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By the Book

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  35 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
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  49 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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✨ A ✨
Jun 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2020-release
When a cover is this beautiful, you better pray that the contents match. ...more
♡ ᴅ ʀ ᴇ ᴀ ᴍ ♡ (semi-hiatus)
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!
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.
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 ...more
Nov 12, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr
a novel of PROSE and cons....

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Jun 12, 2019 marked it as to-read

This is cozy mystery levels of delightful pun.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, arc
I was unsure when I first started the book that the main character was only 15 years old (although she does turn 16 in the story). I’ve read contemporaries before that have read very young.

I shouldn’t have worried. While a theme of the book is personal growth, Mary naturally brings an air of sophistication with her book smarts and super brainy family. Somehow Mary is both naive and worldly in a winning and likable way.

More than anything this story is about friendship - and what it looks like
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and after receiving the ARC I pretty much gobbled it up in one sitting.

First, I LOVE that the MC is on the younger side of YA. It's not something frequently seen right now, and it felt refreshing and fun. Second, I absolutely enjoyed every single reference to a classic novel. It's like reading a fun inside joke with a fellow book nerd. The MC was totally relatable in that sense and someone I would have absolutely connected with as a teen.

Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
For a ~400 page book, this took me way too long to read. I got bored several times and just felt like it dragged out a lot of what could've been saved for a few pages.

Regardless, the high parts of the book saved it from being a complete no from me. I thought it was a great YA book about finding love in high school, but also about making friends in high school. I honestly don't know which of the two is harder on you at that age.

(view spoiler)
Lm Huffman
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read an early draft of this book and LOVED IT. I can't wait to get a finished copy in my eager hands!
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Mary Porter-Malcolm has not been raised in the traditional way. Her parents are academics who have kept out technology and encouraged the reading of classics by every child they have. And, until this year, they have also had Mary enrolled at a small, charter school with an emphasis on Socratic seminars and independent study.

Now MPM must attend the local high school and learn how to navigate the halls of the campus and the social orders. Luckily, she at least knows how to avoid the scoundrels
This was better than a 3 but not exactly a 4. It was okay, It read really young and sorta dry but it was a cute story. I really liked that it referenced a lot of literally classics but it also spoiled them.
Tara Weiss
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
What to read while wearing your Pride and Prejudice socks and sipping tea out of your Bronte sisters mug. Mary Porter Malcolm, who usually has her nose buried the the pages of a Victorian novel, is pushed from the tiny, cozy nest of a super-small private school and the comfort of her siblings into the OMG world of public high school. Relying on the tips she's picked up from classic literature, she makes some friends who take Mary under their wing and put together the quintessential experience ...more
I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The daughter of two college professors and the fourth of five children, Mary Porter-Malcolm loves books. Particularly books written in the 19th century. Jane Austen, the Brontes, Gaskell, the works. Mary is contently in her comfort zone... Until her on-campus school gets shut down. Until she starts attending public school. Until her best friend dumps her and humiliates her on the first day of school.

But then when she
Maggie Light
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
IMO there are three types of YA. 1) The kind that are strictly for readers under eighteen 2) the kind with crossover adult appeal 3) the kind that read like two different books—one book when you’re young, a different when you are old. I’d put A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Eleanor and Park and Looking for Alaska in this last category. It’s also where I’d put this book. The concept—Victorian/literary plot lines as a means to navigate love scoundrels is high concept but also edifying for the younger ...more
The elements I enjoyed the most in this rom-com were Mary's family, her friendship highs & lows, and her struggle to fit in at a public school for the first time.

It's a rom-com, though, so that should probably tell you all you need to know about the "rom" and the "com." Most of the comedy is provided courtesy of her younger brother Jasper--I would love to read a book about him.

As for the romance--CRINGE. If Alex had been a year younger or Mary had been even just one year older and a junior
Kara Gemian
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a perfect book for me! I truly loved everything about it: the friendships, the literary references, the romance! It was all so cute and fairytale-like while still being relatable.

Even though I haven’t read all of the literary works that Mary talks about, I still understood all of the references and don’t think the literature talk will deter any reader in the slightest. Plus, I freaking loved all the Austen talk!

I seriously wish I had a group of friends like Mary’s in high school or even a
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-but-unowned, arc
I received this free eARC novel from NetGalley. This is my honest review.

