The November topic for the Monthly Recommendations Goodreads group (which you can check out here) is books I’m thankful for. I don’t think there will be any major surprises here, as a lot of my most beloved books growing up were incredibly popular, but it was still a lot of fun to look through my shelves and reflect on which books I’m most grateful for.
Of course, the first book (or books) that comes to mind is Harry Potter. I know, I know, it’s a super obvious choice, and I feel like it shows up a ton on my blog even though I swear I don’t talk about it that often in my everyday life. In fact, I hadn’t read the books in at least five years before starting my current reread. But it really does deserve a place on this list because it was such a magical part of my childhood. I remember going to the midnight launch parties for the later books and making Hogwarts out of cardboard boxes in my grandma’s basement. Me and my sister and cousins were obsessed! Even if it weren’t such an important part of my childhood, though, it still would have earned a place on this list for the way it changed the publishing industry. I’m pretty sure the YA genre and the increasing length in children’s books can both be directly attributed to the Harry Potter series, and I’m sure it’s had an even wider impact than just that. So this is definitely a series that I’m grateful for.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is another book that holds a special place in my heart. I feel like I might have picked this up as some sort of Land of Enchantment reading list when I lived in New Mexico? I don’t remember, but I do know that I recognized at a pretty young age how unique it was that Ella saves herself in Ella Enchanted. I would say Ella Enchanted was one of my earliest fantasy books with a strong female protagonist, something that I still enjoy reading to this day. I also think it’s my most reread book. And I was able to meet Gail Carson Levine and have her sign my old battered copy of Ella Enchanted! I posted a picture of it on my Instagram, which you can check out here.
One of the books I’m most grateful to have read is She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot as it was my very first romance novel, though I like to think I would have found the genre one way or another. I remember working my way through Meg Cabot’s backlog in middle school after finishing her Mediator series and her 1-800-Where-R-You series and eventually picking this book up. I had read a fair number of kid romances, but never a true adult book. I became obsessed! I don’t remember the particulars of this book anymore, and I’m afraid I don’t even own my own copy, but I eventually found my way to The Raider by Jude Deveraux and then read everything by Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey and Julie Garwood and Kathleen Woodiwiss. While She Went All the Way is far from my favorite romance novel, it definitely holds a special place in my heart.
Moving along chronologically, another series I have to admit I’m grateful for is the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I haven’t read that series since I was in high school (I graduated in 2010, for context), but I was so obsessed with them. I know now it’s popular to hate on that series, but I can’t deny how important it was to me when I was in high school or that it was something that I bonded over with friends and that brought us closer together. I’m very hesitant to go back and reread them and have heard mixed things about how they hold up, but I can’t deny what an impact they had on my life and I’m grateful for that.
I’m also incredibly thankful to have The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins in my life. I’m not sure I’ve talked about this series much on my blog, but I remember reading the first book shortly after it came out and becoming obsessed. Waiting for Mockingjay to be released after the cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire was torture! This trilogy really stood out to me with how unique and horrifying it was and how easy it was to see our world eventually turn into Panem. Plus I was obsessed with the characters, and after the Twilight series, I was really glad that the love triangle really took a backburner to everything else that was going on in Katniss’ world. This series had such an impact on me that I actually chose to write my senior honors thesis about the trilogy (A Cultural Material Analysis of the Hunger Games) in college and shockingly didn’t become sick of the books after studying them for an entire year, though I memorized them so thoroughly that three years later I still don’t feel the need to reread them. But yeah, definitely a series I’m thankful for and one that will always have a special place on my shelves.
Some honorable mentions go to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which I’ve mentioned before on my blog as a book that really changed my perspective on life; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which is one of my favorite books of all time and one that I love rereading fairly frequently (I expect it will eventually overtake Ella Enchanted as my most reread book); and Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce, which I’m pretty sure was my first entry into the world of Tortall (the original fantasy with a strong female protagonist!). Seriously, there are tons more I could mention, and I’m truly grateful for all of the books on my shelves, but I’m going to cut myself off before this post gets too out of hand!
Interestingly, none of these books are ones that I first read after graduating from high school (except Outliers, which I read my first semester of college). Looking at my shelves, I actually have a harder time picking books that I’ve read in more recent years to put on this list. That’s not to say I haven’t found some amazing books, but they just haven’t had the same impact on my life that the ones I listed above have had. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow was my first big biography that helped me realize I actually really like biographies and history books, and Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik pretty much made Ruth Bader Ginsburg by idol and role model and has inspired me to read a lot more about her life and work. And pretty much everything in my Required Reading post has been impactful for me as well. But they just didn’t shape me as a reader the way that the books I read in childhood did. I’ll be interested to see if I still feel the same way after another five or 10 years of reading.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post, and let me know in the comments what books you’re most grateful for!