I will begin this review with a disclaimer: In my mad dash to catch up with book reviews, I am getting to that chunk of books where specific recollections are vague. So what good is a review written like this? I can still convey the general feeling that a book left with me. What’s more, I can remember quite keenly the passages and themes that stuck with me, even a month or two after reading. So while reading these belated reviews, keep in mind that you are seeing a collection of my long-term remembrances more than anything else here.
I picked up Writers & Lovers because it was listed as a book of the year by The Washington Post. A friend also recommended it (based on the same recognition) so I went ahead and gave it a try. As a distant would-be novelist and a professional writer myself, I have to say it was incredibly enjoyable to read an account of a 30-something hopeful. I think that despite the loose story happening in the book (a tale of chasing love and dreams and dealing with responsibility as we age), I was often daydreaming about what it would have been like to have made some of the life choices that Casey followed. I found myself intrigued by her dedication (waking up each morning to put words on a page, no matter how successful the effort) as well as her perseverance. For better or worse, I was sidelined with feeling the need to pay bills and care for myself before the age of 21, so in contrast reading about waiting tables to eek out a living while following a dream… that is the dream in a way, isn’t it?
Although I personally found these thoughts and slice-of-life snippets a joy, I remain amazed that this was selected as a book of the year. In many ways, the story is somewhat predictable. I won’t spell it all out here because I respect spoilers no matter how obvious they are in coming. But it’s easy to see from the first third of the book where Casey is ultimately going to end up by book’s end.
Perhaps this was a BOTY choice because, like me, The Washington Post reviewers understand the hidden desire to stay committed to telling a story. And the sheer novelty of peeking behind that curtain really resonates with types like us. Maybe it’s because in the last year of COVID mania we all just needed a feel-good story about struggle and redemption. Or maybe I missed some depth in this book – please tell me if you feel I did.
Regardless of what really earned this book its kudos, I did enjoy it and would recommend this to others looking for a quick, feel-good read. If you enjoyed The Midnight Library, I think this is a good follow-up to read to keep that high-on-life feeling going.
I rated this one 4/5 stars.
Hook Level: 6 – I liked Casey’s life and it was fun to slip into it for a short time.
Surprise Level: 3 – I definitely felt like I knew where this was going. Just enjoy the ride.
Share Factor: 5 – It’s a nice happy book I would recommend if you asked. I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell you about it unless you want to contemplate writing as a lifestyle choice.
Crave Factor: 5 – One and done with this tale was plenty for me.