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When You Read This

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  3,474 ratings  ·  699 reviews
“Warm, original, funny and heartbreaking, this novel made me drop everything so I could read it in one lovely afternoon. When You Read This is inventive and witty, but more importantly it’s honest and wise. I adored it.” — Jennifer Close, author of Girls in White Dresses and The Hopefuls 

For fans of Maria Semple and Rainbow Rowell, a comedy-drama for the digital age: an ep
ebook, 400 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Harper
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  3,474 ratings  ·  699 reviews

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Angela M
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is not a straight forward narrative and it took me a little while to get into it, into the rhythm of the emails and the blog posts, and the texts that tell this story. Once I did, I couldn’t help but like these characters and feel for them, want them to get through the things they were facing. Most of all I loved how they connected with each other. This was described as a comedy-drama and that’s a good description as it’s not always light, but there are some really humorous parts. It ...more
Larry H
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not crying, you're crying.

With When You Read This , Mary Adkins has written a novel that is at times funny, poignant, and frustrating (because of the characters' actions or lack thereof; not because of any shortcoming of Adkins).

This is a book that deals with being honest with yourself, facing the realities you try to hide, no matter how much they might hurt. It's a book about how we handle grief and regret, and how accepting that others may grieve, too, can actually help us. And it's als
This book is a fun twist on the epistolary novel.

Iris Massey is dead of terminal cancer at the young age of 33. Smith, her boss at a struggling PR firm, is still reeling from her death when he discovers she had spent 6 months writing a blog filled with her musings. She left instructions for him to publish them after her death.

Doesn’t sound too fun yet does it? But, with the help of his overly-eager college intern Carl, Smith attempts to get permission to publish from Iris’s neurotic sister Ja
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
So much more than a rom com! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The first thing that strikes me about When You Read This is that it’s fresh and different! And I love that! It is an epistolary novel for the digital age comprised of emails, texts, and blog posts. Also included were drawings from Iris, the main character.

When You Read this is a romantic comedy centered around Iris Massey who is dying from cancer. Notice the juxtaposition in that? She’s dying, but this book is full of humor, insight, and an endearing
Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)
4 Heartfelt with a side of Comedic Stars!

The thing is, there isn't one meaning that you remember or you don't. It was what it was and is what it is, both simultaneously, along with every version is evolved into along the way, and will, the million interactions all stacked up on top of each other like cans.

Iris is a thirty-something year old woman and just found out she only has six months to live due to a deadly cancer diagnosis. She works for Smith, who owns a PR firm. Once Iris passes away
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

2.5 Stars

I think my expectations may have been set a little too high here due to the fact that epistolary novels (confession: I just learned that word about a week ago – I always used the term “mixed media” as my descriptor of stories like these (and probably will continue to do so after this)) have become sort of my bag. The premise here is a decent one: Iris Massey has succumbed to cancer at the young age of 33. In passing, she has b
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

The Summer Day - Mary Oliver

”Here’s the thing I need to figure out. This whole time I thought my real life hadn’t started yet. Turns out that was my life. I have six months or so to make that okay, somehow.”

A simple thing like a phone call, especially one in the morning shortly after you’ve arrived at your work – early, but not too early, shouldn’t be life changing, shouldn’t herald news of death, especially your
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Thirty three years old and dead of cancer. This is an age where many are just starting to live and find their way and place in the world, and yet for Iris Massey, life was at an end. She worked for Smith Simonyi, and it is he who is surprised by a blog written by Iris that contained her musings about life, death, love and longing. The blog was a sad, yet oftentimes humorous look at life and death. Carl, an over zealous intern, though not too hard working intern, and Smith decide to honor Iris's ...more
Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)
Has a book ever made you laugh and cry at the same time? Well this book will make you "craugh" and craugh hard. 


The story unfolded over a series of emails, texts and blog posts. I had never read a book entirely in that format and it totally worked here. It was expertly done! I read a majority of this book in one sitting because I needed to keep turning the page.

