Lowell Reading Club: Books that Make Us Thankful

While Thanksgiving is behind us, the holiday got us thinking about which books make us feel particularly grateful. These are books that lead us to feel thankful either because of their contents or what they represent to us personally. Take a look at our favorites and let us know if they make you feel thankful too.

Be aware that Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. As part of the Amazon Associate program, qualifying purchases made through these links may result in us earning a commission. However, you don’t have to make a purchase to read these titles. With a library card, you should be able to borrow them all for free through the Kent District Library. 

Amanda’s Pick: Thankful to be Back in the Reading Habit

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
3.5 stars out of 5

It may seem odd to rate a book a mere 3.5 stars and be thankful for it. However, I’m thankful for The Starless Sea because it was the 50th book I read this year. After spending years not reading for myself but to and with my kids, this past April I decided to pick up books for myself again. And while the rating of this book doesn’t necessarily reflect that I loved it, I’m still thankful that I did read it and enjoyed some aspects of it.

This is Morgenstern’s second book. Coincidentally enough, her first was likely one of the last I read in 2011 before having kids and taking a long hiatus of reading my own book selections. Morgenstern’s descriptions make you feel like you’re part of the book. I could see the Starless Sea and wanted to experience it myself. I didn’t love this book because the plot moves slowly. At 495 pages, it’s on the longer side of most novels by today’s standards. I don’t mind long novels as long as I want the story to continue. There were some parts of this story where I was just wishing it would move along more quickly.

I also didn’t feel a connection with the characters. Sure, they were interesting, but the the strong point in the writing for me was the scenery and not those moving within it. Zachary Era Rawlings has discovered a place where books line walls and fill rooms. It’s a magical place. But some do not like that it exists. Zachary spends the novel meeting those who become friends and allies as well as those who do not like the existence of this place all while he’s learning about it himself and how he got there in the first place.

This novel is certainly worth picking up, especially if you’re familiar with Morgenstern’s Night Circus and enjoyed it. I preferred her first novel and do hope that she writes more, but this one didn’t wow me.

Maryalene’s Pick: Thankful for Family Stability

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
5 out of 5 stars 

I was blessed with good parents, a stable home and an overall happy childhood. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized not everyone is fortunate to have these things.

When we decided to share books that make us grateful, I immediately thought of the novels I’ve read in which children don’t have stability, either because of parental failure, poverty or some other reason outside their control. These books almost always make me feel more appreciative of my family life. I almost picked We Never Asked for Wings, a novel about children whose teen mother has grown up but has yet to pull the pieces of her life together, but I’m going with The Glass Castle instead because it is a true story.

My GoodReads review of the book is short and sweet:

I’ll file this under: things that make me feel better about my parenting.

An incredible story about the resilience of kids and the failures of adults.

The longer version of that review is that the story follows two parents, marred by mental illness, who drag their children across the country from one one bad situation to the next. Jeannette Walls overcame that troubled start to go on to become a successful journalist and author, and in her memoir, you hear not only about the struggle but also the adoration she and her siblings had for their parents when they were at their best. It’s a heart-wrenching tale that makes me all the more grateful for the stability I had growing up and that my kids have now.

Maryalene’s Read Aloud Pick: Kids, Be Thankful for What You Have

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5 out of 5 stars

This one is fresh in my mind because we just finished it as a read aloud in our house. I’ve actually read it at some point to all five of my kids, and each time, it amazes me that such a simple story can hold their attention so well.

Little House in the Big Woods is the first in a series of books, the most famous of which is probably Little House on the Prairie. The book is a collection of stories that shed light on what life was like more than 100 years ago. We hear how the Ingalls family stored up food for the winter, how Pa played the fiddle to provide entertainment on the cold evenings and how a trip to town was a special treat.

While there have been some concerns raised in recent years about how the series references Native Americans, that doesn’t seem to be an issue in this book. However, it is certainly a product of its times. Girls were expected to play quietly and primly, Sunday was a day to (quite literally) do nothing and calves were killed so cheese could be made.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but it is always my hope that my kids will listen to this book and realize that material things are not needed for happiness. I hope that they will hear how Laura and Mary each have one rag doll and are thrilled to get mittens and peppermint candy for Christmas. Maybe it will spur them to look around and think twice before complaining about what they don’t have. Maybe it will make them a little more thankful…or as I said, maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

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