Readers, meet my cousin Erika. She's 19. And she might just kick my ass in this blogging thing (we gots some good writin' genes in my family, yo!). Here's what she wrote:
You're a regular perezhilton (that guy has made me so proud to be a Perez... I've simply given up trying to give him up. His site is "magically delicious" and I don't care if it represents everything wrong with pop culture today. "It's part of a good breakfast!"). Your mom told me about your recent blogging so tonight I'm reading all of your entries. In the future when you're a New York Times Bestselling Author, this will be slangily referred to as a Jenny-Pestano-Hillier-a-thon (or something more clever - your name is hard to mess around with). The way you write is kind of captivating because it's very reader-friendly and relatable, but not so relatable that you know what's coming next and don't feel compelled to keep reading.
ANYWAY, as far as I'm concerned, horror novels are only useful if you're terribly happy and looking for a quick way to put you into a frightened and depressed mood. While it's true that getting your arm ripped off by a scary-ass clown hiding in a storm drain is probably worse than anything that would happen to me on even the shittiest of days, I'm all about the atmosphere when it comes to comfort books. I like to revel in my interpretation of the world the author has created. It's not so much flowery adjectives or lengthy descriptions that create this world for me, but the attitudes of the characters - the degree of hope and optimism they possess, and the style in which the author writes. When I'm feeling down I like friendly writing that makes me feel like the author is sitting at the front of a third-grade classroom and telling his or her story aloud. There has to be a certain detachment between the author's voice and what's going on in the story so that it doesn't get too overwhelmingly depressing. What can I say? I'm too sensitive. It's fine if bad things happen to the characters, but I want the author to have some consideration for my feelings. I don't like books that are mean to me.
This said, it's not hard to fathom that all my comfort books would all be from the Young Readers section. Well, they are. They include the Harry Potter series (of course), "Awake and Dreaming" (a book by Kit Pearson about a lonely girl who dreams of being part of a big, perfect family), The Berenstein Bears "Big Chapter Books" (classic), "Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli (about a simple-minded yet extraordinary orphan on the run who settles in a town divided by racism), and the "Booky" Trilogy (first-hand tales about a girl growing up in Toronto at the heart of the 1930's Depression).
I can't say that these are still my favourite books of all time (though they once were). I've since found that often times the best, most thought-provoking and fascinatingly wonderful books are the ones that pull on your heartstrings and fill you with anguish. But when I want comfort, all I want to know is the latest heist Fred and George are pulling at Hogwarts, or how Brother and Sister Bear solved a spooky mystery in Bear Country.
That's just me.
So Jenny, I'll keep reading your blog and will continue to anxiously await the time when I can read one of your books (even if it ruins my day because it's about addiction-ridden people are have affairs and getting murdered).
And if you're wondering, here is a list of my favourite books in no particular order:
The Kite Runner
She's Come Undone
Change of Heart
The Glass Castle
A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Da Vinci Code
The Thunderbolt Kid
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Yeah, it's not a very interesting list. Mostly stuff you can find on the "Heather's Pick" list at Chapters or in Oprah's Book Club. I hate bad reads so when I'm choosing a book I like to go with the odds.
For the record, Erika, I like to go with the odds, too. Books cost money and take time to read... so I'll take the sure bets any day.
And God willing, maybe some day one of my books will be a "Heather's Pick". I have no idea who Heather is, but she clearly wields incredible power over the patrons of Chapters if the very sight of her sticker on a book can convince you to buy something. I'm thinking I should start sending her muffins – can't hurt, right?