The book I mean is, of course, One Day by David Nicholls. When I say ‘beware’, I do not mean for one second not to read it. Everyone should read it. I bought it a few years ago on offer in Tesco and promptly relegated it to the bookcase in the spare room, where it joined a number of other books that looked interesting enough for me to buy but not interesting enough for me to start reading the second I got through the door. So there it sat on the shelf, along with books like Minette Walters’ Disordered Minds and Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. Fast forward a few years and all of a sudden everyone is talking about it and I remember that I own it. I caved to peer pressure, I believed the hype, and so I brought it down from the bookshelf, dusted it off, and allowed myself to get completely and utterly lost in it. The subject matter spoke to me right away when the book started with two people who had just graduated from university. As I sat in my parent’s house, nervously awaiting the results of my degree and feeling in equal parts excited and terrified about becoming a ‘grown-up’, I fell headfirst into this book.
The reason I say ‘graduates beware’ is because, if you’re anything like me, you’ll panic more while reading it. You’ll enjoy reading it, but you’ll wonder why life can’t just turn out well, for Emma Morley, for Dexter Mayhew, and for yourself and your friends. The characters might annoy you a bit, but in the same way that real people do, and you will identify with them as you would with real people in the same situation that you’re in. You might cry. (I definitely cried.) I can’t think of another book I’ve read that has juxtaposed the misery and ecstasy of a post-graduation life so effectively and devastatingly. I saw what life could be a few years down the line, disappointingly, and then what it could be many years down the line, perhaps reassuringly.
My final word of warning: if you’ve got to be up in the morning, don’t start reading it tonight.