top 5 wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

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?



33 thoughts on “top 5 wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For

  1. omg…how could I have forgotten…Harry Potter…that’s it, done, I am a fake fan, I am cancelled. I cannot BELIEVE.

    I remember when you first read Les Mis, back when we were still on Livejournal! All I can recall is that before Les Mis you detested musical theater, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jdklsjlfds I haven’t read your list yet but YOU FORGOT HARRY POTTER OH MY GOD…… A FAKE FAN TBH???

      hahaha YES I thought all musical theatre was like… Oklahoma or Wicked?? I had no idea what musical theatre could Be.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Obviously, I totally agree with Harry Potter. It’s just magical and wonderful and I just love the books with all my heart. ♥️
    As for A Secret History, I had this one on my tbr forever (even own a copy), but never read it, for some reason? It sounds really good, though!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the Harry Potter series and started with the movies and than read the books. I love classics, mysteries, and fantasies. My favorite mystery writer is Agatha Christie and my favorites of hers are “And Then There Was None” and “Murder on the Orient Express”. As far as the classics go, Les Misérables is my favorite and I was the complete opposite with you because I saw the musical first and than read the book

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know very many people who started with the HP movies! That’s so great that they piqued your interest in the series. I definitely think seeing the musical and then reading the book is the more common route to go with Les Mis though, I don’t know many other people who read the book first! I also adore Agatha Christie, I especially love And Then There Were None and the Murder of Roger Ackroyd!


      • I started the movies around age 7 or 8 so I wasn’t old enough to read the books yet. I was too scared to watch the movie at that age so I tied a blanket around my neck and a superhero version of me watched.

        I think the route with Les Mis is common because if someone literally goes to the bookstore and sees the book, they might walk past it because it is so long. With the musical, fans already have an understanding and love of the musical that it makes it easier to want to read such a long book and makes them understand what is going on better

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your reasons for Harry Potter :’) I think I spent 50% of my early teen years reading Harry Potter fanfiction…I remember WAKING UP EARLY before school to read fics. I also used to write them!! But they’re like 10 years old now and……Not Good.

    I’M SO THANKFUL FOR A LITTLE LIFE AND HOW IT DESTROYED ME!! Also, I love that it’s The Secret History that lead you to blogging!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I WROTE FICS TOO omg….. what site(s) were you on??? I was a moderator on Mugglenet Fanfiction and I spent a truly horrifying amount of time on that website in high school. Also did you ever print out fics and read them at school?? This pre-smartphone throwback… Harry Potter fanfiction is clearly far more important than education anyway.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Omggg okay like I think I spent more time reading fics than I did actual books??? I remember waking up extra early before leaving for school so I could read fics, like…..THAT WAS DEVOTION I don’t even wake up early to read regular books these days. I don’t think I ever printed them out, but like…..if I had a smart phone I would have been on that 24/7 reading Harry Potter fics (though I still find myself up at 3 am reading fics on AO3 on my phone sometimes…I don’t know how I’m not blind from reading on bright screens). But I posted mine on good old….they’re still out there somewhere….I’ll still get the occasional comment on them hahahah. But I clicked on the link to one in a comment I got recently and glanced at it and almost died because it was so poorly written, like, my grammar alone was ATROCIOUS. I totally read fics on mugglenet too though, but my favorite website was….I tried searching it more recently and it was gone and my heart broke a little. But what did moderating Mugglenet fanfiction entail?? Did you have to like, read the fics? Or just make sure people weren’t posting spam?? Also how did you become a moderator?? I’m intrigued.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I’ve heard of Checkmated?? DANG I THOUGHT I KNEW ALL OF THE SITES. Omg I know my fics are still out there too and I am terrified to look back on the horrible writing…. OKAY SO MNFF was one of the sites where fics had to go through a queue and be approved before they’re posted, so I had to read like…. I think at least 10-20 submissions a week? And like scan them for grammar, characterization, plot inconsistencies, etc etc (now that I’m thinking back on it it was so horribly snobby lol like it is FANFICTION why did we have no chill)….. Each mod had their own category, and I had one called ~dark/angsty~ (I know) and Harry/Hermione and I also ended up with James/Lily for god knows what reason?? IT WAS A LOT OF FANFICTION. As for becoming a mod, we had to apply WITH REFERENCES LOL your references had to be people you’d interacted with on the site and the forums, preferably people who were already mods?? So I fell in with that crowd and the mods were like the ~cool kids~ of MNFF which was a nice contrast from my super lame real life high school existence lol!!! Also we had to make sure no one was posting spam on the forums, and I also ran this subforum called Susan Bones’ Book Club where we had weekly fanfiction discussions omg…… sometimes I pull up the MNFF forums and look at the SBBC for old times’ sake, that was my favorite part of modding!! GOOD TIMES WITH HP FANFIC LOL

