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A Bookish Thanksgiving

Tiffani Willis

Staff Writer

Tiffani C. Willis spends as much as time as she is able to traveling the universe by book and sometimes by, plane, train, boat, or car. When she’s not off on an adventure in a faraway land or trying to solve a mystery like a detective, Tiffani uses her powers as an academic librarian to help students survive school as they learn how to do research and write research papers. She spends her spare time rambling, raving, and ranting about books on her blog Passport Books, camping out in bookstores, and obsessively watching HGTV, usually with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine nearby. Twitter: @PassportBooks

Christmas brings holiday cheer, sparking lights, and presents. At Halloween adults get to wear ridiculous costumes without shame or judgment. Of course, any holiday that results in a three-day weekend is awesome. I appreciate all those holidays but Thanksgiving has and always will be my favorite holiday.

I have a lot of reasons for loving Thanksgiving. For starters I was born on the holiday. The main part of the day’s celebrations centers around dinner and I like food. It is not tied to any one religion, making it one of the more inclusive holidays. Most of all I love that there is a designated day each year where the point is to be thankful. Not to give or receive gifts or celebrate a specific person or moment in time. People gather together but having a party isn’t the point either, at least not for me. The main point of Thanksgiving is to experience gratitude.

Like many people I spend an awful lot of time thinking about what I want and don’t have or what I wish were different about myself and about the world. At least one day a year I try to forget all that and concentrate on what I do have because really, I have a lot to be thankful for. Also there is the food.

I don’t know where the phrase “count your blessings” comes from but I tend to interpret it literally on Thanksgiving. I find being specific about blessings drives home how much there is to be thankful for. A blanket “thank you” to life is not sufficient. Books of course play a large role in my life. With that in mind, here are some of the book related things I am thankful for.

Eyesight: This is an easy one. The older I get the more thankful I am for good health, including my eyesight. I took such things for granted when I was in my teens and twenties. Being and staying healthy is a priority in a way it wasn’t before my thirtieth birthday. And for the record, I know there are ways to read without eyesight (audiobooks for one) but I’m still going to give thanks for being able to use my eyes.

Ability to Find Comfort in Books: Whether it’s for information, pleasure, or escape when the world seems bad, I find comfort in books. Not everyone enjoys reading. Weird, I know. I cannot quite fathom it myself. But I do enjoy reading and am grateful for this source of joy and comfort.

My grandfather’s last years before he died were spent in a nursing facility. His physical mobility was limited, but his mind wasn’t. He spent a lot of his time reading large print books and later, listening to audiobooks.  It was one of the few things he enjoyed and found comfort in while in the nursing facility. Wherever I spend my last days, in addition to my family, I hope there are lots of books around for me to read.

Mocha Girls Read: My book club is awesome! It’s called Mocha Girls Read. I first found the book club on Goodreads. Imagine my joy upon discovering that the book club was not simply a collection of comments threads in the digital world, but that its members met in real life. Even better, the meetings were within driving distance of my apartment.

I went to my first meeting because I love to read and was eager to talk to other people about books. Now, like the other Mocha Girls, I don’t just go to book club meetings for the books. I go for the people. We are a group of African-American woman who read everything by anybody. Our selections are not limited by genre, ethnicity/race, or any other classification. In my book club I found a group of amazing women who love to talk about books in a world where our voices are not always heard or appreciated.

Diverse Books: The past few years have seen an increase in the call for more diverse books. A few years ago I sat down and took a hard look at what I did and did not read. It turned out my reading was filled with gaps. Since then I have made a conscious effort to expand by reading choices. That has been made easier by the calls for my diverse books. Thanks to all the people that have been talking about this topic. It was partly with their help that I have found new books and new authors (that is, new to me) I might not have otherwise come across.

What about you? What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving, bookish or otherwise?