5 Books to Read During a PNW Winter

Okay, we’ll admit it: sometimes we simply don’t want to brave the Olympic Peninsula’s moody winter weather. Snuggling down against a storm under a mountain of blankets with a hot toddy and a snoring dog sounds like unabashed bliss for the bookworms among us.

While Netflix may dominate others’ winter afternoons, we dare you to rebel with good old-fashioned literature. We pared our favorite Northwestern fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and kid’s books down to the following top five. Take a peek, then hightail it to Mason County District Library before hunkering down with these page-turners.


1. The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America by Langdon Cook 

As with most of the delicious and sought-after delicacies the world has to offer, decadent morels, luxurious truffles, and other elusive mushroom treasures are hidden away in hard-to-access places.

Seattle author Langdon Cook juxtaposes the high-class, refined people to whom these mushrooms are presented with the rugged denizens who forage for them in the Northwest’s most inaccessible woods. Seized by Gold Rush-like desires, this rough and territorial lot hauls hoards of edible fungi from the misty hills. As much a culinary history lesson as it is a compelling and character-driven narrative, The Mushroom Hunters is a must-read for someone as enchanted by adventure as by the world of fine dining.


2. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

Although Kesey may be better known for his Jack Nicholson-endorsed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, his epic Sometimes a Great Notion is arguably the quintessential Northwest novel. Many claim that it’s one of the greatest American literary works of all time, period. Its setting is a fictional costal city in Oregon at the confluence of the also-fictional Wakonda Auga River. The parallels between this old waterlogged logging town and historical Hood Canal are stark.

The gravity with which Kesey is able to illustrate man vs. land in this masterpiece is powerful for a reader curled up with a Northwest winter gale at her window. It is an experience that sticks with the reader long after the book is returned to the shelf.


3. Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets by David Biespiel

In his eloquent introduction, editor David Biespiel writes, “A Northwest poet’s impact on our sense of how we see the Northwest may be greater than the Northwest’s impact on the poet.” As such, poets included in this anthology were born in the Northwest…and elsewhere. Likewise, their poetry revolves around images of recognizable Northwestern iconography…or not.

This collection evades reduction to a single concrete theme, but the Northwest lives and breathes within these pages. They grasp at and, in a quirky way, get ahold of what we see and feel while we’re here. Let the 80 poets in this masterpiece impact how you see our Northwest.


4. The Far Corner: Northwestern Views on Land, Life, and Literature by John Daniel

John Daniel blurs the lines between natural, literary, spiritual, and human history—to the reader’s delight. As much of a personal memoir as it is a meditation on the relation between man and nature, these 18 wide-ranging essays attempts to capture the Northwest’s character as a whole.

Both lyrical and informational, this collection entices those who are eager to learn, and those who are eager to be entertained. A winner of the Oregon Book Award, this work belongs on the shelf of everyone who has stepped foot in Hood Canal.


5. Where Would I Be In An Evergreen Tree? By Jennifer Blomgren

A story to delight the little ones, this work by Northwesterner Jennifer Blomgren follows the lifecycle of an evergreen tree. Her smooth verse is gently informative, while Andrea Gabriel’s pastel images in soft greens, quiet blues, and warm browns illustrate the host of animals that inhabit these northwestern deciduous behemoths.

Blomgren’s other works, like Where Do I Sleep? and Why Do I Sing? are equally as educational and comforting for kids adventuring through Hood Canal. This is one to keep in the car on your next road trip.

For more suggestions and ideas to enhance your experience in Hood Canal, keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Share photos of your bookworm selves with us—we love to feature photos! Tag your social media with #wildsideWA. Cheers to the page-turners!