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06 February . 2024

The Tehaleh Book Club: Best PNW Books

The snow in the mountains is settling on the pines, the skis have enjoyed a handful of bluebird days, and the great PNW winter has found its place, now fully formed. Yet a venture outdoors is not quite in the cards. It’s time to cozy up and take on a new novel idea, a plot with a course that takes you up from Tehaleh throughout the PNW.

Enter the book club. You might be approaching that monthly vote: hoping to rejuvenate your group’s reading list. Or you’ve been waiting to start your own. We’ve compiled a list of great PNW reads to kickstart your reading, critiquing, and learning.

Fiction Recommendations

Where’d you go Bernadette? - Maria Semple

The title spots the main plot as Bernadette disappears from the busy social and parenting life she leads in Seattle. Her daughter aims to find her in this modern and playful mystery that leads to greater questions about what it means to be an engaging and present parent despite personal endeavors and expectations.

There’s a movie adaptation starring Cate Blanchette which can be a great companion to any book club interested in joining the ever-increasing debate over whether the book was better than the movie and vice versa.

If you like this try: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Snow Falling On CedarsDavid Guterson

Whether you’ve read this book, seen its eerie cover emblazoned in best seller stickers, or have even considered it for your book club during these colder months, this one is a must-read for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest.

Taking place on a fictional island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, cast aside the lighter tones you may associate with the “island life” and follow a narrative led by complex and imperfect characters who will keep you turning the page.

You may also like: Twin Peaks (TV Series)

Dune – Frank Herbert

When you think of the PNW you might immediately think about sand, because this is a place full of neutral, bland colors, and lacks signs of life. Especially if you’re Frank Herbert, the visionary behind Dune’s vicious and terrifying world partly inspired by the Oregon Dunes.

Again, the film adaptations provide an insight into the book vs. movie debate, especially when it comes to incredibly detailed writing as Herbert’s masterpiece has done. Do the adaptations add to the ambiance, or are they struck down by the limits of visual storytelling? Worth an ask at a book club meeting, and considering the newest film releasing in 2024, Dune makes a timely addition to the book club lineup.

You may also like: The Stand by Stephen King. While this one may not be set in the PNW, the Maine author can paint a post-apocalyptic narrative into the ordinary places we see each day. We wish this struggling writer, King, all the best.

The Living – Annie Dillard

You often hear of actors going to extremes to fulfill the demands of the characters they represent, but when you’re aiming to write an accurate portrayal of the early history of settlers and Lummi natives, you might want to consult Annie Dillard.

She did not use any research beyond 1883 during her writing process, and fully immersed herself by living in Washington for the 5 years spent building this novel. Expect descriptive and beautiful writing that seems to come from an observant time traveler. (Also, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her previous non-fiction writing, which certainly influences the historical narrative style she employed in this novel).

You might also like: Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt.

Non-Fiction Recommendations

Bonney Lake’s Plateau – Winona Jacobsen

There’s lots of history right beneath your feet. Local history even gets a bad rap, often overshadowed by the gripping tales and allure of Mt. Rainier’s sublime nature. Get to know the names, the layers of foundation that led to Bonney Lake, and how American pioneering has impacted the way history is told.

The stories of survival, conflict, and pushing forth in dire situations show a Bonney Lake that has blossomed from community.

You might also enjoy: Getting involved in the Greater Bonney Lake Historical Society whose mission is to uncover and share the history of the area as well as the greater Washington state. Get the kids and visit one of their events this year!

The Complete Works John Muir

Follow the GOAT of mountains, the mountain goat himself: John Muir’s eloquent prose and fascination with the natural world creates a certain wonder that few figures in American history have done to the same effect.

Muir’s lasting impact can be found not only throughout his writings, but in his activism to protect America’s varied landscape. Whether it’s an illustrious description of a Douglas fir, or an uncertain trajectory among mountaintops - if your book club wants to escape the topics of the day, these writings will pull you away from the civilized world into a dreamlike world of wonder. One which can be admired from a short essay, a neat walk among the nearby Tehaleh trails, or from your own doorstep.

Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major EruptionsJelle Zeilinga de Boer

The Cascade Volcanic Arc inspires a mix of curiosity and, well, a bit of fear for a lot of people. This is a book that will illuminate the science and history of volcanoes and provide a deeper insight into what these enormous, sometimes scary mountains, are capable of.

Also try: Super Volcanoes by Robin George Andrews

Embrace the book club culture.

Does your reading list seem to look a lot like ours? You might be yearning for the beauty, the stories, and the magical surroundings that Puget Sound offers. Get in touch and we’ll find you more than just a book club: Tehaleh is a home centered in a rich, diverse history ready to be explored.

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