I’m not in the US, so I actually didn’t even realize it was Thanksgiving this weekend. I was surprised when I saw that the topics for both Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday this week were “books you are thankful for.” Since I participate in both of these, and I don’t want to make two back-to-back posts on the same topic, I decided to go ahead with the books I’m thankful for on Tuesday, and another thankfulness-related topic for Wednesday.
Honestly, I have a lot of reasons to be thankful for books and reading. My original idea was to swap today’s topic for 10 reasons that I’m thankful for reading in general since I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with ten books to discuss, but the further I dug into it, the more I realized there are tons of books that I’m thankful for. Books and reading have always been a huge part of my life, so I decided to pick 10 of the books that have been influential in some way throughout my life as the books I’m most thankful for.
Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1) A Boy in the Doghouse by Betsey Duffey
This is not the first book I ever read, and I’m pretty sure it’s not even the first chapter book I read, but this book by far stands out as a childhood favourite. This is the one book I distinctly remember reading over and over again for years. The book is about a young boy named George who is determined to train his new puppy, Lucky, to prove to his parents that the dog should be allowed to stay. The book is told in alternating perspectives between George and Lucky, and the chapters from Lucky’s point of view are just so cute! It was a lot of fun to read what dog training techniques look like to a dog. I’m thankful for this book because it provided me with hours of entertainment throughout my childhood, and because it was one of my earliest favourites.
2) Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
This book itself is not necessarily one of my favourites, but it sparked my years-long obsession with The Babysitters Club series. For most of my elementary school years, I devoured anything Babysitters Club related. I bought all the new releases and even some merchandise from the Scholastic catalogs, and collected over 100 books from the series, which I read over and over for years. The series is about a group of 13-year-old girls who all like to baby-sit, and who form a club to help people in their neighbourhood find babysitters more easily by calling just one place to reach several of them. When I first read the series, I thought the girls were so mature and it seemed like they had so much fun babysitting. I’m thankful for this book because it was the first in a series that pretty much defined my childhood.
3) Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain by Carolyn Meyer
This was another book series that became a major part of my childhood. This book is the first in the Royal Diaries series, which is now unfortunately out of print. Each book in the series focuses on a princess or member of the royal family as a pre-teen or teenager, told in the form of a fictional diary written by that character. I discovered this book while at the library one day during a school break. I used to go there for hours while my mom worked when I was too young to stay home alone, and spent hours reading books. This series sparked my interest in historical fiction and I even once assigned myself the task (although I never finished) of using the family trees provided in each of the book to try and create a master tree to see how the royal families all connected. I thought this series was so cool because it included a mix of famous figures like Marie Antoinette and Cleopatra and other royal figures that I’d never heard of, including Isabel. I’m thankful for this book and the series because it sparked my initial interest in historical fiction and history in general.
4) Wishbone Classics: The Odyssey by Joanne Mattern
My interest in this book series had a lot to do with my obsession with the Wishbone TV series, but both of these played a huge role in my interest in the classics. I’m not sure how widely known this series is, so for those who don’t know, Wishbone was a TV series that featured a dog named Wishbone who imagines himself as the lead character in famous classics, which are told alongside a parallel story about Wishbone’s owner, Joe. It sounds very strange, but it was a great show that really did a good job of giving a brief summary of many works of classic literature. This book series was a companion to the show which gave a children’s level version of the classic. Most of my original knowledge of classics came from this show and the books that went with them, and it was another series that I collected and read repeatedly. I’m thankful for this book and the rest of the series because it sparked my interest in reading the classics and gave me a good knowledge base about many of them for when I tackled the real version later on.
5) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I feel like this book has been coming up on a lot of my lists recently, but with good reason. This book was one of the first (Charlotte’s Web being the other big one, which only narrowly missed this list) book that I had the chance to study in detail at school. Our teacher read it to us in one of the earlier elementary school years, and I remember being completely fascinated by Narnia and the children’s adventures. Although I’ve had trouble getting into the rest of the series, this is a book I keep revisiting and it still feels as fresh every time. This book was the first true fantasy story I’d ever read, and it amazed me how C.S. Lewis could create such a vivid world filled with amazing creatures, and yet one that felt so real and possible. I’m thankful for this book because it was my first real introduction to fantasy as genre, which has since become one of my favourites.
