Thursday, April 22, 2010

Booklist: Fictional Journals & Journaling News

I love journals. I love to read them -- both real and fictional examples. I love to write in my own journal, and study journaling as a practice.

And now I am embarking on a new venture: teaching journaling.

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new company, Four Rooms Creative Self Care. The name is inspired by Rumer Godden's quote:

There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.

— Rumer Godden in A House with Four Rooms
Four Rooms will focus on the power of the written word to lead us to wholeness and wellness, in all areas of our lives. To begin, Four Rooms will offer journaling classes, expanding into explorative poetry and bibliotherapy as time goes on. What is explorative poetry? It is simply reading and/or writing poetry in order to enjoy and respond with journaling and personal meaning, not an attempt to teach poetry as an art form with all its technical elements. And bibliotherapy? That is the use of a written text, primarily fiction, to explore and expand the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.
In celebration of this new movement in my life, I want to share a list of a few of my favourite fictional journals which provide a wonderful read.

1. I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

A delightful English book, set in the 30's, telling the story of Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric family. Begins with the classic line "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." Art, eccentricity, Americans and true love...

2. Doctor Glas / Hjalmar Soderberg

A very powerful tale, penned in 1901 but eerily relevant today. A doctor secretly in love with an abused wife must make some difficult moral decisions. (My edition has an intro by Margaret Atwood).

3. Diary of a Nobody / George and Weedon Grossmith

Hilarious storytelling combining silly English humour and amusing illustrations, this reveals the inner life and daily tribulations of a suburban husband/bank employee and his family.

4. The Golden Notebook / Doris Lessing

While not strictly told fully in journal format, this Booker Prize winner and feminist classic prominently features the five notebooks of Anna Wulf. Anna keeps her thoughts and fears in notebooks colour coded for theme, and it is through writing her life in these journals that she overcomes the challenges she faces. Each notebook's topic shows us a different facet of Anna and the society she lives within.

5. Mable Riley / Marthe Jocelyn

And to finish off, a wonderful teen novel by a local Stratford author, all about a young woman growing up in 1901 -- in Stratford, Ontario. Mable helps her sister teach school and gets to know a neighbour who is interested in women's rights. It is a great read for Stratford residents but also for anyone who loves fictional journals and historical tales.

6. A Prairie as Wide as the Sea / Sarah Ellis

Okay, one more...the last book made me think of this installment in the "Dear Canada" series, a set of middle school fictional journals set all over Canada and ranging through various historical settings and events. This one is my favourite of all of them so far, telling the story of Ivy Weatherall, British immigrant to Saskatchewan, in 1926. It is beautifully written.


  1. Great list! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Congratulations on your new venture! How very exciting! And thanks for the list of books too!

  3. This is exciting!!! Congratulations and best of luck with this!!

  4. Nice list. "Diary of a Nobody" sounds really good.

  5. This sounds very exciting! I hope you'll keep us posted about how things go, and perhaps how you develop the practice. (Tools, methods, and so on.)

    And now I need to go find those journals. :-)

    I don't journal as much any more, but I kept hand-written journals steadily from 1982 until the late 1990s. I've actually been thinking of going back and grabbing excerpts (only the interesting ones) and posting them somewhere. Hm...

  6. Kerry, Stefanie, Heather - thanks for your good wishes, and hope you enjoy the list!

    Kimberly - Diary of a Nobody is very entertaining -- try it out when you need some light reading :)

    Phyl - looking back at your old journals is a great idea, hope you can find them (and want to share...)

    I will be continuing to add things and develop the website, keep checking! :)

  7. I've added you to my blogroll (on my Canadian fiction which I haven't yet started updating but I will soon blog) so that I'll be able to find you again


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