The end of summer always reminds me of this one year when I was about 17, living back in Hamilton and waiting to start my last year of highschool. My boyfriend's dad was away and we spend the last week of August smoking hash in his backyard, dreading the start of term. Everyone had the same navy blue hooded sweatshirt. The air had that Hamilton smell, smoke and factory fallout mixed with humidity and mountain ash. I didn't want to go back to school; no one ever did, even though at the very least, going back meant you had something to do with your days, not to mention the possibility of someday getting the hell out of Steeltown. I've never understood people who say they were happy in highschool. And yet, I always think of that nauseatingly cliched time in my life, when all I thought I needed was a boyfriend and my parents' car and an inkling of some future responsibility.
And with that, I give you...
Top Four Books that Make you Nostalgic for a Time That Actually SuckedBlankets--Craig Thompson
I have a horrible habit of getting really unreasonable crushes on graphic novelists, and I got supercreepyobsessed with Craig Thompson's cartoon version of himself after reading this stunning story, a sprawling 542-page epic that chronicles Thompson's childhood, his struggle between religion and art, and his first love, a girl named Raina whose total goodness started to piss me off a little toward the end of the book. Don't fall for her, Craig, come to Ottawa and I will make you dinner and stun you with my wit and my pretty hair ribbons. Thompson's style reminded me of those Little Golden Books from the 50s, all charcoal-y and full of doe-eyed characters. And the way he draws his characters' hands and limbs is so eerily real. This whole book reminded me of "Calendar Girl" by the Stars
, which 1. shows you what a huge loser I am that I compare songs and books and 2. is unusual because I hate the Stars. Sort of.Teen Angst? Naaah...A Quasi-Autobiography--Ned Vizzini
Speaking of unreasonable crushes, if thise whole librarian thing doesn't work out, I intend to move to Brooklyn and marry Ned Vizzini. The guy started publishing essays in mags like the New Yorker when he was a young teen...I love the precocious youngsters. This book is his first collection of essays, and details his highschool years in all their mortifying glory. My personal favourites are the one about him lying to his parents so he could sneak out and play Magic cards all night, the one detailing the rise and fall of his extremely untalented rock band, and the one about him almost seducing a hot older editor at a press event. He's like the World's Little Brother: engaging, endearing, funny, and a bit of a dork. His new book, It's Kind of a Funny Story
, has a wicked hipster cover and a photo of the author, which only fuels my obsession. He is a shrugged-shoulders, hoodie-wearing, dark eyed man with the soul of a poet...if anyone needs me, I will be walking the streets of Brooklyn like a crazy woman.Prep--Curtis Sittenfeld
The teenage girl experience writ large, and played out in that most Teen of settings-the elite New England boarding school. Sittenfeld's dry humour shines through in the voice of Lee Fiora, a displaced Indiana girl who discovers, on arriving at Ault, a prestigious prep school, that maybe she's not part of the upper crust at all. So many boarding school stories about teen girls are full of over the top pranks and dumb love sub-plots. Instead, Prep focuses on the horror and the awkwardness of adolescence, the melodrama of failed relationships, the feeling that you're at the centre of the universe and it's exploding all around you.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower--Stephen Chbosky
This might be my favourite book of all-time. It's an epilstolary (50 cent word) novel, told through 15 year old Charlie's letters to an unknown reader, following his life through highschool in the late 80s as he discovers the Smiths, makes mixtapes, finds friends that aren't assholes (no mean feat, as in most North American highschools...gahhh, so bitter), and eventually comes to terms with a pretty awful experience from his past. This topped the American Library Association's list of frequently banned books
in 2005. It's a book that is at once sweet and scary, and expresses what it's like to be a teen outside the popular group.
In other news, I fully figured out how to add links to text, which is not that hard, but I'm proud of myself. YES GUY.