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A GOOD READ: Rom-com not just on screen
Thinking of watching Annie Hall, Sleepless in Seattle or Roman Holiday on video again this Valentine’s Day?
Why not try something new and pick up a funny and heartfelt book from your local library instead.
The quirky and hilarious debut novel by Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project, has quickly captured the hearts of readers around the world. This feel-good comedy is about an introverted genetics professor, Don Tillman, who conducts an experiment called The Wife Project. Don creates a foolproof questionnaire to find the perfect partner — one who doesn’t smoke or drink and always arrives on time. Instead, Don meets Rosie, an outgoing and headstrong bartender who has a project of her own: the hunt for her biological father. As Don helps Rosie with the Father Project, comedic misunderstandings and romance ensue.
Don’t let the “Y.A.” sticker on the spine fool you, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a poignant and clever read for both teens and adults. Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16-year-old cancer patient who is forced to attend the Cancer Kid Support Group. While begrudgingly attending a session, she meets Augustus Waters, a charming and handsome 17-year-old former basketball player and amputee. Hazel and Augustus quickly form a strong friendship that blossoms into more after they go on a trip to meet their favourite author, the reclusive and alcoholic Peter van Houten.
One of Nick Hornby’s funniest books is About a Boy, which is told from two very different perspectives. Will Freeman is a 36-year-old rakish bachelor and Marcus Brewe is a shy schoolboy who lives with his single mother. They meet through SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together), to which the childless Will fakes his membership in order to meet and date single mothers. Although Will’s lie is soon found out, he and Marcus develop an unlikely friendship and Will eventually finds better ways to meet women.
Fans of Downton Abbey will delight in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate (a favourite character is the over-the-top Lady Montdore, who makes Downton’s Dowager seem tame). Set in Britain during the time between the two world wars, Mitford’s book both embraces and pokes fun at the aristocratic class. Like The Pursuit of Love, Mitford’s earlier novel, this book is narrated by Fanny Wincham and tells the story of her distant cousin, Lady Leopoldina (Polly) Hampton. Polly has just returned from India and is expected to have her pick of any of England’s most eligible bachelors on account of her beauty and wealth, except that she is completely uninterested. While the reader wonders which suitor Polly will choose, Fanny finds love in a charming side story.
Finally, a hilarious read for the reluctant romantic: Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim. Set in 1950s England, it tells the story of James (Jim) Dixon, a medieval history lecturer who hates his job but is terrified of losing it. Complicating matters, Jim is in a lukewarm relationship with fellow lecturer Margaret Peel when he meets and falls in love with Christine Callaghan, the girlfriend of his boss’s playboy son. In all matters romance and work, Jim seems unlucky until the novel’s surprise end. If you like the situational humour of the original, British version of The Office, you will laugh at every page.
Looking for more ideas? Countless cinematic rom-coms, from to the memorable Bridget Jones’s Diary to the Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, were first hilarious and charming novels.
Ask your local librarian for more recommendations.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Jamie McCarthy works at Coquitlam Public Library.