How good for there to be a sweet little book about Christmas in New York City for me to read after my first Christmas season in New York City (the first of many!). I found this book for $1 at the Strand, which is all very fitting for a book that starts with its protagonist finding something unexpected at the Strand. I selflessly gave it to my mother and didn’t even read it before giving it to her because that’s the kind of angelic saintlike daughter I am. But then I swiped it from her two seconds after Christmas and read it before she had a chance to.
Left to his own devices for Christmas, a holiday he deeply dislikes, Dash is spending a lot of time in the Strand, the massive bookstore near Union Square. As he is checking out J.D. Salinger, he finds a little Moleskine notebook with a message challenging him to a boosktore scavenger hunt. Lily, a Christmas junkie with an enormous family, has left this notebook (by the instruction/coercion of her brother) in the hopes of finding a boy. She and Dash write to each other in the notebook, back and forth, leaving it for each other all over the city and growing more and more intrigued with the idea of each other with each successive dare.
I enjoyed (ish) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by these same authors, but at times the writing was a bit much for me. I didn’t have the same response to Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, which was a sweet little book that hardly annoyed me at all. I liked seeing Dash and Lily’s interest in each other, as well as their reservations — people who have met Dash keep telling Lily that he’s “Snarly”, and Dash isn’t sure he wants to spend all his time with a girl as wild about Christmas as Lily is.
(BTW, I am crazy about Christmas. I love it so much. You want to cheer me up, tell me how short a time it is until Christmas comes back around. Only eleven months! Then, a week with my family and my puppy and my beautiful, gorgeous home state, and everyone giving presents to everyone else!)
I liked it that although the notebook makes it possible (easy in fact) for Dash and Lily to romanticize each other, the book doesn’t give them an out on getting to know each other as real people (with flaws). If I may make a slightly spoilery comment, their first meeting is, yeah, not everything they might have hoped it would be. This is a book about romantic expectations and the way people change you, and it was the perfect Christmas read. I knew the places they were talking about sometimes! Yay me! Yay New York!
(Yes, it would have been nice of me to tell you about this during the Christmas season. But I hadn’t read it then. Too bad for you.)
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I loved this book! It’s one of my top reads last year!
I know, wasn’t it charming?
Wonderful review, Jenny! I remember reading a review which wasn’t very positive about this book. I can’t recall where I read it. Also somehow the book’s title didn’t appeal to me. (maybe I am just imagining that the review I read wasn’t positive :)) But after reading your review, I can’t wait to read this book! The story looks quite interesting and the central concept behind the story – talking and romancing through a notebook – is really exciting! I will search for it now 🙂
Thanks for giving your ‘thumbs-up’ to this book, Jenny 🙂
I love a book where people are communicating through letters. People don’t write letters like they used to, so I love seeing it happen, even in fiction.
Must read this now! But…. should I wait 11 months? (ha ha)
Nah, there are plenty of Christmas books out there. And if you’ve read it already, you’ll know whether you want to read it again for Christmas, when Christmas rolls back around. 😀
I just saw this listed in the book section of the paper. Now, I’m adding it to my list! Thanks, Jenny.
I hope you like it! 🙂
You are so funny! We both spend too much time at The Strand. And the bad thing is, we don’t always buy books from the $1 stand. And we are both poor. And we encourage each other.
Anyway, this book sounds fun. Maybe when I finished the other book of yours I borrowed and have yet to read, I will ask to borrow this one!!
Girl, I know. We are such bad influences. I nearly emailed you to say that the Housing Projects bookstore is having a Martin Luther King Day sale. But then I remember that we are bad influences on each other and we would end up talking each other into huge stacks of books.
You cannot borrow this one, I’m afraid. I gave it to my Mumsy for Christmas. You’ll have to ask her.
Are there any references to Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman? Or is it just a tribute title?
Are Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman linked in some way? I am very ignorant, plainly.
They had a lifelong (and mildly scandalous for the time) love affair, and called each other Dash and Lily.
