The Bookish Team Shares the Books They’re Most Thankful for This Year

The Bookish Team Shares the Books They’re Most Thankful for This Year

books we’re thankful for

Here at Bookish, we’re grateful each and every day for the impact that books have had on our lives. They’ve shaped us in ways that we’ll never be able to sum up, but we decided to try anyway. Take a look at the books we’re thankful for, and let us know which reads stuck with you this year in the comments!

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

One of the books that has stuck with me throughout the year is They Both Die at the End. It follows two teen boys who know that they’re destined to die within 24 hours, and explores the small moments that make each day worth living. This a powerful book, but I was particularly moved by Silvera’s foreword which spoke to his own struggles to break out of his comfort zone. I instantly connected with the feeling of being afraid to openly be yourself and the regret of missing out on experiences because of fear. Writing this book helped Silvera to break free, and reading it helped me to do the same. I’m thankful for this book and the little voice it put in my head reminding me to take chances. —Kelly

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

I am thankful for Charlotte’s Web, the classic children’s novel by E.B. White. Surprisingly, I never read the book as a child. Instead, I read it for the first time to my son. He was not quite four at the time and I remember so well lying on his bed reading to him as he played on the floor. I recall the light coming through the windows and his look of concentration as he listened to me read. I was struck by the exquisite beauty of the book and oftentimes moved to tears by the pages I read. To write with as much heart and vulnerability as E.B. White did is truly a gift and I’m grateful that this book exists in the world. Even more than that I’m thankful for the memories I have of reading the book to my beloved child. —Myf

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

I’m grateful for Parable of the Sower for a number of reasons. It has provided me with one of the most clear-eyed and practical pathways through the current trashfire of politics, culture, and ecology that we find ourselves in. It has given me hope that we can build the skills and trust that we need to survive environmental crises, and that we might actually as a global community earn our place on this planet and in the cosmos. Following Lauren Olamina as she prepares for an uncertain future while everyone around her holds out for the return of “law and order” has been a bracing reminder that apocalypses are slow moving, but that as one world ends, many others might begin. I am also grateful to Octavia Butler for being an ancestor for the intersections of feminists, Afrofuturists, community organizers, black and brown writers and thinkers, healers, and spiritual seekers who have been inspired by her work. And, having read Parable of the Sower, I’m now more plugged in to the brilliant work of people carrying on Butler’s legacy in both literature and in radical utopian thinking, like Octavia’s Brood and How to Survive the End of the World. —Nina

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

I have vivid memories of picking up this book in early 2011. I was living in New York during a semester-long internship in college, and knew almost no one in the city. I would get home from my internship, pick up Infinite Jest, and take it to my favorite coffee shop on Irving Place. There, I would order a black coffee and a ginger molasses cookie, and I would sit for hours completely lost in the world of the story. At a time when I had not yet made friends in New York, this massive doorstop of of a book (requiring two bookmarks and fitting in basically no purse on the face of the planet) became my friend. I’ve long been thankful for the hours I spent happily lost in Infinite Jest. —Elizabeth

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi’s semi-autobiographical novel about her experience with racism as Muslim teen right after 9/11 has stuck with me since I read it. It’s powerful because she writes about the hate that came out of a tragedy that the entire country felt, herself included, and pairs it with her beautiful prose. The book also features an amazing coming-of-age story centered on breakdancing and a heartbreaking forbidden romance. While touching on hard issues, Tahereh Mafi writes about hope and fighting for what’s right, which is why I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. —Dana

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Like most boys my age, I wasn’t much of a reader in grade school or high school. In my junior year of high school, our English teacher assigned The Catcher in the Rye to our class. I was transformed. There were so many ways I could relate to Holden Caulfield. It felt like someone was reading inside my brain, and baring my deepest personal secrets, and even some opinions. When Holden described his roommate as a “secret slob,” I also realized that maybe I was too. This book opened my world, and got me started as a lifelong reader. —Fran

 

Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai consistently crafts incredibly nuanced and relatable characters, and the one I’ve connected to the most has been Evangeline Chandler. I felt a kinship with Eve from page one. We share the same anxieties, the same body type, the same pressure to live up to expectations (both set internally and by the outside world). Reading along as she found her voice and stood up for what she wanted was not only enjoyable, it was empowering. I’m grateful for this book and for a character like Eve who reminds me to own the fact that I’m the heroine of my own story. —Kelly

Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher

A surprisingly compelling recent read I am grateful for is Letters of Note, Volume 1: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher. It contains transcriptions of correspondence about famous events and people accompanied by a small blurb of background information about the event and images of the original text. I didn’t expect for this book to be such an addictive read, but found it difficult to put down, as I would “just see what’s on the next page” and peruse letters by Steve Martin, Winston Churchill, Ray Bradbury, Katharine Hepburn, Amelia Earhart, and many more. —Alyce

 

Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing

I am one of those readerly types who says “I am not a poetry person,” but I am an Eve L. Ewing person. She is Chicagoan, a poet, a sociologist, and then some. Some of the stories in Electric Arches are stories I remember; I remember when the guy was stabbed to death at a bar in my neighborhood. And some of them are not. The experiences of a lot of poor and working class black Chicagoans are in many ways hidden from upper-middle class white Chicagoans, and I am grateful to have those stories rendered with beauty, compassion, grief, and rage. But I am most grateful for her vision for the future—one where this country (and Chicago in particular) isn’t wracked by systemic violence, a future where everyone can experience the vastness of big city streets on late summer nights. She says it best in the introduction, which makes me cry every time: “In the future, every child in Chicago has a safe place to sleep, and mothers laugh all day and eat popsicles. Every Fourth of July there are big fireworks and no one shoots a gun, not even police because there are no police, and when you go downtown and look up at the sky, the electric arches stretch so far toward heaven that you feel like you might be the smallest and most important thing ever to be born.” —Nina

 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

When I think of the book that I am most thankful for because of the impact it has had on my life, the first book to come to mind is Twilight. It completely changed my reading habits and made me interested in books in a way that I never was before. My obsession with Twilight made me want to talk to other readers about books, which later became why I started blogging. The books I’ve read since are also indebted to the way this one paranormal romance teen novel revolutionized YA publishing. I will be forever grateful that I picked up this book in a fit of insomnia. —Dana

Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

Earlier this year, my beloved pitbull passed away. It was a heartbreaking loss, as anyone who has say goodbye to a pet knows, and one of the things that brought me some comfort was this little picture book given to me by my wonderful coworker Elizabeth. The book is fairly religious (which I am not), but it was impossible to not smile reading page after page of what a dog’s version of heaven might be like. I still get teary thinking about the spread on dogs who were never adopted on earth being given homes in the afterlife. It’s a book that brought me joy in a moment of great sadness, and this year I’m grateful for its existence and the thoughtful friend who gave it to me. —Kelly

Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

This is a book that I came across for the first time as an English and Women’s Studies student in undergrad, re-encountered in grad school, and have carried with me since. Anzaldúa makes a powerful case for the Mestiza as the future—a blend of identities (often ones that stem from histories of oppression like colonization and patriarchy) that give rise to something new. This new borderlands subjectivity is flexible and responsive; aware of its own history yet not bound to it. The blending of poetry, personal essay, academic literary theory, linguistics, memory, myth, and suggestion broke something open in me when I first encountered it. Having these different forms of communication—each with their own histories and relations to power and privilege—all mashed together helped me see some of my own prejudices in meaning-making. Initially, I took the highly academic and theoretical parts of this book more seriously, and treated the poetry and memoir as less rigorous. But, one of the things that Borderlands did for me was show me that I was making those value judgements about different communications, and helped me see how those value judgements were wrapped up in long legacies of elitism, racism, sexism, and more.

Lately, I’ve been coming back to one quote from Borderlands in particular: “But it is not enough to stand on the opposite river bank… a counterstance locks one into a duel of oppressor and oppressed… both are reduced to a common denominator of violence… At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal opponents somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes. Or perhaps we will decide to disengage from the dominant culture, write it off altogether as a lost cause, and cross the border into a wholly new and separate territory. Or we might go another route.” It reminds me that opposition is a strategy, but that ultimately we can’t be locked into binary opposition, or always define ourselves by what we are against. We need to be open to forging a new path, letting old dichotomies die out in favor of something newer, stranger, and more lovely. —Nina

1 COMMENT

  1. I so love reading the books my coworkers are thankful for! I forgot to add the book I’m incredibly thankful for right now, which is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. I return to this book whenever I find my creative life lagging and it always helps me to tap into the inspiration all around me. — Myf

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