The Nicholas Sparks Challenge

Can true love withstand a marathon viewing of all 12 movies based on Nicholas Sparks books?

 At Overthinking it, we’ve learned everything that we know about love from movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels. We know that real love is about making grand gestures and life-altering sacrifices, whether it is reading the story of your relationship to your wife with dementia from her journal, selling your dead father’s priceless coin collection to pay for your ex-girlfriend’s husband’s cancer treatment, or seducing the hot widower next door with the help of his dead wife’s ghost.

PosternotebookBecause we love all of you—the loyal fans of Overthinking It—we have decided to make our own grand gesture, which we’re calling The Nicholas Sparks Challenge. For every person who signs up for an Overthinking It membership from midnight to 11:59 PM on Monday, February 1, we will watch that number of Nicholas Sparks movies (there are 11 feature films, plus one made-for-TV movie).

We’ll then discuss the movies that we watched on a special podcast episode for release on Monday, February 8, in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day.  The Nicholas Sparks Challenge podcast will not be available in the regular Overthinking It podcast feed, but will be a free download from the digital library for members who have subscribed at the “Well Actually…” or “The Full Harvey” levels.

A_Walk_to_Remember_PosterBecause we love you, we know exactly what you’re thinking: “There are only 12 Nicholas Sparks movies.  If there are more than 12 memberships purchased, what can Overthinking It do to prove their unwavering commitment to me, their loyal fan?” (And if you aren’t thinking that, thank you for never doubting for a moment how much we love you and trusting that we would do anything for you.)

If more than 12 of you purchase memberships during the Nicholas Sparks Challenge, we will add another 10 minutes to the Sparks podcast for each additional membership purchased. So, if 30 of you purchase memberships during the Challenge period, we’ll spend a total of four hours talking about all 12 Nicholas Sparks movies, including The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and The Choice (which opens on February 5). Sure, people will tell us we’re crazy, and we may very well be crazy by the time we’re finished. But just as Gosling loved McAdams, we love all of you, and this is just one of the ways that we’re going to show our devotion.

Update: Nicholas Sparks Challenge Results

Love is a two-way street, and the Overthinking It community has held up its side of the bargain. You guys rose to your half of the Nicholas Sparks Challenge in grand fashion, purchasing a total of TEN memberships during the Challenge period on February 1st (with the last purchase coming in at the VERY last minute).  As a result, we’ll be watching and discussing the ten feature films based on Sparks novels that are currently released. We’re planning on skipping the Lifetime movie Deliverance Creek and the newest entry The Choice, which opens in theaters this Friday.  For those keeping track at home, here is what we’ll be watching and discussing:

  • Message in a Bottle
  • A Walk to Remember
  • The Notebook
  • Nights in Rodanthe
  • Dear John
  • The Last Song
  • The Lucky One
  • Safe Haven
  • The Best of Me
  • The Longest Ride

Indeed, this may be the Longest Ride that we will have gone on in the eight years of Overthinking It. We’re each going to grab a box of tissues and a Notebook, and we’ll see all of you on the other side.

18 Comments on “The Nicholas Sparks Challenge”

  1. Stokes OTI Staff #

    Attn. our fans: Thank you, _so_ much, for your generous support. It means more to me than I can say. Truly.

    That said, for the love of god, please, PLEASE stop buying memberships. I don’t want to watch this many Nicholas Sparks movies! You’re killing me here!


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      As The Guardian of the flame here at OTI, I have to respond. Don’t listen to him! JOIN OVERTHINKING IT NOW!

      Not only do our plans for Overthinking It depend on the generous support of our Members—especially our charter members, who are signing up for a year right off the bat and giving us The Res cue from what might otherwise unfortunately be A Bend in the Road—but also…

      I can’t wait to watch a whole bunch of Nicholas Sparks movies!

      Call me a True Believer, but this site is The Best Of Me—indeed, the best of all of us—when we are applying our award-eligible brand of scrutiny to properties that certainly don’t deserve the attention. When we consider the last film, the last book, The Last Song you would ever expect.

      Ironically—or is it Strangely Apropos?—the most penetrating and unmistakably unique insights we have from time to time generated have come from unlikely quarters: Ghost Ship. Dragon Ball Z. And now, the oeuvre of Nicholas Sparks. It’s like a Message In a Bottle from the heart of the

      What I’m saying is: The Choice is Clear. Let’s make this members-only podcast The Longest Ride we can. Let’s make this new journey… A Walk to Remember.

      The Nicholas Sparks Reader


    • yellojkt Member #

      On a whim yesterday I bought my membership BEFORE I listened to the of the podcast, thus I was unaware of the Nicholas Sparks challenge at the time. My sincerest apologies for all the pain and suffering I have inflicted on the OTI content creator community.

