Booksgiving: Books We’re Thankful For

There are many things to be thankful for, family, friends, experiences in life and challenges faced. But here at the Library Ladies we do tend to focus on one thing: books. So going into this season of thanksgiving, here is a list of some of the books that played an important part in our lives and for which we are thankful.

Serena’s Picks:

Book(s): “Song of the Lioness” quartet by Tamora Pierce

Why I’m Thankful: There are a lot of reasons why I’m thankful for reading this series as a middle school girl. There’s the obvious strong heroine who is making her way in a man’s world, proving her metal and taking names, of course. But there are also quite a few books that tackle this subject. What made this series stand out is how it also drew in other important aspects of Alanna’s life as a woman into the story. Always good at the fighting part, Alanna has more to learn about valuing her feminine side, learning the powerful magic of weaving and working with string. She also learns the crucial lesson that first love, while powerful, is not always the be-all, end-all of romance, and not to allow herself to be blinded by this first sweep of emotion. She goes on to have several romantic relationships before finally finding the one man who is right for her. As a young woman going through the angst of teenage years, this was a crucial lesson for me and one that is often missed in YA books today which often present the very trope-y, very silly “one true love” story as beginning and ending with the first guy the protagonist thinks is cute at age 16.

Book: “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

Why I’m Thankful: Between the book and the movie, I feel like “The Princess Bride” is the story that just keeps giving. It’s the ultimate comfort read book for me and was one of the first books I read that really showed what good comedy writing looks like. I have yet to find a fantasy comedy that even comes close (though I have read some other good ones). Goldman set a pretty high bar! Of course, it’s not just funny. It’s a high adventure fantasy where the action seems non-stop. Add on top of that the clever meta commentary of Goldman writing the book as if he is editing a dry, historical tome written by another author. Whenever times are tough, this is a book I’m thankful to have in my arsenal for re-reads.

Book(s): “Oz” series by L. Frank Baum

Why I’m Thankful: My family always read books together before bedtime. I think a lot of families do this, but my parents were super dedicated, and we were still doing it in junior high, I’m pretty sure. It was a really nice time, and we all enjoyed it. Of course, reading every night for so long, we had to have a bunch of books to get through. The “Oz” books were probably one of the first long series that we made it through with 14 books in total. Only a few of them stand out in my memory, but I do remember enjoying them all as we read them. I have a long list of books that I’m planning on reading to Will, and this series is right up there near the top! Not only do I hope that he enjoys them too, but I’m excited to revisit so many of the stories that I don’t remember as well.

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “Carrie” by Stephen King

Why I’m Thankful: It too me awhile in my younger elementary and high school years to find my people. As someone who went to the same institution from Kindergarten through senior year who was a misfit (and surrounded by a class of people who were notoriously awful), I was fairly bullied and lonely for a long time. So reading “Carrie” in middle school was INCREDIBLY cathartic for me. The story of a bullied teenage girl who finds out she has supernatural powers that empower her was something to strive for, and while I definitely knew the whole ‘and then she kills everyone at the Prom’ plot point, that was merely incidental (aaaand the cathartic part). But it was Stephen King’s rather authentic and wholly relatable teenage girl characters, Carrie and nice girl Sue Snell, that really spoke to me in the text. Plus, this was the second King book I’d ever read, and it solidified my love for the man.

Book: “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and David Gibbons (Ill.)

Why I’m Thankful: When I was a kid, I dabbled in comics on and off, but was more inclined to watch the movie or TV versions of my favorite DC superheroes and superheroines. Once I got to college, I did pick up graphic novels like “Maus”, “The Crow”, and “Bone”, but it wasn’t really my wheelhouse. And then I read “Watchmen” and everything changed. I was blown away by the intricate and dark storyline, the compelling and sometimes unsettling characters impressed,(Rorschach is a fave, even though he is a MONSTER in a lot of ways), and the inversion of superhero tropes and themes blew me away. I mean, when the big reveal about Ozymandias’s plan happened, I literally gasped in the middle of the library I was taking a work break in. It’s one of my very favorite books, and I credit “Watchmen” with my current love of graphic novels.

Book(s): “The Baby-Sitters Club” by Ann M. Martin

Why I’m Thankful: Soooo along with the scares of “Fear Street”, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, and “Goosebumps”, the other big series that I loved as a kid was “The Baby-Sitters Club”. And I think that it was this series that made me a compulsive reader, as I was always wanting to get my hands on the next in the series (unlike “Fear Street” or “Goosebumps”, where I skipped around based on plot). The stories of a group of middle school girls running a business, navigating friendships, and growing up were aspirational for me, as at the time I didn’t really have the ideal group of girl friends that the books presented. Mary-Anne was my favorite, but I wished I was as cool as Stacey, and all of them made me want to be a good babysitter (and I was, during the few babysitting jobs I had as time went on). “The Baby-Sitters Club” will always have a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to shape and change as time goes on (and for when my own daughter gets to be the age where she could read them)!