        Liked by 2 people

      • OMG that is AMAZING and such an endeavor, that should be able to go on a job application tbh hahahah. I didn’t realize Mugglenet was so elite!! Proper characterizations??? :O Lol but actually I think Checkmated was the same way. Checkmated was primarily and Ron/Hermione site and young me was the most Ron/Hermione trash in the UNIVERSE (they were the first ship I really shipped hardcore), and it had a lot of marauder era fics, and basically mostly canon ships…I was such a stickler for canon back in the day lol. Ron and Hermione still have a special place in my heart but……..never again. I’ll always remember this one fic that was about Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Draco, and Draco’s cousin all going camping in the woods and Draco’s cousin was just some random girl (I think it was the author inserting herself into the story) and they had all these love triangles going on and it was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever read but I was like 12 years old and I LOVED it. Fanfiction is incredible. But omg SBBC sounds amazing, I just read them….ALONE. But HP fanfics were quite truly the best lol.

        Also speaking of Mugglenet, did you used to listen to Mugglecast?? I loved that show :’) I had Mugglenet as my homepage on my internet browser lol, that website was my favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL RIGHT??? IT WAS SUCH A HARDCORE HOBBY. Omg YES it was so weird, like with non-canon pairings your fic had to like…. justify the ship….?? Like ‘Draco/Hermione established relationship’ was NOT A THING, you literally had to explain in the fic how they fell in love or it was considered improper characterization??? Which is like hilarious to think about now omg IT IS FANFICTION THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT.

        Omg okay that explains why I hadn’t heard of it I WAS NOT INTO RON/HERMIONE AT ALL 😨 I was actually team Harry/Hermione?? Like I fully knew and accepted that R/Hr was going to be endgame but I would never read fic about them and I was way more into the dynamic of H/Hr. Now I am all about Drarry BUT ACTUALLY my biggest HP ship is Percy/Oliver omg it’s so random but I’m so into it

        LOL THE CAMPING FIC SOUNDS AMAZING god bless early 2000s self-insert fanfiction tbh



      • Actually I feel like that comment made it sound like I don’t read a lot of fics anymore when I literally read a Drarry fic on Thanksgiving day. I’M STILL FIC TRASH.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Like??? I haven’t read a Harry Potter fic in AGES and I’m really picky when it comes to Drarry (I get sad when people write Harry’s friendships with all his Gryffindor pals going a bit sour, which I feel like rather often in Drarry fics) but stumbled upon this one after reading a fic for another book and finding this in that author’s bookmarks or something, and I spent all my time between family interactions reading it………I loved it D:

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your selection Rachel. As a Harry Potter fan myself, the J.K. Rowling’s books would have made my list too. The same with Les Misérables. Now, after reading your comment I am very curious about this one from Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ll put it on my list to read during the holidays. Thanks. It is always nice to read you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I assume you read Les Mis in the original French? I’d love to be able to do that one day but I don’t think my French is quite good enough yet! And I highly recommend Never Let Me Go, I hope you love it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I read it in French. I always prefer reading the original version… At least for French and English publications. I like your books review Rachel and trust your judgement. If you highly recommend Never Let Me Go, than I will add it to my list of books to read! Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

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