Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Friendship, The Kick-Ass Literary Kind

Growing up, my books were like best friends to me. A book-lover from an early age, by the time I hit my tumultuous teenage years, books were a constant, a source of comfort and a place where I often felt "understood." As a teenager, it was through the written page that I felt most connected. And as I sat down to write this post, I realized I can track a lot of my life through my favorite books during a certain time period.

My favorite books started out as pretty light series books--Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High with the occasional Christopher Pike or Caroline B. Cooney thrown in there for some thrills. As I mentioned in my first blog posting, my love for many of these books lead to seriously warped views on fashion. I mean, really. Skirts made out of sweatshirts? Hell to the no.
(By the way, anyone who was a fan of the above books must check out this blog: The Dairi Burger. Holy hell, it nearly brought me back to the days of stirrup pants and bike shorts under skirts.) This was when I started to think about how neat it would be to write these kind of books--and that it might be possible. I mean, how hard could it be, right? (Ah, the naivete of youth.)

Next up: high school. Where I read a book that still remains one of my favorites today: Beach Music by Pat Conroy. Lyrical, beautiful writing--the kind of writing that makes you FEEL. Whether it's sadness, joy or just simple shock at how he manages to craft a sentence. I felt both intimidated and inspired by his writing--which only made me want to become a writer even more.

Enter the college years, when I read a book called Watermelon by Marian Keyes. She made writing so...relatable. As I finished the book, I clutched it to my chest and thought, "I can DO this." That book reminded me that there's lots of different ways to write a book. It helped to bring me back to what I love most about writing.

Now, in my near-decade since college, there are two more books that I've added to my "Top Shelf" of the bookcase: Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country and Jen Lancaster's Bitter is the New Black. Very different books, although both are non-fiction. The biggest, best reason I can give for loving both of these books is the clear, engaging voice in each. Voices that draw you in from the beginning, make you laugh and allow you to accompany them on a journey, whether it be all the way to Australia or just to the unemployment office.

And now, as I enter the beginning stages of my writing career, I can't wait to read all of The Novel Girls books--I look forward to making long, lasting and best-friend-type relationships with your characters, too!


Jillian Cantor said...

What a great post, Maureen! I think I read every single Christopher Pike book, and yet I'd completely forgotten until I read your post. I agree, that I can also chart my life by the books I've loved and what they've meant to me!

And I can't wait to befriend your characters, too!

Lesley Livingston said...

I love the idea of 'befriending' books and their characters. Lovely notion.

Tracy Madison said...

Ooh, great post. And I have to agree with you and Jillian, I can definitely chart my life by the books I've read and loved.