November, Thanksgiving, and Recent Reading

By Thursday, November 19, 2015 , , ,

“It was November – the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

That’s a favorite recent November quote. As a whole, November often gets a bad rep among months since the golden, colorful fall days wear off and the trees begin baring their knobby skeletons, but I’ve certainly seen a good share of lovely crimson sunsets and high-flying, parting birds this November. It’s a special month for me because of the approaching holidays, it’s my birthday month and that of many I love, and with Thanksgiving in its midst, it reminds me to think seriously about whether I’m practicing thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful?

This is something that I’ve thought about for literally years. Ann Voskamp helped me unpack it a lot with this book, and even though I’m far from constantly thankful, I’m at least convinced that it’s an attitude. A way of life. A practice. A choice. Circumstances do not dictate it, though it may seem like it. And it is a forerunner to joy. Ann Voskamp says that “thanksgiving is joy’s oxygen,” and I’ve learned that it’s true. Find something to give thanks for, big or small. And often, the smallest things are worth noting and praising the Lord for.

I am thankful for…
~New lipstick
~Playlists from a friend
~When a puppy trips over itself
~Thanksgiving food
~Pretty scarves
~New friends to laugh and talk with

And I’m thankful for this year. It’s been hard in many ways – I watched a close friend and her dad battle cancer, I’ve had to adjust to life after college and the new responsibilities that come with it, and uncertainty is ever-present. But it’s been good.

And the books I’ve read have certainly helped to make it good :) That’s one thing about adulthood with which I’ve had no difficulty – so much more time to read! I’ve loved it and I’ve loved sharing what I’m reading here. I hope you’ve found helpful recommendations and interesting discussions so far. Today I’m talking about two recent reads of pretty different genres.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This was the first book I listened to on Audible and I was very impressed. Though it’s not the same as actual reading, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was just as absorbed as I would have been in a hard copy of the book. And the story itself is excellent. I’m obviously a bit behind the times on this one, and it’s because I’m admittedly wary of young adult fiction and “fluffy” novels. But I was pleased to find that the story wasn’t at all fluffy or shallow, even though it is about teenagers. For a mature adolescent, The Fault in Our Stars would provide many good talking points about love, marriage, family, and friendship. The characters are strong and easy to sympathize with. Hazel Grace is an admirable heroine who captures your heart from the beginning with her wit, strength, compassion, and well-timed sarcasm. And the book’s focus on cancer patients is informative, thoughtful, and touching. Having seen a close friend face cancer, I appreciated how the author handled the subject and showed the struggles of patients. And yet, it was also one of the funnier books I’ve read this year. I deeply admire John Green’s ability to inject humor tastefully into such a serious topic. My cancer survivor friend told me that this aspect is accurate because even though fighting cancer is a dark, difficult world, those who live in it have to laugh in order to keep going. And I certainly did as I read this book. And of course I cried like a baby at the end.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Kate Morton is a new find for me. Anne Bogel over at Modern Mrs. Darcy has sung her praises quite often, so I looked her up and decided to give her a try. She’s very different from many authors I’ve read, both in style and in focus. Set mostly in Cornwall, England and spanning several generations of characters, The Forgotten Garden is particularly daring in its structure. It constantly switches between four to five different time periods as well as the perspectives of many characters, so it requires sharp attention, as it’s obviously a lot to keep up with. But the story is insightful, intricate, and admirably researched and constructed. I was impressed at the detail Kate Morton had woven into the story and the extensive study she would have had to do on Cornwall to bring everything to life. And the book’s main focus is on solving its mystery storyline more than it’s about a specific character or two, which was also different for me. I usually gravitate towards books that are about a character, but this one drew me in no less quickly. After each chapter I was eager to see what piece of the puzzle would fall into place next, and the characters, while not as detailed as those of other books, certainly left memorable impressions and had distinct marks of personality. A mix of suspense, Victorian history, a dash of Poldark-like scenery, and a bit of Jane Eyre, this book was engaging and lovely. I think more Kate Morton will likely be in my future!

Hopefully that provides a few good recommendations for your Thanksgiving holidays! Enjoy some turkey and sweet potato casserole. Suggestion: have a “Friends-giving” dinner in addition to the actual family one. I did this week and it was beyond refreshing! Give some thanks and open some new books this Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for? How do you practice giving thanks? What do you do for Thanksgiving? What will you be reading over Thanksgiving?

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  1. What a lovely post--thoughtful and eloquent! I'm a November baby myself and have mixed feelings about the month--mostly it's drab and cold but it can be glorious and warm as well.

    I have Forgotten Garden on my TBR list and hope to read it soon. Actually, I'm super excited to read Kate Morton's Lake House too.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Jane! I've learned to appreciate November for what it's worth too... though it can be cold and gray, there is still much to appreciate I think :)

      And I'm hoping to read The Lake House too soon! The Forgotten Garden was very interesting, though different from what I'm used to. Definitely liked it enough to check out more of Kate Morton's work! :)