I was extremely excited to get this novel early because I loved the cover and the synopsis from the moment I saw it. And for the most part I enjoyed this novel.

Mary is a bit judgmental in this novel. She thinks she's trying to avoid a certain type of guy, but she's really judging them before getting to know them. After 10 minutes in their company, she has everything figured out and has put then in their character
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-reviews
ARC given by NetGalley for Honest Review

"By The Book" was such a fun read! The book reads like a 19th century novel but set in the present which lends itself wonderfully to the theme and main characters narration. Mary was a very honest and relatable character who I fell in love with. Her sibling interactions while a little flowery were so authentic that you could tell Sellet comes from a large family. I also noticed that the way Mary is makes her read like she is on the spectrum. I don't know
Kristin Lambert
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most charming and delightful books I’ve read in recent memory. Mary is a girl going to a new school armed only with her encyclopedic knowledge of romance according to English literature through time, which quickly endears her to a group of three new friends.

So many books and movies show new girls having a bad time and befriending the wrong people with negative intentions (and I’ve been the new girl in school myself many times), so I was intensely relieved to find that in
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Lover of classic romance novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm is often overlooked among her family of intellectuals. When she’s forced to transfer schools her sophomore year, her hope for making friends is slim, but during a chance encounter with three “cool girls,” she doles out some life-saving (and literary) dating advice. Fascinated by Mary’s quaint and literary mind, the girls make it their mission to introduce her to high school society through a series of escapades. Meanwhile, Mary keeps running ...more
Jan 14, 2020 is currently reading it
I'm not typically one for romances but I really ended up loving this one! I think Amanda Sellet did an awesome job making this book charming and nerdy (but in a very fun bookish way). The voice of the main character sounded very authentic to me and I really loved all of the literary references even though I'm not super well-read in the classic romance genre. This would be such a fun read to devour during Valentine's Day. I would recommend to teen girls (maybe more suitable for the younger end) ...more
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, arc
Mary knows classic literature. She knows all about which classic archetypes to look out for in real life. So, when she overhears three girls at her new school talking about a boy she knows, she can't help but to interject a warning. No one is more surprised than Mary when they heed her warning and instantly befriend her. But is Mary right in her opinion?

I loved so much about By the Book. The family dynamic, the friendship goals, the many, many book references... By the Book was delightful in the
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Adorable! Love, love, love Amanda Sellet's By the Book! This is a perfect YA literary rom-com that hits all the right notes. As a middle school librarian, I will definitely be adding this to my collection. Although main character Mary has sometimes old beyond her years vocabulary, she is well-versed in Brit lit classics, so that can be forgiven. I will recommend this to all my students looking for their next girl-meets-bad-boy but is he really? read. Super enjoyable! Thank you to NetGalley for ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
The best part of this book is the Dear Diary enteries at the start of every chapter. They are hilarious and feel genuine.
Unfortunately the rest of the novel fell super short for me. I was really looking forward to this one as I love anything to do with books and interpretation and such.
This just felt like a teen girl who was so lost in the past and delusional about how life works that you feel sorry for her.
I think I cringed more than enjoyed this book.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This was cute and fluffy, as much about friendship and family as romance. Mary is a huge reader, particularly of classics, and I loved all her references to various classic books, but I think the book works even for readers who aren’t as well-read as Mary and who may not be familiar with her references.

Note: I read this as a free eARC from Netgalley.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Thanks so much to NetGalley for this review copy!
This was adorable! It was a little slow to get started, but I ended up loving our literary heroine and her new friends and how she tried--and failed--to govern her social life by the rules of Victorian novels. Too cute.
Vinny —.:* Artsy Draft
Thank you HMH Books for Young Readers for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Natalie Jaser
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book early thanks to #NetGalley.

I didn't put this book down! I loved everything about it. The characters are awesome and a great example of High School dynamics. I will recommend this book to High school readers as soon as we get it! The literary references are fantastic! Mary may feel like her name is "boring" but this book is anything but.
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
More familiar with the Brontes than the Kardashians, sixteen-year-old Mary Porter-Malcolm is in for a world of new experiences when she starts attending public school. Her erudite upbringing may not seem useful in the cutthroat world of high school until she finds a group of friends eager to learn from her wide knowledge of the classics. When she names popular classmate Alex Ritter a total "Vronsky" (see Anna Karenina), Mary sets off a chain of events that will come back to haunt her, especially ...more
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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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