cutting edge New Nordic cuisine, with 90 recipes and a full culinary philosophy expressed here about sourcing sustainable local ingredients and excerpts of Redzepi’s diary in the lead up to the launch of Noma, version 1. Olafur Eliasson provides the foreword.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation

Noma’s guide to fermentation deserves a little mention as well. Published in 2018, it was internationally heralded as one of the best cookbooks of the year, and it focuses on the very foundation of Noma’s cuisine, fermentation. From vinegar to kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha, there are some very gourmet expressions of this food style within the 100-plus recipes in the book, along with step by step instructions and illustrations.

Copenhagen Food by Trine Hahnemann

Chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann has been at the centre of food writing in Denmark, with over 10 Danish cookery books to her name. This book is part recipe book, part lifestyle guide, and takes you on a tour of Copenhagen’s best food markets, cafes, restaurants and more, with over 70 recipes to follow inspired by her foodie hotspots. If you like it, look up her English cookbooks ‘The Scandinavian Cookbook’ and ‘Scandinavian Baking’ next.

Copenhagen Cult Recipes by Christine Rudolph & Sisie Theodorou

From cinnamon buns to flødeboller, koldskål and a New Year’s kransekage, this delightful recipe book has all the best classic Danish recipes to follow so you can have a hyggeligt feast wherever you are. Warning: some images might inspire both hunger and extreme wanderlust.

Books about Danish lifestyle and culture

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

British journalist Helen Russell finds herself in Jutland thanks to her husband’s new job, and sets about finding out what it is that makes Danish people so happy. The story is partly an investigation into Danish society and what makes it work, and partly a warm and personal tale of a Londoner reassessing her values and finding new way of living abroad.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth

British journalist Michael Booth sets out on a mission to find out what makes people in the Nordic region tick. He’s married to a Dane and lives in Copenhagen so there is a Danish skew to all of this, which, along with his wry sense of humour, makes it a fun read and an insightful and lively portrait of our nearly perfect but flawed societies.

The Little Books of Hygge, Lykke and The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, the research associate for Denmark at the World Database of Happiness, and a founding member of the Latin American Network for Wellbeing and Quality of Life Policies. So when he’s talking about happiness, we listen. He’s written three books all connected with happiness, and they’ve been hugely popular all over the world.

How to be Danish by Patrick Kingsley

Journalist Patrick Kingsley gets to the heart of the matter with a book that is part-travelogue and part cultural history. How to be Danish is an introduction to the country behind Noma and Nordic Noir, and focuses on contemporary aspects of life in Denmark including architecture, design and politics.

The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl

How do you raise happy kids? An American mom living in Denmark finds out, with the help of her friends and family. This parenting guide examines the key principles that Danish parents employ to help their children grow up happy, with plenty of contrasts between this little country and the USA in particular.

How to Hygge by Signe Johansen

Subtitled ‘The Secrets of Nordic Living’, this book, written by a Norwegian chef, is all about the delights of Nordic life, including nature, food, hygge, kinship, interior design and more. It’s a one-stop guide -- with beautiful pictures -- to adding the joys of a Scandinavian lifestyle to your life.