With FrightFall nearly at an end and other big challenges such as National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) and Nonfiction November on the literary horizon, I thought it might be nice to embark on a small reading journey of my own this time around.
As some of you may know, I try to promote the spirit of Thanksgiving, which seems to be downplayed more and more each year, by mentioning pop culture themes on my blog to stir up those good Turkey Day vibes.
Well, for this year I want to encourage folks to seek out books that carry that sense of holiday joy yet don’t have to be directly about Thanksgiving. I’m calling it ThankFall Reading and the main requirement for any book that you choose for this challenge is that it has to have connections to food,family/friends and togetherness.
My trio of ThankFall reads also happens to have a shared theme of cookbooks(sort of unintentionally intentional there) and yes, two of them are cozy mysteries:
Murder in the Cookbook Nook: In this Ellery Adams series, Jane Steward runs a hotel known as Storyton Hall where bookish events take place, along with the occasional murder.
The case to be solved by Jane and company involves a cooking competition hosted by Mia Mallett, featuring a number of popular chefs. The most obnoxious of the bunch, Chef Pierce, is soon discovered in the hotel’s culinary book spot, leaving an open position in the competition as well as a pantry full of savory suspects.
I haven’t read this series before,however I am a fan of Adams’ The Secret, Book and Scone Society novels (just finished the latest one, Ink and Shadows) and being familiar with the author’s heartfelt character development and gently guided style of sleuthing, I have full confidence in starting the Book Retreat mysteries at this particular point:
A Cookbook Conspiracy:
Brooklyn Wainwright is better at restoring old books and finding killers than she is at cooking, a talent that her sister Savannah had in abundance.
When Savannah asks Brooklyn to rebind a cookbook from the 1800s as a gift for Baxter Cromwell, a famous chef who is opening a new restaurant, she’s happy to do so and attend the launch party to boot.
While the opening seems to be going great, things come to a sudden halt as the guest of honor is found stabbed to death. To make matters worse, Savannah is also on the scene with a bloody knife in hand and the gifted cookbook has vanished into thin air.
With the help of her now retired British secret agent boyfriend Derek, Brooklyn is out to clear her sister’s name and retrieve that cookbook , which may prove to be the real motive behind this murder.
This title is the seventh book in Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Mystery series, one that I have been reading way out of order(recently completed the newest entry,Little Black Book, thanks to a library loan).
It does help that Carlisle does make new readers feel welcome on the page and into the social sphere of her characters as they seek the truth of the murderous matter before them. Combined with a wonderful love of books and food, Brooklyn Wainwright is someone that I would love to share a shopping spree with any time of year:
Family Tree: This Susan Wiggs novel introduces us to Annie Rush, who has awaken from a coma into a new life.
Annie was once the producer of a successful cooking show which starred her handsome husband Martin. Discovering his lack of fidelity just before the accident that took her down for over year is only the start of Annie’s troubles.
Working on recovering her health and memories, she finds support from her family back home on their maple farm as well as Fletcher, Annie’s high school sweetheart who has come a long way from his bad boy days.
Finding her grandmother’s old cookbook has helped to revive the past in a good way but will it lead Annie towards a brighter future?
The works of Susan Wiggs have become a welcome joy this year for me and one that lightens my spirits without being watered down escapism. Rather, what Wiggs does is set up a showcase for the struggles of life while offering a reasonably good and well earned outcome for her fictional folk. That’s not an easy feat to pull off and I salute her for it:
While this is just my personal reading challenge for November, I invite anyone else who likes this idea to give it a try for themselves. I’m not the type that is great at arranging readathons(like Michelle Miller at Seasons of Reading for example) but I do like making suggestions there.
What I really want out of ThankFall Reading is to hold on to some of the joy of life, that element being harder and harder to come by these days. Yes, things are still bad right now but they can get better, especially if we make the effort to help each other out through this instead of sowing more chaos.
Reading a good book may sound like a small self indulgent thing but it’s really not. It’s a way to rebound your sinking spirits and reconnect with humanity by reviving your empathy. Thanksgiving is more than just a big meal to get through, it is a time to embrace what positive things are around you as we head towards the end of another year together in the world.
If you give ThankFall Reading a chance, it might make what lies ahead a little less daunting. At the very least, you could have something to savor over a slice of your favorite holiday pie and perhaps someone to share that space with you: