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By the Book

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,719 ratings  ·  714 reviews
As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Megan There’s not really any swearing or sex, just a couple of kisses .
Nicki She is 15 at the start and celebrates her 16th birthday in the book!
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,719 ratings  ·  714 reviews

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Abbie | ardentlyabbie
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The perfect YA rom-com for Jane Austen nerds.

As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly deb
Jun 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
I'll just be here, trying to manage my expectations between the beautiful cover and the punny tittle.
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
May 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: may-2020
DNF! at 55% . I just did not like our main female character. She was judgmental and praised for it and the whole book was going nowhere. I felt like there was no plot. I was stuck between being bored and annoyed.
Bree Lauren
ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

A personal anecdote for you that, I swear, relates to this book: I work with a lot of ivy league graduates of the scholarly nature and our main character, Mary’s parents are so painfully, triggeringly, pin-point-perfectly depictive of those types of people.

I truly wondered if I would make it through this book with all the eye-twitching I had going on any time her parents spoke.

Mary’s parents have the uncanny ability to overcomplicate w
demi. ♡
Oct 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
The cover attracted me at first but after reading the synopsis and seeing this quote.

"If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself."

Yeah, bring it on girl. Count me in. Looking forward to reading this!
Nov 16, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2020-releases
This book was *delightful,* and I can’t even imagine how much more I would’ve enjoyed it if I were a fan of the classics. It was so much more friendship-centric than I had anticipated (think Emma Mills - when I saw in the acknowledgments that they have the same agent I was like OF COURSE) and I loved that the MC was from a big family, because you don’t see that so often and it’s such a fun dynamic. It’s so charming, the MC is so so genuinely and lovably bookish, and I love how many references th ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Nov 12, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr
a novel of PROSE and cons....

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May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 out of 5

For me, most YA contemporary romance books are either just okay or end up being a huge miss; most of the time I don’t bother to read any unless the premise piques my interest quite a bit. By the Book definitely caught it the moment I read the synopsis. It appeared to be a fun read but I wasn’t expecting it to be absolutely hilarious and heartwarming.

The most pleasant surprise is how much focus is put on the female friendships. I went in thinking I was only getting a cute romance, but t
Mar 20, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF @ 5%. I try to go 25% before I give up on a book, but I couldn't even make it through two chapters of this book. It was just trying way too hard. The main character was insufferable. I will say I'm also a lot older than the target audience for this book, so a younger, quirkier crowd may enjoy this much more.

Title: By the Book
Series: Standalone
Author: Amanda Sellet
Release date: May 12, 2020
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: young adult

I was desperate to read this book the minute I saw it. I'm a sucker for bookish heroines so it seemed like this story had my name written all over it. Undoubtedly, Mary's love for books was her most admirable trait for me. She seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of classic literature characters, which is rare for someone her age. Though it's not beyond the realm of possibilit
Emer (A Little Haze)
This book should have been perfect for me. A cutesy YA contemporary with a bookish heroine obsessed with the classics...

And yet I’m left feeling underwhelmed.

I read this book but still feel like I didn’t “read” it...
I know. That makes no sense.
Let me try to explain.

Do you ever find yourself going through the motions with a book? That for some reason you remain forever detached from the characters and the storyline? Because that’s how I feel with this book. I never found my feet.

Case in poin
Aug 29, 2020 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
dnf @ 45%

This seemed fun at first, but I'm almost half way through and the story seems to be going nowhere. I kind of lost interest.

The audiobook was good though.
Helen Power
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, young-adult
This was such a cute book! I had a hard time with the language at first, and I almost DNFed after the first chapter. Mary only reads classic literature and the way she talks and thinks reflects this. But as I got used to this style, it really added to the humour and made Mary into a likable and unique character. How many teenagers think and talk like a turn-of-the-century heroine?
The plot of this story is freaking adorable, and I loved the friends she made--particularly the sweet, quiet, and be
Claude's Bookzone
Aug 20, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

A fun book with intelligent humour and wonderful literary references. Readers will either find Mary Porter-Malcom insufferable or they will find her quirky and charming. I fall into the latter group of Readers. I loved the witty banter between many of the different characters. It reminded me a little bit of the Gilmour Girls in that respect. It's predictable and fluffy and safe. It has made me want to reread some of my favourite classics. An enjoyable read.
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
This was very cute and also very unique. My only complaint is that it started feeling a bit long and repetitive toward the middle. Overall, though, a solid debut, and one I think a lot of book lovers will enjoy.
⠀⠀✧ • ° . ◦ *⠀┊ two stars.

i re-did the review for this book and i got mad about it all over again. how are you going to require readers have a thesaurus beside them while they have to relive their middle school trauma?

read the full review here:

↠ once upon a book hardback
↠ 06.09.20 — 06.23.20
annotated? no
readathon? no
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way impacted on my view.

I knew I would enjoy this book as soon as I heard about it last year, but my god, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. I couldn't put it down as soon as I had started, and it's my favourite book of 2020 so far this year! Mary is in love with books, but especially classics. She is definitely of the What Would Lizzy Bennet Do? camp, and uses what she has learnt in her reading to help
3.5 Stars

So this book was really cute but it read a lot younger than I had initially expected. I for some reason thought it was end of high school so I had to adjust when I found out the MC is a sophomore.

