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‘Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well’ by Lola A. Akerstrom **

‘Perfect for fans of The Little Book of Hygge and Norwegian Wood, find the balance in life that is just right for you. Let Lola A. Akerstrom, Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm, be your companion to all things lagom.  As the Swedish proverb goes, ‘Lagom ar bast’ (The right amount is best). Lagom sums up the Swedish psyche and is the reason why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world with a healthy work-life balance and high standards of living.  Lagom is a way of living that promotes harmony. It celebrates fairness, moderation and being satisfied with and taking proper care of what you’ve got, including your well-being, relationships, and possessions. It’s not about having too little or too much but about fully inviting contentment into our lives through making optimal decisions. Who better than Lola A. Akerstrom to be your lagom guide? Sweden-based Lola is an award-winning writer, photographer , and editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm and she offers us a unique vantage point when it comes to adopting elements of a lagom lifestyle.Full of insights and beautiful photographs, taken by Lola herself, this authentic book will help you make small, simple changes to your every day life – whether that’s your diet, lifestyle, money, work or your home – so you can have a more balanced way of living filled with contentment.’

9781472249333I have a real love of Scandinavia, which is why I attempted to read Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well, but for me, it fell short. I was expecting something akin to the wonderful lifestyle books published about the Danish hygge, but that is not what I got at all. A lot of what Akerstrom writes is highly obvious, and can even be construed as patronising at times. It feels as though she is addressing the reader as though they are an incredibly petulant child, and she is an adult with vast reserves of patience to deal with them.

I hoped that Lola A. Akerstrom’s take on the new Swedish phenomenon of lagom would be better than Anna Brones’ Live Lagom, which I found highly disappointing (and, incidentally, which I reviewed last week). Both, however, are very similar tomes, which address almost exactly the same themes, and contain an awful lot of overlapping content. I did like the structure which Akerstrom adopted, but found that a lot of it did not apply to me at all, or was not personally interesting. The only triumph within Lagom was the often lovely photography.

I have concluded that there is nothing overly groundbreaking to be learnt with lagom, and really, that most cultures which I am familiar with already practice a lot of the wellbeing which is linked with it. The majority of what Akerstrom says here could be worked out without too much trouble, and whilst the book is visually lovely, the rest of the content was rather lacking.

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‘Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way’ by Anna Brones **

I am such a fan of the Danish concept of hygge, which was very popular during 2016, that I was immediately interested in reading about the Swedish lagom. Rather than revolve around comfort and cosiness as hygge does, lagom addresses a lifestyle balance.  Its blurb states:

Live Lagom is a guide to life based on the Swedish philosophy of lagom, meaning `not too little, not too much, just right’. Celebrated author of Fika and Nordic happiness expert Anna Brones explains the practice of Lagom in traditional and practical terms, and includes advice and tips on how to find your happy medium. Lagom helps you to achieve balance in everyday life and in all areas including home, work and health. Learn how to save money, feel less stressed, reduce your environmental impact, and create your ideal home and career through the way of life practised in one of the happiest and most satisfied countries in the world. Discover for yourself the trend that Elle described as `the more sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle we’ll all be wanting in 2017.’ Lagom allows you to enjoy the moment, and not only accept what you already have but also to make the most of it.’

9781785037283I knew little about its details before I began to read Live Lagom: Balanced Living, the Swedish Way, and honestly do not feel much clearer after finishing Brones’ book. There is an awful lot of waffle here, and I found the writing very awkward in places; indeed, I thought it had been poorly translated at first, before realising that the author had been brought up in the United States.

Whilst the photography in Live Lagom was lovely, and I appreciated the inclusion of recipes, the text became quite repetitive, and a lot of what Brones tried to put across seemed highly obvious. The concept is interesting, but this book did not work for me at all.

Considering the heart of the concept, Live Lagom strangely lacks any balance, and a lot of the chapters felt quite superfluous. What did interest me was the section on nature and the environment, which was undoubtedly the strength of the book for me. I can only hope that other tomes which explore lagom are more… well, balanced.

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