Book Review: “One Day” by Gene Weingarten

I am cheating a bit, because I haven’t quite finished this book; I am reviewing it because I am sure I will recommend it by the time I have finished. It’s a very good read.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the introduction, in which Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Weingarten describes how he pitched the idea for this book to a friend. His plan: to select an ordinary day at random and report on it, fully and deeply, from beginning to end. You will learn about how he chose the date (hysterical) and then, despite skepticism, stuck with the date as chosen.

Six years of research later, he has produced an extremely compelling volume (thus far in my read, anyway), which begs the question: Is there really such a thing as an “ordinary” day? Weingarten proceeds with an overview of everything he will report on in the day he’s chosen, and then devotes a chapter to each, starting at 12:01 a.m. in Charlottesville, Virginia, and ending at 11:55 p.m in Oakland, California. It is meticulously researched, but very easy to read.

The day, as illustrated by the events he chose, is one “filled with comedy, tragedy, implausible irony, cosmic comeuppances, kindness, cruelty, heroism, cowardice, genius, idiocy, prejudice, selflessness, coincidence, and startling moments of human connection . . . ” Slate Magazine called the book one of the 50 best nonfiction books of the last 25 years.” And it is certainly a great read during a time when we’re all wondering when we will return to our “ordinary” days and lives.

Review by Roberta Jordan, Outreach and Instruction Librarian.

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