Read any good books lately?

Happy Sunday!

I am celebrating the end of a great weekend with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, a good book, and a nice, warm fire.  It is pouring outside as I write these words.  Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest know that there are several different words to describe the rain: according to a humorous website I ran across, you may be from the Pacific Northwest if “you are unfazed by 7-day weather forecasts that show only ‘showers followed by rain’ or ‘rain followed by showers.'” I had to laugh when I saw that one.  Although La Nina promises drier weather for the rest of the country, not so for us in the PNW.  It is time to get ready to enter the long tunnel of darkness known as late fall and winter and dream in technicolor of the spring, which, if you are from here, you know it will never come soon enough.  It is time to hibernate with a glass (or two or three) of wine, a good book, and a nice, warm fire.  Ahhhhh.

I binged on my latest Netflix obsession, Stranger Things (don’t worry–no spoilers here!), and I finished the last of the Doc Martin installments for the next two years (can you believe that?  I have to wait two years to see new episodes!), and so I remind myself that I love to read, hahahahahaha.  I am currently reading a book called The Book of Dust: Volume I La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. You will no doubt say “Isn’t that a children’s book?”

cover of the book of dust volume one la belle sauvage

I pay no attention to labels like “Children’s Books” or “Adolescent Fiction.” Pshaw.  A good story is a good story, right?  If you’ve read The Golden Compass books, or have seen the movie of the first book, you will have met Lyra and her crew.  La Belle Sauvage takes up when Lyra was a baby of about 6 months old and introduces readers to her small “bodyguard,” Malcolm.  I am already building this world in my mind, completely enchanted.  Pullman’s is a unique world–peopled by those who distrust religion of all kinds and who embrace diversity.  The bad guys, like those in Harry Potter, are those who want to control the mind and shut down ideas with which they disagree.  They want to centralize power in one place, curtailing freedoms of every kind.  Hmmmm.  Sound familiar?

I find myself drawn to stories like these because in them I find that the chatter of everyday life recedes into the background and the things that are really important rise to the top: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Although Pullman was criticized for attacking Christianity and promoting atheism in his first trilogy, he maintains that he does not object to God, necessarily, but to the often hypocritical institutions of religion. As Jenn Northington said in 2013, “One could further say that they promote a sense of spirituality and a belief in the possibility of things beyond our comprehension. There’s a word for that; some call it faith.” Who says faith has to be attached to a particular religion?  Faith and hope of any kind seem to be in short supply these days.  I will take it where I can find it.  This kind of faith is an inner glow that carries you through the darkest of nights and gloomiest of days.

Lest you think I have strayed too far from my cozy fire and glass of wine, I will close this chapter of my blog by exhorting you to find your own remedy for the winter rains and build your own nest of mental solitude.  Goodness knows we need solace in these times.  And think of it this way: fortified with good feelings, you will go out into the soggy winter with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.  What could be better?

Happy reading!

Author: Nicole

I am an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma where I teach courses in literature and writing. My first book, entitled Virginia Woolf and The Power of Story, was published in the spring of 2017. My most recent book project is FemPoetiks of American Poetry and Americana Music: A Woman's Truth. This book focuses on three poets--Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and Emily Dickinson--and three singer-songwriters--Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens, and Lucinda Williams. I am also a singer-songwriter with four albums: Little Queenie (2016) No Limits (2017), Songs for Unsung Women (2017), and By Your Side (2021). My next album is in production now, so stay tuned!

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