Book Lovers is a fun (and funny) modern romance. The book takes straight aim at the classic Hallmark romance tropes of city slickers and small town romantic interests. And there’s an added bonus for severe book nerds with lots of inside baseball on books, book publishing and book stores. Book Lover’s themes include fierce family loyalty, how to take care of others while also caring for yourself, and being comfortable with what you really want.
Goodreads reviews for the book are sky high. But in my Facebook book groups, feelings have been more mixed. And it’s for this reason that you are bound to have a great book club discussion for Book Lovers.
This discussion guide will help you spark that conversation with 10 Book Lovers book club questions, a synopsis of the book and some selected reviews from folks who both loved it and hated it.
And if you were one of those lovers, keep reading. Because we’ve also got three book recommendations for you for your next read.
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Book Lovers Synopsis
Book Lovers, Emily Henry
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.
10 Book Lovers Book Club Questions
- In the prologue, Nora sets a scene by describing the perfect contemporary romance trope, or rather the plot of every Hallmark movie that comes out at Christmas: city slicker falls for small town guy/gal who owns a charming B&B/bakery/Christmas tree farm. Said slicker falls in love and helps to save the town/business.
How does the book ultimately hew to or veer from this trope? Do you like the trope?
- Speaking of Hallmark movies, who would you cast if this were a movie?
- Nora says to Charlie “It’s my stock literary character. I’m the cold blooded overly ambitious city slicker who exists as a foil the The Good Woman. I’m the one who gets dumped for the girl who’s prettier without makeup and loves barbecue and somehow makes destroying a karaoke standard seem adorable”.
Henry said that she wrote this book because she always wondered about the City Person who got left. Have you ever given much thought to that character before reading Book Lovers? Does the twist work?
- Is Nora really a shark? What are some things that she does that are shark-like, and what are some of her behaviors that belie the nickname?
- Nora is carrying around a lot of fear. Her mother’s death and her subsequent responsibility for her sister has caused her to fear the loss of control, resulting in nightmares and other stressors. How did you respond to Nora’s anxiety?
- The book is ostensibly a romance between Nora and Charlie. But a lot of ink gets spent on Nora’s relationship with her sister. How did you find that balance? Did it work for you?
- The book offers up a bit of inside baseball regarding what a book agent does and how the editing process works. How much do you know about the biz and have you ever wondered about how your book club books came together?
- Are you more of a New York City person or a Sunshine Falls person?
- When considering a book, Nora immediately goes to the last page and then makes her judgment. Some folks use the “page 60” strategy, where you read page 60 and see if it grabs you. Others read the book jacket description or the review blurbs. And yet others, like Libby, go in cold.
What’s your strategy?
- A good bookstore”, says Charlie, “is like an airport where you don’t have to take your shoes off”. Truth? How does entering a bookstore make you feel?
BONUS ASSIGNMENT: the Freeman bookstore used to give the girls little shelf talkers that said “Book Lovers recommended”, with a space for them to note why they liked the book. It’s like a staff pick, but from the customer. I have to confess that I do this sort of thing as a customer. In order to call attention to books I love, I rearrange the shelves to give them a face-out, and I add a small stack of books to the staff pics table. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is to sneak down to your favorite library or bookstore and do the same!
Selected Reviews for Book Lovers
“…checks all my boxes for romance– fun banter, hardass heroine (can’t deal with blushing damsels), a guy who might have his broody moments but isn’t a d*ck, and steamy encounters.”
“[regarding Nora]…I could understand her motives in wanting to keep her sister happy but her inability to solve problems and ask straight forward questions and allow her sister autonomy… big oof.”
“I like that being career-oriented, valuing independence, living in the city, and being childless are qualities that aren’t villainized nor expected to change in order to have a happy ending.”
“By trying to subvert so many tropes, this book just reverted back to every other trope. Congratulations ya played yourself. I think parts were definitely meant to be tropey, but I don’t think the book really meant to be so wholly predictable and unsurprising.”
3 Books Like Book Lovers
In the back pages of the book, Henry herself recommends “Nora and Libby’s ultimate reading list”. Here are a three popular reads from that list. We’ve also got a guide for Hendry’s People We Meet on Vacation.
Verity, Colleen Hoover
Verity has written some very popular book series, but she’s got books in the queue that she’s unable to finish due to an unfortunate accident. So, Verity’s husband Jeremy hires struggling author Lowen to finish them. Lowen thinks of this ghostwriting gig as the chance of a lifetime.
Upon arrival, Lowen finds what seems to be Verity’s unfinished autobiography, and it surfaces some very dark doings.
The book has a story within the story and both stories are dark, dark, dark.
Just Last Night, Mhairi McFarlane
Eve, Susie, Ed and Justin have been since primary school. They’ve kept their friendship going into adulthood, always coming together for a weekly pub trivia night. Eve has always had a thing for Ed and she’s devastated when he becomes engaged to his girlfriend. And then a traumatic event happens which tears the group apart.
Eve deals with her grief by going on an emotional journey of self discovery. Don’t let the cute cover fool you, this book is packed with feels.
By the Book, Jasmine Guillory
By the Book is part of a romance series which are modern retellings of fairy tale favorites. This one is a take on Beauty and the Beast. It’s also got more of that publishing biz meta theme.
Upbeat Izzy is working her (underpaid) butt off at a publishing house. Jaded, reclusive Beau has failed to turn in the manuscript for his long-awaited memoir. Izzy is sent out to his Santa Barbara mansion to give him a pep talk…and she’s surprised by what she finds.
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