Not too long ago, author August McLaughlin, shared on her blog the Books I’m Crazy Grateful For in honor of Thanksgiving. I loved her post and thought what a perfect way to pay an homage to the writers who’ve made a difference in her life. I encourage all of you to share the books you’re grateful too and post the link in the comments, or link back to my post or August’s, after all, I’m always hungry for more great reads! And Christmas is coming, I may need to add some titles to my wish list.
The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich: If one could call a book one’s bible, then mine would be Adrienne Rich’s The Fact of a Doorframe, a collection of her poetry from 1950 – 2001. On a trip with a friend’s family to New York, we perused the NYU campus on a tour since he’d applied. I meandered through the stacks of books in the bookstore and happened upon this anthology. If you’ve never read a Rich poem, you’re missing out. She is everything beauty and savage combined, if you ask me. She’s a herald for civil rights, namely women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and Jewish rights. She put a face and reality to the hardships of being a mother in her non-fiction book Of Woman Born, which I wrote a semester-long paper on. In fact, over the course of my college career, I believe I wrote no less than 10 papers on either Rich’s life or dissected her literary works. I also filled a journal with my own poetry that was very clearly imitation in style of Rich’s. I recall in an interview she said she was not afraid to write about the “monstrous,” I hope one day I may say the same.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving: Goodreads compares John Irving as America’s Charles Dickens! That’s big hype, but it’s a credit I may agree with. I haven’t read enough Irving to speak of all his works, but this novel was one that deeply moved me. For those of you familiar with the film, The Cider House Rules, is the story of a doctor, Wilbur Larch, who runs an orphanage and also practices abortion if the couple decides it’s best. The story follows one of the orphans in particular, Homer Wells, who is educated by Larch on the practices of gynecology. But Homer leaves it all behind to explore the world and winds up working on an apple orchard, a peculiar place where his services just may be needed after all. I grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school where we were forced to complete catechism-noted final papers every fall on all topics such as abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. I won first place for a paper I wrote about abortion. Here’s the thing though, we were not allowed to write any opinion, we could only use the Bible and the Catechism as our reference books. Reading The Cider House Rules years later in High School gave me the perspective of someone else, and transformed my views to be open-minded about the decisions someone makes regarding their body. This is not a book that is solely pro-life or pro-choice, but it poses both sides in a way for the reader to (I hope) understand where each comes from. And for those that have seen the film, it’s a really interesting adaptation with new characters in the book that were combined into one person in the film. I highly recommend this one!
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: You should be seeing a commonality between Rubin’s title and this blog. The Happiness Project is a monthly quest to change the way you both live and perceive the world around you, with the intention of finding more happiness. While I will warn the reader, Rubin’s book is a condensed version of the actual work she did over the course of the year, so sometimes her seemingly simply advice fails to grasp the reality of the life change you may be making, it is still a book that will get you thinking and making positive changes in your life to be more happy. Biggest change I made after reading this book, well folks, I started this blog.
The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick: Of course The Mayflower would make my list! Reading about the historical voyage and first fifty years of the Mayflower passengers was a wonderful view into the past of my ancestors. I appreciate the research that Philbrick did because he truly tries to tell all sides of the story. No group is in the utmost right or wrong, and that period of fifty years was a series of alliances, friendships, and wars. I have great respect for all the individuals who fought so hard to make a new life for themselves.
What are the books you’re most grateful for?
Okay, I’m flat out admitting that I had no idea that your blog was inspired by a book! I have to get it! I love your life list! And I’ve been working on creating one of my own.
A little bird emailed me that you may be interested in joining our Life List Club! Hmm, hmmm?
Number 1 right now is “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This isn’t fiction, but it sure gave me a new perspective on how to love who I am a little more.
I believe I’ve heard of this. Must add it to my goodreads list now, I like books that inspire you to self reflect. I almost put on The Holy Man by Susan Trott for that exact reason.
The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Difenbaugh (My newest favorite.)
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon (Love the whole series!)
A Knight in Shining Armor – Jude Devereaux
Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
Carrie Ryan’s dystopian zombie trilogy – (Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves, The Dark and Hollow Places)
Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series
and anything by Lois Lowry and Jane Austen.
I could go on and on . . .
ooh, definitely Jane Austen! Many of the others are new to me, so I’ve got some new research to do on goodreads. Yay!
I haven’t read any of these! I think I’ll start with Cider House Rules, it looks interesting!
Fabulous reads! I love that book; I do hope you enjoy it!
Love your list, Jess. So glad my post influenced you in a positive way. Thanks so much for the shout out! 🙂
In addition to the books mentioned in my post, I’m grateful for “The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough” by Matthew Eklund. It helped me incorporate active rest into my daily routine, which in turn boosted my productivity, creativity and moods(!!!)… & for a cookbook my uncle made for our family. It’s filled with my grandmother’s recipes, scripted in her original pen.
Man, our lists could go on forever, right?? A very good thing… 😉
Ok, I must check out the book on sleep for sure. And that cookbook sounds like an amazing keepsake, and to have it in your grandmother’s handwriting is extraordinary. I love looking at people’s handwriting. Thanks again for inspiring this post and sharing more good reads! I still plan on looking up some Mary Higgins Clark titles yet.
I love your choices, Jess. They say a lot about you. One I’m grateful for is the cookbook my used as I grew up. She’s made notes in the margins that, as short as they are, really give a snapshot of who she is. I’m grateful for books in general.
I have a library full of them and yet it still doesn’t hold all that I’ve read. One book that taught me a lot about how to get through mid-life called Younger Next Year is one I’ve read over and over. I’ve read hundreds of mysteries and thrillers that kept me glued to the pages. That’s my favorite genre to read.
Uh, yeah, Renee…that little birdie thought you’d be a great addition to the LLC. What do you think?
Thanks Marcia! I love hearing about all the books everyone is choosing and I think that’s really cool that you and August both included cookbooks. Too fun!
It’s not necessarily a book, but I’m thankful for most of William Shakespeare’s pieces. I can read his plays over and over again. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White are two more. They are all timeless classics.
I’m also thankful for James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club Series….it really lit the fire under my rear to write!
Oooh excellent selections. Little Women is a great one! I’ve never actually read a Patterson book. I must remedy this soon. What would you suggest as a first one?
[…] Review of “Initiation” from Susan Bischoff. Books I’m Thankful For (4 reviews) from Jess Witkins. “Come Back To Me” from Jen Bennett. Deserted Island […]
Oh! All books I haven’t read! I love the idea of being “thankful” for certain books, which is a deeper category than “enjoyed.”
I had a hard time making this list, cause there were plenty of books I really liked, but that I’m truly thankful for? These books were IT.