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Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey – If we’re talking about books I’m thankful for, I’m going to have to go all the way back to some of the earliest books that I remember encountering. Make Way for Ducklings is one of the first picture books I remember my dad reading to me. The thing that makes it special is that my dad never just read to me. Ducklings takes place in Boston, the city my father grew up in, so as we would go through the book, he used to point out all the places he recognized and tell his own stories about his time there.
Tuesday by David Wiesner – A picture book without words, Tuesday is a story about a night when frogs are able to fly. Once again, it’s a book I have vivid memories of my dad reading to me. How did he read a book without any words? Well, I don’t mean to brag, but my dad made the absolute best sound effects. One page that sticks in my mind is a bunch of frogs watching TV while a suspicious cat looks on.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I don’t think I need to reiterate my adoration for The Little House on the Prairie series. It was one of the first books I remember reading where I really identified with the main character. Sure, my life was nothing like Laura’s, but it didn’t stop me from dreaming of life in the wide, open prairies.
Matilda by Roald Dahl – Dahl was one of the first authors I had to read EVERYTHING by, but Matilda is the one that stuck with me the most. Dahl had a way of capturing childhood without shying away from black humor. He let children be smarter than the adults and question the way things were.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – The next couple books are ones I encountered in high school. I was a junior when I explored the melancholic world of Esther Greenwood. I finally felt like I was reading books by authors who were reflecting my own experiences even though it was written by Plath forty years earlier.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – This is a book I’m thankful for because it has been one that I’ve been able to revisit since the first time I read it. Smith’s novel is a sprawling tale that follows the Nolan family, particularly 11 year old Francie. A young girl living in poverty, Francie was always able to find the beauty in life.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – It was around this time when I was discovering “classic” novels outside of ones that were assigned to me in school and I was beginning to learn that they weren’t all boring slogs to read like Great Expectations. Cat’s Cradle is one of the funniest, smartest books I’ve read.
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles – Not a book I would recommend to everyone, but it’s important to me because of all the time I spent with it. The Sheltering Sky was the book I wrote my final thesis on in college. It’s the story of three travelers who slowly shed their identities as they cross the brutal landscapes of North Africa.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – We’ve talked about our love of this book a lot, (see here, here, and here) but I want to make a point of saying how thankful I am for the audiobook version of Attachments. I’ve listened to this book during car trips at least a half dozen times and it always makes the time pass enjoyably.The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz – This was one of the first graphic novel memoirs I read and it solidified my love of the genre and for small press comics. I’ve attended the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland four years in a row now (having met Julia Wertz the first time) and I’ve discovered a lot of hard working comics artists whose work I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.