What books are you most thankful for? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: November 2020

Tis the season of being thankful! And while there are a lot of things in the world that are pretty darn stressful right now, there’s still a lot of good to be found. The leaves are all falling, the scarves are getting pulled out, pumpkin spice has invaded everything. And, of course, a lot of new books are coming out! Here are the one’s we’re most looking forward to this month.

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “The Awakening” by Nora Roberts

Publication Date: November 4, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I’ve read a few of Nora Roberts’s traditional romances years ago. And I know she’s written a bunch of books in other genres. So when I saw this book pop up as the first in a new fantasy trilogy for her, I thought now was as good a time as any to jump on that train. The story features Breen, an unassuming young woman who travels to Ireland in search of her past and finds an entire different world. Like, literally, a different world with dragons, and fairies, and all of that magical stuff. With her small life exploding around her, Breen must come to find a place for herself within a destiny that threatens to overwhelm her.

Book: “The Burning God” by R. F. Kuang

Publication Date: November 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I know, I know! I haven’t even gotten around to reading/reviewing the second book in this trilogy! But man, it’s not for want of trying. Turns out, super popular books are kind of hard to get your hands on when you’re on a miles-long waiting list at the library. There’s a decent chance I’ll just break down and buy the sequel just so I can get to this book which I have an e-ARC of all queued up. Oh the trials of blogging, when you miss the initial rush and then end up with ARCs for later books in series that you still need to catch up on. It’s like whining about having too many good things! Without knowing what happens in the middle book in this trilogy, I don’t have anything specific about this book that I’m looking forward to other than my complete confidence in the strength of the author’s abilities to tell a darn good story.

Book: “The Princess Knight” by G.A. Aiken

Publication Date: November 24, 2020

Why I’m Interested: I enjoyed the first book in this series, “The Blacksmith Queen,” so I’m definitely curious to check this one out as well. From the sounds of it, it’s not a direct sequel in that our main characters are no longer Keely and Cain. Instead, this story focuses on Gemma, a member of the War Monks who have made warfare an art form. But she parted with them to support her sister Keely in her bid for the throne and now finds herself working with an untrained, unruly collection of fighters. A challenging situation is made all the more difficult by the strangely compelling leader of this group, Quinn. While the first book in this series didn’t blow my socks off, it was still a fun read, so I’m curious to see whether this change in focal characters will add or substract from my overall experience.

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and A Half Century of Silence” by Becky Cooper

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: True crime continues to be a hot commodity, and as it continues to be sought out by the public, people are starting to examine it as a form of ‘entertainment’ and trying to find ways to make it less problematic. I for one am all for this, and I’m therefore “We Keep The Dead Close” caught my attention. Author Becky Cooper first heard about the long unsolved murder of Jane Britton when she was an undergrad at Harvard, the tale having transformed into something of an urban legend. Cooper was interested in trying to solve what exactly had happened to her, as the real Jane seemed to have gotten lost in the campus lore. She talks to people who knew Jane, family members, classmates, and even the man who was rumored to have been her killer. Going beyond the usual whodunnit format, “We Keep the Dead Close” will no doubt be more than what I usually expect from the genre.

Book: “Those Who Prey” by Jennifer Moffett

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Why I’m Interested: You had me at ‘campus cult’, Moffett. “Those Who Prey” showed up on a 2020 YA Thriller List and I made quick note of it. One of my favorite topics in true crime is that of cults and cult activity, and it has been that way ever since I was in California when Heaven’s Gate committed their mass suicide, so of COURSE I am eager to give this a whirl. Emily has found herself isolated and lonely during her freshman year at college. Far from home and not making friends easily, she is excited when a group approaches her and starts to befriend her. She joins the Kingdom for the companionship, and is eager to make new friends and find a stronger relationship with God. But the longer she stays, the stranger things get. And by the time she’s on a mission trip in Italy, things have gone terribly wrong. Consider me fully on board.

Book: “These Violent Delights” by Chloe Gong

Publication Date: November 17, 2020

Why I’m Interested: This one is a BIT out of my usual wheelhouse, for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s technically a fantasy, or at least is described as such. The second is that it’s a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”, a play and story that I, as a rule, don’t really care for. But “These Violent Delights” is catching my eye because I love the idea of the 1920s Shanghai setting, and there is mention of a monster. Juliette and Roma are former loves who find themselves now on the opposite sides of a gang war. Juliette’s Scarlet Gang has run things for generations, and Roma’s White Flowers are gunning to take the business and power away. But when members on both sides start dying horribly by their own hands, Juliette and Roma have to set aside their differences, and feelings, and try to figure out what has them in danger. I may be gambling on this one, but I’m excited to do so.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!