10 Books to Make You Feel Thankful

Health. Family. Another day above ground. That one time you didn't get caught. Great coffee. Humor. Books and music. A roof over your head. There are many reasons to be thankful if you look for them. Stuffing yourself or making jokes about others stuffing themselves on social media are fine things, but if you want to take things one step further, specifically a step in the literary direction, think about some books that give you that feeling. Here are ten suggestions that have made me feel thankful in the past.

10. 'Suffer the Children' by Craig DiLouie

I have a soft spot for horror fiction dealing with children. This one is not about abduction or possession, both of which have become cliches in dark fiction featuring kids. Instead, what DiLouie offers is a narrative that forces you to think about what you would do if helping your little ones meant doing horrific things. Any normal parent would give the same answer: I'd probably do some heinous shit. I'm thankful for every day that goes by that most parents don't have to do such things, and I always keep in mind that there are plenty of places in the world where they are forced to do so every single day.  


9. 'Glue' by Constance Ann Fitzgerald

This book is a short, powerful, biographical look at grief, loss, and coping. However, it is also a great read that forces you to look in the mirror and study the glue that holds you together during the toughest times. It makes you relive the desperation, when only drugs and booze allowed you to carry on. If you're not in one of those moments when you read it, this little book will make you thankful for the good times.


8. 'Header' by Edward Lee

What, you thought a column of mine wasn't going to get really weird at some point? Anyway, this is a book about people trying to do the right thing. It's also a book I often think about when I ponder if my own work is too violent. If none of that works for you, then read it and think that this was published because fuck censorship. Yeah, this novel should make you feel thankful for freedom!


7. 'Animal Factory' by Edward Bunker

This novel works on two levels for me. On the surface, it presents a very accurate picture of the world at large, but in a reduced space, and how the differences between groups create chaos, just like in the real world. On a personal level, it reminds me that I'm incredibly lucky not to be doing time and that all the stupid stuff I did before I was 18 went away. Yeah, if you want to feel thankful for not being locked up, read this one.


6. 'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Short and powerful, this is a book about inclusion and justice. It's also a really popular book about a taboo subject written by a Nigerian woman who received a McCarthur Genuis Grant. Living in dark times is tough, but things like this happen in our dark times, and for that we should all be grateful.


5. 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

Lately, reading the news is a surefire way to get depressed as fuck. Well, this is like an antidote. Even if you think the world described by McCarthy is exactly where we're headed (and some days I do), you can at least remind yourself that we're not there yet, and that means there's a sliver of hope. Hope is something we should all be grateful for.


4. 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein

Listen up: this book messes me up every time I have to read it and I don't care what anyone else thinks about it. Books take on a life of their own once a reader interprets them, and for me this is a story about giving and giving and giving and receiving nothing in return. I've met people who take and take. I've been the person that gives and gives in hopes of making someone else happy. If you're not stuck in a friendship/familial thing/relationship like that at the moment, this book will make you glad for it.


3. 'The Diary of a Young Girl' by Anne Frank

I'm glad they made me read this one in school. Here is a book that says "Hey, look at how ugly humans can be." This was a devastating read, and I hope it remains a devastating read for every new generation that is shoved into its pages at school or at home. The world isn't like this and the situation Anne was hiding from is no longer a reality, and for that I'm thankful. 


2. 'Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza' by Gloria Anzaldúa

Everyone should be grateful for Gloria Anzaldúa. Everyone should be grateful for Otherness, for diversity, for poetry. Everyone should be thankful for cultural maps and explanations and explorations. This is a book that brings all of that and more together. It is also a guide that seems written for our times, and we should also be grateful for the help.


1. 'Native Son' by Richard Wright

We've all been caught by our circumstances, and this is a narrative about that. This book is about humanity and hopelessness, about a broken system and the lives caught in it doing what they have to do to survive. I said above we should be thankful for hope, and this book makes you feel just that.

Okay, now tell me which books are on your lists.

Gabino Iglesias

Column by Gabino Iglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. 

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