As an author, people often ask me, “What books do you recommend?” It should be an easy question – there are so many! Ah, but there’s the rub – there are so many.
Still, sometimes I like to stop and be specific about the books that mean something to me and since ‘tis the season for being grateful, here are six books that make me thankful, ranging from a picture book that reminds me to be present as a mother to a novel with a funny, touching peek at family dynamics, just in time for the holidays.
1. The Three Questions by Jon Muth:
Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, this beautiful picture book reminds me that there is no time like the present – that sometimes, even when I feel like there are a million other things I need to do, nothing compares to (or is more important than) those precious minutes reading with my daughter on her bed, or watching her play at the park, or walking with her to school.
2. The Storm by Cynthia Rylant:
In the first of The Lighthouse Family series, Rylant introduces us to Pandora the cat, Seabold the dog, and a trio of orphaned mice. My six year old daughter loved these books dearly last year in kindergarten and they keep coming out time and time again for us to read. Like all of Rylant’s wonderful, vivid writing, they take you straight to the special lighthouse world of these animals and wrap you like a blanket in the story of how they came to be a family.
3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery:
Anne with an ‘e’, and her shenanigans, her love (and hate!) for Gil, her adopted family on the gorgeous Prince Edwards Islands (still one of my top places I long to go) simply define what childhood reading was like for me – the opportunity to love a character and her world so much I felt a part of her space.
4. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff:
One of the best young adult novels I’ve read in the last five years, this is the book I hand over when someone says, “I don’t read much YA – what should I read?” Beautifully written, both dystopian and real all at once, and wonderfully drawn characters about a young girl sent to live in England after a 21st war breaks out and her struggle to come of age in the unknown aftermath.
5. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx:
This is the book that will forever hold a spot in my heart as the novel where I came of age as a literary reader. I read it lakeside the summer after my freshman year of college, feeling very adult and English major-ish, completely on my own and without a teacher pointing me in any sort of direction. I simply swam in her rich language and let myself be carried away to Newfoundland and its quirky inhabitants. With this novel, I fell in love with character driven literary worlds and haven’t looked back since.
6. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper:
When I need to laugh, I reach for a Jonathan Tropper novel. While I love all his books, this one hit a deep emotional chord for me because beneath the vibrant, hilarious voice is a man who really understands family nuance and complexity – in all its dysfunctional, yet necessary, glory. A perfect side dish to any holiday.