Friday, April 6, 2012

Books Before Blogging (Part 1)

Once upon a time, in a land before blogging, before Goodreads and before the creation of multiple book-related networking websites, there was word-of-mouth.  Still the most popular form of book recommendation, word-of-mouth has always been my favourite way of discussing books.  Also before blogging and Goodreads, I was still as obsessed with books as I am today -- only I didn't get to write long-winded reviews about everything I read.  SO!  I wanted to draw some attention to older books, but books that I still recommend to everyone and keep proudly on a special shelf in my room.  Here goes:

Perhaps one of my favourite books of all time, HEY NOSTRADAMUS was a Christmas gift one year.  I sat on my parents leather love seat and devoured it (oh, and bawled my eyes out).  Coupland wrote in a way I had never experienced before.  He was so raw and shamelessly oblivious to touchy subjects.  This story, loosely based on the Columbine shootings, centered around two teens who had secretly married so that their religious beliefs permitted a sexual relationship.  Tension arises when unexpected news is announced within the first few pages and the couple separates to go to their prospective classes.  Jason goes to class, while Cheryl makes her way to the cafeteria and is momentarily killed by a group of teen boys with guns.  The book is narrated by four characters, one chunk at a time.  Cheryl opens and narrates into death, while Jason picks up, years later -- a brutally scarred man. Jason's present-day girlfriend and his father also narrate in the second half of the book.  I cannot explain how powerful this novel is.  Like that one book you could never quite let go of, this novel changed the way I saw things.

On an entirely different note, one of my all-time favourite girly reads was Bridget Harrison's TABLOID LOVE.  I read this book the summer before moving to Ottawa to begin my undergrad in Journalism at Carleton (that didn't last long, but my love for this book sure did)!  An important note is that this is a MEMOIR!  Bridget Harrison is a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, sent from London, England to New York City to write for The New York Post.  Her other side is undoubtedly Bridget Jones.  In a new place, thousands of miles from her home and her fiance, Bridget proceeds to ROYALLY mess up her own life.  Though she makes mistakes in this novel, I felt for her -- and believe me, this is not a completely light read.  Harrison reported on the attack on the twin towers in 2001 and the passages from that time period are heart-wrenching.  She was even publicly called out for detailing the innermost secrets of her relationship with the main man of the book.  After the books publication, he expressed extreme sadness in her exposure of their relationship within the text.  Harrison responded with an article stating that although their moments were precious and personal, they were a large part of her life, which this book documents.  It was fascinating, hilarious and heart-breaking.  An absolutely wonderful story.

Another old favourite is Diane Schoemperlen's AT A LOSS FOR WORDS.  This book, written in the second person perspective, is the narrative of an older women, once abandoned by her lover in her early twenties and giving him a second shot multiple years down the road.  This novel is called a "post-romantic novel", which can pretty much tell you that it is not a heart-warming story -- however I could not put it down and loved the fresh take Schoemperlen took on her narrative.  This book also houses one of my all time favourite quotes -- EVER.

 "Many times I've googled you, and I've found that, in addition to your usual self, you are also an evangelical pastor who writes hymns and other sacred songs, a bookseller specializing in fantasy fiction, a collector of Civil War firearms, the owner of an asphalt company, the owner of an antique store, the vice president of a communications corporation, a risk analysis consultant, a jazz saxophonist, a forensic accountant, a disc jockey, a filmmaker, a Web designer, an oncologist, a psychiatrist, a criminal lawyer, and a high school football coach.  You are also a street in Seattle, a road in Wyoming, a hiking trail in Oregon, a lake in New Mexico, and a mountain in Alaska.
One in a million? 
I guess not."

BAM!  That is how I feel every time I read that quote, which remains post-noted in my edition of the book.  Such an interestingly written novel.  Short and bittersweet -- I loved this little book. (Oh, AND she's Canadian!)

There are many other books I wanted to include in this post, so for now, we will just call it part one.  Stay tuned!


Ikhlas said...

Great post, Chelsey! Its great to hear about books that we loved before this whole blogging and Goodreads thing became so popular! Looking forward to more like this :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

You mean there was actually a time before blogging and GoodReads? I think you're making it up, I really do.
Hey Nostradamus sounds absolutely amazing. I don't think I can turn my back on such a life-changing reading experience, which means I'm adding it to my tbr and definitely getting a copy next week.

And the quote really made me laugh out loud. I'm pretty sure I want to read At a Loss for Words at some point too. My tbr hates you, Chelsey, but I certainly don't. :)

Natalie said...

So true Chelsey! I sometimes miss those times before Blogging and Goodreads when you would stumble upon books at the library by yourself or through your friends. I actually remember picking up Hey Nostradamus because you recommended it to me! :) I've never heard of At A Loss For Words but I fell completely in love with that quote you posted. It totally felt like BAM when I read it! And a Canadian you say? Those are always my favourite authors :) I'll definitely be picking that one up when I have a chance!

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