Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Release Date: May 3rd, 2022
Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary – Romance
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
I loved it!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming….
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“Nora.” He just barely smiles. “You’re in books. Of course you don’t have a life. None of us do. There’s always something too good to read.”
For the past 3 years, one of the things I most looked forward to each year has been the release of Emily Henry’s new book. From Beach Read to People We Meet On Vacation to Book Lovers – every one of those releases sounded perfect and like they were written just for me. And every book so far lived up to those admittedly high expectations. So this year I’ve once again been looking forward to Book Lovers for months in advance. I mean, a bookish story about a romance between a literary agent and an editor? Sign me up! And I’m happy to say that not only did Book Lovers live up to my expectations, it surpassed them all. Because this book is so much MORE than what I was expecting. Sure, my favorite and most anticipated aspects (book love and romance) were there and were AMAZING, but it was also MORE than that. Here are the parts I loved that I wasn’t expecting:
Nora and her amazing character journey
Nora Stephens considers herself to be stuck in a romance trope, but not as the protagonist. No, Nora is the cold, ambitious city girl who gets dumped by the hero in favor of the small-town baker/painter/christmas tree farm girl. Seriously, this exact trope has happened to her FOUR times already. But though Nora may be a cutthroat literary agent known as The Shark who loves her job, her high heels and her city life, she’s also not actually that cold. In fact, she has a super soft spot for her sister Libby and would do anything for her. So when Libby asks Nora to join her on a holiday to a little small town so they can have their own small-town makeover, Nora drops everything once again to join her. Together they embark on a ‘small-town romance bucket list adventure’. But does Nora really want to have the typical small-town makeover where she realises she hates her job and really wants to slow down? A big part of the story is Nora coming to terms with her past, who she is and what she wants. I loved this journey for her and I also loved that Nora is not the stereotypical workaholic, city girl character who undergoes the stereotypical character journey to ‘find herself’. She does find herself, but not in the way we expect and I loved that. We need more characters like Nora Stephens out there!
The sisterly bond between Nora and Libby
While the bond between Nora and Libby is a little strained during parts of this story (Libby seems to be keeping secrets from Nora), it’s still obvious that the two love each other deeply. Nora has done everything for Libby, taking care of her after their mom passed away, giving up her own dreams and trying to fix every problem to make sure Libby is happy, even if she’s now a grown woman with her own family. And Libby also clearly loves Nora, but she’s keeping something secret and doesn’t really seem to understand Nora’s love for her job. The two obviously have some issues to work through, but their love for each shines through it all and I loved their interactions, especially when they’re working on their small-town bucket list. And their journey together was so emotional and heart-warming. Definitely a major highlight of the story!
But of course I also need to mention the aspects of the story that were completely awesome, even if I was expecting them to be:
The romance that is bantery perfection
While this romance is not as much enemies-to-lovers as the marketing made it seem out to be at first (it’s more of a bad first impression due to misunderstandings that quickly turned to mutual understanding and respect because of their similarities), it was still one of the best romances I’ve read recently! I love that Nora and Charlie quickly connect over their similarities like their love of books and commitment to their jobs, as well as their feelings of not being the ‘right type of person’ for the people around them. It was a refreshing pairing that strayed far away from the more popular opposites attract trope, and I really appreciated this. Also, the banter between Nora and Charlie? PERFECTION. The chemistry between the two was undeniable and I was fanning myself over every swoony, steamy scene between them. And yes, I’m counting every bantery scene as swoony and steamy too, because THEY WERE 😉
All the bookish love!
As a book lover myself, I love reading about characters who love books too, and this story delivered. It’s all books, books, books – first of all, because the two main characters have bookish jobs as a literary agent and editor, but also because both of those characters share such a profound love of books and stories. And this love is fused into the heart of the story, until every chapter is drenched with it. From the different bookish metaphors to the bookshop setting, from the talk of tropes and fangirling over a fictional book – Book Lovers really is an ode to the book lover.
To me, Book Lovers is another hit for Emily Henry. It not only met my expectations, it surpassed them all. I highly recommend this story to anyone who loved Henry’s previous works, anyone who loves thoughtful romances which convert the tropes, anyone who loves family bonds as much as romantic bonds but also anyone who loves good banter, strong character journeys filled with self-acceptance and all the bookish love.
“Maybe love shouldn’t be built on a foundation of compromises, but maybe it can’t exist without them either. Not the kind that forces two people into shapes they don’t fit in, but the kind that loosens their grips, always leaves room to grow. Compromises that say, there will be a you-shaped space in my heart, and if your shape changes, I will adapt. No matter where we go, our love will stretch out to hold us, and that makes me feel like … like everything will be okay.”
“That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them and you’re a heartless bitch.”
“That’s life. You’re always making decisions, taking paths that lead you away from the rest before you can see where they end. Maybe that’s why we as a species love stories so much. All those chances for do-overs, opportunities to live the lives we’ll never have.”
“Of course I have a checklist.” His eyes glint in the dark. “What am I, an animal?”
“Is there anything better than iced coffee and a bookstore on a sunny day? I mean, aside from hot coffee and a bookstore on a rainy day.”