I love Nicholas Sparks.
It’s not just a, “I think he’s a great writer” kind of love. It’s more like a, “I moved here in my car and gave away half of my belongings, but still brought all of his books” kind of love, or a “I want to throw a message in a bottle out to sea after my wedding because of his book” kind of love.
Sparks has written 17 novels, most bestsellers, and many of which have been turned into movies, like “The Notebook,” “A Walk to Remember,” “Nights In Rodanthe,” “Dear John,” and “The Last Song.”
I still have the ratty paperback of “Message in a Bottle,” my absolute favorite, that I grabbed from my mother’s collection years ago — a move that began my addiction.
Sparks’ newest novel, “The Best of Me,” was released last week and I’m sure it will soon be on the New York Times bestsellers list, as well as my bookshelf.
The book is about two long-lost loves who meet again at the funeral of their mentor. Now middle-aged, they have lived lives that strayed from what they imagined, but have never forgotten their high school first loves.
Not that it even matters. I’ve never met a Nicholas Sparks book I didn’t like.
Something about Sparks’ books captures my heart, as I know it does with his millions of loyal readers. Sparks has a knack for creating realistic characters and situations, with love stories that are told in a way that makes it seem as if it is your or your best friend’s story. Although sometimes I am reading with tears streaming down my face, I have read all of his books multiple times.
The years of reading Nicholas Sparks novels probably had something to do with my willingness to apply to a random job in North Carolina. Sparks’ books, all of which are based in this state, make North Carolina sound so beautiful and perfect — a place to find happiness, serenity, and well, love, of course!
My friends back home joke that I actually moved to North Carolina so I could would be near New Bern, where Sparks lives. They say that I’ll pretend to be jogging on Sparks’ street — back and forth, naturally — until he comes out of his house. When I “happen to run into him,” I’ll conveniently have all of his books in my backpack, along with plenty of markers to make his autograph easy.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, and I probably would cry or something else embarrassing if I met him. I’m not one of those celebrity-obsessed groupies, but his is as good a person as a writer. He was once featured in Runner’s World for helping a high school runner and his family start over after Hurricane Katrina, and for dedicating both time and hundreds of thousands of dollars to turn the New Bern track program around. How many people who have the means to do something like that actually do it?
I think the genuineness of his writing about emotions like love and loss stem from that empathy, plus the fact that he has experienced enough loss himself to fill a book. In “Three Weeks With My Brother,” Sparks writes about he and his brother’s travels around the world as the only living members of their family.
Sparks’ writing is refreshing, and somehow he manages to tackle complicated situations with the simplistic writing of someone who knows they don’t need flashy words to touch the heart.
Now if you will excuse me, I have some running to do in New Bern.
— Features Editor Amanda Munger can be reached at (910) 272-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.