difficult questions

Last Monday morning, I had just finished reading the book One Day by David Nicholls and was so upset that I wanted to write something about it right away. This was surprising to me because I've been disappointed by some novels that I've read lately and yet I had no desire to write about them. For me, reading is such a personal experience and I prefer to share my thoughts on books that inspire and move me rather than those that don't.

So what is it about One Day that infuriated me so much? If, to paraphrase what Proust said, every reader is actually the reader of himself and that the book is only an instrument that allows the reader to learn something about himself, I had to step back and think about why I was so upset with this book. The first half of the book was funny and engaging and I thought the premise was very unique so it can't be that bad, right?

Let me backtrack to Sunday when I got this book (and no, I have not seen the movie adaptation). I was excited to be outside after spending stressful days dealing with a painful right eye which turned out to be a scratched cornea and I had to refrain from wearing contact lenses for awhile. I went to a used bookstore to exchange some old books and immediately went to the beach. And there I was, with my book and my little picnic of hummus sandwich, iced tea, and Kettle chips, happy as a clam.

Later, while reading One Day, I found myself frowning and getting irritated. Still I kept on, waiting for the two main characters to do something about their lives and their relationship but when it did happen, it was so anticlimatic that I wasn't even interested anymore. And let's not even talk about the ending, which I felt was so contrived and pointless that I was only glad when it was over. But more than bemoaning the fact that I just wasted a few hours of an idyllic summer day on this book, what does all this have to do with me, as a reader?

I must admit, one thing that really bothered me about the novel was the lack of character growth. It was frustrating to read how the characters made the same mistakes over and over again in the span of two decades. Which then led me to realize something that's been at the back of my mind lately, that on this month, its been exactly 9 years since I moved to this country. And that what I'd have wanted for one of the characters to ask himself so many times in the course of the novel are also those I want to ask myself:  

How much have I grown since I moved here? What have I learned from my experiences?

These are difficult questions. I'm not even sure if I'm up to asking them. And yet, I must.

7 comments:

  1. i so adore when books hit nerves, force questions to leap out of us - sometimes the books we like least help us move more.

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    1. yes, indeed. although when i was reading the latter half of the book, all i wanted to do was throw it against the wall. but i guess you don't have to love the books to realize something about yourself. :)

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  2. At least you were able to think about your personal experiences after reading the book. It wasn't a complete waste of a summer day, right? :)

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    1. Camila, yes. Which is probably why I disliked it so much because I didn't enjoy reading it and on top of that, it forced me to reflect on why I hated it so much.

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  3. I enjoyed the book but you're right, there wasn't much character development. And because I'm such a baby, I cried at the end (it doesn't take much for me to cry).

    On another note, I found a fair bit on the internet about if that book had've been written by a woman, it would have been passed off as chick lit or something else barely worthy of a second glance, but because it was written as a man, it was meant to have been all insightful into the emotions of humans and all this other nonsense. If anything, that annoyed me the most.

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    1. Annelise, I know what you mean. I almost got teary-eyed too but then I realized that was exactly the kind of reaction that the author was hoping for, so I got mad. Haha.

      Re: gender, I never heard of that but yes, how annoying. I always had a sense that the author had his eye on the movie that will come out of it while he was writing the book. It reminds me of a Nicholas Sparks movie actually.

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  4. I have had a similar experience with a self-published book on Kindle. I loathed it. LOATHED IT. I read it in about 3 hours while ever so often stopping to huff or eat raisins and question my own sanity. I like dystopian fiction, but I think that book (which is my Voldemort at the moment there I won't name it) ruined this genre. I hate it when I pick up a book and all the way through it I want to find something redeeming - and I don't.

    I actually never read One Day, however I did fall asleep while I was watching the movie on HBO. I might force myself to see the movie instead of reading the book.

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