Books·My Life in Books

The books that inspired comedian Jessica Holmes

The author of Depression: The Comedy on the fiction and nonfiction she loved reading over the years.
Jessica Holmes is a Canadian comedian and actress.

Jessica Holmes is best known for her work with comedy troupe the Royal Canadian Air Farce, which she joined in 2003, after starring in her own television show, The Holmes Show in 2002. Her memoir, Depression: The Comedy, aims to destigmatize mental illness by finding the humour in dealing with the ups and downs of her life and career.

Below, Holmes tells CBC Books the books that she's enjoyed reading over the years. 

The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery's Canadian children's classic has captivated generations of children in Canada and around the world. (Wikimedia Commons/Tundra)

"These were the first novels I read, and learning about this unconventional girl who lived in her imagination as much as I did, felt like coming home. I've also had green hair from a dye job gone wrong, so… yeah, Anne and I are 'kindred spirits.'"

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein was an American writer known for his cartoons, songs and children's books. (Larry Moyer/HarperCollins)

"My mom read me this book of poignant, off-kilter poetry when I was a kid, and I was fascinated by its dark comedy. Poems like Peanut Butter Sandwich, Smart and Listen to the Mustn'ts stayed with me. I read it to my kids now, to remind them (and myself!) to find the funny in the world."  

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

Stephen Richards Covey was an American author, businessman and public speaker. (Simon & Schuster/Wikimedia Commons)

"This book helped me navigate Toronto in my 20s. It's about finding success while also staying true to your deepest goals, and never making your success at anyone else's expense. It's pretty different from, say, The Art of the Deal"

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican author of Toltec spiritualist and neoshamanistic texts. (Amber-Allen Publishing/Isabelle Oliver)

"Ellen DeGeneres swears by this book, so who am I to argue? The four agreements include 'be impeccable with your word' (those of us who aren't assertive find it challenging to say what we really mean) and 'don't take anything personally' (in comedy that's something to remind ourselves of daily/hourly/minutely)."

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson is an American journalist, author and blogger. (Flatiron Books)

"I faced an uphill battle trying to get Depression: The Comedy published, because many felt a serious subject should be treated with… well, seriousness. Then I found Furiously Happy, a fantastically irreverent book about mental health, and it gave me the little push I needed to keep going."


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