The Hating Game by Sally Thorne & The Curse of the “Nice Guy”

514sa3HcecL.jpgTitle: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: 
hot hot HOT romance, plus some jokes
Describe it in a sentence: 
Two co-workers at an Australian publishing house think that they hate each other, but it turns out that hate is just masking lakes and lakes of luuust (and eventually maybe love?)
TV/movie character who would like it: This book was pulled straight out of the central romance in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice and Benedick would see Josh and Lucy and nod knowingly.

I first heard about The Hating Game when I was researching a story about rom-com books for Refinery29. Thorne’s debut novel pre-dates the current rom-com resurgence by a few years. This book came out all the way back in 2016; it’s only now that rom-coms are flooding the market with their cute illustrated covers. These covers mask a whole lot of sexiness, you guys. Because This. Book. Is. SEXY!

Lucy and Joshua are co-workers at Bexley and Gamin, a publishing house that had merged a few years prior. Just as Bexley and Gamin had two different governing philosophies, so do Lucy and Joshua. They’re polar opposites (for more reasons than their height difference). Josh is a neat freak, uptight, seething, grouch. Everyone in the office is afraid of him. Lucy makes it her job to be professionally agreeable — to everyone except Josh. When the book kicks off, Lucy and Josh are regularly throwing insults and each other and racking up HR violations (TBH they do not work in the healthiest work environment – their bosses pit them against each other in a race for a promotion and it’s very corporate Hunger Games).

Don’t be fooled by their friction. Friction fuels fire! The more these two good-looking leads combat each other, the more other feelings grow. Lucy finds herself drowning in her all-consuming hatred for Josh, and then the weird feelings of affection that sprout the more she looks into his eyes.

Sally Thorne is great at writing rom-coms. I would read her rom-coms for days. Quippy dialogue, singular characters, plot that traipses along in between “the good parts” (and you know what the good parts are. I believe in Lucy and Josh’s chemistry.

BUT. I totally worry for them! I worry for their emotional intelligence! First of all, it’s not healthy to fill up your days with a deep and wild hatred for your coworker. Second of all, Josh makes being a “nice guy” out to be like, the worst trait in the world. In the book, “nice” is code for boring, dull, safe, etc. Josh is not expressly “nice” but he will love Lucy with scary intensity. And somehow that is a fair exchange? A loyal pitbull man instead of a friendly golden retriever.

Admittedly, I have historically been drawn to guys like Josh. Guys who make you bend over backwards to crumple their intensity. Cold guys, who make you so hungry for affection that you’ll blush at a smile. Stubborn guys who don’t deviate from their own code of ethics. Hard-working guys who promise they’ll take you where they’re going — so long as you play by their rules. My relationships ended when I had to ask for the simple request: Please be kind to me.

Guys like Josh can be sexy! But the whole book I kept saying to myself – Lucy, be careful! Yes, he makes you feel special now — but only because he’s been a total ass for so many years. Maybe I’m reading too far into this? But the “gruff asshole is secretly a kind softie” is a trope that I see work out in a lot of books, but not necessarily in real life. What do you think?

Overall, I definitely recommend The Hating Game, if you take the relationship with a grain of salt, and not as a model. Here’s hoping that Josh is kind to her as his relationship with Lucy continues (and that he doesn’t turn into his father!)

The Books I Read On Vacation, Ranked By How Quickly I Devoured Them

Do you know what happens to a human brain when it detached from the suction of work? It puts its proverbial arms behind its proverbial head. It looks around at the blue sky above it and the blue, not quite the same shade but close, sea ahead of it. It is happy.

After breathing the crisp air of an open schedule for a few moments, the little anxieties about unchecked emails, unfinished stories, life paths, regrets start poking through the sand like hermit crabs. The only way to vanquish the hermit crabs, which are rapidly gathering and taking out their snippers, is to put your feet up on the chaise lounge and methodically go the stack of books you brought.

Then when you finish the stack of books, you will inevitably face a moment of irrational panic. Can I really read on a kindle on the beach? The answer is yes, you can, you will.

All right, that ^ ^ is one reading of how I spent my two (!!) weeks of vacation. Yes, I ate, adventured, and hung out with friends and family. But mostly, I read. Here’s the list, in order of how quickly I read them:

  1. The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  2. You by Carolyn Kepnes
  3. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (bought in a bookstore on a Greek island, thank you bookstore)
  4. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  5. Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer
  6. Going Clear by Lawrence Wright.

So, as you can see, the trip was divided between fiction by women and batshit nonfiction about extremist religion by men. That is one of my favorite divisions. Also, NOW I GET WHAT Y’ALL WERE TALKING ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT PACHINKO. IT IS SO GOOD. I WANT TO MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO JAPAN AND VISIT FICTIONAL CHARACTERS’ GRAVES.

That is all.

 

Moby Dick and a Trip to Iceland

Later today, I’m getting on an Icelandair flight to Reykjiavik in one of my family’s more impulsive decisions to take a weekend trip to Iceland. While there, we’ll probably stop at the whale museum on the harbor because after reading Moby Dick my sister and I are a bit obsessed with whales. I was reading it over winter break, and looked out onto the great wide Floridian ocean with tears of awe in my eyes. The whaling life consisted of four years on a boat, killing whales, risking your life daily? Moby Dick is a book, sure, but people did that! That’s a huge part of the history of civilization (whales = candles) that we’ve just collectively seemed to forget about. Probably because it’s brutal. In Iceland, you can see whales from the harbor, but I’m sure none of them will be white.

moby-kfs-prints

Moby-licious art

But this post isn’t really about whaling. It’s about Moby Dick, and why you should read it. I mean it. I don’t care if you only read presidential biographies, books about cats, self-help and IKEA manuals, or Stephen King novels. Read Moby Dick. It should be the book everyone reads.

When I tell people to read Moby Dick I’m usually met with a dismissive shake of the head and a wry, regretful smile. People concede that they’re sure it’s a good book, but it’s not at the top of their list. I’ll admit that Melville’s novel is a tough sell: why read a 700-page book about whales and madmen when there are other, easier books with satisfying answers and neat endings?

I asked myself that before I finally came to the book last December and was drawn in to its whirling, maddening, and playful brilliance. It is a book unlike any other one I have read, bursting with dramatic action, digressions, philosophical meditations, unforgettable characters, and astonishing prose. Melville delights in

moby-dick-27x-prints

Don’t you want to be a part of this fandom?

language and in creating characters pushed to real extremes of love, terror, and obsession, all in the isolated environment of a whaling ship away from land for years at a time. While Moby Dick may have a chapter dedicated to cetacean classification, the book itself defies classification. The reason everyone should read Moby Dick is because it is not the book they think it is—it’s not a stuffy classic, but rather a novel that pushes people to think, and think hard, while enjoying themselves. I would love to see a large number of people come to this book because I believe that, like all books, Moby Dick is best understood through the conversations it provokes. People would understand more about this “whale” of a book by seeing what parts moved them and their peers, and which sentences go echoing through their minds long after the book is finished.

Plus reading Moby Dick is like joining a fandom. You’ll see that we’re everywhere, people just grappling with a book with no straight edges and teeming with mystery and fun (kinda like life???) Take this example: a professor from my college giving a damn good reasons to read Moby Dick to none other than Stephen Colbert.

So, will I see whales leaping from the harbor in Iceland? Hopefully. But I for sure won’t be harpooning them. At least I can say that we’ve improved in some ways collectively as a people (although Sea World makes me think twice…)