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Five Books to Read If You Fell in Love with Netflix ‘One Day’ Series

If you fell in love with Dexter and Emma and are looking for stories that have a similar feel, here are five books you should read.

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  • March 1, 2024
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Five Books to Read If You Fell in Love with Netflix ‘One Day’ Series

David Nicholls’s “One Day” is a poignant, witty depiction of love delayed, found, lost and mourned. It charts the fortunes of mismatched lovers Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, and explores the joys and sorrows of true love. “One Day” is a bittersweet evocation of love’s transformative power.

The book was recently adapted by Netflix into a 14-part series. Starring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall, it has had more than 15 million views.

 

 

If you fell in love with Dexter and Emma and are looking for stories that have a similar feel, here are five books you should read.

1. Starter for Ten by David Nicholls (Sceptre, 2004)

Book cover featuring a man and woman on a bench.
Wikimedia

This is David Nicholls’ first book, a witty campus novel which explores the issue of class and insecurity.

Clever, working class student Brian Jackson, an obsessive collector of general knowledge, lands a place on a team for TV quiz show University Challenge and falls for posh team mate Alice Harbinson, with comically disastrous consequences.

Brian is from a one-parent family in Southend-on-Sea in Essex and his mother works in Woolworths (the high street retail chain that collapsed in the UK in 2008). He is desperate – too desperate – to impress the in-crowd at his prestigious university, particularly cool-girl Alice.

The set piece in which he ends up naked in her parents’ kitchen is brilliantly funny. While the overall mood is lighter than “One Day”, there are some acute observations about class conflict and aspiration.

Also read: Ten of the Best Romantic Films to Watch This Valentine’s Day

2. Heartburn by Nora Ephron (Alfred A. Knopf, 1983)

Book cover featuring abstract design of rings and cutlery.
Virago

Celebrated for her journalism and screenwriting, Ephron wrote just one novel and it’s a modern classic. The story is based on her painful divorce from renowned Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, who left her while she was pregnant with their second child.

Ephron’s takedown set the tone for other divorce novels, including Olivia Goldmsmith’s best-seller The First Wives’ Club (Poseidon Press, 1992), but few writers can match her wit. A roman-a-clef (a fictionalisation of real-life events) with thinly disguised characters, the novel spares no one.

The errant husband is “capable of having sex with a venetian blind,” while his mistress has “a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs, never mind her feet, which are sort of splayed”. The ultimate revenge novel, and an enactment of Ephron’s mantra, “Everything is copy.”

3. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes (Poolbeg Press, 2006)

Book cover with a small yellow taxi at bottom.
Penguin

Dubliner Anna Walsh has the perfect life in New York: living in a swish apartment with her gorgeous husband Aidan and doing “The Best Job In The World.” So what is she doing convalescing in her parents’ “good front room” in the Dublin suburbs, and why isn’t Aidan with her? When she returns to Manhattan she sees him everywhere – walking down the street, passing by in a bus – but he won’t return her calls or emails.

This is a heart-rending book about loss, and the novel’s twist, when it comes, is deeply moving. Keyes is a fearless, funny writer who draws on her own experiences to devastating effect and this book is one of her best.

Also read: Will I Ever Fall in Love Again?

4. Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey (Fourth Estate, 2023)

Book cover featuring a close up of a woman with red hair and blue eyes who has smudged eye make up from crying.
Harper Collins

When Maggie breaks up with her husband Jon, people are quick to offer advice about getting over the separation: online dating, therapy and even “kintsugi” – the Japanese art of mending pottery visibly, treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object instead of trying to hide it. Even so, moving on isn’t easy.

Maggie wonders if her marriage ended because she was cruel, or ate in bed, or because her ex liked electronic music and difficult films about men in nature – passions she did not share. In the chaos of life after the divorce, Maggie questions everything, from why we still get married to how many 4am delivery burgers she needs to eat to make her happy.

5. Persuasion by Jane Austen (John Murray, 1818)

Book cover featuring feathers
Penguin

Austen’s earlier novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, might be more obviously funny, but the autumnal mood of Persuasion is offset by Austen’s brilliant wit. At 27 (which was considered old for a woman to be single in Austen’s time), Anne Elliot is thought to have lost her youthful bloom and is living in impoverished circumstances with her father and sister, who are obsessed with looks and status.

Her great regret is that she refused to marry the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth many years before, having been persuaded that his prospects were too limited. When they meet again, there is a chance to recapture that lost love, but she fears it is too late.

Like “One Day”, this is an examination of love delayed, though with a happier outcome.

Sally O’Reilly, Honorary Associate in Creative Writing, The Open University.


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