While You Were Reading is the second book by Melbourne-based co-authors, Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus. If you don’t know, Ali and Michelle are the book loving brains behind the Books on the Rail initiative where book ninjas like myself are sent books by publishers to hand out on public transport around Australia. I was sent a copy of this book for review and so I could participate in the #whileyouwerereadingblogtour.
While You Were Reading is a love story dedicated to book lovers, reading and Melbourne. After reading this delightful book, I feel like booking an impromptu weekend in Melbourne to explore all the trendy cafes and book stores mentioned in the novel.
Beatrix Babbage is the protagonist of While You Were Reading – a soon to be 30-year-old who is addicted to good books and coffee. After accidentally ruining her best friend’s wedding in Perth, she moves to Melbourne for a fresh start, working in an marketing agency where her only job is to write about toothpaste all day.
Bea struggles to find her feet in the workplace and in life. Her only friends are her book collection and Dino, the poetry writing barista at the cafe under her work. Then Bea finds a book in a second-hand bookstore that gives her something else apart from her stagnant life to focus on. It’s a book inscribed with notes from an unknown person. Bea makes it her mission to try and track down this Mystery Writer and even starts a bookstagram account to help in the search. Then things start to look up in her love life when she meets a great guy. But can he be as perfect as he seems?
While You Were Reading is a fun, entertaining ode to book lovers everywhere. Book bloggers and keen bookstagrammers like myself will love all the bookish references and bookstagram posts throughout the novel – complete with funny comments from Insta bots. Beatrix is a warm, endearing protagonist who you can’t help buy cheer for as she stumbles through career ups and downs, love and best friend issues. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll love all the literary references sprinkled throughout this book’s pages. There’s even a handy reading list at the back of the book. But if you don’t read a lot then some of the references might leave you behind.
I enjoyed this cast of quirky characters – from Ruth and her ferret Philip, soulful poet/barista Dino, and Bea’s ex-Bachelor starring, now Instagram influencer sister, Lizzie. The only thing that fell a little flat for me was the romance element and the fact that Bea was so clueless about the person she should really be with. But your twenties are for making mistakes and trying to figure out who you are and what you want and Bea represented that uncertainty.
If you read this book, make sure you look up Bea’s bookstagram account because it exists in real life. (What a great book marketing idea!) It’s clear that Ali and Michelle know their book loving audience well and have written a book sure to win over the hearts and minds of their readers.
Verdict: A fun, entertaining read for book lovers everywhere.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia and Books on the Rail for sending me a copy for review.