This is the first of two reviews and giveaways at 5 Minutes for Books. Scroll down or click here for the second one.
I had an exciting opportunity to participate in the first ever blogger conference call with bestselling author Nicholas Sparks to mark the release of his novel The Choice. I learned a good bit about him, most of which can be summed up to say that he’s a busy guy. He reads like crazy, which is probably one reason that he writes such readable stuff. Rule number one of being a writer is “Writers read.” He was speaking to us from a hotel room where he had been on a publicity tour for ten days. He had read seven books in that time–a couple of novels and some heavy non-fiction as well. He also works out for a couple of hours every day, coaches a track team, and has started a private school, in addition to being a husband and the father of five children, and oh yeah–writing a bestselling book every year. I will be posting more about the interview later this week on my personal blog, Snapshot, if you’d like to hear more of the Q&A, and you can always browse his extensive website, NicholasSparks.com.
When I picked up The Choice, I was drawn in right away. Travis Parker sometimes feels like his life looks like a beer commercial–good times with good friends. All of his buddies have paired off and started families. He enjoys experiencing family life as “Uncle Travis,” but still doesn’t feel like he’s missing out . . . Until he meets his next door neighbor Gabby Holland. Because the story is told as somewhat of a flashback, it pulls the reader along in a suspenseful way. I read this book in only a few sittings, never being satisfied with only one chapter before I turned out the light. Travis Parker is a man’s man, but a man who truly appreciates women, or at least this one particular woman:
There was definitely something about Gabby that interested him. It wasn’t simply that she was attractive; there were pretty women everywhere. There was something about her straightforward intelligence and unforced humor that suggested a grounded sense of right and wrong. Beauty and earthy common sense were a rare combination, yet he doubted she was even aware she possessed it.
I have read a Nicholas Sparks book or two, as well as seeing a couple of the movie adaptations, but it’s been a while. (Incidentally, one question he answered was regarding the differences between the book and the movie projects. He said that he’s always been pleased, and he fully knows what he’s getting into. The same story gets told, even though many of the details end up being changed. Telling a story in a novel is very different from using the visual medium of film, so it often makes sense to make a few changes.) This story did not disappoint, and I will be checking out some of the others that I’ve missed along the way. I’m actually looking forward to reading his memoir, Three Weeks with My Brother. Sparks admitted that the kernel of the idea for most of his books came from either one of his experiences or that of a loved one, and by reading his books in order, one could get an idea what was going on, but pointed to the memoir as the book that clearly revealed the most about him, since it was actually about himself, not just an idea that became a fictionalized account.
The publisher is giving away 5 hardcover books and 5 audiobooks to our readers. Please leave a comment (and state which format you prefer), and come back next week to see if you’ve won. These prizes can ship to either U.S. or Canada. If you want to guide me to my next one by telling me your favorite Sparks’ story, please do!