Top Ten Tuesday is a fantastic meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish.
I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I am thankful that my parents home was spared when the destructive EF-4 Tornado ripped through Washington. I am thankful that my family and friends all lived through the experience. I am thankful that, in spite of close friends and community members losing their homes, that the community has pulled together – really, that the country has come together in a way that is awesome and inspiring to watch. I am thankful that I am in a position to make a monetary donation, even though I would much rather be there to lend my back, hands, and feet to the recovery effort. I am thankful, most of all, for living in a world where people are capable of putting themselves second and the needs of the community first. And so, in that light, I’d like to present the list of books that I am thankful for: because they have taught me lessons of peace, faith, community, love, the importance of stories, friendship, grief, the value of our elders, and heroism.
1. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
This book taught me mostly about miracles. About how we view them and how we take away from their awesome power by flinging the word around. It also contains one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. I just think about this book, sometimes I look at it, and I’m overwhelmed by a sense of peace. It doesn’t hurt that I also start singing the old hymn,
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
- It is Well with my Soul by Horatio Spafford/Phillip Bliss
I’m an evangelist for Peace Like a River and think it would be a perfect gift to give any reader this holiday season.
2. Returning to the Lakota Way by James M. Marshall III
This book of stories and insights by James Marshall really spoke to me about the value of faith. In a time where it would be easy to lose faith, I watch as my hometown of Washington, IL rallies around one another and, like Iktomi, believes they can fly. I am so proud of them and I have every ounce of faith that they will pull through this.
3. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This heartbreakingly beautiful book taught me about the importance of community. As with another book on this list, that lesson on the importance of community is something I’m seeing back home right now. I am thankful that we, as human beings, are capable of forming and nuturing bonds of community, much like the ones that were evidenced in Saenz’s story – even during some of the most difficult times that we, as humans, face.
4. Every Day by David Levithan
I really struggled to pick the perfect book for this one. It’s a word that’s used so often to describe actions, emotions, and thoughts that can also be anything but – so I finally settled on David Levithan’s Every Day because it’s a great example for me. I’m thankful for love. Love that surpasses all, love that can look beyond skin, gender, sexuality, actions, pasts, futures, and words. Love that is unconditional in every way.
5. The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney
I can’t think of a better title for this part of my list. I’m a book lover – I have been reading since I’ve been big enough to hold a book open. There is absolutely nothing that I love more than a good story and I grew up with storytellers in the form of my father and grandfather. So I am thankful for this book that not only celebrates storytelling in its story, but also in the title (and was a big reason I picked it up).
6. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
One of the biggest messages I took away from John Green’s most recent novel was the importance of friendship. While this could tie into the idea of community, I think it’s something that is much more intimate. A close friend is that person who will do anything for you, who will be there with you through thick and thin. It’s often said that the person you marry should be your best friend, and for good reason. The bonds of friendship are to be so secure they can weather anything that’s thrown at them. I think this book portrays those bonds extremely well.
7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
It’s a strange thing to be thankful for, but A Monster Calls reminded me, as I sobbed my way through it, of the importance of grief. It’s part of living through the cycle of life and it’s often looked at as something to be dreaded or feared – but, in reality, I am thankful for this phase because it gives me a way to mourn events, things, and most importantly, people who deserve to be mourned. Think about what life would be like without grief? Would we just pass by important, tragic events without giving them a second thought? It’s a frightening thought and something I was considering while I was creating this list.
8. The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright
Harold Bell Wright wrote quite a few books and The Shepherd of the Hills is one of his most famous. In this story, an older man moves to a place in the Ozarks and the stories of the folk there come to light as a result. This book makes me thankful for the lessons we can learn from those older than us. In a culture where we are constantly looking for shiny and new things, I think it’s important to be thankful for the wisdom, grace, generosity, and love of our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and more.
9. 8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
It’s pretty easy to see talk about heroes these days. We have a military that day in and day out place their lives on the line, who separate from families to heed the call of the country. We have people who drop everything to help stricken cities, towns, and countries in distress. We have people who campaign tirelessly for food and clothing and medicine for those who live in complete poverty. So what I love about 8th Grade Super Zero is that Rhuday-Perkovich shows us how being a hero isn’t always about the huge, grand gestures. While the world absolutely needs those people it also needs the boy who is willing to wear a pair of shoes that is.. well, embarrassing.
10. A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
And finally, I’m thankful for a culmination of everything I’ve talked about. I’m thankful that there are books out there like this one who sum everything up – from history to love, grief and community, friendship, faith, and peace. This is one of my favorite books – hands down, because it embodies everything that I am thankful for.
What books remind you of things to be thankful for? Chime in!