Monday, February 14, 2022

Review: BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Full of laugh-out-loud humor, snark, and incredible banter, Book Lovers is the compulsively readable enemies-to-lovers romance you’ve been waiting for. It's heartwarming and just plain fun to read with a fantastic story and fantastic characters to match. 

I loved this. Book Lovers got me out of a reading slump and I stayed up until 2 a.m. trying to fit in just one more chapter, for real just one more, until I had read over a hundred pages and wanted to keep going. 

Nora is a literary agent known as “the Shark” for how cutthroat she is; all the editors are afraid of her. Charlie is a top-notch editor who only takes on books that will be mega successes. When the two clash over lunch one day, Nora thinks she’s done working with him for good. 

But then Nora’s sister takes the two of them on a girls' trip to a small town in the South for a month-long relaxing vacation, and Nora (literally) runs into Charlie at a local restaurant.

I love books and the publishing world, and I myself am an editor, so this book just suited me so well. It also has so many literary references that I can’t help but smile at how aptly named this book is: Book Lovers is the book for book lovers. It gets pretty meta at times but I think that’s the point and only added to its strengths.

It’s ironic because the prologue talks about the classic small-town romance and all the tropes and pitfalls associated with that kind of story, and Emily Henry takes that concept and totally subverts it. Book Lovers is a small-town romance, but the love interest isn’t a sexy farmer or a buff lumberjack or a nice fisherman; he’s a rich and snarky professional at the top of his game who’s also from the big city. The heroine isn’t into pigtails and flannel, nor is ready to give up her city life to move to the small town for the man; she’s a ruthless and semi-emotionless career woman with a string of failed relationships who intimidates her peers. I love how Emily Henry gave us totally unconventional characters but still made them lovable and fun to be around. I loved being in Nora’s head. 

I was truly impressed with this novel, and I loved all my time spent reading it. After reading so much epic fantasy lately, this contemporary romance was the perfect palate cleanser for me. I loved the characters, and I loved their relationships. I absolutely flew through its pages, reading more in one sitting than is normal for me. I loved it, and it was so easy to read and get lost in. As with any good romance, the book delves into some deeper topics as well, which I appreciated. Nothing too heavy, but it gave the characters some depth and believable backstories. 

That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeves and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them, and you’re a heartless bitch.

I would say Book Lovers is much more of a contemporary fiction story than it is a romance. Yes, of course, there's romance and it plays a big role, but this story is primarily about Nora. It's about her life and her dreams and her desires. We learn so much about Nora's past and her childhood and that she misses her late mother so intensely. We learn about her job as an agent and about her top client and the project she's currently working on. The majority of the plot of this novel, however, revolves around Nora's relationship and adventures with her sister, Libby, and we spend more of the book with the two of them together than we do with Nora and Charlie. It's a beautiful portrayal of a realistic sibling relationship (I'm guessing; I'm an only child, but it seemed very genuine to me). 

That said, I do love Nora and Charlie together. They're both slightly unlikeable people who are just a little quirky but who work so well together because of that. They just get each other. They're both career people who are known to be ruthless in their jobs, but I love that we get to see a softer side of each of them that most of their acquaintances don't get to see. They also have some of the funniest banter I've ever read, and I was legitimately laughing out loud throughout the whole book. 

“What did this phone do to you?”
“It’s not the phone so much as the sociopathic super-bitch who lives inside it.”
“Most people just call her Siri.”

Book Lovers was my first Emily Henry book but I know it won't be my last. I already own Beach Read and I’m planning on buying People We Meet on Vacation soon because I want more of this—more of her easy and engaging writing style, more of her witty banter, and more of her realistic but lovable characters. This romance is untraditional but still so swoon-worthy and I definitely recommend it. 

This, I think, is what it is to dream, and I finally understand why Mom could never give it up, why my authors can't give it up, and I'm happy for them, because this wanting, it feels good, like a bruise you need to press on, a reminder that there are things in life so valuable that you must risk the pain of losing them for the joy of briefly having them. 

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