This story follows Mary as she transitions to a new school and realizes her only friend wants nothing to do with her. Without meaning to, Mary injects herself into a conversation that ultimately leads to friendship with three other girls. To them, Mary is a wealth of knowledge. Having read eve
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 23, 2020 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
I made it not-quite halfway before bogging down. And I don't even know why, though I suspect it's the narrative voice. Mary is insecure and a bit self-consciously pretentious and she made me tired. But the friends are great and I laughed out loud more than once. So I'm chalking this up to a mismatch or mood thing that I won't rate. Maybe I'll come back to it later when I'm in a more congenial mood?
Merie Shen
YA contemporary romances... not my thing. But what can I say, I was in the mood and this was the only one on my needs-to-be-tackled TBR, and of course it helps that both the premise and the cover are absolutely charming.

The first issue I feared when diving into this book is content. Predictable, I know, but looking at a lot of the mainstream/secular contemporary books out there, I think I have a point. At any rate, I am so so happy that By the Book was freeeee of all the unnecessary icky stuff!

May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
oh my goodness.
mary is immensely weird and i was here for it. she is so incredible and smart. her passion for books was a representation of myself *cough* as mary opened herself throughout the story, meeting new people and making amazing friends was the source of my happiness for today.
the romance was predictable but alex was adorable, the few pages he was in, he OWNED them.
a books about books and first experiences??? easily a 4 out of 5
Joshee Kun (조수아)
The times we had together were the closest my life has ever come to the kind of moments that could be in a book. —M.P.M.

This is me forcing myself to overcome a writing slump because I NEED to review this book. It's definitely one of my favorite 2020 releases and now one of my inspirations for my work in progress. Also, I must say that reading this novel was a breath of fresh air after I endured a particularly bad retelling of Anna Karenina. The main character's disdain for Vronsky was so on poin

DNF at 12%

Do not want to read another book about a bunch of judgmental chicks - one of them literally treats her supposedly best friend like shit for no apparent reason. This book goes for smart and sassy bit it is just immature and dull. Sad though, because the cover is super cute.

Lindsay (pawsomereads)
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
By the Book is one of my favorite kind of books; a book about books! (How many times will I say book in this review? Stay tuned to find out!) In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a book about books. I love reading about other readers like me who share the same passion and feelings towards books! Mary, the main character, is definitely a kindred spirit in that regard. Her love for books is so relatable, from being annoyed by interruptions in the middle of a crucial scene to staying in bed t ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I was so looking forward to By the Book because I needed a light-hearted read to offset all the heaviness of the world, but this was so poorly written that I struggled to get through it. You'd think that a YA book about a book nerd who begins categorizing boys according to literary tropes would be right up my alley. However, almost all of the interesting action in this book takes place off the page, with characters discussing it after the fact or the narrator dropping references to it after the ...more
Jenny Jo Weir
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ok-read, meh, ya
Either I'm getting too old for YA or this one was a bit too immature for me. The premise seemed OK and I love the reference to old novels, but the delivery could have used a major boost. It dragged a little and I feel like the heroine wasn't that great a character so it kind of fell flat for me. Maybe next time...
Samantha (WLABB)
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It wasn't easy being the introvert of the family, but Mary was happy to live her life within the pages of her favorite 19th-century books. However, when she is forced to switch schools, she finds herself shunned by her former friend. She is lucky enough to find a trio of young women, who appreciate Mary's bookish leanings, but will she be able to fully navigate high school, her new friendships, and a maybe romance by the book?

In a word, this book was DELIGHTFUL! It put a smile on my face from th
nick (the infinite limits of love)

By the Book has to be one of my favorite YA books of all-time! It reminded me of Kasie West's earlier books as well as Emma Mills' stories. It's one of those books that had me grinning, swooning, and left me on cloud nine.

As a bookworm, it always delights me to read stories about bookish heroines. Mary was the definition of a book lover with her love for the classics. She's learned a lot from them and her latest attempt to apply what she's learned of literary men into real life, she finds h
I adored this. It’s not perfect and I can recite a bunch of flaws, but I adored this. I was beaming the entire time. As far as YA goes, the content level is on the younger end (more Ally Carter/Meg Cabot than Sarah Dessen). I would definitely recommend it to a middle schooler, maybe even a fifth grader if they’re interested in reading about high schoolers (I’m such a hypocrite! I was reading Twilight in the fifth grade! This is nothing like that, lol). Even though I think it’s appropriate for yo ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review can also be found here:

Mary Porter-Malcolm sees life as points of literary reference. She cites classics as though they’re guidebooks to life. In some sense, most readers view the world this way. Books have a way of turning your brain in the most delightful manner. You can imagine your hero as Prince Charming, or maybe you envision yourself as a knife-wielding hunter. Books allow your imagination to be not only boundless but unrestricted.

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Amanda Sellet has strong opinions about books, movies, and baked goods, which led to a previous career as a professional critic. Now she channels that saltiness into YA novels about smart girls who still have a lot to learn.
On the comedy/tragedy question, she is team comedy all the way.

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“You said she had a condition?” Terry looked questioningly at me.
“Ennui. It’s like boredom, except you think it makes you interesting.”
“It was almost a direct reversal of the old rules of conduct, under which a woman had to remain virginal or risk being cast out of society. Nowadays young women were apparently supposed to count being a sexual dynamo among their accomplishments—a far riskier avocation than embroidery or playing the harp.

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