Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Books I Am Grateful For

Everyone is grateful this week. I know I am. And for the usual suspects. My family, my friends, my health, roof over the head, shoes on the feet, and food in the belly. I am lucky. I am blessed.

But let's move on to what I'm also grateful for. And that, my friends, are books. I'm glad people read 'em. I'm glad people write 'em. I'm glad people buy 'em. Whether online, in the store, or on the street. Seems like wherever there are people, there are books. Except where there are not. Because I know not everyone is lucky enough to have their very own books.

I couldn't imagine a life without books. I don't want to get all preachy or anything. You all know a place or a person in your community that needs a book, so maybe you'll find a way to get them one this holiday season.

But I am very grateful I grew up in a house where there were a lot of books. These are some of the books I am especially grateful for:

The Night Before Christmas. This is the first book I remember owning. According to my parents, even before I could read, I read this book. Because it had been read to me so many times, I had memorized every word and the point in time that my parents would turn each page. Apparently, I plopped the book in my lap and began to 'read' the book in its entirety, out loud, for my Uncle Anthony. At the tender age of 3. He thought I was a prodigy.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I can remember sitting in a circle at school while my teacher read me this book. I was so excited. I don't have a lot of vivid memories of people reading to me (even though I know they did) so I really treasure this one. The fact that this Caterpillar grew. That we got to hear the words and then the teacher would flip the book around and show us the picture practically blew my mind.

The Swiss Family Robinson. I didn't like this book. But I was really happy to receive it. At some point in elementary school, my teacher made the announcement that she was going to give each one of us in the class our very own book to keep. This meant that it wasn't one of the books everyone in our class had to read together and then discuss. The teacher claimed that each book was hand-picked and no two were alike. The few weeks after the announcement, there was a lot of anticipation about what books we might get. Lord knows why my teacher thought I would enjoy a story about a family of 3 boys shipwrecked on an island in the East Indies. But it was a gift for me. And despite the fact that I didn't particularly like it or that I don't even remember which teacher gave it to me, I think it's amazing that, 20 years later, I remember which book I got. It meant something that a book was chosen especially for me.


  1. It sounds as if you were a cute 3-year old, Melissa! Thanks for sharing these three books and the memories associated with them.

    I'm grateful to a person who gave me books. A great aunt used to buy me hardback children's editions of classic novels. They were beautiful objects as well as being great reads.

    A book that changed my life was sent to me by my French pen pal when I was 13: 'Le Grand Meaulnes' by Alain-Fournier. Mystical, mysterious and exotic it had a profound affect on me.

    Good wishes.

  2. Oh yes! 'The Night Before Christnmas' - pure enchantment for me as a child. I felt that I had 'entered into it' and was experiencing the magic of Christmas, totally. On the other hand, an illustrated (Mergaret Tempest) 'The Lord's Prayer' given by an aunt when I was two had such beautiful illustrations and 'old' lettering, plus shiny strokeable pages, that I fell in love with that, too.
    Books are so special.
    I do have my own book now, 'Violet Jelly' (the first of a trilogy) and that is exciting, too, especially sharing it with children - at libraries and in schools
    Web site - if you want to look.

  3. Hi Melissa! I totally agree - I can't imagine life without books either! I remember the first book I've read that was given to me by my father was 'The Sword of Mars' - I don't remember the story now but that was the beginning of my constant craving for books. It was my father who encouraged me to read, although I had to read on my own as a child. :) Another wonderful post from you, Melissa! :)

  4. Hear, hear! I'm grateful to my aunt for giving me the first Anne of Green Gables even though I snuck away from being her "mother's helper" to read it in her cedar closet. My mom was kind enough to buy me the rest of the series.

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Great books! I still love The Very Hungry Caterpillar :)

    I'm grateful for all of Harry Potter and everything Jane Austen. I also have some special memories of reading Of Mice and Men and The Awakening in high school. It's weird to think how a story or book can change your whole thought process... your whole life, in fact. John Steinbeck made me want to be a writer and Kate Chopin stirred my feminist consciousness.

    Two books I discovered this year that I'm am supremely grateful for are Wifey by Judy Blume and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I can't believe I went so many years without reading either of those!

  6. Love your book list. Mine would have Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka, National Velvet, A Very Young Rider, A Tale Of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Old Yeller, Great Expectations. I stopped before I got carried away. YIKES! :)

    Love this post.