4 Books to Read at Thanksgiving to Survive the Holidays

It’s the end of the year, and the holiday season is upon us. Recommence all family feuds, jealousies, battles, and drunken tirades about who has the nicer house and who was the favorite child growing up and so forth. If you seek to escape some of the mayhem I’ve got some good book recommendations, short stories, and the like below all related to Thanksgiving…but in a good way, trust me. Check it out.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald is most well-known for writing The Great Gatsby, but in his book of essays, The Crack-Up, you’ll find a hilarious list of joke recipes called “Turkey Remains and How to Inter Them with Numerous Scarce Recipes.” For example, I suppose you could “take one large turkey and add one gallon of Vermouth plus a demijohn of angostura bitters then shake.” How about #12? “Turkey with Whiskey Sauce. This recipe” Fitzgerald writes, “is for a party of four. Obtain a gallon of whiskey, allow it to age for several hours. Then serve, allowing one quart for each guest. The next day the turkey should be added, little by little, constantly stirring and basting.” This is how I treat post-Thanksgiving leftovers, don’t you?

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the short story “Three Thanksgivings” about the difficulty of economic independence for women in the late 19th century. In this story, an older woman named Mrs. Morrison can no longer afford her big house and is being pursued by her children and a mean man named Mr. Butts (well done Charlotte) to give up her house and move in with them. Instead, Mrs. Morrison finds another way. If you’re interested, it’s a short but pretty good read for girl-empowerment on Thanksgiving.

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Rachel Khong’s novel Goodbye, Vitamin has nothing to do with Thanksgiving except family. It came out in 2017 and made almost every must-read and bestseller list, for good reason. It’s a fiction novel narrated by a just-jilted thirty-something named Ruth. In the introduction, it’s Christmas Eve and Ruth receives a call about a man whose pants are hanging from an illuminated tree. They are her father’s; he has been diagnosed with dementia. She has nothing to do but go back home and help her mother take care of him. This theme, however, of memory and forgetfulness plays out through the novel, with beautiful and sometimes hilarious prose. Her father, for instance, has kept a memory journal all these years of what Ruth said as a child. He reads bits and pieces to her: “Today we went over to your mother’s friend’s house for dinner. We’d asked you to be polite, so you said, ‘No more please, it’s horrible, thank you.’ ” There are other far more eloquent lines like, “What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers…that the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for.” Enough of me spoiling this book for you. Read it if you haven’t already.

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I’m going to go out on a limb and mention a book that has absolutely no connection to any holiday. It’s called Where the Forest Meets the Stars. There is a man who is an agoraphobic egg seller and an ornithologist in her twenties whose bout with cancer has left her feeling deformed and unsexy. Both are too afraid to love anyone. The woman is finishing her Ph.D. when she and the egg-seller both come across a runaway girl who insists on sleeping in both of their yards. She also insists that she is an alien made of starlight from a planet called Hetrayeh. You wonder halfway through if the book is actual science fiction and well, maybe it is, I will never tell you. I will warn you though that some parts are cheesy love-making, yes the book can be cheesy, even when the characters aren’t having sex, but if you like a joyful ending, then this book is for you. So go forth, and eat the delicious whiskey-interred turkey, and read these books!


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