Books for Nooks: Coziness, Togetherness, and Peace

illustration-fireplace

It just occurred to me that a nook is actually a technological thing on which I believe one can, in fact, read books.

The title of this post is meant rather in the sense of ‘books for nooks and cozy crannies’.  Let’s imagine that that’s the full title.

Granted, I don’t know what books you go for when you’re curled up in bed under piles of blankets (ahem, like I am now).  Maybe a twisty murder mystery is more your thing. Or an eye-opening biography. Or a sordid true crime.

For me it’s something a bit more pastoral.  Quiet stories about quiet lives lived with quiet purpose.  Close to nature, close to the seasons, and close to loved ones.
And nothing too mentally taxing.
Add in a dash of children’s literature and a sprinkle of fantasy and you’re all set.

  • The Wind in the Willows is one of my favorite books. Full stop.  Cozy dens and animal friends.
  • A Christmas Carol is the perfect novella for the more festive-minded.  We read it aloud as a family in the days before Christmas a few years ago and it was a really lovely thing to share.
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs is a series of sketches of life in a fictional Maine fishing village.  At once a meditation on the hardship and isolation of rural life and the intense beauty of the solitude and the relationships forged therein.
  • The Hobbit is the perfect cuddly fantasy adventure featuring the perfect balance of magic, mystery, and unforgettably lovable characters.
  • Stillmeadow Road hits very close to me, as the author shares a year of New England seasons from her 1690 New England farmhouse. The voice is laid-back, wise, and incredibly comforting.
  • The Little House series was a favorite of mine as a child and I remember it so fondly, but I’m not sure the pacing and reading level would be super pleasing to me at this point. But if you’re reading with a child or your mind is in need of something a little more serious in the way of R&R, I really do recommend these.  Is there anything more cozy than a little house in the big woods? (Maybe a little house on the banks of Plum Creek).
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Homesickness in Five Senses

Much as I’m loving living in France, there are some things that just aren’t the same and that give me a little ache when I think about them. This variety of homesickness is a lot less all-encompassing than the kind I had to deal with when I turned up at Yale four years ago (couldn’t tell you why), but for whatever reason this transition has felt much easier.

I do of course have thoughts about why, but that’s a topic for another day.
In the meantime, I’ve been finding it interesting to consider what it is I miss most about home (not necessarily America, but my own life there) and how there are some senses that are missing America more than others. Oddly, I feel like what I’m missing most are specific sounds, more than sights or smells or even tastes (though taste is a close second).

Sights:

  • Autumn color. Take it from an entitled North East girl who has spent all of her autumns surrounded by yellows and golds and oranges and reds. You definitely miss it. Leaves turn yellow and brown here- which is quite pretty- and you get the snow-like leaf shedding in the wind that I love so much, but the wonderland created by the other colors is just missing. Sighing for maples.
  • Giant supermarkets. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll choose France’s small stores and open air markets over a Costco or Stop&Shop any day, but there is something oddly compelling (and reassuring) about that almost inappropriate abundance.

Sounds:

  • Canada geese
  • Sirens. The sirens here sound different and much more musical. I miss our sinister alarms.
  • Blasting reggaeton. There are not enough people blasting reggaeton from car windows here. Though mercifully there are more than none.
  • English. Hearing people speaking your own language as you walk around. You don’t realize how subconsciously comforting it is until everyone around you is speaking French.

Textures:

  • There isn’t anything tactile at home that I can’t as easily palpate in Versailles, except maybe my bed. It’s very easy to miss your bed.

Smells:

  • Not anything really. The thing about perfume school is that your nose gets plenty of exercise and novelty.

Tastes:

  • Good lord home-cooked food. I miss it so much. I am cooking for myself here, but not any of the larger and more time-consuming recipes I would undertake at home. Partly because I’m sharing a kitchen with a host family. Partly because vegan ingredients are harder to find in these parts. Like the French don’t do vegan cheese. Why would they? Their cheese is a national treasure.  But Dad’s pizza? My banana bread? Chickpea cutlets? Cornbread? So many foods.

And of course I didn’t list anything relating to the people and animals I miss. Beings are amalgamations of so many senses. The feeling of a hug or of soft cat fur. Every person and animal’s individual smell and the sound of their voice…

Plants of the White Mountains

Weirdly, I’m feeling homesick for the White Mountains.  It’s not an autumn thing- we always used to go in late spring, around Dad’s (and, incidentally, Patrick Henry’s) birthday.  We haven’t been in years.

In fact, I think the last time we went was in the winter.  We’ve been a few times in the winter too.  It’s better for skiing and snowshoeing- I used to be a pretty good skier.  And the first year we went I think it was around Autumn times.  In any event, it was cold enough that I was able to feel my metabolic processes shut down when I jumped into Lonesome Lake like an idiot.  I also lived on Hershey bars that trip. Continue reading “Plants of the White Mountains”

ICELANDAIR Films

Heyy, I’m back on the ground in Boston! I woke u at 4:30 am in the Charles de Gaulle area and then hopped on a plane and kept doing the plane thing until I got off at Boston Logan around noon (6 pm France time).  I don’t feel tired so much as discombobulated and maybe a bit punchy.  So this is a short list.  As in, I only watched two films while I was in the plane. Continue reading “ICELANDAIR Films”