6) The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
I think I’ve mentioned before that I almost missed out on this series and on Harry Potter because there was so much hype around them. I ended up obsessed with both because of a “book chat” with my former school librarian, where he read a couple of paragraphs with each. I was very quickly hooked on this book because of the snarky humour and the way that Lemony Snicket created such an intriguing plot. I thought the way that the author himself was a character within the series was such a unique concept, and I really loved the play on the whole trope of self-sufficient kids and completely ineffective adults. I also loved the way this series played with language, and how the author didn’t shy away from using difficult vocabulary. The overall style of the book was so compelling, especially for such a long series, and it was so easy to be drawn into the world. I’m thankful for this book for being the first in one of my all-time favourite series.
7) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Honestly, I’m thankful for the entire Harry Potter series, but it seemed appropriate to pick the book that started it all. My views on this one are actually very similar to my comments above for Narnia. The world that is created is fascinating, detailed and complex, and I love the way J.K. Rowling crafted this parallel wizarding world that really doesn’t seem all that impossible. This book was the perfect introduction to the series, especially for readers who were about the same age as Harry, like I was when I first read it. I love the way the series and the content grows with the characters, and I especially love how even seemingly insignificant details often come to play a huge role later on. It shows so much effort and devotion to crafting a fully-formed world, and it is always such a joy to read this series, no matter how many times I pick it up. And as much as I complain about the series being overhyped, I actually also love how it sparked such a global community of fans and got so many people reading. I’m thankful for this book and series for hands-down being my all-time favourite, and for giving a way for so many readers to connect and share their love for these books.
8) Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark
I can’t even remember what made me decide to pick this book, but I read it in eighth grade for a book report, where I had to pick any book I wanted and present it to the class. All through school, my reading was well above grade level and my parents had the problem of trying to find age-appropriate material that was also at a challenging enough level. This book was one of the first “adult”-level books that I remember reading, chosen from my mom’s collection. I don’t remember why I chose it, but I absolutely loved it. This book is about a prosecutor named Kerry visits a plastic surgeon after her daughter is injured in a car accident. While there, she notices that several of the doctor’s patients resemble a woman who was killed eleven years ago, which is understandably very creepy! Although I have not really enjoyed most the Mary Higgins Clark books I’ve read after this one, I was blown away by the mystery in this one and completely shocked by the ending. I’m thankful for this book because it was one of my first steps into the world of books written for adults, which led to me reading a lot more variety of books and genres.
9) A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
I’m not 100% sure if this is the first Nicholas Sparks book that I read, but it was definitely among the first. Nicholas Sparks was one of the first authors I really latched onto when I made that transition to adult books (I still feel weird calling them that, though). He quickly became my favourite author at the time and I devoured everything he wrote. A Bend in the Road is about a man named Miles who lost his wife in a hit-and-run accident two years ago, and wants to bring the driver to justice. Miles starts to fall in love with his son’s second grade teacher, but as the two of them grow closer, they soon realize they are connected by a secret that may change everything. I remember reading this book and several of Nicholas Sparks’ other early books so many times, and I loved the melodramatic storylines. At the time, I thought his writing style was amazing, although I’ve since moved on to other authors. I still buy his books and read them all, but most of them don’t have the same impact as this one did. I’m thankful for this book for being a long-time favourite and introducing me to an author who became a favourite for several years.
10) Mercy/My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I can’t for the life of me remember which of these books I read first. I remember reading My Sister’s Keeper during my first year of university because I wanted to see what all the hype was about, but I also seem to remember reading Mercy before that even though I have no idea when. Both books quickly became favourites, and Jodi Picoult is now my all-time favourite author. I love the way she explores complex issues in such a balanced way and with such wonderfully written, complex characters. Like all authors, she has some books that are better than others, but I have yet to find any Jodi Picoult book that I didn’t like at all. It takes a lot of skill to be able to navigate the topics she does in a way that is meaningful, thought-provoking and still entertaining, but that is exactly what she does. Jodi Picoult’s books are always my most anticipated of the year and I can’t wait to read each one as it comes out. I’m thankful for whichever of these two books I read first for introducing me to my now-favourite author and raising the bar for what I expect of a well-written book.