Friday, November 22, 2019


Tis the season to be grateful, right?  Being grateful in every season has all kinds of benefits.  This year I decided to keep a gratitude journal and I actually stuck with it.  The practice of waking up and writing some things that I'm grateful for each day helped me feel more content and pay attention to all the good things in my life.

One of the things I find that crops up in my gratitude journal now and then is my current read.  This got me thinking.  What are 5 books I've read over the course of my life that I'm grateful for?  Not necessarily my favorites...but books that helped me. This is not a complete list, not by a long shot, but here are a few of the books I am grateful for, in no particular order.

Hippos Go Berserk.  This is a board book that we read to all four of our children.  I can still recite it from memory.  "One hippo, all alone, calls two hippos, on the phone."  It is a tale of going from loneliness to a life filled with hippos and back again to being alone.  There are some deep themes and some very cute hippos.  I am thankful for the memories I have from all those times holding a wriggly baby and laughing over the silly hippos.  I am thankful for the way the words and pictures take me back to that time and encourage me on this journey of parenthood.

Ramona the Pest.  I've written about my love for this book before.  It is one I am forever grateful for.  I got a copy from the scholastic book fair.  I read it and reread it and reread it again.  I understood Ramona, always trying her best but having mixed results.  Her misunderstandings and confusion were relatable.  This book propelled me to dig into Beverly Cleary's catalog and meet Ribsy and Henry, a mouse with a big sense of adventure, and get to know Ramona's parents and sister, too.  I wish one of my kids loved these books the way I do, but they have so many more options for plucky heroines, series with complex real characters, and authors bringing their A-game to middle-grade readers.  So it's ok.  But in my heart, I know the seed for so many of today's characters and for my love of books and writing came from this book.  I am thankful for the way this book changed my reading life and the books my kids have access to.  

The Nature of the Beast.  Maybe not my favorite book in the series, but it got me through the month after my dad died.  I needed to feel safe in a book and when the world seemed cold.  The lights of the bistro beckoned and as I poured myself a big mug of tea and sat with this book I was able to escape into another reality where bad things happened but people who were bruised and hurt could heal and grow stronger together.  I'm thankful for the way this book gave me hope.

Tribe.  This slim, nonfiction book is one I think about often.  The author considers tribe mentality and how that affects modern Americans, veterans, and all of humanity.  So much of what we're missing in our current culture is human interaction and connection.  Without it, we can feel untethered and lonely which can lead to dire consequences.  Since I've read it, I have talked about it in a variety of conversations and contexts.  I am thankful for the way this book has made me seek connection with my family and community despite cultural pressure to do the opposite.  

Moloka'i.  I read this for a book club ages ago.  I was kind of salty about it at the time.  My book snobbery was at an all-time high and I felt like it was fluff fiction. Looking back, it was good, solid historical fiction, written for ladies in book club.  And yes, there is a place for that, even on the biggest book snob's shelf.  So anyway, I read it, felt "meh" about it and put it away.  Years later I was writing to my grandmother and she talked about loving the book Hawaii.  I told her about this story.  She got very excited.  I sent her my copy and she devoured it and then proceeded to tell everyone she knows about it.  My mom decided she should read it too.  She did and she also enjoyed it.  My mom sent it back to me after she was done.  I love knowing this book has a connection to three generations.  I love that we can talk about it.  I'm grateful for this book for sparking book talk with me, my grandmother, and my mom.  And I'm grateful to have the physical copy of this in my house to give to one of my daughters someday.  

What books are you thankful for during this season?  Leave a note in the comments, I'd love to hear your stories too. 

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