Kay Xander Mellish: How to Live in Denmark: A humorous guide for foreigners and their Danish friends

Sep 30, 2015

How to Live in Denmark is a dead-tree form of the blog and podcast of the same name. Mellish is an American living in Denmark for over 15 years and she talks about cultural differences. Her baseline are Americans which she readily acknowledges. However, some of her observations about Danes could be applied to other European nationalities just as easily.

The book is structured into 33 short chapters, each focusing on a different topic. There isn’t any strong theme throughout the book so we jump from weather to attitudes about sex to punctuality to summerhouses back to sex and to technology. The short treatment of each topic doesn’t lent itself to any deep analysis and most of the information is limited to sample size of one or hearsay. This doesn’t mean the book isn’t good and interesting. There are many clever points and ideas which highlight not just virtues known from national stereotypes, but also some pitfalls and cultural peculiarities which might make interactions with Danes hard.

As for comparison with the podcast and blog, I believe there’s no added information in the book. I think stronger structuring and more logical ordering of the chapters might have benefited the book and add some value. On the other hand, one’s encounters with a culture are not structured and ordered either, so why not.