Recommending Books Based on Twitter Personalities: Twitcommendations, Round 1

Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

I spend a lot of time nonsensing around the internet, and found myself chatting (as I often do) with regular Riot reader and all-around cool guy Peter. We were talking about the Life of Pi film, and how I’m pretty sure it will break my tiny heart, but how Peter really ought to read the Yann Martel novel it is based on. Because, based on the version of Peter I know from the internets, which is the only version of Peter I know, I think he would really like it.

But what if he’s not who he seems to be? Maybe my recommendation would be off. But that wouldn’t be my fault…

Do you see why Rebecca and I are basically internet married?

So here we are, Rioters, Twitcommendations for people who were kind enough to get in on the ground floor with this for me. Here are the arbitrary rules I made up one Wednesday night.

  1. The recommendation can be based only on your Twitter profile and posting history.
  2. You have to consent to the recommendation by messaging me to ask for one.
  3. I can’t recommend anything by an author you mention on your Twitter feed. (Within reason.  I’m not reading a year of tweets here.)

So here are the Twitcommendations: Round 1.

Victim #1: 

I love reading Scott’s tweets. He’s an interesting dude, spiritual and engaged with the world around him.  He goes to baby music classes. I could cop out and say The Tao of Pooh, but no doubt Scott has read and loved that book. So I’m going to suggest that Scott pick up Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford. It’s a book my dad and husband are both really loving right now, all about the idea of how work and our connection to the self are deeply intertwined. I think Scott will dig it.


Victim #2: 

I kind of felt a little like I was cheating when Kristi volunteered, because I think Kristi and I have been following each other since I started on Twitter. But no matter, because I have the perfect book for this bright, witty, Japanophile grad student — but she’s going to have to dig for it. I want Kristi to read a Japanese-only release by my favourite guy: Douglas Coupland’s God Hates Japan. It’s impossible to find in Canada (or feels that way — I read it in the UBC archive!) but should not be so impossible in Japan. It’s all about 20-somethings in Japan and the culture shock they experience upon arriving in Vancouver. Riotously funny and moving, I suspect she’ll get it on an entirely different level than I did.


Victim #3: 

Lauren says no one else is like her and I believe it — she seems like an eclectic, interesting woman, and a voracious and rangy reader. Her tastes look to trend towards YA novels, which of course I love, so I racked my brain for a YA novel that didn’t get a whole mess of hype and that she might not have come across yet. That’s why my recommendation is Slam by Nick Hornby, a really charming novel about teenage pregnancy and skateboarding. Sometimes they do go together. I think this is Hornby’s only foray into teen lit, but he treats his young and emotionally disturbed protagonists with the same care and respect he gave to Rob from High Fidelity.


Victim #4: 

Renaite likes Christmas, judging by her profile pic, which means I like Renaite. Renaite has birthday celebrations for her dogs. How great is that? Based on that, I couldn’t recommend anything other than Virginia Woolf’s Flush. I hope you haven’t read this, Renaite, but it is a delight.  Woolf tells us all about the love affair between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning — from the perspective of Elizabeth Barrett’s cocker spaniel. You will swoon, Renaite, and you will get it. I promise you.


Victim #5: 

Lorena, I covet your last name. Is that weird? Lorena likes comics, is a librarian, and has an interest in history. Lorena sounds like a fantastic coffee date, frankly, but that’s not really the point of this exercise, I suppose. Lorena, I want — nay, NEED — you to read Chester Brown’s Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography. Brown not only puts together a fantastic tale of the important Métis leader of Manitoba (and, to many, unrecognized father of Canadian confederation), but he also engages in some great historiographic play. I mean, this is a comic book with footnotes. Footnotes! Need I say more? Get it.

Five Twitcommendations has left me totally drained, but I thought I would also add one fellow Rioter in each of these rounds. The first to accept my offer was our own @BooksaremyBFs, Kit Steinkellner. Kit likes big books, Kit likes wordplay, and Kit likes Sorkin — Kit and I also like each other a whole heck of a lot. My recommendation for Kit is risky, and a little out of left field, but Kit, I want you to read This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers. This novel is exquisitely beautiful and utterly heartbreaking: a teenager writes the story of her life for her unborn daughter. I can’t even say more, but I am about to start reading it again just out of the love I have for it.  Go read.

That’s all I have in me at the moment, but I promise to be back very soon with Round 2 — so anyone I didn’t catch in this post, I promise to get you soon.

If I did do you, did I get it right? Let me know in the comments.

(Want in on a future round?  Leave me your Twitter handle in the comments or come find @mittenstrings on the Twitters.)