November 22nd: Books You’re Thankful For: For whatever reason, big or small.
There aren’t going to be any surprises on this list… these are books I’ve talked about over and over, but it’s only because they’re so important to me.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. This series had the most concrete influence on my life of anything I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t say that this is what got me into reading since I’ve been a pretty huge reader ever since I was very young, but it’s definitely the first series I remember being this passionate about. I mean, like so many HP fans, I was obsessed. I read and wrote fanfiction, I spent hours on the internet every day in middle school discussing theories, I went to all the midnight releases for the books and the films, and I literally met about ten of my closest friends through the Harry Potter fandom (shout out to Hadeer!). I could reread this series a hundred times and never get bored of it.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. After Harry Potter Les Mis has definitely been the most impactful book on my life. I decided to read it on a total whim when I was 17 (having absolutely no knowledge of the story or the musical) (honestly I don’t even remember why I chose to read it) and fell completely in love with it. It then introduced me to the musical adaptation, and musical theatre in general which is now a pretty huge part of my life, AND I met a ton of my other close friends through our love for this story (shout out to Chelsea!).
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. This book destroyed me unlike anything else I have ever read… which seems like a pretty bizarre thing to be thankful for, but reading this book was so cathartic for me?? I’m not a very visibly emotional person, so there was something kind of freeing about the big emotional response that this book elicited from me?? Anyway, this story has stayed with me in a way that so many other books have not. Also bonding with people over this book is a very intense experience so I am thankful for that (shout out to Steph!)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. So, I’ve talked about this a lot, but I read this book when I was a freshman in high school, and it was one of the first adult books I read as a teen that hadn’t been assigned to me in school. At this point in my life I’d mainly been reading what my friends were obsessed with (a lot of Sarah Dessen and things like that) which never really did much for me, so I was starting to think I may not be the avid reader that I was when I was younger. And then I read this book, and it opened up a whole world of adult literature for me, and I will always be thankful for this miserably depressing book I read at a time in my life when I could not abide happy endings.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This is the book that singularly reignited my love of reading in 2015. Basically, when I was in college, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to read for fun. I graduated in 2014 and then spent most of the year meandering through the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which took forever, and I do like that series a lot but I wouldn’t say that I was particularly passionate about it – I think it took me over a month to read each of those books. Anyway, after I finally finished that series, I read The Secret History, and reading this book in a lot of ways felt like coming home (not only because it’s set in my home state of Vermont and I’d never read a book set here that captures the atmosphere so perfectly). It reminded me how much I love the classics, and how much I love depressing literary fiction. This was the book I had been wanting to read for years, and after I put it down I just… haven’t stopped reading. I would not have this blog right now if it weren’t for The Secret History.
BONUS because I couldn’t not include it:
The Iliad by Homer. I’m thankful for this story in a big way; I’m thankful for its influence on western literature and scholarship, I’m thankful that we have access to something composed in the 8th century BCE. And I’m thankful for the role it’s played in my life; i.e., keeping me passionate about the classics, and introducing me to the works of poets and scholars and translators (Anne Carson, Caroline Alexander, Robert Fagles, et al.) who have worked with this story in some way over the years.
I’m also thankful for all the wonderful people I’ve met through this blog and through our shared love of books. Happy Thanksgiving, friends! What books are you thankful for?