Nirvana is an outdoor girl, a do-er not a reader. She loves trees and loves to build things - during 'Igloo', something very special for her granddad out of his very special oak tree when it has to be cut down. As she builds the piece of furniture for him, Nirvana believes there will be a connection between her granddad, the user of it, the oak timber and her. Niv's even happier if she can do her carpentry outside, in the Grove, her secret, happy place because she knows we live best when connected to nature, trees and especially oaks, hence 'The Oak Papers' in her book stack. Most of her reading is about trees and woodworking!
Nirvana's also good at art and for her Art GCSE has enjoyed studying the paintings and drawings of Ruskin, who features in her reading pile . When her step-mum springs a surprise Christmas ski holiday on the family, what Nirvana is most looking forward to seeing is the mountains of the French Alps and Mont Blanc which Ruskin drew and painted. She agrees with Ruskin's belief that objects we create should be beautiful as well as useful, which she applies even to her igloo!
During her story, in 'Igloo', Nirvana reads two books. One she has to - Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' for her English Literature GCSE. With her mock exams right after Christmas, Niv has left it very late in the day to be finishing the story but she's surprised how into it she gets when she sees how the situation of the main character, Cal, mirrors that of Jean-Louis, the French lad she meets during her week in the Alps.
Jean-Louis studies philosophy, hoping to find the best ways to live. He introduces Nirvana to the Essaies of Montaigne, a sixteenth century French philosopher. Montaigne is the forefather of mindfulness and both Jean-Louis and Nirvana relate very strongly to Montaigne's principle that 'When I walk alone in the orchard, I bring my thoughts always back to the orchard, the sweetness of it.'