Book Lovers is a serious book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous RomCom, with countless laugh out loud moments. But it is never trivial, always raw and honest. Emily Henry has turned a classic trope upside down and given us the other woman, the other man, who don’t abandon the fast-paced city and don’t save a small town business and don’t fall in love with the simple life.
Why, you might ask? She’ll tell us, in her own words:
Romance is treated as a guilty pleasure, and in the last ten years or so I have asked myself a lot of questions about guilty pleasures and why I am made to feel guilty for enjoying these narratives. It’s as though these novels are just candy for your brain, bad for you, and do not teach you anything like a more ‘serious’ book would. I wanted to challenge that notion. [London Magazine Interview with Emily Henry]
She absolutely succeeds, with all three of the romance novels that have expanded her genre niche from YA to women’s fiction/romance. In order, these are Beach Read, People You Meet on Vacation, and Book Lovers.
I’d never heard of her until last spring, when my next door neighbor gave me her copy of People We Meet on Vacation before she headed back north at the end of the season. I don’t own or read many print books – when we sold our house in 2012 and lived/traveled/wrote across the country in our motor home for the next six years, Kindle was the way to go. Our most treasured print books lived in our son’s basement until we settled in 2018, and we now live in a tiny house that doesn’t have room for shelves upon shelves of books.
I packed People We Meet on Vacation along for my flight to visit a Chicago friend in July – and could hardly put it down. I was a convert. I gave it to my friend at the end of my visit, but I immediately downloaded and read first Beach Read, and then Book Lovers. I loved all three of these books. It fascinates me that the heroines in each book make their living in the world of writing: a RomCom author (Beach Read), a travel writer (People We Meet on Vacation), and a romance/women’s fiction agent (Book Lovers). Write what you know. Somehow Henry is able to both be in the tumultuous world of authors-agents-editors-publishers that make up women’s fiction while simultaneously seeing through it, poking fun at it, and challenging its tropes and assumptions. Brilliantly.
I love seeing a best-selling author dare to do that. Her characters are far more clever than any real people I know, but I love their snappy repartee. What especially captures me is the intense honesty in each of her protagonists – they may start off not being honest with either themselves or each other, but the choices they must make force the honesty to surface, and that’s the arc of each book. Oh, and a happy ending, which by then is both deeply sought and desirable.
I highly recommend all three books, and it doesn’t matter which order you choose to read them in.
People We Meet on Vacation