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City of Glass: Doug Coupland's Vancouver

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  773 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Eclectic and provocative, this book, designed to resemble a Japanese underground zine, looks at Vancouver from inside out, from the Grouse Grind to the shimmering glass towers, First Nations to feng-shui. Douglas Coupland takes on monster houses, weather, Sandra Bernhard, Love Boats, SkyTrain, fleece, that endless rivalry with Seattle, and even includes a short story about ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Douglas & McIntyre (first published April 1st 2003)
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Paul Eckert
Oct 10, 2011 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in preparation for a vacation in Vancouver, and I’m glad I did. As usual, Coupland is a master at social and cultural interpretation, only this time he applies his skills to his hometown of Vancouver.

In a style similar to that of Souvenir of Canada, Coupland writes short essays on subjects which are accompanied by pertinent photography. City of Glass riffs on everything Vancouver, from the lax marijuana laws and abundance of inter-racial marriages to Stanley Park and the ‘see-throug
Amanda Bolderston
Mar 20, 2014 Amanda Bolderston rated it really liked it
Douglas Coupland and Vancouver go together like Margaret Atwood and Toronto, Stephen King and Maine, John Steinbeck and California (you get the picture...) This is a witty and thought provoking "guide" to Coupland's beloved city from which I learned:
1. Never call it Van (there is East, North and West Van but saying "Van" is like calling Portland "Portl"!
2. In 1998 a Grinder from Ontario (doing the Grouse Grind) was buried in an avalanche and the terrain was too perilous to dig him out so his fro
Oct 13, 2009 Jayme rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Vancouver and Douglas Coupland
Shelves: travel
This is a weird little non-fiction piece by one of my favourite authors. Written by pretty much anyone else there is no way I would have picked it up. But, being a fan of both Vancouver (my home) and Douglas Coupland how could I not love this.

This book basically describes all of the things that Coupland himself loves about Vancouver. It's a really quick, fun read and gives you a good insiders view of Vancouver. I learned that Douglas Coupland and I both have the same favourite bridge...awesome!
Yuri Artibise
Jun 15, 2011 Yuri Artibise rated it really liked it
Shelves: urbanism, vancouver
City of Glass reminds Vancouverites why we live here, and tells guests why they should visit. It is the book you leave in the guest bedroom to inspire and delight out-of-towners.

It's brochure like quality starts with the books physical form. City of Glass is bright and colorful—reminiscent of a sunny day in the city. Its cover is even colored in the omnipresent green and blue of Vancouver’s branding.

The title of the book comes from Vancouver’s large number of skyscrapers with glass or mirror f
Feb 25, 2012 Myles rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Hmph. Coupland wrote and captured loving portraits of his country in Souvenir of Canada and to a lesser extent in Souvenir of Canada 2 all the while avoiding the vapid treacleness implied by their titles.

City of Glass is not so fortunate. Between the pleasing design of the cover there is a scattered collection of vignettes that don't come together in any way to form a cohesive picture. Souvenir of Canada 2 showed signs of Coupland being tapped out, but nothing in City of Glass rises above brochu
Sep 05, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
This is Douglas Coupland's highly personal take on all the little things that make Vancouver Vancouver -- fleece vests and Teva sandals, Japanese teenage girl fashion, BC Ferry food, old British ladies, the sulphur heaps, Stanley Park, leaky condos.... As someone who got to know Vancouver only as an adult, introduced by my husband who grew up there (and is a Genxer too), it strikes me that Coupland is describing his generation's take on the city with amazing accuracy and clarity. It's illustrate ...more
Lori Bamber
Jul 01, 2015 Lori Bamber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2015
In my view, City of Glass is a perfect little book. Another Goodreads reviewer described it as a love letter to a city - it is a succinct, soulful, funny, beautifully written and imaginatively illustrated love letter.

