The Best Book Investment I Ever Made

Not only did I break up with a boy who was absolutely not “The One” because of Jennifer Weiner, but she also attending my recent wedding with “The One”.

Sorry, I skipped ahead a bit. I’ll start at the beginning…

You can’t read women’s fiction without knowing her name. You can’t write women’s fiction and not know her name. And you definitely shouldn’t watch The Bachelor without monitoring her hilarious tweets.

My introduction to Jennifer Weiner came thirteen years ago during a bookstore browse where I happened across her debut novel, Good Good in Bed by Jennifer Weinerin Bed, displayed on a table. The title snatched my attention (how could it not?), the synopsis drew me in, and I grasped the book in my hands in debate. It was a hardcover. I had very little money at the time. Negative money, if we’re being honest. But there was something about the book, and I found myself unable to set it back down. After a quick ping-pong back and forth in my mind, I walked back to my boyfriend with the book tucked under my arm.

“Whatcha got there?” he asked.
“A book!” I said, holding it out. “It looks great. I can’t wait to read it!”
His eyes narrowed as he pulled it out of my hands and put it down on the closest table. “Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t afford this. You don’t have any money.”
I snatched it back, stalked off to the cashier, and used more negative money to buy it.

It was the best book investment I ever made.

Two of my BFF’s and I all read it twice within a year, and then I passed the book onto another friend who devoured it before giving it to her sister. That copy never made it home. I did, however, buy another which I kept and have subsequently read over the years.

The boy became history shortly after the bookstore incident. Thank you, Jennifer Weiner! He didn’t understand my love of books. He didn’t get me. And he definitely didn’t do himself any favours by once saying “What am I, the bank of David?”* at some ridiculous one dollar item like a bottle of water when I was thirsty and couldn’t find a bank machine. Although I like to think I would have been smart enough to figure it out eventually, thank you for saving me from this very bad man via both the book purchase illuminating his bad boyfriend behaviour and for your wonderful heroine who I’m sure also encouraged me to get his balls rolling, I mean the ball rolling.

Even more important than breaking up with Mr. Tight Wad and passing on a phenomenal, inspiring novel to friends (it still remains one of my favorites to this day), Good in Bed reignited my passion for writing, for the genre that would come to be known as chick lit, particularly the more serious side of it. As much as I loved Bridget Jones’s Diary, a novel that also inspired me to write, and all the other light and fluffy pink covered books out there at the time about shopping and shoes, I adored Good in Bed even more. I loved how serious the novel was amidst the humour, how real. It was smart and funny and it made me think about life and reading and especially writing in a whole new way. Thank you again.

Okay, so maybe I was stretching the truth a bit earlier when I said Jennifer Wiener attended my wedding. She wasn’t actually there in person. She was, however, there in book form. At some point I took my wedding and made it bookish. I think I’ve mentioned this in another post before – do NOT google ‘a bookish wedding’ two months prior to your nuptials. A disaster of epic re-planning proportions will ensue.

Here’s a photo of our place cards which were handwritten library cards fanned out in two books, one of which was Jennifer Weiner’s Lydia_Reno-297novel, In Her Shoes. While a bit sad about defacing the book, I’m happy to report that it still sits on my entrance table and holds mail and other bits and bobs that need a home.

And that’s how Jennifer Weiner attended my wedding. And changed my life.

*Name changed to protect he who was not “The One.”

Me and Bridget Jones

My love affair with chick lit began just over thirteen years ago when I was handed a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary. It was the year 2000. I was 28. It was spring. And I had just split up with the boy I’d lived with for two years. But new love was in the air.

I cracked open Bridget Jones’s Diary on a camping trip and was gobsmacked to discover my own life splashed across the pages. Not only did I have my very own office scoundrel worming his way into my thoughts, but there were also scandalous workplace instant messaging involved! It was unnerving and wonderful all at the same time. Reading Bridget Jones, not the very bad man I had stupidly grown fond of. Screenshot_2013-10-22-08-08-55

And now, just over thirteen years later, Bridget Jones is not only back with the third book in the series, but just this week two wonderful things happened. First, I watched my own novel, Redesigning Rose, hit number four on an Amazon’s Women’s Fiction, Humour Best Seller’s List. It was just below the Bridget Jones sequel, Mad About the Boy. I almost fainted from the shock and couldn’t believe I shared a Top Five spot with one of my inspirations to write. (Thank you eReader News Today!)

And then just a day later, I met Helen Fielding at an event hosted by ELLE Canada and sponsored by Girls Night Out Wines!

I feel like I’ve come full circle. Now if only I can stay within the lines!

Meeting Helen Fielding was incredible. She’s so lovely and warm and so very, very funny. Kathryn, my BFF, SIL, and co-founder of Novel Escapes, and I wanted to put her in our pockets and take her home with us. I would have settled for sitting down and sharing a bottle or two of Pino Grigio. I might have gone a bit fan-girl when I gushed about my life while reading the first Bridget Jones and thanked her for inspiring me to write.

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Back when I first read Bridget Jones’s Diary, I was amazed by how relatable the novel was. Like Bridget, I was single, I drank, I smoked, and I swore like a sailor (although not on the same level as Shaz!) I still am some of these things, although I’m married now and quit the smokes. I had insecurities. I was approaching thirty with no man in sight – well, there was a man. My very own Daniel Cleaver. But that’s another story. Or maybe not as Fielding managed to portray my life at the time quite accurately. I do like to think Bridget Jones’s Diary made me smarter regarding this very bad man.

Reading the book was validating on so many levels. My insecurities. My fears. My love life. My friends. Even my alcohol intake was all in check. And it was all very amusing to read. I laughed at every situation, and I knew my own shenanigans weren’t far off the mark. I wasn’t alone in the crazy single world I inhabited and that was astounding.

I’m just over halfway through the sequel, Mad About the Boy, and I’m loving it so far. It’s more mature, but still oh-so-very funny, and I’ve guffawed and giggled my way through. But I’ve also chocked up from time to time and have had to take a few deep breaths. Bravo, Helen Fielding, Bravo. This is a brave book and you’ve written something wonderful and true to life with all it’s unplanned misfortunes, misadventures, and things gone awry. You mentioned these at the event, and you portray one’s “life’s plan” going to pot ever so eloquently in Mad About the Boy. Thank you for the initial inspiration, and for continuing to inspire me with this wonderful sequel.