Books with Buzz
March 3, 2011
There have been two book titles this week that have buzzed through an extraordinary number of my conversations. I’ve had an opportunity to read (and recommend!) one and am eagerly anticipating a reading of the second based on the enthusiastic commentary I’ve heard.
One Day by David Nicholls has travelled the globe by word of mouth in a way few other titles have. It follows the journeys of a man and a woman who meet in university during the 1980s and remain connected through the decades that follow. We are given a glimpse into their lives at various points, always on the same day – July 15th. This “one day” makes for an interesting device to move the story forward. From the author’s website: ” 15th July 1988. Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year which follows? One Day is a funny/sad love story spanning twenty years, a book about growing up – how we change, how we stay the same.”
A big part of the appeal of the book is the realistic “warts and all” behaviours of the characters – these are people you will recognise and relate to in many ways. “Honest” is a word reviewers have used frequently to describe the writing. You may be reminded of other beloved hip British writers: Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons.
Pop culture also plays an important role – the setting is London, England for the most part and references to the music and news of the times colour the story. In fact, David Nicholls has responded to repeated requests by actually posting a playlist of mix tapes (remember mix tapes? – now they’re playlists) that appear in the story. I love that!
David Nicholls himself is an engaging fellow in his interviews and his sense of humour comes across on his website as it does of course in his writing. One Day is the third of his novels and like me, you’ll no doubt be inspired to search out the previous ones, Starter for Ten and The Understudy. Get thee to a bookshop – the movie version will be released in September. I refuse to tell you who is starring (even though she’s BIG!) as I’d hate to influence your own vision of the characters. Your fault if you look it up!
And now for a Canadian read … Room by Emma Donoghue. (“Canadian” because Irish-born Ms. Donoghue now lives in Canada.) Diplomatically, both of the author’s homes have honoured the book with Novel of the Year – the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for best Canadian novel. I’ve yet to read this but am promised a copy shortly and can’t wait (no pressure on my book-loaning friend!) Also short-listed for the Man-Booker prize, this book inspires animated conversations everywhere. I’m motivated to start turning the pages not as much by the topic which feels dark but by the creative style of the book and the actual writing within. From the author’s website: “Jack and Ma live in a locked room that measures eleven foot by eleven. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions, and his mother reveals to him that there is a world outside. Told entirely in Jack’s voice, ROOM is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child.” As with many new releases seeking to inspire the market to embrace them, this book has a solid presence in social media and very creative ways to engage with the story beyond its covers. Visit Room on the book’s website and take a visual journey through the eyes of Jack.
If you’ve read either One Day or Room share your comments with us!