This was one I solely picked up based on popularity. I liked to think I stayed away from romance books that are solely about romance (looking at you, Nicholas Sparks), but I saw this one at a local indie and bought it on a whim.
And now I’m obsessed with the idea of bookish romances. I want to read them all. I want to live one out.
In fact, I’m in the middle of reading another one.
But let’s get back to Book Lovers.
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Emily Henry’s Book Lovers drew me in and had me fall in love with Nora and Charlie – and bookish romances as a whole – due to the banter and utter understanding between them. I mean, c’mon, what bibliophile (and hopeless romantic) wouldn’t want a steamy, book-based romance of their own with their perfect match who just gets them?
Nora Stephens is a literary agent. Charlie Lastra is an editor. Both have reputations that precede them. Due to those reputations – and preconceived notions of each other based on a disappointing business meeting – they dislike each other. Sort of. Throw in small town Southern hospitality, family that comes before anyone else, and accidental encounters, and you’d have a meet-cute. But that’s not Nora and Charlie. They’re the anti-heros of romance. Throughout the summer, they figure things out. They find what they’ve been looking for. And maybe, just maybe, they find their happily ever afters, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional small town romance. Dare I say…Nora and Charlie are enemies to lovers? And hope for the hopeless romantics who never find themselves in a rom com?
Book Lovers is great. It gently pokes fun at small town romances and brings great characters to life. Nora and Charlie as people – and yes, Nora and Charlie as a couple – are what truly makes the story great because they give introverted, bookish, career motivated people a happy ending. It’s clear Nora was written to be the anti-hero; the coldhearted woman who pushes everyone and everything aside to focus on herself and her career only. And while Nora does care about work and is cautious about letting people into her life, it doesn’t mean she isn't deserving of love. It just needs to be her version of love, not the washed up version in rom coms. Charlie is the same; he isn’t heartless, he just needs to be okay with himself. Their love story – while niche – is important because it shows that love is out there, even if it's not where you think you’ll find it. And while that’s a cliché, it’s an important reminder – especially when it’s wrapped up in a happy ending. Neither of them sacrificed themselves for the other or had a “great awakening” to what they needed in life. Nora and Charlie knew what they needed. They didn’t let that falter and sacrifice, which is an important reminder. You shouldn’t change yourself for anyone, and yes, even being nitpicky and particular, you’ll still find your perfect love.
I very quickly fell in love with Charlie. I’m now dreaming and searching for my own Charlie Lastra. It took me a few chapters to fully be immersed in Book Lovers, but once I was, I didn’t want it to end. I think my heart actually ached when Nora went back and Charlie stayed. As someone whose life revolves around books in her own way, of course I want a bookish beau of my own. The banter, reading together on the couch, having coffee shop writing dates, it all sounds adorable. But what I think I want the most is someone who just gets me and engages with me about that stuff. Nora and Charlie engaged with each other about bookish stuff – albeit yes, it was work related – but they also engaged with each other about personal stuff. They opened up to each other, which yes, is more important than the mutual interests. Sort of. They’re both important in their own ways – feeling comfortable enough to open up to your partner and having mutual interests. Either way, I still think I want my own Charlie Lastra.
I guess that’s why romances are so popular – at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? A person who makes home into a feeling rather than a building? I know I do. But maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic who, deep down, still believes in fairytales. Regardless, I loved Book Lovers and I’m tempted to pick up one of Emily Henry’s other books.
Maybe romance books aren’t so bad after all.