|This might be Gianna's family...or it might be from|
Good Morning America's Awkward Thanksgiving Photos.
probably be one written by just about anyone else. Let's say that you are joining your bookish family for turkey and such, though, but need to stay clear of awkward themes. You're entering a minefield of cranky people pissed off that the gravy and turkey aren't ready to go to the table at the same time, and the prudish aunt who's offended by every topic of any interest and is not so silently judging your life choices, and the asshole uncle who's been watching cable news all year and has many, many racist sentiments to share, and your precocious cousin who's the queen of the duckface selfie and also tight with Jesus, and yet there you are, crusading book nerd, searching for anything, ANYTHING, to discuss that won't lead to tears, screaming, or your brother live-tweeting the whole ordeal with the hashtag #shitcrazyfam. Oh yeah, and there are about four family dogs present and all are having turkey-gasms while the bird is roasting. We want you to survive the day relatively unscathed. Why? We love our fans (and those who search online for "awkward lesbian conversation" or "The Sound of Music Liesl" and find this blog).
Here you go. DO NOT offer up these books/authors as topics of conversation if you want to keep the peace. (Alternately, if you love the holiday train wreck, by all means use this list as a game plan for your day. We won't judge you.)
|No, you don't want to|
discuss this book or
movie with your parents.
2. The Colony by John Tayman. This book is a history of the leper colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Not only is it about leprosy and the glory of body parts sloughing off (who needs a nose?), but it's also the story of how a bunch of people only suspected of having leprosy were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to Molokai even when they didn't have the disease. Pass the lumpy mashed potatoes.
3. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Maybe you should just avoid all books about infectious diseases. This one is topical in that it's about the history and threat of Ebola, but prudish aunt will not want to hear about hemorrhagic fevers while cooking that cranberry sauce. It's a really great, terrifying read, though, and I actually did read it over the course of a Christmas afternoon one year when I was a kid.
|We love Ina, but she's not the one|
cooking your dinner. Red flag.
5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. There's a good chance that asshole uncle dislikes prudish aunt. There's a good chance that prudish aunt wants to destroy asshole uncle's life. These people didn't start as miserable jerks. There are years of hostilities simmering and you don't want to give either of them any ideas. And let's not even start with your parents' marriage.
6. The Dinner by Herman Koch. I love this book, but A) it's dark, B) it's unsettling, C) it's all about a horrible family meal and secrets, and D) don't give the relatives any ideas.
7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Your cousin is already insufferable. Avoid books about which she's a crusader. Okay? Okay.
8. The Children Act by Ian McEwan. I love this novel and think it's a book that most people should read and discuss. It's a short, moral novel about a family court judge whose husband of 30 years has announced he wants an open marriage, and then the court case she must decide the next day. The case involves a hospital suing to administer a blood transfusion in order to save the life of a 17 year-old kid with leukemia. The kid is a Jehovah's Witness, though, and is religiously opposed and self-righteous in that way that teenagers are about their untried convictions. This is a great, great book for your reading group, but in the family Thanksgiving minefield, you're just asking for some teenage proselytizing or asshole uncle mansplaining.
9. The Song of Fire and Ice Series (Game of Thrones) by George R. R. Martin. Prudish aunt will not approve of the gore, or the sex, or the dragons, or the incest. Asshole uncle will not approve of you paying for HBO to watch the series.
Happy Thanksgiving. Good luck.