12 best Thanksgiving books for cozy and restful reading

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Photo by Karolina Badzmierowska

This is a guest contribution by Muna Nnamani that’s been reviewed by Lucy Fuggle.

Even though it’s the so-called holiday for giving thanks, we can become so consumed by finalizing guest lists and preparing the big meal that we feel more anxious than grateful on Thanksgiving.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. When we remember to slow down, we can appreciate everything Thanksgiving has to offer. And what better way to do that than with well-chosen cozy books?

Today, we’re sharing the best Thanksgiving books for adults, all of which capture the feeling of Thanksgiving we all want to get back to. Add these to your reading list and prepare for a warm and relaxed Thanksgiving with good books by your side.

The best books to read around Thanksgiving this year

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

Read The Little Book of Hyggein the quiet stretches during get-togethers around Thanksgiving.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a word in Danish and Norwegian with many meanings, including “the pursuit and savoring of everyday pleasures” and “a quality of coziness”. Regardless of the definition you choose, a life marked by hygge is a content and comfortable one.

The Little Book of Hygge is a guide to holding this intrinsic peace in your everyday life. Hygge is all about creating a mindset and environment in which you feel completely comfortable – and with its description of cozy get-togethers and warm fall nights with the ones we love most, The Little Book of Hygge is one of the best Thanksgiving books for adults.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Complete Sherlock Holmes

Read A Study in Scarlet with a blanket by the fire and perhaps an audience of younger readers with you.

The first book in the Sherlock Holmes series, A Study in Scarlet follows the titular character as he solves a mystery with his loyal sidekick, John Watson. This classic concerns the death of two Americans, and Holmes is convinced that the case is connected with a larger conspiracy to create chaos in both America and Britain.

Any fond reader will tell you that Sherlock Holmes is perfect fall reading. Its dark undertones and scenery make it a light mystery that fits the Thanksgiving vibe.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Clare Lombardo

Read The Most Fun We Ever Had on a cold morning that straddles autumn and winter.

This book revolves around one of the most important aspects of Thanksgiving: family. Claire Lombardo’s novel spans generations, beginning with David and Marilyn Sorenson, a Chicago couple that fell in love in the 1970s.

When their four daughters come of age, none of them are where they expected to be as children. The women hide secrets from each other, settle for lives they know that they don’t enjoy, and worry that they will never find a love as epic as their parents’. Read this immersive novel as you ponder your own family dynamics this Thanksgiving.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Read The Overstory under the falling leaves of an oak tree for perfect autumnal reading.

The Overstory has been recommended by everybody. And for good reason. Powers’ century-spanning narrative is a beautiful portrait of the extensive, conjoined system of trees that connects our world. Under the shade of these trees, multiple interconnected stories – ranging between centuries and continents – unfold.

Powers describes the biggest moments of our lives in such a calm and melancholy way, recognizing how fleeting human life is in comparison to nature. But this isn’t cause for depression – in fact, keeping nature’s longevity in mind can be a welcome source of peace and comfort.

This award-winner is one of the best books to read during Thanksgiving to help you take a step back, appreciate the bigger picture and marvel at nature.

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

Read An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving while you wait for the pies to finish baking.

Less a book than a short story, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving follows the Bassett family through Thanksgiving morning. Their Thanksgiving dinners usually feel perfect: happy company and perfectly made food.

But this year, the children have been left in charge of making the dinner. In this sweet and cozy short story, the kids are determined to make Thanksgiving dinner just as good as it usually is – even if it’s their first time lacing up their aprons.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

tom lake

Read Tom Lakeon the car ride to the apple orchard this fall.

In this gorgeous new book set in the spring of 2020, Lara is visited by her three daughters at her orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg her to tell them about her romance with Peter Duke, a famous actor she worked with decades ago.

I love that Tom Lake doesn’t ascribe to the idea of soulmates. Instead, it examines the different loves that parents have before they settle down and choose one to marry. Lara’s story forces her daughters to consider their own, making this an insightful multigenerational family story for the holiday season.

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

Read Home Cookingwhen you’re tired of the standard Thanksgiving leftovers.

Trying to make Thanksgiving dishes with an impersonal, industrial-produced cookbook can be incredibly frustrating – especially if your goal is delicious food with a personal touch. Knowing that the author put as much heart into the meals as you’re trying to? Much better.

A perfect remedy is Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, a kitchen classic that’s equal parts memoir and cookbook. Here, Laurie not only shares recipes that are meaningful, but ties them to stories about her life. Chapter titles include “Feeding the Multitudes” and “Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant”. It’s one of the very best Thanksgiving books for adults who love cooking memorable dishes.

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker

Read The Art of Gatheringwhile deciding who to invite for Thanksgiving dinner.

While I am usually against nonfiction books for autumnal reading – I want my brain to be numbed by good fiction – this book is so relevant to Thanksgiving gatherings that I couldn’t not put it on the list.

According to Parker, we can drastically improve the gatherings we plan once we determine why we want to have them. Do we want to challenge each other? To learn? To enjoy each other’s company?

From there, we can plan specific components of gatherings that make them less stressful for everybody involved. And yes, that includes family dinners.

A Poem for Every Autumn Day – edited by Allie Esiri

Read A Poem for Every Autumn Day before getting out of bed each morning in fall.

In this perfectly curated anthology, Esiri replicates the magic of her most popular books – A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year – with a dusting of cozy fall vibes.

Offering a poem for every day of fall, the selections are brilliantly descriptive, immersing readers in autumnal scenes. All the reds and oranges of autumn can be found in these harvest festivals, cool mornings and hearty nights.

Editor’s note from Lucy: Before publishing, I’ve added the following lovely books about gratitude, togetherness, and the magic of fall as some of the best Thanksgiving books for adults. I hope you love them too.

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

Read Gratitudeto infuse quiet moments with a little extra gratitude and peace (it’s also one of my most recommended books to read before bed).

I would give everyone a copy of Oliver Sacks’s life-affirming and beautifully insightful essays if I could. Gratitude is my favourite book by the neurosurgeon and writer, available as a lovely hardcover which I’ve given to several friends.

Written during the last few months of his life, this set of essays was Oliver Sacks’s way of exploring his feelings about completing a life and coming to terms with its closure, offering an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the gift of living.

“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Read The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living for… a cozy book with Gilmore Girls vibes, inspired by the author’s own time as a pastry chef.

When Olivia Rawlings sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of: the idyllic town of Guthrie.

She’s only planning just a short stay, but when she’s offered a job in the Sugar Maple Inn she can’t resist. It’s comfort food in a book, evoking the joy of delightful apple pies, the quiet comforts of home, and love.

North Child by Edith Pattou

Read North Childfor magic, wonder, and fairy tale vibes on quiet evenings as the weather turns colder.

There’s something magical about this time of year. To embrace this, read North Child. Based on the traditional Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”, it’s the spellbinding story of Rose, a North Child who sets off on a wintry quest to follow her destiny, accompanied by an enormous white bear.

Although North Child is technically a children’s book for readers 12+, it’ll inspire readers of all ages with its lyrical writing, bewitching setting, and epic story.

For more of the best books to read on Thanksgiving, here are our favourite cozy collections to browse next…

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