The Book That Changed Your Life: Jennifer Croll

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      The Word Vancouver festival is set for its 2016 edition with a massively inclusive lineup of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 21 to 25.

      We asked a group of these much-admired writers to tell us about their finest reading experiences. Which books put a stamp on their imaginations early on? Which ones revealed to them the full powers of the written word?

      Here’s what Vancouver writer, historian, and critic Jennifer Croll told us. She’s the author of Fashion That Changed the World and the brand-new Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels From Cleopatra to Lady Gaga—not to mention a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. She’ll read from her work at 1:20 p.m. on September 25, on the fest’s Lions stage at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      I was such a voracious reader as a kid that it’s tough to pinpoint one book that changed my early life. I always lived through reading—every couple of weeks I’d bring home from the library great towering stacks of books that would terrify my babysitters. It’s all a bit of a blur.

      One book that stands out, however, is Roald Dahl’s Matilda, which I read when I was maybe eight or nine. It’s the story of a clever girl’s triumph in a dark and twisted world, and despite the elements of fantasy, I felt like I could identify; Matilda’s story gave me bravery.

      I’m going to cheat and shout-out a second book, too: Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma, another sort of dark fairy tale which I read while I was 23, living in a closet in London, and horribly, horribly homesick. I think I can realistically say that Coupland’s dystopian vision of Vancouver plucked at my heartstrings enough to make me want to buy a plane ticket back to this city, even if I felt like my plane might fall out of the sky.

      Jennifer Croll.
      Rebecca Blissett