16 Books I’m Thankful For

Published by The Connected Reader on

The time of year between Halloween and the New Year is my favorite. I love the family time and traditions, the time off, and the push to look back on the year and plan for the one ahead.

And this season is complicated. I am an elder millennial who celebrated Thanksgiving in elementary school with pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses made from construction paper. I am still working to unlearn the white-washed history I learned and to ensure my children grow up with a full understanding of history based on multiple perspectives, especially those of marginalized groups. 

With Big E, we’ve been reading the Birchbark House series and the Little House on the Prairie series; we started with the Birchbark books to ground her understanding of the time period in the perspective of an Indigenous family. This has led to lots of conversations about the difference in values between the Indigenous and White families in the books and the biased mindsets of the White settlers that led to conflict and harm toward the Indigenous people in the United States.

I’m grateful to the author of the Birchbark books, Louise Erdrich, for writing these books that have given me the foundation for learning with my child. 

As I sit in this season of reflection and gratitude, I find I’m thankful for so many other books that have provided learning, comfort, or a sense of connection for me and I’m sharing them below. 

What books are you thankful for this year? 

Simon Visits The DoctorThis book is my earliest memory of reading. It was a Little Golden book I would beg my Mom to read over and over; when I had my first baby, my husband helped my Mom find it for sale somewhere on the Internet so that I am now, once again, in possession of a copy.

Anastasia Krupnik and Babysitters Club Little Sister Series – The first books I remember seeing myself in – and they were recommended just for me by Mrs. McElwain, my elementary school librarian, which I still remember made me feel extra special.

Good Talk This graphic memoir explores how the author is navigating life, and particularly the impact of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as a partner in an interracial marriage and a mother to a half-Indian, half-Jewish son. From the recounting of conversations, to the sharing of internal worries, to the navigating of both sides of the family and all the perspectives that come with that, I felt so affirmed and seen while reading this book. It’s good to remember that’s important for adults, too.

Transcendent Kingdom And then sometimes you need a story where you don’t share many identity markers or key experiences with the narrator, but you get the emotions they are feeling and it is just so much. Like catch your breath, gasping, feeling all the feelings. That’s what this one was for me.

Firestarter and The FirmNow, there are so many Middle Grade and Young Adult books to choose from. In the mid-to-late-90s, when I was ready for them, there were … not. So Stephen King and John Grisham came to the rescue, and they provided what seemed like a never ending supply of books to read.  

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – I had a major personal reading slump in college. I read all the time as an English major, just not anything of my choosing, with the exception of this series. My college roommates and I passed it around, reveling in the lightness of it and, possibly, being past the angst of high school.

Northanger Abbey – I just said I didn’t read for fun in college, but some of the assigned reading, like this one, was fun. It’s been nearly twenty years since I read it so the details are fuzzy, but I remember loving the camp, the tongue in cheek, and the, well, fun, of this Gothic story. I just Googled Professor John Andereson, who assigned the book, and it looks like he retired and now I must go mourn all of the English majors who will never have the joy of taking the major-required introductory courses he taught and seeing him make the “I am just completely overcome by Emily Dickinson face”. Y’all are truly missing out.

Five Days at Memorial –  I don’t usually read a lot of nonfiction, but I read this book, which recounts the events at a hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and it inspired me to do a deep dive into Katrina reporting. It made me so angry, so sad, and questioning everything about how we rely on government and business in this country. It was recently made into an Apple TV series that I thought was okay.

Pachinko A truly sweeping story of one Korean family who immigrates to Japan. I learned so much about the history of these countries while enjoying the beautiful writing and the page-turning story. A wonderful reminder to myself that historical fiction is worth it sometimes. This one was also made into an Apple TV series recently, though I  haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.

The Color Purple – I read this one for the first time a few years ago and it just hit me. I loved the structure, the depiction of vibrant, complicated, and different women, and the author’s note at the end of this version. So. many. feelings.

The Sum Of Us – This one helped me better understand the zero sum game mentality that is prevalent in white supremacy culture and how it has directly impacted policy over the last 70 years in particular. The representative example of White people literally draining public swimming pools rather than sharing them with Black people has sat with me long after I finished this one. Devastating.

The Marrow Thieves – I’ve been a long-time Young Adult dystopia reader and this one was such a refreshing take on the genre. It is written by an Indigenous author, about Indigenous people in an alternate North America to the one we have today and I found it beautiful and heartbreaking.

Flying Solo – I support any book that normalizes a size 18 female narrator in which the only way we know her size is because she has a quick conversation with a friend who needs to swap clothing and they confirm they are the same size. Otherwise, she is a person living a full life of family, friends, and romance. Thank you, Linda Holmes, for creating a story with a plus-sized narrator that is not about the narrator being plus-sized.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Even if you don’t use the links, I highly recommend checking out Bookshop.org for access to tons of titles while still supporting an indie bookstore.


2 Comments

Elizabeth · November 25, 2022 at 4:09 pm

So many great books in here! Loved reading this list and several I need to read in ’23!

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