May 9, 2024 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | By Greta Patterson

Every season has a book genre that just feels right to read at that time of year. Fall is mystery thrillers, winter is high fantasy, spring is fiction and summer is undeniably romance. A day at the beach is incomplete without a crispy soda, salt and vinegar kettle chips and a romance novel. There is no point in arguing with this, it is a fact.

When thinking about the romance writers of our time, Emily Henry has quickly become one of the go-to names. A New York Times #1 Bestseller, Henry has captivated the romance audience with heart-warming and hopeful novels that allow readers to feel immersed in her world. Having been an avid reader from an early age and studying creative writing in college, Henry’s books never fail to elicit that warm and fuzzy feeling. 

Her main titles include “Beach Read,” “Happy Place,” “People We Meet on Vacation,” “Book Lovers” and her most recent novel, “Funny Story.” Having read and enjoyed each of them differently, here is my personal ranking of these five titles. As a disclaimer, just because some of these books ranked lower than others does not mean they were bad, rather they just weren’t as good as the others. With that being said, let’s get into my personal ranking of Emily Henry’s main works.

  1. Book Lovers

“Book Lovers,” published in 2022, follows Nora Stephen, a literary agent in New York who is the epitome of a ‘girlboss.’ She is good at her job and doesn’t let anyone, especially Charlie, make her feel otherwise. Charlie is also in the book world as an editor, meaning the two had met in the past and it was less than pleasant. However, on a sister trip to North Carolina, Nora and Charlie seem to find themselves continually bumping into each other. Henry definitely knew what she was doing when writing a romance book about two people obsessed with books. 

I found both Nora and Charlie to be quite refreshing as far as the typical romance main characters go, as they are both far from perfect. I found their witty and snarky dialogue to be a delight to read. I also loved that neither of them had to change who they were in order to compliment with each other as a couple, and Henry surprised me by not making miscommunication the driving factor for why the love interests had a disagreement. Rather, this book felt honest in a way I wasn’t expecting. Everything tied together in the end which was satisfying and deeply heart-warming. I also loved having the sister dynamic, making the book not just about romance but also familial love. Ultimately, I found that this book did everything right.

  1. Happy Place

“Happy Place” is one of Henry’s most fun books, as it follows Harriet and Wyn, a seemingly perfect couple who don’t tell their friends at their annual vacation that they actually broke up six months ago. I really enjoyed this refreshing plot and found myself loving the less predictable nature of this book. The second-chance nature of this book made it feel like the characters were discovering themselves all over again, and I found the variation between past and present timelines to be approachable and engaging. There is also added drama as this is their last vacation in the perfect Maine cottage that the group has been going to for years before the house is sold. This makes the story of friendship and what it means for lives to change into adulthood much more central. 

Wyn is a lover boy whose obsession with Harriet made me giddy at certain moments and infuriated at others when they COULD NOT COMMUNICATE (this is my biggest pet peeve if you couldn’t tell). Their conflicts didn’t feel dramatic but rather more realistic, and I loved getting to watch their reconciliation as it was obvious that these two are meant to be together. I truly love this book and the idea that we don’t have to be defined by the past, but rather can create a future with the people we care for, regardless of how circumstances change.

  1. Beach Read

“Beach Read” is a wonderful book that was able to be more than just a romance novel for me. It follows January and Augustus (Gus), two writers who have polar opposite tastes when it comes to what they write about. January is all about romance while Gus is dark literary fiction. As they both find themselves in writing ruts, they challenge the other to step outside their comfort zone and write in the opposite genre. This added a fun element to the story, especially as they took each other on field trips to immerse themselves in the other’s writing lifestyle. 

I also think this was one of Henry’s best messages, that you need to step out of your comfort zone to discover the best things in life. Despite having been academic rivals in college, their chemistry allows them to grow closer and have smart, witty conversations about every topic imaginable. At certain points, I did feel like their conversations were forced and that they were too opposite, making the mood throughout the book feel unstable at times. I ultimately found this to be pretty middle of the pack, entertaining but not the most interesting.

  1. Funny Story

“Funny Story,” published on April 23, 2024, is Henry’s most recent publication. I was quick to Poor Richards to buy this and read it within 24 hours. The book follows Daphne, a librarian who moved to a picturesque small town to be with her picturesque fiance. That is, until he realizes he’s in love with his childhood best friend and leaves Daphne stranded in a town she doesn’t know with no other choice but to move in with the ex-boyfriend of the woman her fiance left her for. That’s a conundrum if I’ve ever seen one. This book was very easy to read, and ultimately I liked all of the characters, but it does rank fourth because it was frankly just okay. I liked watching Daphne and Miles’ budding romance as they exist in constant forced proximity as roommates, and the final message of needing to find yourself over finding a relationship is a good one. Miles was, per usual, an endearing and lovable main character who has some of the best character traits of any love interest in Henry’s books, but I frankly didn’t find myself caring all that much about their story. It felt forgettable in a way that while I enjoyed reading, I was never exceptionally excited or nervous. I also detest being forced to read about a man who wears Crocs, because why?

  1. People We Meet on Vacation

You would think the first Emily Henry book I ever read would have a special place in my heart, but alas, nothing about this book stuck with me. “People We Meet on Vacation” follows Poppy and Alex, college best friends who had a falling out two years prior. Despite this falling out, Poppy convinces Alex to go on vacation with her, giving them the time and space to reconcile whatever it was that caused their initial falling out. Having this book at No. 5 doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, rather I found it to be the least emotional and memorable. I detest the trope of, “I’m such a teeny weensy tiny woman, how on earth am I so small,” and unfortunately Poppy played into this. Petiteness doesn’t need to be a plot point, end of story. 

This is also a book that could have been solved with simple communication, making it frustrating to read about two adults who simply cannot communicate about their feelings, leading to losing their best friend. The way Poppy obsessed over Alex’s ex-girlfriend made the relationship feel unstable from the get-go, leading me to not really root for them. I felt that this book could have just been friends to enemies back to friends again rather than throwing romance into the mix, as Poppy and Alex really would have been better off with a platonic relationship rather than a romantic one. I did love the feeling of hopefulness throughout the novel, and do still think you should read this in order to complete the Emily Henry journey, but it was ultimately just not remarkable. 



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