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BookTok worth it or not: Emily Henry edition

Welcome back to another week of me reviewing books so you don’t have to read! Wow, I feel like SparkNotes or Shmoop—all the real ones used Shmoop in high school. 

Anyway, I watch TikTok on Instagram Reels (since I refuse to download the app because I think it would feed my addictive personality) and then I find a way to get my hands on the physical (or electronic) copy of the book. 

Thanks to my lovely sister I have been tearing through a sizable To Be Read (TBR) stack. In my sister’s collection were many of Emily Henry’s books that have been getting a lot of praise on BookTok. So, let’s get into it. 

Emily Henry is a romance book writer. While I am new to the romance genre club, from what I’ve gauged from online reviews, pretty much everyone likes Emily Henry’s books. You see with a lot of the more popular romance writers—cough cough Colleen Hoover—a divide in reader approval over whether they like the story or not. 

Henry’s writing is definitely very different from Hoover’s and doesn’t go anywhere near toxic love stories. This isn’t to say that I don’t like Hoover’s stories as well—I do—I think she does a good job of portraying how difficult it is to get out of toxic situations.

Anyway, coming back from that tangent. Henry has three main romance books that everyone loves (in chronological order by release): “Beach Read,” “People We Meet on Vacation” and “Book Lovers.” This is not my order of favorite to least favorite, though I would like to note that these books got published in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively which is absolutely nuts. Like she’s just cranking out these books like it’s nobody’s business. 

While I enjoyed all of her stories I would say that I liked “Book Lovers” the most, then “People We Meet on Vacation” and then “Beach Read.” You can definitely see her progression of writing throughout the years which is cool and I respect that growth. 

“Book Lovers” is about a woman—Nora—who is a stereotypical workaholic. She works as an agent for a romance author and is very self-aware about the role she plays in most stories. She is the one who men dump for the wholesome small-town girl; having been dumped three times to the same narrative, she is no fool in understanding her tendencies. 

She then meets a guy—Charlie—who is also a workaholic and understands that he is not the hero in the story. He also works in the publishing field and he comes off as incredibly grumpy. A trip with her sister to a quaint little town in North Carolina turns into more than Nora had originally anticipated. 

I loved the plot line, and I love that the main character isn’t this terribly likable person. She is fierce and she gets stuff done even if it does mean being a little harsh at times. It’s an honest story about how love can screw people over and how it still drives us to care for those closest to us. 

Huge recommend. 

I realize I already reviewed “People We Meet on Vacation” in my summer reading round-up, although I did not review it in comparison to Henry’s other works. It comes second to “Book Lovers” only because I am not a huge fan of the time jumps in the narrative. It becomes very frustrating to me as someone who wants to find out the whole story and not just parts of it at a time. 

However, that is totally a personal preference of mine; it was still a great story and I love Poppy and Alex. I think their story is really impactful about how people can change over time and become different, but still find their way back to each other. I love their story; Poppy and Alex’s banter is authentic and hilarious. 10/10. 

You should read this. 

“Beach Read” does come in last. And while, yes, I liked it, it was not nearly as likable as the other two reads. A lot of coincidences in this book made it unrealistic for me—I mean come on, your college nemesis just so happens to live in the same small town that your dad stayed in when he had an affair with another woman. And now don’t even start with me that the romance genre isn’t supposed to be realistic—I know it isn’t—but I mean COME ON. 

It was still a good read, but I feel like there was a lot going on that needed unpacking. You can read it though and decide for yourself whether this is the correct ranking or not. 

Don’t just take my word for it though; the other Morrongiello sister agrees that “Beach Read” should come in last. However, she ranked “People We Meet on Vacation” first because “Book Lovers” had “too many inaccuracies about the publishing field,” which is fair enough. However, if you don’t work in publishing you won’t necessarily be able to pick out all the inaccuracies in the book itself.

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