What does it mean to be thankful for a book?
Is it the first book you remember reading? First books are often the catalyst for a lifetime of reading. The first story you read may have guided you to a career path, a new interest, or helped you bond with someone special. It could have jump-started the habit of reading, which enlarged your vocabulary, improved your reading comprehension, and transformed books from objects into companions. The first book I remember reading is Little Bear’s Birthday Soup by Else Minarik. It’s the story of how Little Bear thinks no-one remembers his birthday, so he invites all his friends to share in birthday soup. The ingredients list of the soup inspired me to make a soup of mine, thus beginning a life-long love of cooking.
Is it a book that is important to you personally? Some books resonate with us on a personal level, reflecting experiences we’ve had while also pointing us towards new ways of looking at solutions. They can connect us through the story to others, making us feel less alone. They can also give us courage to live our lives in a better way.
Jennifer: I am most thankful for the book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. It is about a young girl from a prestigious family who is set to sail from her boarding school in England to America where her family awaits her. Charlotte’s apathetic guardian hurries her aboard the ‘Seahawk’ against the warnings of multiple people that this particular ship is too dangerous for a 13 year old to travel on unaccompanied.
After they set sail, the very innocent Charlotte trusts the captain with some information she shouldn’t and gets a friend in serious trouble. While protecting her friend, Charlotte accidentally injures the Captain, after which he refuses her protection, leaving her to fend for herself in the brutish environment aboard the ship.
By voluntarily taking on the role of a fallen shipmate, Charlotte gains the respect of the crew but the hatred of the Captain who feels she has become unnatural in acting as a man. As tensions come to a head, lies and betrayal from those around her force Charlotte to fight for her life against the Captain who was supposed to be protecting her.
In the end, Charlotte defeats the Captain and takes command of the ship. Once they arrive in America, Charlotte must decide what kind of life she wants to live: a life of pretty dresses among a stuffy family she hasn’t seen in years or living a life of danger on the seas with her crew mates.
I read this book when I was in elementary school and it taught me that you can accomplish things that seem impossible if you work hard and don’t give up. I also learned that you should have your friend’s backs even if it could get you into trouble and that you don’t have to believe the things people say about you as long as you believe in yourself.
Is it a book that changed your life? When a book give you a new direction, or knocks off the rust of daily living and refreshes your perspective, it can be powerful.
Bonnie: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. This was the first “self-help” book that I read voluntarily (Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People was required reading in Library School).
Johnson stresses the importance of adapting to change. In the end, it takes more energy to resist change than it does to accept it, face your fears and move forward. When I first read this book, I was unhappy with my position in the library and unsure how to remedy the situation. A friend suggested this book to me. After reading this book, I realized that what I needed was the courage to change my situation. I went back to Library School, finished my degree, and became a Senior Librarian.
AnnMarie: I am thankful to Ender’s Game. The plot twist toward the end of the story had a huge impact on me as a kid and resonates with me to this day. Not only did this book teach me how easy it is to be manipulated and lied to, but it simultaneously illustrated the dangers of treating anyone and anything as “Other”.
Is it a book that you recommend to others? Some books are so well-written that you want others to enjoy them. Pat Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind is such a book for me. His craft, careful plotting, and polished prose reaffirmed my trust in an author, and the voyage his story takes you on is like no other. He takes typical fantasy tropes and turns them on their head and reinvigorates them, and in the process echoes some of my favorite books.
Is a book you continually re-read? Books can sometimes offer a comforting or enjoyable head-space that we revisit again and again.
Josie: I am grateful for the Adventure Time comics. I’ve been reading these over the past month and they are so charming and silly. I read for all kinds of reasons but, these comics have been pure escapism for me.
Is it a book that reminds you of a time in your life that is important to you?
William: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
My seventh grade teacher would read excerpts from this book to the entire class and I was intrigued. This went on for about a week, but as a class we didn’t finish the book. We just moved on. My family was going through a divorce at the same time and we were about to be relocated off the military base in Heidelberg, Germany. It never crossed my mind to finish the book until I had already graduated from High School. I read it. Loved it. I’m thankful that I still go back to books I left behind in my past.
Whatever the reason, books give back to us in many ways.
On this day of giving thanks, tell us about the books you are thankful for.