Thirty-three year old Iris Massey has died of a terminal illness. She left behind a blog and instructions to her former boss, Smith, to
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel is written as a series of documents; diary entries, emails, texts, blogs, drawings, paper. Its done in an epistolary manner.

Four main characters:

Iris Massey, 33 years old, assistant to Smith - recently diagnosed with cancer, given six months to live. All her hopes and dreams, thoughts, feelings and regrets. She puts these out there to share with us. It’s a fine reminder for us all to live our lives to the fullest and that life is too short.

Smith Simonyi, owner of a flailing br
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-arcs
I’ve always been a huge fan of epistolary novels, there’s such an intimate feeling when you’re reading someone’s emails or text messages that satisfies my nosy side. Most of the ones I’ve read in the past have been on the lighter side, but this has some heavy moments, (it does take place after Iris’ death after all) that really gave this one unexpected depth for me.

The stars of the show are Jade and Smith, but there’s a supporting cast of quirky characters that brought some much needed life and
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Not at all what I was expecting, but this one was satisfyingly odd :)
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When You Read This by Mary Adkins is a very highly recommended, heart-breaking epistolary novel set in our current digital-age.

Iris Massey, 33, worked for four years helping clients perfect their brands alongside Smith Simonyi in his PR firm. Once she found out she only had six months to live, she began blogging on Dying to Blog, a blogging platform for the terminally ill. Now, after Iris has died, Smith is surprised to learn about her blog. She also had one final request for Smith: she wants hi
Mridu  aka Storypals
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't know I could love this book so much!

When a book is done in a series of documents; diary entries, emails, texts, blogs, drawings, paper. I know for a FACT that I am going to end up LOVING THE BOOK!

There's such an intimate feeling when you’re reading someone's emails or text messages that satisfy my stalker self!

‘Heres the thing I need to figure out. This whole time I thought my real life hadn't started yet. Turns out that was my life. I have six months or so to make that okay, someho
mindful.librarian ☀️
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-reads
Compulsively readable, this epistolary novel is quirky and reveals so much of human nature. I read the entire book in a day! Told entirely through emails, it tells the story of a woman who died of cancer in her early thirties, and the people she left behind - her boss, sister, mother and boyfriend. Throw in the new intern who takes over at her PR firm and the clients at the firm, and this zany tale is one you won't forget. And while it's about grief, it is also about so much more. This one fills ...more
I am honestly shocked to see more of my friends haven't read this one, because it nearly made me cry.
And books don't make me cry. Ever. So nearly crying is the equivalent of bawling my eyes out.
I'm not sure why this one hit so close to home. It is the story of a woman given six months to live. Of a blog where she processes chemo and dreams and memories. A boss left grieving. A sister unable to move on.
It features a rapper who will annoy the snot out of you by TYPING IN ALL CAPS and an ex-boyfr
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Thank you Harper Books for gifting me a copy of When You Read This in exchange for an honest review.

When Iris Massey dies of cancer, her loss is felt by everyone that knew her. Told through text messages, Iris's blog posts, messages to therapists between Iris's sister, Jade, and e-mails between Jade, Iris's old boss, Simon, and Simon's crazy new assistant, Carl, Adkins weaves a beautiful story of loss, life, and love. I adored this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry.
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
What a delightful cast of characters. Centered around Iris, the girl who died all too young from cancer, Adkins brings us a group of characters, mainly her sister, Jade and her boss, Simon, who are dealing with the aftermath of her death, the blog she left behind and unanswered questions that bring them together and also threatens to tear them apart.

Along with these "main" characters, we get introduced to YOPLAY, who I found annoying and endearing BUT WHO TYPES WITH CAPITAL ALL THE TIME?! Carl,
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I went into When You Read This not really sure what I was expecting, and to be honest this book did end up surprising me in a lot of ways. Although the story was given to us from the main character Iris’ blog, I liked how despite Iris not being here anymore, the blog had an effect on all those left behind. Those individuals who were an integral part of her of life were bought together in the most unexpected of ways. I really liked the way the story was given to us in the form of emails and text ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it

Using emails, texts and blog posts to convey a story is now a somewhat hackneyed device but it invariably makes for a fun, breezy read and this – despite its dark side - is no exception.

