This week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and that got me thinking about what books to be thankful for. I asked the WriteOnCon team, and these were their answers. Whether you’re celebrating Turkey Day or not, here’s an ode to just some of the inspiring, magical, and resonant books that make us thankful as readers and writers.
Seabrooke Leckie, head coordinator:
I have two; both YA. First is This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, because the protagonist deeply resonated with my teen self; I wasn’t suicidal, but the character felt otherwise deeply familiar and teen-me would have felt understood.
And second is Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I picked this book up on a complete fluke; I was returning a duplicate birthday gift but the store was small and didn’t have in stock any of the books I wanted. But this one was displayed on the checkout counter as a staff pick and I loved the cover and it sounded interesting, so I bought it. And I loved it; there was a richness to it but also a lightness of tone despite the events, the combination of which I hadn’t felt I’d encountered yet in YA. It was the driving inspiration behind my current WIP, my first foray into YA high fantasy; I wanted to capture that same feeling. And this WIP has become far and away my favourite of all my manuscripts.
So those are my two. I’ve loved so many others, but few that have moved me on such a personal level.
Alyssa Hollingsworth, website leader:
I’d submit The Song from Somewhere Else (magical and gorgeous) or The Infinite Lives of Maise Day (sobbed like a child on a plane ride when I got to the twist) or Paper Wishes (beautiful prose) or All Four Stars (good fun and unexpectedly touching).
Jen Bushroe, submissions manager:
Mine isn’t kidlit but it is writing-related: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am very thankful for Gilbert’s ideas, which help me calm down about the immense pressure of being a creative person: rephrasing fear as curiosity, creating things with “an open heart and no expectations,” shaking off failure, working with “stubborn gladness,” etc.!
Elza Kinde, website second:
I’m thankful for the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald! Those books introduced me to Magical Realism, sparked my love for quirky old houses, and gave me an appreciation for eccentric characters of all ages.
Kate Sheeran Swed, help desk:
I’m thankful for For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig because I absolutely haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it in September and I love getting pulled into a new world — even better, a new series!
Sue Stanley, podcast coordinator:
I am ever grateful for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and more recently, A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck. The first because the magic has inspired many generations of my family and the latter because there’s nothing like the look on your kid’s face when they realize that humor is timeless and good storytelling never loses its freshness. Even when the story takes place when your grandmother was a kid!
Richenda Gould, website developer:
I’m thankful for Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet, which gave young-me everything I wanted in a book and helped inspire me to write. I’m also grateful for Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted because it feeds my love of fairy tales and is total comfort food that I can reread again and again, and the Georgia Nicholson books (Angus, Thongs & Full-Front Snogging) by Louise Rennison, which empower me to write the snarky, funny, imperfect heroine of my heart.
Sarah Suk, fundraising lead:
I’m thankful for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl for being my childhood and for showing me that writing can be quirky and magical and just as weird as you want it to be.
Aimee Lim, lead writer:
I’m thankful for Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee, Peaspout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien, and Julie C. Dao’s Rise of the Empress duology (Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix) for their amazing Asian female characters, and especially for their range of Asian female characters: ambitious and humble, harsh and gentle, courageous and brilliant, vicious and kind.
What books are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments!