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Giving Thanks

I don’t know about all of you, but here at Writers & Books, we get pretty into the holidays. Between our seasonal decorations which garnish our halls, lobby, and classrooms, our holiday party, and holiday greeting card, I guess you could say we do it the right way.

This year though, the “Thanksgiving experience” seems a little different, for me at least. It’s come late in the month, it’s falling on the same day as Hanukkah, and the first real snow fall happened just a few days prior. Tack on all of the Christmas commercials and advertising that we’re already drowning in, it seems to me that Thanksgiving is getting the short end of the stick (I started listening to Christmas music last week…yes, I am that person.) The fact that Thanksgiving seems to be losing a lot of the hype this year is a real shame because besides granting me copious amounts of stuffing, it grants me the opportunity to reflect on and enjoy what I am thankful for. (Such a corny, overdone concept, I know. But…it’s the truth, isn’t it?)

Well luckily for me (and all of you!) the staff here at Writers & Books took some time to think about and share some of the things of literary nature we are most thankful for this year. I suggest you take a minute to do the same. Be it a book, a teacher, a favorite reading spot, or a favorite literary character, perhaps it would do you some good to pause amidst the chaos that tomorrow and the rest of the holiday season brings and think about what and why you love to read and write.

As for me? I came across mine this past weekend at my niece’s first birthday party. After the dinner and dessert and gift opening, all of which were events of their own, my older niece, Hayleigh, asked me to read to her. (If you’ve read some the previous blogs, you may remember one about the importance of reading to children.) After reading the book, I suggested that we go through it slowly so that she could learn the words and start to read herself. Watching her try to sound out the words, recognize the letters, and then seeing how her face lit up when she “did it” was a truly magical experience. By the end of the half hour or so, she could “read” the line “One pretty princess puts on her crown”. I’m pretty sure she had memorized it, but how could I even care when she was so proud of herself? When she finally accomplished it she jumped in my lap and gave me a huge hug…and then there was “I did it! I did it! I’m so happy!” Between this and the “Rylie taught me how to read!” that preceded her nearly showing everyone in the room, what more do I need? Not too much. Not too much at all.

Keep reading to see what other members of the staff are counting as some of their blessings. Oh! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families. Stay thankful, stay safe, and stay …reading?

I’m thankful for finally catching the White Whale.
One of the offerings in our Fall catalog was a Moby Dick reading seminar, taught by a former professor of mine at St. John Fisher College, David Sanders. I had throughly enjoyed his class and had never challenged myself to read this particular “Great American Novel”.
There were 7 of us enrolled in the class. It ran for 8 weeks and wrapped up just before Thanksgiving. We had such good conversation that I never wanted it to end (though some of the chapters regarding whale anatomy were a bit trying)
I am so grateful for the experience I had with this group and this book. Maybe I’ll try Lolita next.

— Chris Fanning

“I am thankful for programs like Calibre that let me read all my different ebooks right on my computer.”

— Greer Nelson

“I am thankful for those books that I read out loud with my father — The Phantom Tollbooth, The Narnia series, the Madeline L’Engle books… I am thankful to my father for reading them to me. There is nothing more special than reading books with a parent. Now, as a parent myself, I am thankful that my daughter loves to snuggle up and read books too.”

— Alexa Scott-Flaherty

“Happy Thanksgiving to all! I’m thankful for the wide selection of tasteful Thanksgiving recipes to choose from — from family recipes, to traditional “Betty Crocker” recipes, and online recipes, especially “” It’s incorporating family traditions & creating new ones. I’ve spent the past weekend pouring over cookbooks, online recipes, and remembering how my aunt prepared her turkey. This is my first Thanksgiving without her – here’s to you Auntie!”

— Kathy Pottetti

“I’m thankful for Sonja Livingston’s memoir, ghostbread. This is an incredible story of the trials, tribulations, delights and ultimately survival of a girl growing up in poverty in western New York with her six siblings, their single mother, and not one of their fathers present. A good portion of the book takes place in Rochester, and so that connection is a gem. What really makes the book stand out above other memoirs is the structure in which it is written. Each chapter is quite short. Many do not even fill one page. And yet they are each powerful stories that could stand on their own, but instead weave together to tell a larger story. And the language is gorgeous. Clean and thrift, but with riveting images. What makes me most grateful for ghostbread, however, is the effect it had on me and the timing in which I read it. As I began reading it, I thought, Wow! I think I would enjoy writing a memoir! What an amazing series of nuggets all strung together! This, coming from me, who had never considered herself anything other than a poet. And then, Too bad I don’t have anything to write a memoir about. And then I had a life-altering experience. My young son was diagnosed with a condition that would change the course of all of our lives. This happened when I was about three-quarters of the way through reading ghostbread. I knew immediately that I would write a memoir. Indeed, four years later, I am slowly but surely working on a book. Many thanks to Sonja for the inspiration!

*Note: ghostbread is available for purchase in the Writers & Books bookstore. ”

— Sally Bittner Bonn

“I am thankful for my wonderful, hard working staff at Writers & Books. I can’t imagine a better collection of individuals who are intent on doing the best job possible serving the literary community of Rochester, and having a great time while doing it. I raise a drum stick and a glass of Riesling to toast them. ”

— Joe Flaherty

Happy Turkey Day everyone! Gobble gobbgle!

The W&B staff