      Fortunately, I only joined at the “In A Way…” level, so I don’t have to actual listen to the damage I have caused.


  2. Rambler #

    It’s hard to say which form of OTI I appreciate most;
    Form 1 – The Archeologist. Digging among great features to bring new finds to light, reconnecting glories past with the present, or polishing old gems.

    Form 2 – The Scapegoat. Carrying the burden for us, watching and listening to absolute drivel… So we don’t have to. Then going one step further by turning it into a gift of enlightenment and joy, finding Something worthwhile to discuss (or worst case scenario making crap up).

    We thank you for your service!


  3. Charlie X #

    I’ve grown fascinated with Nicholas Sparks’ oeuvre for a little while now thanks to the picking apart of the repeated formulas. I look forward to seeing it dissected by the OTI crew. That said, I do worry a bit for your sanity with so much repetition of white North Carolinian beauties and sudden, deadly, record-scratch plot twists.
    Good luck!


    • Stokes OTI Staff #

      Well it’ll be easier now, because every time one of those plot twists happens I’m going to mentally punctuate it with [record-scratch.wav].


      • Stokes OTI Staff #

        p.s. Is there a reason we don’t say “North Carolingian”?


        • Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

          Okay, the more I read about this, the more I have to revise this!

          I can find two different explanations for the “ingi” in “Carolingian,” as in the “Carolingian Empire,” the “Empire of the Descendants of Charles.” The meaning of it is pretty clearly “the descendants of” either way.

          The first is that it’s from the Latin “gingere,” meaning “to beget,” and it’s a root they apply to names of foreign tribes, but, strangely, not their own tribes.

          But the explanation that I think might be right is that the “ingi” is a Medieval Latinization of a pre-modern Germanic patronymic suffix “ing.” As in “I am a son of Charles and also I am German!”

          Both uses might be true, but in the case of this being a Charles, which is an important historical name, I like the latter a bit more.

          For our various “Charleses in Charge,” Carolus, is a Latin first name. But “Carolingi,” like “Merovingi” is perhaps a slapped together mix of Medieval Latin and German (and if you go by “Merovingien,” it’s a slapdash of Vulgar Latin, German and French).

          So, both Carolinas are named after Charles II, the King of England after the Restoration. This is the same Charles as Charleston, South Carolina, but a different Charles (King Charles I) from the Charles River in Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts, the bank robbery capital of America, and a still different Charles from Charleston, West Virginia (Some guy’s dad named Charles).

          The Latin version of Charles II’s first name, Carolus, would not use a German patronymic for a bunch of reasons. For one, he was the King of England and had specific rules for how his name worked. For another, English patronymic naming use surnames with prefixes and suffixes like the Anglo-Danish “-son” or the Anglo-French “Fitz-.” Fun fact: “Fitzroy” is a bastard last name, like Jon Snow’s, for acknowledge bastards of the royal family of the Normans.

          For a third, Charles II’s house wasn’t English, it was Scottish, so it might have used “Mac” or a Gaelic patronymic (Is tar heel blue the tartan of the “MacCarols?”).

          For a fourth, Charles II did have a house name, but it wasn’t a patronymically named house, it was named for an ancestral office, not a person – House Stuart, a.k.a. the Stewards of Scotland under the Bretons. But of course at this point in English history we’re well past people referring to themselves and their families by the name of their ancestral liege lord, so while Stephen Colbert has a family connection to the Carolinas, Jon Stewart does not.

          But at this point we’re just going down royal rabbit holes. The point is there’s no reason for Carolus the King of England to add an “ing” to his name along those lines:

          So, EITHER:

          – “Carolinians” is seen as an expression of place, not an expression of genealogy or bloodline: “The people who are from Carolina” rather than “The tribe descended from those who were born from Carolina” or “The tribe of the sons of Charles.”


          – “Carolinians” are named for the Latin first name of an English monarch, whereas “Carolingians” are named for the Latin patronymic name of descendants of a medieval German monarch.

          Or the two are related, and it’s both.

          Or I could be wrong. I’m curious what other people think. One idea I had at first was it changed because of comparison to “Virginia,” which is another weird word with a weird history. But after reading more I don’t think that’s right.


          • DeanMoriarty #

            This kind of comment is why I was so eager to contribute to this site monetarily.

  4. DeanMoriarty #

    In my haste to be one of the ‘cool’ people, I got a membership one or two days after I got the newsletter. Which means, I couldn’t contribute to this wonderful endeavor. And since I got the membership while I was still unemployed, I chose the minimal option. Unless there’s some kind of upgrade option?
    Anyway, glad to contribute to this fine website, next year I’ll remember to buy the better one.


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