Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.
If you’re in the U.S., it’s also almost Thanksgiving and this week’s topic gives me a chance to reflect on the books that have made a difference in my life. That is, the Books I’m the Most Thankful For.
Obviously, I’m extremely thankful for books in general and the authors that write them, those who so deftly create worlds and characters and scenarios different from my own (and even those that mirror my own experiences), allowing me to walk away with a new perspective, or in some cases, the comforting feeling that someone else gets me. I appreciate the entertainment or escape they can provide and the empathy and emotions they illicit. I think we can all agree, books are amazing things, right?
That being said, I’ve culled down the list of books I love and tried to take a look at books I really appreciate and why. Let’s check it out:
1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell - Though I’d already been reading for a while, this was my first chapter book as a child. It immersed me in a story that went beyond what I had ever read before, one that continued beyond one short story. Not surprisingly, it also sparked a love of (obsession with?) horses that would last through middle school. Black Beauty absolutely cemented my already-budding love of reading, and I will forever be grateful for that.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - This classic taught me that books can deserve a second chance, even if you didn’t like it the first time. In middle school, my best friend Katie and I decided to read this together, and while she adored it, I got frustrated with the complicated language and slow narrative (just before it got good, it turns out) and didn’t finish it. She explained the rest of the story to me, and I felt like I’d missed out. Years later, during college, I picked it up, stuck with it and fell in love with it too.
3. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - Somehow this novel ends up on every list I make lately, but that just shows the impact it’s had on me. I didn’t expect to like this book, let alone love it as much as I did. I’m thankful for this story because not only does it tackle tough issues in a relatable way, above all, it helped me look at the world - and myself - differently. I haven’t stopped recommending it ever since.
4. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks - This is the first book I remember both laughing out loud at and crying about while reading it. Aside from The Notebook, it’s the only Sparks book I’ve enjoyed (and I have since stopped reading them), but it is still one of my favorite books overall. This is one of the first books I ever recommended - to my dad, and I still remember both of us laughing to the point of tears over one of the passages - and being able to share in the appreciation of a story together has led me to join in several book clubs (virtually, and in real life) and, ultimately, start this blog. And, of course, I still recommend books constantly.
5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami - I’m including this novel because it taught me not to give up. I don’t remember exactly what led me to read this book a few years ago, and looking back, it’s not something I’d normally choose. The story is kind of bizarre (as magical realism can sometimes be) and it works with split narrators/points-of-view and, oh yeah, it’s a thousand pages long. Despite not always being sure what was going on, I stuck with it and ended up rooting for the characters and becoming completely absorbed in the writing style. While I have nothing against DNF-ing a book that just doesn’t work, I’m glad I stuck with this one. When the payoff is worth it, it’s usually really worth it.
6. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling - It probably comes as no surprise Harry Potter made the list. There are so many reasons to be grateful for Rowling’s bestselling series, but for me, it was a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself for the first time. I tore through the first four books, long after the rest of the world fell in love with the boy wizard, and I was shocked and awed to see the turnout at my first (and certainly not last) midnight release for the fifth installation. Each new release gave me something to look forward to, and even now, the series provides me with a comforting world to dive back into whenever I want.
7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - I’m eternally thankful to Cline’s sci-fi novel for keeping me entertained on the bus ride from NYC to Philadelphia and back again, when I had to travel there for my best friend’s wedding a few years ago. This book was so immersive, time just flew by and the four hours I spent on the crowded buses didn’t seem so bad. Beyond that, this is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s forward-thinking and nostalgic all at the same time. It’s versatility has led me to recommend it countless times, and as a result, I’ve enjoyed many spirited conversations about its various plot points. For me, RPO is a book that keeps on giving.
8. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon - This dystopian novel surprised me when we had to read it for book club recently. It combined the importance of language and our reliance on technology in a way that entertained me and freaked me out at the same time. It made me examine how dependent I am on my cell phone (and I know I’m not alone in this). I’ll go into more detail in my full post next week, but it’s on this list because I appreciate that it’s prompted me to take a break from my phone now and then and to be more conscious of having a reason to pick it up.
9. Voracious by Cara Nicoletti - I threw this food/book memoir on my wish list one Christmas without much thought aside from it seemed like something I would like. (Thank you to my wonderful then-fiance, now-husband Scott for actually gifting it to me!) Of course, I enjoyed it and it’s still a book I think of often. While everyone knows food often plays a role in great literature, it was the first time I’d seen such a blatant combination of food and books. It planted the seed in my mind that eventually became this blog, and I would not be here writing this post if I hadn’t read it two summers ago.
10. On Writing by Stephen King - As an aspiring writer and an insatiable reader, I’m so grateful for this memoir. Not only does Stephen King share stories of his own ups and downs as an author, he instills it with excellent advice about how to hone your craft and persevere. When I first borrowed it from the library, I was so excited to find his lengthy list of book recommendations at the end that I took pictures of it until I could procure my own copy. A dedicated reader himself (for one cannot write well if one does not read), his suggestions have prompted me to discover some books I may not have otherwise picked up.
Which books are you most thankful for? I’d love to hear some of your picks in the comments below 🙂
I hope all of you enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family! Until next time...
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