November Book Club: The Northern Lights

Nordiska’s Book Club

To all of you who are new, welcome! Nordiska has launched its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. We invite you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works with us the last Thursday of each month.

To returners, welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed last month’s appropriately spooky fiction novel. This month we are staying in Norway and exploring the history of the fantastical aurora borealis.

November’s Pick: Unlocking the Secrets of the Northern Lights

While I was living in Northern Norway, I was fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights on a fairly regular basis this time of the year. Granted it was also usually dark and the darkness only continued to encroach on the few daylight hours until the winter solstice. In exchange, I would oftentimes get a lovely light show on my way home from classes or during an evening stroll (please enjoy my amateur smartphone photos).

At the Arctic University of Norway’s museum there is an entire permanent exhibition on the culture and history of the Northern Lights and the science behind the phenomenon of the aurora borealis. From living in the North, I learned that in Sámi tradition, children are told not to venture outside under the Northern Lights, especially if they are wearing white. The aurora borealis is thought to hold ancestral spirits and children are warned if they aren’t careful the spirits will reach down and take them to the next world too soon. Even my Norwegian housemate recounted to me how she would run outside and wave some white cloth under the Northern Lights and then sprint back into her house.

For our November book club, we will be reading The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago about Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland who dedicated his career to understanding the aurora borealis as a natural phenomenon. The back-cover summary reads as follows:

Captivated by the otherworldly lights of the aurora borealis, Birkeland embarked on a lifelong quest to discover their cause. His pursuit took him to some of the most forbidding landscapes on earth, from the remote snowcapped mountains of Norway to the war-torn deserts of Africa. In the face of rebuke by the scientific establishment, sabotage by a jealous rival, and his own battles with depression and paranoia, Birkeland remained steadfast. Although ultimately vindicated, his theories were unheralded—and his hopes for the Nobel Prize scuttled—at the time of his suspicious death in 1917.

The Northern Lights offers a brilliant account of the physics behind the aurora borealis and a rare look inside the mind of one of history’s most visionary scientists (Skandisk).

Virtual Book Club Meeting Information

We will be meeting to discuss The Northern Lights on Thursday, November 18th at 6:00pm PST via Zoom. We are hosting the club a week early this month so as not to overlap with Thanksgiving. You can find the Zoom invitation link here to register for the meeting ahead of time and/or keep a look out on our social media sites for an invitation.

You can purchase your copy of The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago on Nordiska’s website by following this link, or come and visit us in store in downtown Poulsbo.

Published by nordiskapoulsbo

I write for, edit and maintain this blog about celebrating and being inspired by Scandinavian cultures for the Nordiska store in Poulsbo, WA.

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