Gearing Up for VDay…with Books Rachael Berkey

It’s almost Valentine’s Day…that horrible holiday that prompts my dad to send me chocolates every year. And somehow, I always end up reading sappy love stories this time of year, too. I am not even sure how it happens. So this year, I’m combating my chance of repeating the same holiday again by rereading a book that masquerades as a love story while ending up being something completely different.

We all have some version of this fantasy, right? You turn to the person next to you on the airplane (or bus or at Starbucks etc., etc.), your eyes meet, and… you know.

It’s love at first sight.

This person, man or woman, is the person you will spend the rest of your life with.

It’s easy to see why a book with this premise would suck a chick-flick loving girl like me in, right? The protagonist is young, male and well-read, and he relies on the same delusional daydream of love that I do. Somewhere out there is a person who is my perfect match.

And then, within the first ten or fifteen pages, it all goes to hell. He loses her number in an exchange with serendipity. He can’t find her in the phone book. You can almost hear the music playing and see the movie montage of leaves changing and snow falling as five years pass, and they meet again.

Only she’s the new “love of my life” to the protagonist’s best friend.

How much are you in love with this story right now? I haven’t even told you the title yet, and if you’re still reading my babbling, you’re probably on the edge of your seat, fingers poised above the keyboard, waiting for the title with baited breath so you can run and find it on Amazon.

It’s Beginner’s Greek, by the way. And read the rest of this before you commit an act of one-click shopping.

This book is not a chick-flick in literary clothing.

It comes off that way.

I wanted it to be that.

But it’s not. Prepare yourself for that disappointment.

I loved this book. I loved it so much that I didn’t buy it the first time I picked it up on a New Releases table at my bookstore. It was brand new, only in hardcover, and I was in college and thus pretty much broke. I said to myself, “I’ll read it when it’s out in paperback.”

It took me almost four years to come back to it. I kept seeing it places. First on the New Release tables. Then on the “Like That? Like This” tables. Then the staff was recommending it. They changed the cover art. By the time I finally bought myself a copy, I was in another airport in need of some plane reading, and it was perhaps serendipity that brought me to it again.

Read this book, ladies. Read this book, guys. It’s a love story, yes. But it is placed firmly in the 21st century, and the writer is not a naive twenty something on the cusp of genre-fame with racy sex scenes or bodices to rip. I saw pieces of myself in every character – even the dysfunctional, sometimes maniacally messed up ones.

It reminded me of two other versions of this story – boy meets girl and it’s love at first sight – that you should also pick up.

Read Claire Marvel: A Novel. If you’ve never been to Boston, it will make you fall in love with the city almost as much as you fall for the characters.

Claire Marvel is one of my desert island books. Meaning, if I only had five books to take to a desert island, it would be one of them. If you read it, and hate it, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

And watch Serendipity for some seriously chick-flick goodness. Plus, John Cusack is in it. How can you go wrong when Lloyd Dobbler is in the movie?

I know it’s not even February yet, but lets be honest. Hallmark has been shoving Cupid down our throats since December 26th or earlier. I’m choosing to look at love without the blinders on this year. And these books and movie are going to help me do it!

photo is my own

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  1. thanks so much for recommending this book! ironically, i was in a romantic quandary and picked up this book to read, and started it on a plane to LA! after reading one day, this is an uplifting treat!

  2. Oh! I’ve read Beginner’s Greek! I picked it up at a Costco while on vacation in Hawai’i, and I immediately connect that book to lazy beach days! Great recommendation <3

  3. Love your column, Rachael! ‘Tis all.

  4. cannot wait to read these two novels! Thanks!

  5. Is it just me, or do the links never work on this site?

    • Hm. That’s weird. I don’t know why it’s doing that but the links are still there. Once you click on it, go up to the URL line and take out the HelloGiggles at the beginning of the link. That should fix it. I’ll look at how I’m writing them into the blog next week to see if it’s something I’m doing or a site fluke. Sorry!

  6. Awesome recommendations!

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