Cover Image: Beach Read

Beach Read

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Member Reviews

Emily Henry’s new book Funny Story is about to debut later this month, and I (like many others) am impatiently waiting for my copy to arrive. Emily Henry has taken the book world by storm—even the non-bookish people in my life have read and fallen in love with her writing. As I was thinking about this and looking back at the previous Emily Henry books I read, I realized that I never reviewed the book that started it all for me—Beach Read.

Since it is inexplicably snowing in Chicago this week (in April!), I decided to do a re-read. Escape to summertime, fall into the story, and remember the feeling of discovering the greatness of Emily Henry the first time. If I had to say what it is about her books that has a special type of magic, it’s that she writes stories and characters that are so gripping, they feel like real people. Sometimes I come out of an Emily Henry book and I have forgotten what day it is, I was that immersed in the story.

Beach Read centers around two writers who are polar opposites. January Andrews is a best-selling romance novelist. She writes stories that always end in a happily ever after. Augustus (Gus) Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. He writes stories that don’t have a happy ending in sight.

January is going through it in her personal life—something that is not helping with her writer’s block. Her boyfriend broke up with her (not exactly a happily ever after romance). Her father died unexpectedly, and in the wake of this loss she learns that her father had been having an affair with another woman. January had looked up to her parents as inspiration for her books—they were the ideal. Now she feels that their happy marriage was all a big lie. January’s father left her a house by the lake in Michigan. Her plan is to stay at the house and get it ready to sell, while working on her next book.

The last thing January needs at a time like this is to arrive at the beach house and discover that Gus Everett—a man she knew at university and didn’t exactly like—lives in the beach house next door. Gus has baggage of his own, and he doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. He often ends a book by killing off all his main characters, taking out his issues in life in the stories he writes. The two writers may not have much in common, but they find themselves at the same beach at the same time, both experiencing writer’s block. Even sworn enemies can bond over the torture of writer’s block!

However, the two writers can’t exactly avoid one another. Whether it’s their proximity, boredom, and loneliness, a hazy evening leads to a conversation and a deal between them. In an effort to shake them out of their creative ruts, they’ll each spend the summer working on a story in the other’s genre—Gus will craft a romance with a happy ending, and January will write a dark, bleak literary novel. Each plans outings to teach the other one about their inspiration (January plans a rom-com worthy series of events that would make a perfect montage; Gus brings her to interview people who have lost a loved one to a death cult). The more they learn from one another, the more their feelings grow. Will January and Gus find a real-life happy ending?

The covers of Emily Henry’s books bring to mind a soapy and light rom com with cute moments but without much depth. Don’t let her adorable covers fool you, her books are character-driven, layered, emotional masterpieces. They are contemporary fiction that tell an epic love story. I get so invested in her books that I lose myself and I forget that it will surely end in a happy way. Henry has a way of building a relationship, cranking up the tension until it could snap. Then when we’re invested, she’ll shatter everything to pieces only to swoop in with poignant prose and soul-baring moments to heal us right up and leave with our hearts soaring.

When I said that I don’t really consider Henry’s books to be romance books (though they certainly have wonderful love stories)—its because her stories are really about the characters laying bare all their pain, flaws, and insecurities, and finding their way to happiness. It just so happens that happiness includes the other person, but I always feel that there is a world where the love story could be removed, and the stories of the characters would still work.

Mixed between the witty banter and fun scenes between Gus and January as they fall for one another are emotional, heartbreaking scenes as they process other things from their lives. For January in particular, I was touched by the relationship between her and her father. It was intensely emotional, raw, and melancholy at times. It also brought a depth to January that made me root for her with my entire heart.

January and Gus weren’t just opposites in the obvious ways, they had contrasting back stories that were juxtaposed to great effect. January is an optimist, and her upbringing was seen through the rose-colored glasses of happily married parents who supported each other even during the hard times. This makes the death of her father and learning more about the other side of his life overwhelming for January. Her entire view of her world and upbringing is rocked to it’s core. Gus’s pessimism and general skepticism about life and love make more sense as the reader learns more about his abusive father and traumatic childhood. Gus’s challenge is to learn to let those walls down that he built to protect himself.

The sizzling chemistry shouldn’t go unacknowledged! There is a wonderful romance plot threaded through the beautiful character studies. The attraction between January and Gus is undeniable. They are at very different places in their life and they come from different backgrounds. But they also may be the right match to heal the other one by showing them a different side of life. Heart-melting, emotional, and authentic!

