Emily Henry, Author of ‘Book Lovers,’ on the Appeal of Travel


During the last three years, the novelist Emily Henry has established a strong beachhead on summertime greatest vendor lists with a collection of travel-related rom-coms, beginning with “Beach Read” in 2020, and adopted by final summer time’s “People We Meet on Vacation” and this yr’s “Book Lovers.” All three novels at present share area on The Times’s combined Print and E-book fiction list.

In her books, a youngish girl — a author or writer-adjacent — at a disaster level in her life, lights out for brand spanking new territory the place (to not give any spoilers), she finds her true calling — and her real love.

In “Beach Read,” dueling novelists occupy neighboring homes on a lake in Michigan, sparring till, in fact, they cease. In “People We Meet on Vacation,” the journey author Poppy Wright spends a part of every summer time taking a visit together with her greatest pal from faculty, Alex Nilsen, who, expensive reader, you recognize from the get-go is Mr. Proper, whilst the 2 of them conceal from the inevitable. In “Book Lovers,” it’s the hard-driving literary agent Nora Stephens who travels to the small North Carolina city of Sunshine Falls, solely to come across her nemesis from the Manhattan ebook scene, the editor Charlie Lastra.

One other theme in her books is the pull of household. Ms. Henry, 31, grew up in Cincinnati with two older brothers, and he or she, her husband and their canine dwell there now, close to her dad and mom. She fondly remembers their household journeys, even when they did typically find yourself combating “like a too-many-headed beast,” she mentioned.

“We all still try to semi-regularly take trips together, which obviously can be complete chaos, but I just have so much nostalgia for that,” mentioned Ms. Henry, who’s at work on subsequent summer time’s novel. “I can’t talk about that yet,” she mentioned of the venture. “But I can say that it is travel-related.”

This interview has been edited for readability and size.

A ebook is already constructed to be a sort of trip — even when it’s not an escapist ebook, even when it’s a really heavy literary novel, it’s nonetheless this journey that’s packaged for you in a really particular approach. And I believe with travel-focused books you’re simply amping that up much more.

On a visit there’s this sense of chance that you simply don’t essentially have in your regular life since you’re going to be round all new individuals and all new issues, and also you don’t know what may occur and who you may meet. The whole lot simply feels thrilling. From a narrative perspective, it lends itself to this large transformation as a result of characters are already on this kind of uneven floor. Journey works the identical approach that it really works for us in actual life: to simply shake issues up.

I believe as a reader, it lends itself to that as properly, as a result of we’re already making an attempt to go new locations and meet new individuals after we’re studying. We’re craving one thing, some new expertise that we wish to convey into ourselves.

I do assume that there’s one thing, yeah, transformative and also you get to know your self extra deeply in a brand new atmosphere.

And it’s the issues that you simply don’t find out about your self, just like the surprises, the dangers that you simply take, that you simply wouldn’t count on, or the brand new meals you attempt, that you simply didn’t assume that you desire to or something small like that. It’s additionally simply seeing your common life by new eyes.

As a result of I believe there are locations you go the place you assume like, oh, I can think about my life right here, and there are different locations you go the place you notice you’re simply excited to get dwelling. That’s one of many issues I really like a lot about journey, too, is you can get so complacent or unappreciative of your life, your actual life, there actually is nothing like that feeling of getting dwelling.

I haven’t achieved loads of worldwide journey but, however I grew up in a household that took highway journeys and so that’s how I’ve seen a lot of the United States. It was fairly widespread to take a 14-hour highway journey to Florida. We’d depart in the course of the night time so we wouldn’t must pay for that one further night time and we might sleep behind the minivan and get up and be there.

Now I discover that each few months I really feel this restlessness and urge to simply be someplace totally different and see new issues and eat meals that isn’t out there to me. That’s this rhythm that my household arrange for me. You will have new experiences to hold you thru the mundanity of actual life.

Loads of that basically was simply analysis and there are Fb teams for that sort of factor, however I haven’t actually used these. I’m an enormous fan of Airbnb, like a lot of my era is. It’s simply been such a recreation changer for journey, particularly for prolonged journey. But additionally I believe being raised by dad and mom who had been actually good at that sort of factor helps. They’d take the excursions of resorts to get steeply discounted Disney World tickets. That actually got here into loads of the writing of Poppy’s strategy to journey.

Yeah, I’ve had just a few. I don’t consider myself because the cleanest individual, however now I’m very thorough about checking the critiques for the way clear the place is. I’ve positively had some which can be simply sort of gross. There’s all the time clever pictures. There was one which listed a further bed room and we obtained there and realized it was in an unfinished basement, and there additionally was like a gap within the wall to this different sort of storage room that appeared like a peephole. That was unsettling.

My favourite journey is to fly into San Francisco and drive up by Muir Woods and Muir Seashore after which to see wine nation. After which I’ve household up in Oregon. I really like that drive. I really like you can see the ocean, the bay, the mountains, wine nation, the redwoods, all inside simply this few hour span.

Seeing a spot as a customer is so totally different than being a neighborhood and I believe that’s why Elin Hilderbrand’s books are so good, as a result of she actually is aware of Nantucket and he or she places you proper there. The locations I’m writing about I’m solely aware of as a visitor and it’s a distinct expertise. It’s a extremely magical expertise, however it’s not the identical issues {that a} native would pick about their city.

I believe if I lived in a extra vacationy spot, I’d most likely commit to at least one place too, however I can’t see writing a bunch of books about Cincinnati. I’m certain I’ll have an outright Cincinnati ebook, however that’s not innately summery.

Oh my gosh. Not summer time.

Amy Virshup is the editor of the Journey part.


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