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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