Thank you Berkley Publishing for my copy. Opinions are my own.

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This was a DNF (did not finish) for me. I couldn't get into it. I found it very dull. The main character was meh, and I didn't find myself rooting for her or caring how the story ended. I don't understand the Emily Henry hype. I won't be reading any other of her books.

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Fantastic book! I’m so sad I waited so long to read it! It was the perfect summer book and I will be recommending it to customers. Emily Henry’s writing is so good! Can’t wait to read her other books!

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I’ve seen Emily Henry’s books around Instagram and Goodreads for the past few years, and I’ve meant to read them, so I finally took the plunge and read Beach Read. Here’s the thing, I wanted to enjoy this book, especially since I borrowed the audiobook from my local library, but unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me. I would have DNF’d the book if it weren’t for the narrator. She made the book bearable, but not enough for me to enjoy it completely.

The book is told solely in the FMC’s POV, January Andrews, so we don’t get to read the MMC’s thoughts and feelings. January is a best-selling romance author who used to believe in happily ever afters until she found out her father had been cheating on her mother while her mother was battling cancer. I could understand why she didn’t believe in HEAs anymore after finding out her father she respected and loved, was going behind her mother’s back the whole time, living a double life with another woman while he was with his wife and daughters playing a good father in front of them. January finds herself inheriting the house after her father passes away, which happens to be the same house he used to bring the other woman to while January’s mother was dealing with cancer. She doesn’t want anything to do with her father and reading the letter(s) that he left for her, but she does use the house to live for a while, so she can hopefully get over the writer’s block she’s going through and write the novels that her agent/publisher require her to write.

She finds out quickly that the house she’s living in temporarily has a neighbor experiencing writer’s block, too, and they used to know each other in college. Augustus Everett is the MMC in the book, but we never get his POV, but we know he’s a literary fiction author. We get to know him through the FMC, why they are enemies, why the MMC is grumpy, and what he’s going through, but we don’t know how he’s feeling toward January without his POV.

Here’s what drives me crazy lately regarding traditional publishing and how they promote books. They like to market the book to a subgenre, like with Beach Read, saying it’s a Romantic Comedy/Contemporary Romance book, but it comes off as more of a Women’s Fiction novel. Yes, the book has a HEA/HFN at the end, which puts it in the Romance genre, but the story was more depressing and dramatic than happy and humorous. It also had barely any romance, such as the steam/spice factor. I wouldn’t even categorize the ending as a HEA, but a happy for now regarding the characters. (Yes, romance books have HFN, but this one felt off for me, and it’s all due to the FMC’s thinking about believing in HEA.)

I didn’t connect with the characters when it came to believe they were forming an actual romance together. They had the Enemies to Lovers thing going briefly at the beginning, and then they agreed to help each other write their books, but instead of the genres they were used to writing, they would switch it up. Augustus would write a romance story, and January would write the genre he normally writes, and they would go on this journey of researching together. They eventually got out of their writer’s block, but there was drama bound to happen between the two.

This book reminds me why I strayed from reading traditional publishing books a few years ago, and I started reading mainly independently published or small publishing houses. It also didn’t help when they started making the covers cartoonish, and I was used to the clinch (model) covers. The clinch book covers drew me into reading romance books as a teenager, and I knew the books were romance and would give me that HEA that I was craving.

I’m proud of myself for trying an Emily Henry book, but unfortunately, I won’t read another book by this author. I’m not the target audience for her books, so I’ll leave her books to readers who have enjoyed her books and prefer these types of romance stories.

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So this was a case of I really liked it, but...

What I liked:
Gus. I really, really liked Gus. I'm fairly certain I'd hate his books IRL if he were an actual author and they existed (though I did laugh out loud when January got to the end of the book he wrote for their bet--a surprised laugh, not a laugh of delight) but OMG I loved him as a character and as a love interest. Maybe seeing things from his POV would have affected this somewhat? But we don't, so I love him.

The bet and the "lessons." So much fun. Though it's a toss up whether I loved the lessons or the text exchanges they had prior to them more ;)

Shadi, January's BFF. OMG, I loved her so hard. The nicknames for boyfriends/crushes made me LOL every time.