The characters fairly pop out at you from their missives: Smith Simonyi the surprisingly tolerant owner of a struggling PR firm, Carl his annoyingly ambitious intern, Jade the star chef who’s walked out of her job and her younger sister Iris who worked as Smith’s assistant. It is the blog about Iris’
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
When You Read This is a story told thru emails, text messages and blog posts. I am not sure what genre I would classify this book as. It reads a bit like Women's Fiction mixed with some comedy and a bit of romance.

This story is about Iris. She dies and we get to see how she affected those around her. We get to read her blog entries (after her death). We see how her boss Smith and her sister Jade are coping in the aftermath.

It was an interesting way to tell a story. But I found the book sort of s
+B for being Charming

There is something about a book written in email/text format that makes it charming for me. I may sound like a creep but something about reading other people's digital communication makes it more interesting and engaging. I did enjoy some parts of the book, other parts really dragged on or felt force. Overall I loved how Adkins was able to maintain strong character voices through the email communications. The book went between being sad and charming and wasn't able to stri
Angela Sullivan
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
i have many feelings. im very confused. i think i liked it! it’s hard when the only likable character for most of the book is already dead.
Blodeuedd Finland
This was different. I have read books like this but I have never done it in audio. At first I was not sure, but it did work really well and you felt really close to everyone.

The book takes place after Iris' death. Her boss Simon is struggling with losing her. Her sister is struggling with loosing her. He wants to publish her blog (as was her wish), and her sister does not like it.

So what do we get? We get emails and text messages between these too as they get to know each other better. We get em
While I enjoyed the format of emails/texts and the concept of this book, I've ultimately just ended up feeling quite detached from the characters and this story. I was expecting to cry, but while it is a sad read, I never felt very emotionally invested. Not a bad read, but not a great one. ...more
Susan's Reviews
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, this book certainly had its funny moments, as well as several poignant blog excerpts.
Poor Iris is given only about six months to live, and, as she posts on her blog, she is not ready to go. But she has no choice in the matter, so she starts to "get her affairs in order". And even though Iris does die as predicted, we discover that she left one last card up her sleeve: she stipulated that Smith should have her blog published after her death, and she knew her sister Jade would have to work
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a paper galley but didn’t get to it back in February so I decided to pick this up on audio from the library. The narrator handled reading of all the email/text technical stuff well, although she was a very slow reader (sounded normal sped up to 1.5x). The portions of the book from Iris’s blog had the best writing and character development - there are “posts” that are breathtakingly beautiful - which had the effect of making the other characters extremely two dimensional until Jade and Smit ...more
T. Rosado

3.5 Stars

This was an epistolary novel that consisted of emails, blog posts, texts, and memos. I mostly listened to the audio and although it was a great production, it took a little time in the beginning to get used to the story format. It helped to read a little of the story at first to get used to the rhythm.

I enjoyed many aspects of this story, especially Simon and Carl. Simon's story was surprisingly heartbreaking to me. His backstory, grief, and addictions hurt my heart. Carl was Simon's ne
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's funny how the "The most funny, heart-warming and life-affirming book of 2019" as stated in this goodreads title has less than a handful of ratings and reviews on here?
I especially do not understand this as there is truly nothing wrong with this book - I positively flew through it, and I think there is definitely a big market for this kind of lighthearted yet sad yet cute book. (Chiclit?! Not sure, not entirely; but deffo more chiclit than literary fiction.)
Epistolary style (emails and text
Kristen Beverly
Loved it! This book is hilarious, moving and tear jerking all at the same time. At the end I cried big fat baby tears. It’s told through a series of emails and blogs, but still manages to capture the reader and endear you to each of the characters.

I received an early manuscript for review purposes. Full review to come.
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