November 22: Thanksgiving freebie -- tell us what you are thankful for! Books you are thankful for!
Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday, and I definitely have a lot to be thankful for! While my list will mainly be comprised of books, because I do try to stick to that topic, the things I am most thankful for are not things at all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
1. My daughter, Eleanor - I definitely do not share photos of my child on my blog because let's be real: there are a lot of weirdos and creeps on the Internet. But, I do talk about her and at great length sometimes, as she relates to certain books and people that I read about. If you did not know before, Eleanor is named after one of my heroines, Eleanor of Aquitaine. When I was pregnant, I had just recently moved to a city where I knew almost no one, so much of my time was spent at the public library. Every Saturday, week after week, I would check out up to the max of 40 books and it was in this time that I discovered the indomitable spirit of this woman who lived so long ago and had all but become a legend due to the fantastical stories that grew up around her in the centuries since her death. But the truths we do know were enough for me and so I named my daughter for her. I am so grateful that God trusted me to be Eleanor's momma and I hope that as she grows, she too will display the courage, tenacity, and creativity of her namesake.
2. My family - This is kind of a gimme, right? But seriously, my family is wonderful - sometimes kind of crazy, but no matter what, they are there for me. I was lucky to be one of those kids growing up that we all lived relatively close to one another (my mom and I, aunts, uncles, and grandparents), so we saw each other constantly. I sometimes hear a kind of formality that some people have with their families and honestly it makes me kind of sad for them - having to knock on the door to your grandparents' home and waiting to be let in? Not us! You walked right in, gave hugs, and headed for the kitchen because there was always some treat that Grandma had waiting for just such occasions. The distance between us is hard now, as Eleanor and I are about six hours away now, so the trips home are even more special and meaningful now. My mom gets an extra special shout out because of her total and unwavering committment to being the best grandma ever (tied with my own gradma of course!) After I had Eleanor, she stayed for two weeks to help me get settled. Following that, she then drove a total of 12 hours each weekend (Friday after work to come and Sunday afternoon to go back home) to keep taking care of us. Now the visits are about once a month, and I am eternally grateful for a momma who takes such good care of me and my sweet girl.
3. My church - I can't even begin to describe the feeling one has when you find a place that you truly belong. Prior to Eleanor's birth, I had not attended church regularly since high school. Once she was born however, I was determined to have her baptized at the church where my grandparents had been married and my mom baptized as well - in the small town where my grandparents once again reside now (where they were born, grew up, met and got married). It's a small town, so small in fact, that nearly everyone is somehow related or connected to everyone else and the pastor at the time is my 3rd, (possibly 4th?) cousin. In the days after Eleanor's baptism, Pastor Kyle had emailed me a list of Covenant churches in our area. I visited the first one on the list and never went anywhere else. My church family is amazing and wonderful and I have never once felt out of place. I am so beyond happy to have a place where Eleanor and I belong, even when we are so far from our family.
Now...books! You may surprised to find that, while nearly anything I read now is non-fiction, once upon a time I read fiction. A lot of fiction. Mostly in elementary, middle, and high school. And almost always when I was supposed to be doing math instead.
4. The Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins/High/University, Goosebumps, Fear Street - These books made me the reader that I am today. I devoured any and every book in these multiple series that I could get my hands on. The Baby-Sitters Club especially, the super editions, mysteries, special editions, you name it. Same with Fear Street - I could not get enough, especially of the specials, like Fear Street Cheerleaders, Fear Street Seniors, etc. I read fewer of the general Fear Street ones though, as I liked the recurring characters of the different sets - even as R.L. Stine kept killing them off. The Fear Street Saga (The Betrayal, The Secret, The Burning) are among my very favorites of all time. I read those over and over, to the point they are falling apart.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - It almost seems sacrilegious to have this book in second place compared to the above, as they are not 'great literature'. But it is because I as such a devout reader of any and everything that I could read this book when I did - the summer going into sixth grade. I kid you not, I was spending an afternoon (or possible the weekend, or a whole week) at my grandparent's house and my youngest uncle still lived with them but was in college. Much of his stuff was in the basement in an office area and I found this old, yellow covered book that piqued my interested. I started reading and an hour or so had gone by, my grandma called down the stairs to see what I was up to. I said I was reading a book about a bird and she thought nothing of it until I showed her the book and she nearly had a heart attack. Grandma was so convinced my mom was going to be upset for letting me read TKAM at such a young age, given the themes, but I kept reading and everyone survived.
6. Mystery of the Pirate's Ghost - To say I loved this book in elementary school would be an understatement. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was about a family who inherit an old house and the kids find a secret passage and skeleton and there's talk of ghosts and treasure galore. I literally had the book checked out for nearly all of my 5th grade year and read and re-read it constantly. I so desperately hoped the school librarian would see how much I loved it and let me keep it at the end of the year, but no such luck. I found a used edition (it was written in the 60s) on Amazon and few years ago and it is still as wonderful as I remember.
7. Anne of Green Gables (and all sequels) - Oh how I wanted to be Anne Shirley! This was, of course, back before my irrational fear and subsequent teasing of gingers (mostly I jest, I am good friends with a few redheads and for whatever reason, the hair jokes just come easily. In all seriousness, yes I do believe gingers have souls.). I loved how courageous Anne was and how she never gave up. I wanted to be her and live on Prince Edward Island and have grand adventures with my BFF Diana Barry. My elementary school best friend and I played Anne of Green Gables every day at recess. I would be Anne, she would be Diana and we would re-enact scenes from the book. We never could convince any of the boys to be Gilbert though.
8. Matilda - I don't know that I really have to explain this one. Who would not love a story about a girl who loves books and has magical powers?
9. Little Women - Much like Anne and Matilda, I wanted to BE JO MARCH. I love to read and write and wanted to go off and get a job with a newspaper and write, write, write. Being a journalist was a goal I had for a long time. As a freshman in college, I wanted to become a sports writer for the Denver Post and write my novels and bask in all the wonderfulness of being a writer. I, though, would have married Laurie. It probably helped that in the movie, he was played by Christian Bale.
These remaining titles are ones that I love so much, and were formative books in my childhood and teen years that kept me hooked on reading and inspired something in me to keep reading and learning even when I was done with college (both times!), and to also try and instill that same love of reading in my own child:
10. Number the Stars (so gut-wrenchingly beautiful)
11. Tuck Everlasting (can't wait to start this one!)
12. A Little Princess (and this one!)
13. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (and this one!)
14. The Shining (obviously she won't be reading this one for a while)
15. Jurassic Park (or this one)
16. The Outsides (not this one either)
17. And Then There Were None (or this one)
18. The Great Gatsby (or this one)
Happy Thanksgiving! Who and/or what are you thankful for this year? Leave a link to your Top Ten so I can take a look.