I came to appreciate Douglas Coupland's genius through his art rather than his writing, and so it took me a long time to come across this book. But I know I'll return to it again and again, and I can't wait to pass it on to friends who love Vancouver, art and innovative literature
Jun 14, 2007 Trin rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, canadian-lit
Coupland juxtaposes a city's quest for identity with the twentysomething's personal quest: it's all muddled and confused now, and sometimes it's even awful, but there's SO MUCH hope for the future. I really like seeing Vancouver (where I've never been, sadly) through Coupland's eyes. This is not a guidebook, but a personal tour by a somewhat funky (and therefore, awesome) friend who shows you patchwork pieces of the place which can then be made into the tapestry of your choosing. Mine has a lot ...more
Jun 07, 2016 Chloë rated it liked it
Having lived in Vancouver for sometime now, I felt I knew the city pretty well. So this book seemed a good opportunity to get to know the work of Douglas Coupland. It worked; enjoyed it, and I think I can see Coupland's style clearer now, and I might be more likely to pick up one of his other books. It's also very interesting how many different ways a city can be seen and understood by different people, and yet the character of the city overall remains evident and whole. Worth my couple of hours ...more
Julian Haigh
Coupland is a method writer. He basically steals snippets of real life and other peoples' experience and puts it together in a book. Most people that work with him don't like him: I live in Vancouver and I've heard some horror stories. That said, no other author writes like him - he has a way of connecting with the city and the experience of those who live here and the way he writes is always worthy of a quick relaxing read. Look at some photos and read his small snippets of insight. Perfect as ...more
Susan Strickland
Feb 01, 2015 Susan Strickland rated it it was amazing
Douglas Coupland writes characters. The setting is already written - Vancouver. This beautiful collection of essays about Vancouver's architecture, wildlife, terrain, and people makes me want to visit Vancouver more than ever. It perfectly matches the settings of jPod, the film Everything's Gone Green, and many of his other works, and includes passages from Polaroids From The Dead and Life After God. If you're a Coupland fan who hasn't read this book - read it.
Jul 23, 2007 Drew rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: travellers
Shelves: nonfiction
Douglas Coupland is nothing if not a British Columbian. Here, he produces a travel guide for his hometown unlike anything you've ever read. There are candid memories alongside the tourist traps and demographic descriptions. There's even a fictional story about a couple of aging punk rockers, set in Vancouver. Highly enjoyable, and short enough it can be read in a day or two. Although, a greater number of stories wouldn't diminish the work at all.
Jul 25, 2011 Dan rated it liked it
I think the books best attribute might be its potential to spark discussion. As a British Columbian who's spent a bit less than a year in the city, I find the city very over-rated and its image very narcissistic, but I still enjoyed Coupland's ode to the city he clearly loves. Definitely interesting to contrast his views with mine, although I was probably particularly forgiving, since I love his fiction.
Mar 24, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I've been taken to task for saying I "read" books like this. This book is 75% pictures, which is why i bought it. The author is from Vancouver, and this book is essentially a tribute to Vancouver. The book tells about Vancouver and its traits, highlights, etc. It is a place i have always wanted to visit, and i still do.
Sep 04, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Heard about this book just after arriving in Vancouver for a holiday. Bought it at the Douglas Coupland exhibition there (which was great). Many pictures, doesn't take long to read. Helped to make sense of everything I came across during my sight-seeing activities. I'm a long time fan of the author, but I think even people who don't like his novels would find this book useful.
Aug 05, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
Just moved to the area and got this book as a birthday present from a close friend. It was great to learn more about my new home from Douglas Coupland himself. A series of short, quirky, and honest essays from someone who loves Vancouver and the surrounding area. Highly recommend it to anyone who lives in the Metro Vancouver area, visits often, or is thinking of stopping by.
Adam Hodgins
Sep 10, 2007 Adam Hodgins rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, non-fiction
I read this while I was in Vancouver which made it even more interesting, if you're planning on visiting you should pick it up for sure. It made me think a lot about what would be in an equivalent book about Ottawa.
Jul 22, 2012 Miki rated it really liked it
Shelves: all-non-fiction
I found this book extremely funny after living in Vancouver for a year. Coupland captures my love and frustration with this place with his dry and sarcastic wit. I wouldn't really recommend this book for anyone who hasn't visited the city though.
May 19, 2013 Keith rated it liked it
Shelves: canadiana
Crucial complement to any travel/tour book of the city. I try to mail a copy to all of my visitors. Blog-style but thoughtful short pieces on carefully chosen--and equally carefully observed--elements of the city make up its personality.
Apr 20, 2015 Celeste rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A v. cheeky, personal tour of Vancouver. Not to be used as a guide book, but as a wonderful supplemental text that beautifully captures the city's essence and voice. I recommend skimming it before traveling and really delving into it while you're in the city or after your trip.
Mar 03, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
witty & interesting, but not so much if you're not very familiar with or don't give a damn about vancouver. though that is not to say the former shouldn't read it.. i would still suggest it to people interested in the city.
Oct 28, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing
I love Douglas Coupland's look into his surroundings. This book and Made in Canada hit my feelings about my country and my current city right on the head.
May 24, 2016 Leah rated it it was amazing
An indexed, alphabetized love letter to a city -- 4 stars for the concept alone.
Edited upon re-read in May 2016: The Lion's Gate essay alone makes this 5 stars.
Sep 01, 2008 Beck rated it really liked it
Coupland's irreverent homage to his hometown, with some great photos. Captures the spirit of the place, I think.
Jun 24, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Picked this up at my library to prepare for a trip to Vancouver. An honest and brilliantly written book.
Aug 17, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
A perfect portrayal of Vancouver. At least it seemed that way; I've only been in the city for a year, and this book showed me much that was new to me. Fun read, good wit, interesting photographs.
Sep 17, 2007 Jazzy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to/knows about vancouver
Shelves: essays
some people hate vancouver, some people love vancouver.
Coupland captures reasons for both. amazing photos and narrative.
Probably the easiest read on Vancouver. I'll find out this weekend how useful it was.

It was interesting to learn what Coupland thinks the highlights of Vancouver are.
Adam Humphreys
Jun 28, 2010 Adam Humphreys rated it did not like it
I bought this on amazon whilst homesick for Vancouver - seems like a money grab type thing from Coupland. Nothing serious or interesting in the book - the tone is mostly like an ironic travel guide.
Claudia rated it it was amazing
Sep 04, 2013
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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever ...more
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