It's not often that I read non-fiction for pleasure; sometimes I want to learn things, yes, but I don't specifically pick up a book and think it'll be full of laughs and giggles and actually be enjoyable to read. However, in saying that, it also took me several years to acquire a copy of Kyle MacDonald's One Red Paperclip. I'd seen the book way back when I started working in the bookshop I'm still in - four years ago! I didn't buy it then, and it disappeared from our shelves shortly thereafter, never to be seen again. That was until, after much searching in bookshops in Dublin - even in the second hand sections, I was that desperate - I was handed a copy by my brother. I suppose that's how many good stories start, isn't it? One person gives another something they were looking for. Such as... One fish pen?*
So, was it worth the wait?
Well, you see all that stuff I don't go to non-fiction for: the laughs, the giggles, the enjoyable read? That's what I got from this book, and more. I was taken away into this wonderfully strange land called Canadia**, where this unemployed guy began trading until he got a house. I knew the ending, mostly. Everyone knows the ending (mostly everyone, and mostly the ending). But the journey? Well, it's like they say: it's not the destination that counts, it's how you get there! After years of trying to find this book in a shop so I could buy it and read it, I can proudly report it was a search much justified! The book was funny, engaging and it gave me that feel-good sensation you get when a friend achieves something after so much hard work. That's really what it felt like, like you could get so close to the author that you wanted him to succeed! (And, you know, he did... that's kind of why the book got published.)
How does it compare to other books?
Well, I'm no expert on travel books or autobiographies or anything like that, but in terms of telling a good story, it was right on par with the best of the best, even if the writing came across as more personal than professional. But that's the point, right? It's not a case of One corporation's journey to world domination but One ordinary man's journey towards a house, with lots of interesting and wonderful people to meet along the way who (mostly) live ordinary lives and see the fun in being part of his journey. MacDonald makes that point a lot, actually - it's not about the trade, it's about the person behind the trade! All the best stories let you get emotionally attached to the characters, and while this may have been a true story, I definitely wanted him to do well, to get through all the little struggles, and even though I knew he would succeed, I was still leaping for joy (okay, not literally) when he actually got through each trade. Not the most professionally written book, no, but definitely one of the easiest to relate to and to cheer for!
What was your favourite part of the story?
I think it had to have been when people really started to notice what was happening, when the news stations thought, There's a good story! It definitely made me realise how big this all was. It was so big, in fact, that when I mentioned the book to my mum, she knew what I was talking about! That barely ever happens! I can't remember the last time I started a conversation with my mum about something obscure and my mum actually knew what I was talking.***
Who would you recommend this book to?
You know how I usually say "everyone"? Yeah, that. Okay, not if you're going to say that it's not that interesting a story. There are some people who just don't do autobiographies. But if you're not one of those people, try this book! I mean it. It's all totally worth it and you'll feel so much better for having read it! I know I did!
What's next, then?
For Kyle, lots of stuff. He still keeps the blog alive. You can see what he's up to there. For me, I have a review next week of something entirely different to anything I've ever reviewed, ever. That'll be fun! I also have to keep on reading at least one of the four or five books I've started that are on my list... I have two weeks to finish at least one of them!
Until then, thanks for reading! I hope you'll take the time and money to read the story of One Red Paperclip. It's so worth it.
* The first trade item.
** American - America. Canadian - Canadia. Simples.
*** We have completely different tastes in pretty much everything. Fact.