Feeling My Shelf is a bi-weekly newsletter about books, life, and well, life with books. Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage and get comfy.
It’s the most *predictable* time of the year.
The time of the year when everything goes straight from Halloween to the holidays. Mariah Carey’s streams go up. Target aisles are full of festive decor. And poor Thanksgiving is treated like the orphan stepchild banished to the attic. Only to be acknowledged for few hours through poorly lit pictures of turkey-filled plates and football.
This year I decided to fight the seasonal urge to jump right into holiday reads on November 1. Unfortunately, there weren’t many other books for me to choose from. Which brings me to my thorn: why is it so hard to find (contemporary) novels set during Thanksgiving? And I don’t mean books that feature a single scene set during the fall holiday.
I want to read an entire story about a family reuniting for the first time in 10 years during Thanksgiving week. Or one that features enemies (and soon-to-be lovers) competing on a fall-themed cooking show in a small town. Sweaters, leaves, and turkey! Maybe some apple picking. That's all I want.
Thanksgiving is literally the perfect holiday to craft a story around, people! Family drama? Friend drama? Relationship drama? Check. Check. Check. You name it, Turkey Day has it.
While we wait for the publishing industry to catch up (or for me to write a book like this!), stories with similar overarching themes will have to do—dysfunctional families, friends that feel like family, and food!
Memphis: A Novel by Tara M. Stringfellow
This novel follows three generations of a Southern Black family in Memphis, Tennessee over the course of about 70 years and explores themes of resilience, sisterhood, and motherhood. TW: abuse, rape, racism.
The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh
Another multi-generational story about a family of Vietnamese women who can only give birth to daughters thanks to a "curse." Said curse has also caused big rifts between the daughters and their meddling mothers. But things change, after one mom visits a psychic and learns that the family, all in one year, will experience a death, a marriage, and the birth of a son.
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Ah, the dreaded question no single person can avoid around the holidays: when are you bringing someone home? Fed up with her family inserting themselves into all aspects of her life, one Muslim woman pretends to get engaged to her neighbor. Chaos (and love!) ensues. Also, lots of bread baking!
The Ensemble: A Novel by Aja Gabel
One of my favorite reads from 2018, The Ensemble follows four ambitious friends over roughly two decades as they navigate the world of classical music. Most of the musical references went over my head, but I thoroughly enjoyed each character's commitment to their craft and their bond through personal setbacks and heartbreaks.
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson. It centers around Maggie, a down-on-her-luck 20-something who arrives in a small town to run her best friend’s bookstore. The town is stuck firmly in the past and has strict rules about the types of books that can be sold. But a true bookish rebel desperate to turn things around when sales dip, Maggie starts an underground book club featuring forbidden titles.
The questions we don’t ask our families but should. 55 Thanksgiving movies to watch. How to make bakery-worthy pie crust designs. (An oldie, but goodie!) All of the 2022 National Book Award Finalists, read and reviewed. Unpacking the hurt – and healing – of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. *Contains spoilers!* What Michelle Obama’s been watching on TV.
I adored The Fortunes of Jaded Women.
Trying to decide which book to read first.