Monday, 17 January 2011

Good Reads

Since I seem incapable of posting anything shorter than a grade 10 essay, I'm assuming that those of you who keep clicking back might actually like to read. That's very convenient because I love reading. And actually, I don't know if 'love' is even an adequate descriptor for how much joy and satisfaction I get from the written word.

I have been a reader since I could, ah, read. The first plastic card I ever maxed was my library card (the Quesnel library would only let you check out--if my shoddy memory serves--eight books in one go) and I was that kid who had a flashlight under the covers, reading well past my bedtime, always at risk of 'ruining my eyes'. Everything from the Little House series to the forbidden Judy Blume and V.C. Andrews books, I ate them up. (My mom wouldn't let me read Judy Blume books because they talked about S-E-X, and I think she would faint if she knew what V.C Andrews was all about, but I got my hands on those books anyhow. Sorry mom.) Then when I entered my extreme romantic period I tried reading Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, but at thirteen I couldn't figure out why anybody would swoon over psycho Heathcliffe, nor what the hell was even going on in Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's world, so I was put-off by the 'oldies but goodies' for many years.

What I'm basically saying is that I need to read, I've always needed to read, and by choice I read a lot. A couple of weeks ago I said I had a good read to share with you, and then forgot to share it but today I will rectify this. And please, by no means am I trying to pompously declare what I read is good or worthwhile. I just know that this book made me feel excited, and I think any read that garners any form of enthusiasm from the reader is worthy of a shout-out, whether or not other people agree.

So this particular pick, well I realize that I am a year too late to the party as this isn't a new release, but I don't care. This book is good, and no matter how tardy the praise it must be praised.

It's called One Day, by David Nicholls, and one day is all you'll need to tear through it if you give yourself the time.

Picture of my book copy.

What has gotten under my skin the most about this read is the character development. I can't actually recall reading a book lately where I feel as though the characters are more than inked imagery; that they could be  flesh and blood. I haven't read anything else by Nicholls, but if his other books have the same character flavour as is displayed in One Day, then I think he's become my new favourite author. Most of the time I can read a book and I like the plot, but the characters seem contrived: they are too brooding, too intellectual, too lost, too eccentric, too happy, too put together, too spiritual, too needy, too mute, too one dimensional. You can't relate. It's as though the plot is the vessel to carry the character, when really I want the character to be vehicle that drives the story. It is entirely possible to like a story, but to never feel like you're getting to first base with the main characters.

But I dare you to feel that way about Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley. They are the story. They are as textured and dynamic as any one of your family or friends you strain to figure out, and that makes Nicholls my hero because he gave his characters, character.  Dex and Emma are messy, they are complicated, they are so uncomplicated, they fuck up their lives, they feel lost in their need to feel like they've 'made it', they abuse drugs and alcohol, they eat their required seven servings of fruit and veg a day, they feel weighted down by their inability to get over themselves, they are self-deprecating, they are vulnerable, they are so funny, they bore you, they disgust you, they make your toes curl with embarrassment, they excite you.

This book is about the relationship of Dex and Emma, over a span of twenty years, as told through glimpses of their lives on the same date every year. And unless you're one of those freaks of nature who had their life mapped out the minute they stepped off campus with their diploma, you will be able to relate to these two as they uncertainly bicycle their way over the gravel roads, the paved roads, the flat stretches, the downhills, and the uphills of their twenties, thirties, and early forties.

Since I'm not a proper book reviewer I am going to use superfluous language to say this is an amazing and fantastic read, and One Day will quickly become two, then three, as you find yourself going back to the story, to the brilliance that is Dex and Emma and their relationship, and reveling in the pure enjoyment of a book that has character.


T said...

One Day is officially added to my "after I graduate reading wishlist" ...I think this list is getting longer than the list of text books I've read through out my degree!

Caitie said...

T--I feel for you! Maybe over 'reading break' you could read this to take your mind off the madness of being so close--SO CLOSE--to almost being able to kick university in the keester...for now ;-)