I heart The Strand. Every time we go to NY I want to go and my husband appeases then he complains when we leave because he couldn’t find anything. I always think of that as the beauty of The Stand. Stacks and stacks of books make me happy. 🙂
He couldn’t find anything like they didn’t have any books he wanted, or couldn’t find anything like the bookstore is not organized in a sensible way? I can understand one of those. :p
I have read numerous great reviews of this book, and feel like it might have made the perfect Christmas read for me had I known about it a little sooner. No matter, because as you mention, Christmas is only 11 months away, and I can read it then! I am glad to hear that this book didn’t annoy you at all and that you had a great time with it! It sounds like a lot of fun!
It was fun! Just a light Christmas read, not necessarily something I’ll want to reread every Christmas season like The Christmas Carol.
Don’t be sad: it’s Christmas in New York all year round (except for July and August, when it’s so hot). Although I’m a Texas writer, I’m unashamedly envious of you for being where you are.
I’m envious of you for being where you are. It is so, so cold here with all the snow and the icy frigid nights.
Woot only 11 months!
I’m adding this to my new created Christmas reads list. This time around I’ll be prepared, going into the season with a wonderful list of Christmas books rather than frantically rushing around the library 3 days before Christmas.
Oo, smart! Will you share it with us in late November so we can all share the Christmas joy?
Ha – a very appropriate find indeed 😀 I really liked that the book made romantic expectations / how you construct other people in your head an actual theme instead of just having it there.
(Also, I am so with you on Christmas.)
I liked that too! A lot of love stories kind of gloss over that. :p
Christmas is great. I do not ever understand when people dislike it. It’s all awesome.
As you linked to my review, you probably know I loved this one, and it was probably my most enjoyable read (although not quite my favourite) last year.
In fact I liked it so much I used my Audible credit last month to download the audiobook, and am enjoying Dash and Lily’s interactions all over again!
I bet it’s really fun in audiobook. I assume they have different narrators for the Dash sections and the Lily sections?
You got this for a dollar? at the Strand? How cool was that.
I too read it just after New Years, and would have loved to have read it over Christmas holidays. I thought it was adorable.
I know! A dollar! Miraculous!
Ooh, I’ve been meaning to read this one because I love David Levithan (and liked Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) but I hadn’t realized it this one was Christmas-y. Ah well, perhaps I’ll check it out from the library anyhow!
He’s written stuff as a solo author, hasn’t he? I’ve only ever read his collaborative works so far.
So awesome that you found this at The Strand for $1 :p I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!! I loved it to pieces 🙂 And I totally don’t think that this book needs to be read during Christmas…I think it can be read any time of the year. Reading it at Christmas just makes it that much better…Cuz I’m totally with you..Christmas is teh awesome!!!
Christmas is indeed teh awesome, especially when you are home for the holidays as indeed I was. 🙂 This was a perfect home-at-Christmas read.
It must have been fun to read this one while living in NYC…and how appropriate to have gotten your copy at the Strand!! I’m glad you enjoyed this one.
Me too! I liked it that the Strand featured heavily in this one, not just at the beginning but at intervals throughout.
How have I not read this already? It sounds SO RIGHT UP MY ALLEY, I’m almost ashamed.
Yes! You will like it! You should definitely hit it up.
This book JUST came for me at the library today, I am so excited! You make it sound just charming and fun, and I love that you got it at the Strand and got to read it in New York. That’s cool.
Oh, enjoy it! I hope you like it a lot!
I got such a kick out of this book! Then I loaned it to one of my students, and he liked it, too. I heard a rumor there will be a sequel–yay! Here’s the link to my review: http://bookaunt.blogspot.com/2010/11/review-of-dash-and-lilys-book-of-dares.html
I really enjoyed Nick & Norah’s, and this book sounds thoroughly charming… but I think I will save it for next December in the interests of being seasonal.
Already on my wish list. Will keep it there.
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