Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Krista Bridge

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Krista bridge

The WAR Series: Writers As Readers gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Today's guest writer is Krista Bridge, the author of The Eliot Girls (Douglas & McIntyre). Krista drew on her own experiences at an exclusive private girls school in Toronto to craft a story of the sly bullying and complicated social politics amongst young, privileged women.

Read on to hear from Krista about the books in her life. She tells us about a summer of serious books, reading off the school list and borrowing from Alec Baldwin.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
The Littles books by John Peterson, a series about tiny people with tails who live in the walls of big people’s houses. For a time, I really believed they lived in my house too and hoped they would show themselves to me.

A book that made me cry:
I don’t generally cry when I read, but I remember reading A Prayer for Owen Meany as a teenager, and tears were pouring down my cheeks during the funeral scene, and in that same scene, a page or two later, I was laughing out loud. More recently, I cried at the end of Run by Ann Patchett. What a wonderful book.

The first adult book I read:
I read A Handmaid’s Tale when I was about twelve but couldn’t appreciate it until much later. Same goes for Wuthering Heights. I think that was the summer my mother decided it was time for me to start reading more serious books.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Portnoy’s Complaint.

The book I have re-read many times:
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are up there.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
So many it’s shameful. Anna Karenina and Mrs. Dalloway are two big ones.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro, not because it would have helped me with any questions about who I was, but because it was unlike anything else I was reading at that time (which were mostly either Victorian or school-assigned), and I think it would have woken me up to a new idea about what a book could be.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:
Most of Alice Munro’s early books, in particular Who Do you Think You Are?, Lives of Girls and Women, The Progress of Love. I read Alice Munro for the first time at university, and then started reading her on my own in my mid-twenties, which was around when I first started writing. I think one thing great writers often do is not necessarily introduce you to new ideas and thoughts, but to express thoughts and feelings that are in you but you’ve never properly expressed to yourself. When you read them, you think, Oh, yes, of course. So much of Alice Munro’s writing does that for me.

The best book I read in the past six months:
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

The book I plan on reading next:
N.W. by Zadie Smith (or Anna Karenina or Mrs. Dalloway).

A possible title for my autobiography:
Borrowing Alec Baldwin’s lament (on his wish to be a greater actor), “Oh, to be Leo [DiCaprio]!”—I’ll go for Oh, to be Alice!

Krista Bridge is the author of the short story collection The Virgin Spy, which was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and a ReLit Award. She lives in Toronto.

For more information about The Eliot Girls please visit the Douglas & McIntyre website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

1 comment

I think I'm going to give "Who Do You Think You Are?" a read, seems like my 18-year old self would benefit from figuring out who I am.

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