August 15th, 2011


Book 85: One Day by David Nicholls

Book 85: One Day .
Author: David Nicholls, 2009.
Genre: General Fiction. Relationships. Romance. Comedy/Drama.
Other Details: Paperback. 448 pages.

Twenty Years. Two People. ONE DAY - cover blurb

St. Swithin's Day, 15th July 1988 and Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation from Edinburgh University. Tomorrow they plan to go their separate ways. David Nicholls' novel charts the changing relationship between Emma and Dexter over the course of twenty years by visiting them on this same day year after year.

Working class northern lass Emma moves to London and despite her degree finds herself working as a waitress in a terrible Mexican restaurant. Meanwhile, after a couple of gap years posh Dexter drifts into working in the media becoming the host of one of those loud late night, post-pub TV shows. He enjoys the hedonistic life style of a minor celebrity. Of course, over the years their fortunes change as does their relationship.

While I am not a great fan of novels that focus on relationships, I had heard good things about this novel and was pleased when it was selected by one of my reading groups. I enjoyed the premise of each chapter being a snapshot of a single day of the year over two decades. I found it a lot less laddish than Nichols' 'Starter for Ten' and quickly warmed to Emma as a character. Dexter was far less appealing but then I've never liked that kind of bloke who is so full of himself. Certainly met enough of them during my time living in London.

Still it did feel a very realistic take on modern relationships, especially in London where people often move in quite tight circles despite the size of the city. I found it a novel that balanced the dark and light within each of us as well as the light and dark phases n the course of individual lives. Very fitting that the day was St. Swithin's Day with its legend about the weather that day setting the tone for the rest of the summer. It seemed an easy metaphor for the sunny and rainy spells experienced in life as well as the phases of a relationship.

'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

Overall, a novel that I found insightful as well as funny and sad in turns. I read it quickly over two days and was glad that I was able to remain spoiler free (something to avoid in this case).

David Nicholls' page for 'One Day' - with excerpt, play list for the mix tapes Emma makes for Dexter and details about the upcoming film.

#21 The Heroine's Bookshelf

The Heroine's Bookshelf

Erin Blakemore

This book's subititle, "Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder" exactly describes this delicious little gem. Each chapter is devoted to the life lessons that Blakemore, and millions of other readers have gleaned from a literary heroine such as Jane Eyre, Jo March, or Scout Finch, and her author/creator.

From the very first words of the introduction I identified with the author. Again and again this book resonated, and I found myself mentally crying out an emphatic "Yes!".

At other times, I was delighted to gain a new perspective of an old friend.

I suppose that it would be a bit redundant to say that I LOVED this book and that I highly recommend it. It's being added to my list of favorites, for sure!


# 22 The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

the Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future North America, a nation called Panem, which is comprised of The Capitol and 12 subordinate districts who flought a bloody war of independence against The Capitol and who have been under the tight, cruel control of The Capitol ever since.

One way that The Capitol reminds the district of its control over the districts is by The Hunger Games, which take place annually.

The district residents aged 12 - 18 must all put their names into a drawing. Two names from each district are chosen - a boy and a girl. Those chosen are called tributes. All 24 tributes will fight each other to death, until only one tribute, the winner, is living. This is The Hunger Games, and every moment is televised live across Panem.

This year Katniss Everdeen is District 12's female tribute, after she volutneers to take the place of her younger sisterm whose name was drawn.

The course of the games is naturally intense and fast-paced. I won't say more about the actual games for fear of spoilers.

This book was the most gripping I've read in a long while. It was hard to put down.

Collins did an outstanding job of making the reader care for the characters, and of making such a story believable.

This is defintely the best YA novel I've read in a few years!


# 23 Radio Shangri La: What I Learned From the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

Radio Shangri-La

Lisa Napoli

Lisa Napoli was a radio journalist in New York when she got the opportunity to go to the little-known Himalyan Kingdom of Bhutan, a place where the nation's success is not measured by the GDP, but by GNH...gross national happiness. Napoli volunteered to help Bhutan set up their first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM.

In spite of the over-supply of travel sub-genre where a woman reaches middle-age and decides to travel to an exotic location on some kind of quest to find herself, to find meaning, to find love, or to find something else, I still enjoyed this book, which almost falls in the category.

I especially enjoyed learning about little-known Bhutan, but I'm afraid the only thing I garnered from the book about happiness, in spite of the subtitle, is that ignorance is bliss, I suppose. The king had kept Bhutan isolated from the rest of the world, and the inhabitants seemed to me to have a certain chldlike quality...a simplicity, a sense of wonder at the world that was slowly opening up for them, and a sort of patriarchal devotion to the king who seemed a father figurehead.
I don't think that Napoli made clear what it is that she learned from Bhutan, except that a simpler life is less stressful and therefore happier.

This was not the greatest book I've ever read, but I did enjoy it