The setting. I get why January wasn't a fan of the house she was staying at, but reading about her house (and Gus's) and the lake and beach? Makes me want to go on vacation, like yesterday.

January's love for her genre and exasperation with the "women's fiction" label. Also her appreciation of Meg Ryan movies (Gus's lack of appreciation is obviously his major flaw)

What I wasn't crazy about...
Although overall January is a sympathetic character and I really did feel for her--I mean, she's a romance author! With writer's block! And grieving is horrible--I didn't always like her. I know losing her dad was hard and finding out about his secrets is even harder (and goodness knows, I find cheaters to be among the most difficult characters/people to like) but OMG, woman, everything isn't always about you. Trying to force her mom to talk about an obviously painful subject on the day of her husband's funeral? Not cool. Refusing to read the letter from her dad for more than a year? Also not cool. (Though that letter didn't absolve him of anything, IMO it definitely made him more sympathetic than he seemed before, during the months after his death when she refused to read it) And she'd been jumping to conclusions about Gus for literal years, don't get me started on that... (though his explanation for his behavior in college was priceless, and yet another addition to the why I love Gus definitely added to the "one of these characters has matured and become self-aware, the other still needs some work in this area" dynamic going on here). I loved the ending of the book, which *almost* made me forget how aggravating January was for 90+% of the book. But then I came on to Goodreads and looked at its page there, and it all came flooding back...

So...will I read something else from the author? Yes, definitely. But whether that book is more like this one or like People We Meet... will determine if I read another one after that.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

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Incredibly written. A perfect hybrid of lit fic and romance. High brow without being pretentious and sexy without being mindless. Emily Henry is a true craftsman of romantic fiction. There's no one better.

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Beach Read by Emily Henry is a 2020 Berkley publication.

It is officially springtime and I, for one, am beyond ready to dive into some wonderful ‘Beach Reads’. It would seem to me that a book entitled ‘Beach Read’ would be a great place to start!

As it turns out, I made a good choice. I admit I was a little nervous about this one, as some of my peers had mixed opinions about it, but it has been on my list for a couple of years now, and the title kept calling out to me- so here we are.

The premise is a little different. January Andrews is a romance author who inherits a beach house from her father… the house he stayed at while visiting his mistress, who still lives in the community. Awkward!

January is suffering from writer’s block, getting a little pressure from the publishers, to cap off the misery of losing her father, finding out he wasn’t perfect, and breaking up with the guy she thought she might marry someday.

But… wait…

It gets better. Her neighbor happens to be Augustus Everett, a guy she’s encountered before, a guy who patronized her writing, because he writes critically acclaimed novels of literature. Turns out nothing has changed between them as they still mix like oil and water.

They exchange barbed banter back and forth, with Gus’s antagonizing January, who is defensive about his view of her ‘happily ever after’s’.

(I don’t write books, but I can definitely relate to January- and I can get pretty defensive too- just so you know.)

Eventually, they make a deal of sorts- January will try writing Gus’s category of book, while he takes on writing 'something happy'- a plan designed to shake them up and cure their writing slumps. Sounds like a fair plan… right?

Okay naysayers- legitimate question here.

How on earth did anyone read this book and not swallow a lump in their throat the size of Texas?

Oh, what you miss out on when you go looking for depth in all the wrong places. There is much to digest, so much to think about with these characters.

I couldn’t be happier with this book- and thankful too- thankful I have an open mind about romance, so I could enjoy the simple pleasures of this book, along with the very deep complexities of it.

I count myself lucky that, although I can, and often do, feel cynical and dejected- like January did- I’m also brave enough to read books that make me feel, to allow my heart to break, to heal, to swell, and then close that book knowing I have experienced something profoundly wonderful- a feeling no other genre can replicate.

This was a fantastic start to my summer Beach reads! If all my beach reads are like this one- it’s going to be a great summer!

4.5 stars

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It was okay but I didn’t love it ! Just liked it but I wanna read more of the author ! So excited. I loved the main character tho

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having sex outside the gates of the suicide cult had big kissing in the anne frank house energy, and i'm not a fan

thank you to berkley publishing group for my arc!

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This is the third book I read by Emily Henry. I enjoyed the plot and characters in this storyline, but would have loved to learn more about Gus. I really liked the various family dynamics of the both of the main characters. Looking forward to reading more by Emily Henry in the future.

