Before this book, I had fallen into a rabbit hole of nonfiction books and autobiographies. It’s not that I wasn’t happy there, because it was a path I had chosen to go down because that is what I write. I think that there is a different feeling I get when I read something meant to be inspirational, or something coming from someone who is successful and has overcome adversity.
I was missing the feeling of reading happy endings. Maybe it comes from the little kid in me who loved fairy tales, but I love a happily ever after story. I didn’t realize that what I was longing for is the feeling of reading a romantic comedy, until I picked up this book.
The driving force behind me reading Beach Read by Emily Henry came from the fact that my former Her Campus Editor Nicole posted it on her Bookstagram. She said it was one of her favorite books of all time, ever. Which sounded like a glowing review, so I picked it up, and I absolutely love it. So for today’s blog post, I thought I would go through the discussion questions in the back of the book. Keep reading to learn my thoughts and go through my experience of reading Beach Read by Emily Henry. Beware of spoilers.
What traditional romance tropes do you see used in Beach Read? In what ways does the book deviate from or subvert romance tropes?
A major romantic trope of the novel is the rivals-to-lovers trope. Two characters who hate each other end up as lovers by the end, although it’s a little different in the book because the hatred is one sided. January hates Gus and believes him to be her rival, but it turns out all the things that he does that annoys her were his way of trying to get her attention.
There also loosely exists the trope of being stuck together, because the house that January’s dad leaves her turns out to be the house right next door to Gus’s. While it isn’t snowed in a cabin together, January has no funds to go anywhere else and so she is stuck living next to this man she is secretly competing with.
Whether you’re a writer or not, how do you see the concept of writer’s block in your own life? If you could give January a piece of advice for dealing with these phases of life, what would it be?
A good comparison of what writer’s block would be in the life of a person who isn’t a writer would be the equivalent of a mental funk. January can’t think of anything except for how she feels betrayed by her father, and it is creatively stifling to her because she writes about happy endings that she no longer believes in and can’t focus on anything else except for her betrayal.
My advice would be to do something different to shake things up. January fell into a trap of dwelling on the betrayal, of thinking of her dad, his funeral, and questioning all the memories she had of her father when she should’ve gone to try some new things to distract herself, or to therapy so that she could move past it with the help of a professional. With her bet with Gus, she ended up trying something new, and it seemed to have worked out for her by the end of the book.
If you could visit one setting from the book, with one of its characters, whom and where would you choose?
I would want to visit Pete’s coffee/book shop with January. This is because I love local, independent book shops, and I would love to get into discussions about happily ever afters and writing with her. It would be a cool thing to do, plus I would inadvertently meet Pete too.
January has a chip on her shoulder from negative reactions to her genre of choice. Have you ever felt “book-shamed” for liking a particular genre? Career-shamed?
So when Fifty Shades of Grey came out, I wanted to read it and understand what the hype was about, but at the time, I think I was a sophomore in high school. There was no way that I wanted to be caught dead with that book, so I think I went on YouTube and found the audio book version of all 3 Fifty Shades books. I think there’s a part of me that still feels a bit embarrassed to erotic things because of my weird relationship with sex, because when the books came out in Christian’s version recently, I just bought them on my phone so no one would know what I was reading.
I feel like everyone has been career-shamed in some aspect, because if you look at how academics are set up from the standardized tests to the competition of getting into college, everyone who has gotten an education (at least in America) has experienced some sort of shame during their academic career. And I feel like I don’t need to say much more than that, because for a while I tried denying my desire to become a writer, so that says a lot on its own.
Is your worldview more like Gus’s or January’s? Do you tend to be more optimistic or pessimistic? Has that changed with time and experience?
I think I’ve been optimistic a majority of my life when it comes to others, and more pessimistic when it came to the outlook on my own life. It was so easy for me to believe that everyone else deserved happiness and I didn’t, because there was a while where I was insecure in my own skin.
As I became more comfortable in my own skin and more confident in my skills and ability, I realized that I deserved a happily ever after as much as anyone else. I just had to believe in it and work for it.
Many of the issues between Gus and January begin with assumptions. How do you see January’s past experiences informing the assumptions that she makes? Do you see this happen in real life?
The little uncertified psychologist in me wants to say that everyone has implicit and explicit biases, whether they’re aware of it or not, and the fact that it happens in real life is what contributes to what makes these characters more realistic. I think that it was easy for Gus to trigger January to have negative assumptions about him because the first day they met, he commented on her genre of choice, unaware that was a sensitive topic to her.
It was sensitive because of her background of growing up female, her experience of trying to get into a male-dominated industry, of having the books that she writes be judged not by the writing, but the genre she chose to write in. Gus’s comment wasn’t the first domino to topple over, it was just the starting point of their rivalry from then on out.
Did January’s father deserve her forgiveness? Has she truly forgiven him?
At the end of the day, I do believe that family is family, and there is a level of respect that needs to exist. I do think that January’s father deserves her forgiveness, because it’s not as though he failed her as a father. He was always there to love and support her, so he did his job as her dad.
While it is fair to feel betrayal in the fact that he deceived her, I don’t think that much can be done at this point in time because he has passed away before this book even started. I can’t tell if she has truly forgiven him at this point, but it’s hard to argue by the time you read the end of the book that he didn’t work hard to be a devoted and supportive father to her.
Do you believe in the idea of a Happily Ever After? What would your HEA look like in real life?
I very much believe in the idea of a Happily Ever After. In my heart of hearts, I am a hopeless romantic, but I don’t think I believed I was a person who was supposed to have an HEA. Its why I’m so grateful with the relationship that I’m in now. I’m in a position where I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, I feel like I’m getting everything I ever wanted and then some, and my partner makes me feel so loved and supported in all the aspects of my life. It’s as though I’m living in my HEA.
Do you prefer to read books with a certain kind of ending? Prefer to know what kind of ending to expect?
My preferences typically are dictated by my mood. As a writer, I am supposed to be open to all kinds of types of writing and genres. Like I mentioned before, I had been reading a bunch of nonfiction and autobiographies before this. And my favorite books are very well-written fantasy novels. Rarely will I choose a book that would emotionally destroy me, but sometimes you never know until you get to the end of the book.
What is your perfect beach read?
It’s books like this one: easy to read, plenty of spaces to laugh and smile, and it has a happy ending.
If January and Gus got a sequel, what would it be about? What do you think comes next for them? What do you hope?
I personally don’t love the sequels of romantic comedy books. The reason is because books that fall in the romantic comedy genre end in a happily ever after, so for there to be a sequel would mean that something has caused a rift or problem in the previous happily ever after.
What comes next would be wedding planning, which would be it’s own challenge. I imagine a book tour for the books they both were inspired to write, which would be cute if they could do that together. I would hope that Gus would learn to overcome his personal issues with happily ever afters, and that January rebuilds her relationship with her mom.
What are you reading now? Do you have any romantic comedies you can recommend to me? Where is your favorite place to read? Tell me in the comments below, I can’t wait to read your answers!
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