How could I possibly come across a book called The Diary of a Dr Who Addict and not want to read it immediately? After all, I was, am and will always be, a Doctor Who addict. So, a novel about a kid with a similar obsession just had to be read. The fact that it was written by Paul Margs, who has also written Doctor Who books, made it even more appealing.
Set in 1982, The Diary of a Dr Who Addict is a coming of age story — a little one-year slice from the life of a boy named David at a crucial time in his growing up. He is about to become a teenager. He is about to start high school. And most important of all, he is about to watch season 19 of Doctor Who — the season in which Peter Davison took over the role of the Doctor from Tom Baker, who had held it for a marathon run of seven years.
David is a boy who relates so much of his life and experiences to his favourite television series. So there are lots of references to Doctor Who, both obvious and subtle. This includes what is perhaps the best Doctor Who to real-life comparison ever… when talking about his love of books and reading, David says:
“Books are bigger on the inside than on the out, just like a police box.”
Truer words were never written.
But there is a lot more to this book than Doctor Who. It is also a story about growing up, about accepting who you are and about finding your place in life. Most importantly, it is about the realisation that you don’t have to give up everything from your childhood in order to grow up.
I found reading this book to be an incredibly personal experience. Firstly, because it is such an intimate account of David’s thoughts and feelings about so many things (and one gets the feeling that there is a lot of Paul Margs in David). And secondly, because I saw so much of myself in David. In 1982, I was 14… so a little older than David. But I felt the same excitement as him over the introduction of Peter Davison. I too had read all about the new season of Doctor Who and eagerly awaited it, wondering what this new Doctor would be like… talking about it incessantly. I too, read and collected the series novelisations. There are so many little things that I could relate to as I read this book — from Doctor Who, to the excitement of a first video cassette recorder, to a growing interest in writing. Yes, just like David, I wrote my own Doctor Who stories as a kid.
But I also related to David’s feelings of isolation. I too often felt different and out of place, even though not always in the same way as him. I was a strange nerdy kid who preferred books and tv to playing sports. I wrote stories. I was quiet and socially awkward. I thought Doctor Who was the greatest thing EVER!
Just as I eventually grew up and found my place in the world, I finished The Diary of a Dr Who Addict feeling certain that David would as well.
The Diary of a Dr Who Addict is a lovely, thoughtful, touching, amusing, life-affirming, joyful read. And it has shot up into my list of all-time favourite books.
One final thing. Towards the end of the book, David reveals that, in his opinion, the Doctor Who and the Daemons novelisation is the “Best book ever. No contest.” So, of course, as soon as I finished The Diary of a Dr Who Addict, I went over to my Doctor Who bookcase and pulled out my battered old copy of Doctor Who and the Daemons. But I’ll tell you about that in my next post.
Catch ya later, George
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