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After hearing such positive reviews, I had way too high expectations. The book almost delivered what I wanted: a cute romance, set in summer.
What I didn't expect, that I didn't like: the writing challenge has become less important, which was too bad.
What I didn't expect, that I did like: it wasn't so predictable and shallow like many romance books, but dealt with important topics in depth.

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I absolutely adored this book. It was just enough spice and sweet to satisfy all my romance cravings.

Looking forward to "Book Lovers"!

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This was such a great book and I'm not forever an Emily Henry fan. I will read anything this author writes. Literally anything.

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This was a cute story, but at times I felt like skimming pages as the characters were talking about and researching their new books. Also-it may just be bad timing with the books that I have been reading lately, but the noncommunication and smoke and mirrors of the story causing the characters pain and misunderstandings got to be a bit of drag for me. I really like this author but this wasn't a 4 star read for me.

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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. First, I have to say this cover is a bit deceptive. This looks like a light read, and it's not. It's a much more complicated story than a fluffy rom-com. I loved Beach Read. Emily Henry creates fantastic characters.

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This is the first book I read by Emily Henry, and I absolutely fell in love with her writing style. As far as romance books go, this is one gets pretty serious as it deals with heavy topics such as grief, but I enjoyed that quite a lot. The main couple had a lot of chemistry, that was palpable since the first time they interact. I am very excited to keep reading from this author, as she has crafted characters that jump off the page and get you invested in their story.

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I had requestedd this book because my daughter is a fan of Emily Henry, and I had not read her books. I must say I was a little disappointed. I've tried to analyze why, and I think it boils down to there was just too much description, and I just didn't really connect with the characters. I felt the story could have moved along at a quicker more enjoyable and captivating pace if a lot of the description had been eliminated. Too much of it didn't really add to the character or story.

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You could probably hear me screeching in excitement and laughing out loud while I read this. 10/10 cute and sexy and everything I wanted.

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The author says this book is about a writer's block. I read it as about a woman dealing with a recent breakup and a family death and secret that she finds devastating. It's also about a man dealing with a similar breakup and an equally devastating family past. They are both published authors who find themselves living in beach cottages right next to each other.

But the romance is slow, very slow as the two get to know each other, taking their sweet time that is sometimes aggravating for the reader. They decide to swap genres and write a book the other would write. She a literary fiction novel with a dark bent, and he a romance. How do they do? It's slow, let me tell you. But a rewarding read when the woman begins to theorize and philosophize about life, while falling in love.

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BEACH READ is the first book I’ve ever read by Emily Henry. January Andrews is a Best Selling romance author. Augustus ‘Gus’ Everett is a popular literary fiction author. The twists and turns keep coming and I had to know how it was going to end! Every time I thought I knew where this story was going, a few pages later, Emily Henry threw me for a loop and I knew I was wrong! I’m kicking myself for not reading this wonderful novel sooner.

BEACH READ is a quick read and unputdownable! There were quite a few times when reading it that I wanted to reach into the pages and slap a few of these people with their wishy washy ways of thinking. I found myself laughing one second and then tearing up the next. If you are looking for a beautiful story to pull you out of your book slump, you can’t go wrong with BEACH READ. I wasn’t sure what to expect with BEACH READ as it is described as a book featuring two writers struggling with writers’ block. As a bet, January and Gus decide to swap genres for the summer since they aren’t feeling inspired and also agree to go on “research” trips with one another. Emily Henry is now one of my auto buy authors.

The twists and turns in BEACH READ are going to keep you up late into the night trying to figure it out. One minute you believe you know where January is going with her life and the next you are sitting there shaking your head, wondering what the heck just happened. I had my ideas, I had it all figured out, or so I thought, and BAM…….wrong again! Once you start reading, trust me, you aren’t going to be able to stop! When everything is finally revealed, well, you won’t believe it!

BEACH READ begins with January dealing with the death of her father and with finding out that her father is not the hero she thought he was. I thoroughly enjoyed reading BEACH READ. It is also heart warming and filled with so many different emotions. There is so much going on in this story, but Emily Henry does a wonderful job of weaving all the pieces together. All of the characters will have you feeling sad and then giggling on the same page. More than once I wanted to be in Michigan with my new found friends! Once you finish devouring this story, you are going to want to tell everyone you know about this awesome book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.

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