review :: While You Were Reading :: Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

July 09, 2019

While You Were Reading is the new novel from Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus - authors of The Book Ninjaand the women behind Australia's Books on the Rail. Here's the book summary from Goodreads:

After ruining her best friend's nuptials, Bea relocates to the other side of the country in search of a fresh start, including meeting new people, living life to the fullest and finally pulling off balayage.

But after a few months, life is more stagnant than ever. Bea’s job is dead-end. Her romantic life? Non-existent. And her only friends are her books, her barista and her cleaning lady.

​Then Bea stumbles across a second-hand novel, inscribed with notes. Besotted with the poetic inscriptions, Bea is determined to find the author ... and finds herself entangled in one hell of a love quadrangle.

Funny, poignant and insightful, While You Were Reading reveals that there’s no such thing as perfection, the value of true friendship and, most importantly, the power of not living in fiction, but still reading it … Often.

A love story for book lovers that celebrates much more than romance.

This story is another love letter from Berg and Kalus to literature and reading, and what it is to love them. I like felt the books mentioned in this one were more peripheral to the story than in The Book Ninja, although it was still fun to see some favourites mentioned. Similarly, I thought the Instagram posts peppered through the book were cute, but I didn't really think they added to the story.  I do love that there are lists at the back of the titles of all the books mentioned throughout the story, as well as mini bios of all the bookstagrammers whose photos are featured.

Speaking of The Book Ninja, fans will be delighted by some cameos by characters from that book - I thought having Bea bump into them was a lovely touch!

Bea is a bit Bridget Jones-ish, in that sometimes I just couldn't decide whether I wanted to hug her or shake her. Her story arc is almost a bit "coming of age", which I really liked, as she ditches some toxic relationships and starts to appreciate who she is for herself, rather than measuring her worth by the people around her, and I did enjoy seeing her grow across the span of the story.

The people around Bea are really quite fun - there are lots of quirky people in Bea's life, and I loved seeing their interactions. Something I didn't love in the first part of the book was the amount of negativity between the women - either directly in the way they spoke to each other or how Bea describes the other women, as well as how negative she is about herself (there are a few bits where Bea criticizes her own body, in particular in comparison to her sister that were maybe to help her feel relatable but just made me a bit uncomfortable)

As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed Bea's main story-line through the book. It was fun to see her trying to track down the original owner of the special book she found, and I loved how that part of the story played out. I also loved her friendship with her barista Dino.

While You Were Reading was a sweet and light read about friendship and finding yourself. It was refreshing to read something with out too many heavy themes discussed, and just to enjoy the ride with a fellow bibliophile. I think fans of The Book Ninja will love this one.
xo Bron


While You Were Reading by
Out now from Simon and Schuster

Source: Free copy sent to me by Simon and Schuster
Category: Australian contemporary romcom
Format: Paperback
Australian RRP: $24.99

While You Were Reading on Goodreads

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  1. Ooh, I do love when characters from other books make cameos! I'll be adding both The Book Ninja and While You Were Reading to my (neverending!) TBR.
    Beautiful review, Bron!