The Books We're Thankful For

When it comes to Thanksgiving, librarians enjoy pumpkin pie and the Thanksgiving Day Parade as much as the next person. But it should come as no surprise that for the librarians at The New York Public Library, one of the things they're most thankful for are books.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, librarians enjoy pumpkin pie and the Thanksgiving Day Parade as much as the next person. But it should come as no surprise that for the librarians at The New York Public Library, one of the things they're most thankful for are books.

Lynn Lobash, Manager of Reader Services at NYPL, believes all book people "ask themselves at some point what it is about reading that is so important to them. For me it is about transcending the limitation of this one life. When we read we live many lives. We experience another consciousness, another country, another set of circumstances. I am also grateful for the act of reading -- the familiarity, the quiet, and co-creative process of spending time in a book. My favorite place to read is at home on my couch. This is what I imagine when they tell me to go to a peaceful place in yoga class -- me on my couch with a book."

What do you most enjoy about reading? We want to hear from you about your most valued book, after all 'tis the season to #thankbooks!

In the meantime, in celebration of Thanksgiving next week, below are the books that NYPL staffers are most thankful for.


I am thankful for Grace Lin's Starry River of the Sky. The plotting in this story woven with Chinese folktale is masterful! I will never forget the look of joy and amazement on my daughter's face when we reached the end and it all *snapped* into place. When it is good, it is really good. - Lynn, Readers Services

I'll always be grateful to a librarian at Mid-Manhattan who, when I told her some of the perplexing difficulties I was having with my then 4 year old son, suggested I read The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz. I knew something was not quite right, but I had never even heard of Sensory Processing Disorder. I recognized my son in the first few pages; noises too loud, clothes too scratchy, lights too bright, difficulty with spatial relations and fine and gross motor skills. Her book suggestion helped me get my son the help he needed and ten years later he's doing fine. - Maura, Volunteers Office

I am thankful for John Klassen's This Is Not My Hat. For the warm memories of my sons acting the story out repeatedly, for their giggles as the large fish puts two and two together, for their speculation over the little thief's ultimate fate, for the younger one's fascination with the illustration, I will be forever thankful. - Joshua, Spuyten Duyvil Library

There are two books for which I am very thankful. The first is God Got a Dog a collection of remarkably moving poetry by Cynthia Rylant paired with luminous illustrations by Marla Frazee. This collection of poems by turns joyful, painful, and poignant and funny made me cry and hug the book at the end. It's been my go-to gift for family and friends and I still break it out to read whenever I'm feeling at my lowest.

The second is Alanna:The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. I first read the author's work back as a youngster at a time when there were few great female protagonists to be had in sword and sorcery adventures. Tamora Pierce's story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy to become a knight and goes on to become a hero was my first real taste of something that saw girls taking on these kinds of roles. While nowadays there are many more strong female protagonists to choose from, it hasn't always been the case. These books sparked my love of fantasy adventure, strengthened my joy of reading and made me imagine being a writer myself someday. I have reread the entire quartet about Alanna (Song of the Lioness quartet) probably close to a hundred times now and hope to pass them on to my son and daughter when they're old enough. - Stephanie, Seward Park Library

I am thankful for the wit and spirit in Edward Abbey's The Fool's Progress. Abbey tells the story of Henry Lightcap, a very semi-autobiographical loner taking one last trip home to his brother in West Virginia, with little but a failing truck, an old mutt named Solstice, and frequent 6-packs of beer. He camps and barbecues. He discusses time, history, fate, and liberty with Sollie the dog. Think Travels with Charley meets A Confederacy of Dunces. Pure Americana. - Charlie, Inwood Library

My father was a warm intelligent man that I was lucky to call Dad. When he passed away 5 years ago, I was devastated to lose, not only my father, but also a mentor in life. A friend recommended When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron, to help me deal with my sadness. I am eternally grateful for the excellent, heartfelt suggestion and to Pema Chodron for writing this book. I have in turn passed along this recommendation to many other friends and acquaintances that have found themselves facing difficult times both large and small. - Karen, Chatham Square Library

I'm grateful for the fantasy novel The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It's set in modern day and focuses on characters that grew up reading magical children's books. The story follows a group of young people who apply to the exclusive Brakebills College and discover that REAL magic isn't as sweet, uplifting, and easy as they'd imagined. If you grew up reading books like the Narnia series, the Harry Potter series, and The Once and Future King, this book will speak to those memories and will remind you of what you wanted magic to be back when you were a kid. - Andrea, Kingsbridge Library

I'm grateful for the book Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. Written in three sections, it's part memoir, part cookbook--it begins with Rosenstrach's cooking life when she first married her husband, after they had two little girls, and now when their girls are school age. Warm, funny, and practical, I've taken so much inspiration from this book in my own life with small children, from both the recipes (play date cookies, roast chicken with veggies, and turkey chili are just a few of my family's favorites) and the author's cheerful approach to family life. I think I've tried more recipes from this cookbook than any other! -Susan, Mulberry Street Library

I am thankful for Gerald Durrell's My family and other animals. A truly delightful book, I read it at a time in my life where I was looking for direction. Durrell tells a spellbinding story about his young life, when his mother uprooted the family from a staid life in England and abruptly moved them to Corfu. Through Gerald's young eyes we follow him as he experiences the world with wonder and curiosity, making friends, discovering the island, and watching his family very closely, and it is all delivered in prose expressive of remarkable humor and warmth. It was in Corfu, exploring the tidal pools in his coracle, which he named the "Bootlebumtrinket", that Durrell began his lifelong commitment to observing and preserving the natural world. Talk about LOL, this book will make you laugh until you weep. - Virginia, Special Collections Cataloger

I'd recommend Watership Down by Richard Adams. I'd recommend it anyway, but I think, in particular, with Thanksgiving coming up. This book is great for fostering gratitude when the inevitable holiday hectic rush begins. Simply thinking about these brave little rabbits seeking their true homes is heartening. I'm recommending the book, not the animated movie, which may be a bit much at this time of year. Also, Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and On the Road, mostly for this quotation, which reminds me of Thanksgiving pie: "I ate apple pie and ice cream--it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer." - Jenny, Jefferson Market

I am thankful for two books: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. Both books show that no matter how depraved and selfish we are there is hope we can be transformed into loving and kind human beings. Jean, Bronx Library Center

I am grateful for Donald Hall's Without, a poetic meditation on his wife Jane Kenyon's illness (leukemia and death.) The book was published one month after my brother Scott died (also from leukemia). His eloquence and ability to put into words his feelings of rage, disbelief, love and compassion helped me immensely in being able to absorb (more accurate than "accept") my brother's death. Wayne, Selection Team

I am thankful for Lynne Cox's inspirational Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-distance Swimmer. Cox lyrically details her adventures in the water from her record-breaking crossings of the English Channel, legendary swims in the Cape of Good Hope and Straits of Magellan and the historic Bering Strait swim in 1987, which opened the border between the United States & Soviet Union. Equal parts memoir, sports book and travelogue, Cox's book broadens one's view of the world. The author encourages readers to fearlessly and joyfully pursue their dreams. - Miriam, Selection Team

Popular in the Community


What's Hot