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National Gratitude Month is a great time to take a moment and consider everything you’re thankful for. As avid booklovers, we know that the written word can have a profound impact on our lives. At Writer’s Relief, we’re very thankful that these ten books came into our lives—and we wanted to share them with you!
10 Books We’re Thankful Were Written
The Moth edited by Catherine Burns
A collection of fifty enthralling personal tales, this book also explains how this grassroots storytelling event evolved from a porch gathering in Georgia to become a podcast and award-winning radio program with The Moth Radio Hour.
Reader recommendation: The Moth introduced me to the vast power of telling your own story and the entire Moth storytelling phenomenon.
Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
A rousing introduction to Octavia E. Butler’s award-winning writing, Bloodchild and Other Stories serves as a gateway to many worlds which may help us come to terms with our own. “Amnesty” and “The Book of Martha,” two stories that debuted in this print edition, speak directly to modern concerns with a timeless voice.
Reader recommendation: This book, along with this author, inspired me to start writing because of the way Butler fuses the African-American experience with science fiction and fantasy. This hybridization of culture made Butler a pioneer, and her prowess still deserves to be celebrated.
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Scott Peck tells us that life can be tough, but he also explains various elements of love and relationship dynamics in a way that focuses on making our lives easier and more rewarding. Diving deep into relationship roles and explaining how they work and why they matter, Peck’s psychological analysis of intimacy and traditional value systems seeks to help anyone better understand themselves and those around them.
Reader recommendation: Peck’s journey is centered on giving and graciousness; a science of care is something from which we can all benefit. A key tenet of the book is showing how the opposite of love is apathy, rather than hate. I’m thankful for the way Peck shows us that love is a verb: It takes work but is well worth the effort.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Eddie loses his life while saving a child. In his passing, he finds that Heaven is more than a mere place. His lifetime is explained to him by five people, ranging from a loved one to total strangers. What he thought was an unimportant lifetime turns out to be brimming with meaning in ways both big and small. As it turns out, we all matter.
Reader recommendation: This book shows how deeply we can impact others without even realizing it. Moments that go unnoticed have major impacts on people we think we never even met, and that is why a thankful and generative perspective is important. I love this book!
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey
With a wealth of new applied science, Spark seeks to educate us on the impact that lifestyle has on cognitive health. It explores, in depth, how aerobic exercise affects us on a biological level and discusses specific topics such as depression, addictions, Alzheimer’s, and other cerebral afflictions.
Reader recommendation: This book is fantastic because Ratey breaks down the science behind the importance of implementing cardio exercise into your daily routine, and details the positive influences this type of exercise has on the brain.
Why Honor Matters by Tamler Sommers
Tamler Sommers, unconventional philosopher and co-host of the Very Bad Wizards podcast, discusses how—and why—various allegedly archaic systems of honor still matter in a modern world.
Reader recommendation: I’m grateful for Why Honor Matters because it reframes a traditional, exclusion-based concept in a way that can be helpful to one’s self and community. Turning negativity into positivity and empowerment is something worth considering. It’s also a pretty funny and palatable philosophy read!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
In 1939 Munich, as forces threaten to crush her and her foster family, Liesel Meminger survives by thieving. This sparse life is lightened by her new obsession; her life is forever changed when she learns to read. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief explores the fact that writing and reading can nourish one’s very being.
Reader recommendation: I appreciate that this beautiful, magical, and tragic interpretation of a real and horrible point in human history exists. Zusak allows us to relate to situations that most of us could never imagine contending with, simply via our love of books.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Joan Didion explores what life and death are. A representation of life and all it brings expresses her reaction to grieving her husband’s death; this grief is an exploration of the actual concept of life. The Year of Magical Thinking shows us how unique our too-familiar suffering can be.
Reader recommendation: I admire the relatable way Didion examines death from a cerebral perspective and shows how sharp pangs of grief can pierce even the most incisive minds. The Year of Magical Thinking is the kind of writing that brings us together, even during hard times.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a perfectly ordinary Shire hobbit living a perfectly ordinary life. He doesn’t desire the adventure that winds up on his stoop—or so he thinks! A classic and near-perfect representation of a hero’s journey, The Hobbit is often seen as the foundation of the modern fantasy genre.
Reader recommendation: I’m thankful for this book because it is an accessible entry point into Tolkien’s world. With so much to enjoy and explore, you might be inclined to agree!
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke become fast friends after a race on their first day of fifth grade. Together, they discover the magical land of Terabithia; it is a place where only they can go. This coming-of-age tale comes full circle when Jess decides to enter Terabithia alone. When real-world calamity comes calling, Jess will have to depend on his family for guidance.
Reader recommendation: I enjoy the way Katherine Paterson’s book frames and explains grief, even to the young. It is a shining example of Young Adult literature that shows the raw power a good story can possess.
Question: What book are you most thankful for?