Posted in Book Talk

8 Books I’m Grateful For

Hey y’all! It was recently Thanksgiving here in the United States, and though I’m generally grateful anyway, I wanted to reflect a bit on some books over the years that I’m still grateful for. It comes in a lot of different ways. Some books were the first of a kind for me, or taught me something new, or maybe were just really good or had a lasting impression on me.

As I was thinking about these, I realized there are a TON that I could list! A whole list alone could be dedicated to nonfiction titles only, or books I read in college, etc. Maybe I’ll do one of those another time…

Gets me through the literal and metaphorical dark days

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

I read this one once or twice a year, typically in November or March when it’s dark and the days are cold and I’m inside and sad about it. But more than that, this book helped me at a time when I hoped I’d get hit by a car or break a leg on ice on my way to work so I didn’t have to be there. Shit was bad, and this helped me laugh a little again, and acknowledge that I needed to change some things, and gave me a little insight into how the world might be for some of my friends who have constant anxiety and depression.

Taught me the grace of giving second chances

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Normally a rule-following student, there is one assignment in high school that I ever flat out refused to do: an analytical essay on A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. A rambling, chaotic, unfocused stream of conscious piece with a loose thread to follow regarding women’s societal status and rights. Or, to my high school self, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ATROCIOUS. I refused to spend another second thinking about this book.

Enter college, where I learn I will have to read another work by Virginia Woolf – my ultimate literary nemesis – but with higher stakes since this is for a thesis level class. 😶To my surprise I was consistently engaged with and intrigued by this book of hers, and I ended up choosing to base my graduating thesis on this. 30+ pages of the minutiae of To The Lighthouse, countless articles read for research, hours of scouring for the perfect scenes and quotes, and somehow I actually thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

Lesson learned: second chances can benefit the giver as well as the recipient. Don’t hold grudges.

brought me to different worlds and largely started a love of reading

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

This is one of the earliest chapter books and real stories I remember reading. Before this, it was those orange primers that were “See Spot Run” and such nonsense. But these were magic and exciting times and places and creatures and so much stuff that it’s taking up all my italics! I don’t think I read all of the books in this series, but I definitely read and re-read the ones we owned countless times. I also just learned this series was re-vamped and continues in 2017, and there are new books coming out! My friends have lots of babies, and I’m pumped for when they’re old enough to read because those kids will be SWIMMING in books!!

taught me the joy of a sprawling, massive story (and how to commit long-term!)

Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

This whole series defines a lot of my childhood. My brother was into it, but I of course was into whatever he was into if only for the sheer fact that the books were laying around. I might as well read them right?

DAMNNNNN. If y’all haven’t read this series, GET ON IT because yeah it still holds up. This series is 54 books in the main series, with probably another 10 that are related stories of other characters, other times, and so on. I’ve read them all. I’ll probably go do it again. And I MASSIVELY REGRET giving the whole series to my 4th grade teacher. I get why my mom was mad now. I read The Andalite Chronicles so many times the cover fell off.

So yeah, this was a great introduction into how to stick with something all the way through, which I think my boyfriend probably appreciates.

Taught me how versatile and captivating nonfiction can be

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

If you’ve read my fav nonfiction list before then this title might be familiar. This is such an impressive piece of nonfiction because even though it’s a deep dive on a very specific subject, it reads like fiction and is compelling and interesting the whole way through. Before reading this book, my impression of nonfiction was like a kid with vegetables: they’re good for me and I should probably consume some occasionally, but it’s not what I really want. This book really broke that barrier down. Coincidentally, I also now love and crave veggies.

taught me to love what I love without fearing judgment from others

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

This book came out a little before Twilight with that full on vampire craze (which yes, I was a part of). Even when shame for liking Twilight was high, I never cared, and I attribute that in part to this book. The vampire theme is a coincidence of timing, but come on: Vampire Academy is kind of an embarrassing name. It’s very, very teenage-girl-ish, which is often all something has to be in order to be mocked. But y’all, this book and this series are SO GOOD that nothing was going to stop me from enjoying it to the max. Live shamelessly and love what you love, y’all. Now excuse me while I add this to my list to read next month because I’ve reminded myself how good it is.

for showing me the bittersweet experience that is love

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

I’m an emotional person, alright. So just thinking about this book still makes me a little choked up. I think this is the first book that showed me what love was. The love between Billy and his pups is unbelievable, and okay now I’m tearing up a little so I’ll have to keep this short. I loved this book so much I convinced my teacher to let me read it for a project even though I had already read it before.

I’m grateful to this book for giving me my first heartbreak, so I knew how to love without fear of it happening again as it’s worth the trade of the treasures that come before.

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s good

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

It was probably 7th grade, and I hated this book. It’s the first book I can remember giving the ol’ DNF. I think I eventually just read the end and thought it was really stupid, so I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t waste much time with this.

So what did this book teach me?

  1. Don’t waste my time on unworthy experiences
  2. Lots of other people will like things, and that DEFINITELY does not mean I will or should also like them.

Alright, the tears have mostly dried from thinking about Where the Red Fern Grows and I’m strongly considering buying some of these books again. What books are you grateful for y’all?


Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

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