Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel CohnDash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn

Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares

byRachel Cohn, David Levithan

Hardcover | October 26, 2010

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A whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist!
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
16-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on her favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. Dash, in a bad mood during the holidays, happens to be the first guy to pick up the notebook and rise to its challenges.

What follows is a whirlwind romance as Dash and Lily trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City. But can their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions, or will their scavenger hunt end in a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Co-written by Rachel Cohn (GINGERBREAD) and David Levithan, co-author of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON with John Green (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES is a love story that will have readers scouring bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan have written three books together. Their first, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, was made into a movie starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, directed by Peter Sollett. Their second, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. For their third book, Dash & Lily’...
Title:Dash & Lily's Book Of DaresFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.51 × 6.11 × 0.96 inPublished:October 26, 2010Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0375866590

ISBN - 13:9780375866593

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A cute read that will make you smile I really found myself rooting for these characters and enjoyed reading their story a lot. It's a very quick read, a short novel, and it takes place around Christmas time, what more could you wish for as a pick me up! For best reading experience, read this in December.
Date published: 2018-07-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from cute I liked this book. It was cute, fun, adventurous, and had certain moments of which I absolutely loved. But I did find that it dragged at times, and it bothered me how they spoke. no human being speaks like that, let alone teenagers. it didn't wow me, but I definitely enjoyed it
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Real Nice Such a cute story, wirth the read, can't wait to read the second instalments.
Date published: 2017-12-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from 2.5 Out Of 5 Stars (Bumped Up To 3) For the sake of this review, I'll increase my rating to three solid stars, but given the option, I'd give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars and call it fair. I was rather excited to read this book. The premise sounded great; it gave me a random desire to go scavenger-hunting through Manhattan; and I just knew I would love Dash and Lily. Dash, yes. Lily... not so much. Lily is incredibly immature for her age. She refuses to let go of things that happened years ago (including the accidental death of a gerbil in Kindergarten). She simply doesn't know how to handle stress, much less her own emotions, and has earned the name 'Shrilly' because of her tendency to scream when things go wrong. By e end of the book, she has improved somewhat, but for the better part of 288 pages she talks, acts, and dresses like a child. Aside from this, there is far too much emphasis on background players. I couldn't care less what all of these other random people do for work or what their name or hair color is. But so much of this book seems devoted to describing things that really just don't belong in the story. It's incredibly annoying and makes the book seem to drag on longer than a barely-300 page novel should. I am currently reading the second novel - The Twelve Days Of Dash & Lily - and I'm hoping it will soon pick up. As of right now, I'm bored, eager to finish, and incredibly disappointed at the mess this particular book turned out to be. Hoping for better from the sequel, but I won't be surprised if it doesn't live up to expectations.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super Fun! i love books with scavenger hunt type of things and this is one of them! Super excited to read the next one!
Date published: 2017-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares Enjoyment of this one probably hinges the most on your enjoyment of Lily. She’s super quirky, this book will probably annoy you to death if you don’t like quirky, but if you’re good with quirky and Christmas and baking, you’ll probably like Lily as much as I did. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from amazing i was disappointed in myself for not reading this as my christmas novel, but i completely do not regret enjoying it at all !!!
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute It wasn't amazing but i did enjoy it and it was a really quick read
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good I really liked that book, the plot was really well thought. One thing I didn't like was the end. I thought it was rushed. Still good though
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good! Not as good as Naomi and Ely or Nick and Norah, but these authors still have an undeniable spark when then write together.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the perfect Christmas read. It took me around New York in the busiest time of the year with Dash’s abhorrence versus Lily’s ecstasy for the holidays. This was such a cute book and I'm happy that I read it just in time for Christmas! I couldn't give it a 5/5 (even though I loved the plot) because I never really connected to the characters and they annoyed me at times. Dash & Lily is one of those books that made me want to go on an adventure. I wanted to pack my bags and head to NYC, bake Lebkuchen spice cookies, and spend all day in The Strand bookshop. It’s one of those books that reminded me that while spending all day reading is a wonderful thing, I didn’t want to be one of those people that envies the lives of fictional characters.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the perfect Christmas read. It took me around New York in the busiest time of the year with Dash’s abhorrence versus Lily’s ecstasy for the holidays. This was such a cute book and I'm happy that I read it just in time for Christmas! I couldn't give it a 5/5 (even though I loved the plot) because I never really connected to the characters and they annoyed me at times. Dash & Lily is one of those books that made me want to go on an adventure. I wanted to pack my bags and head to NYC, bake Lebkuchen spice cookies, and spend all day in The Strand bookshop. It’s one of those books that reminded me that while spending all day reading is a wonderful thing, I didn’t want to be one of those people that envies the lives of fictional characters.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I expected to love it but didn't Dash and Lily's Book Of Dares was a book that I was highly anticipating reading. I blocked a whole Saturday afternoon with no interruptions to sit down and enjoy this, but unfortunately I ended up being highly disappointed. While I loved the premise of the novel, and the fact that Rachel Cohen and David Levithan co-wrote it, I really didn't like either of the main characters, especially Dash, and as such, I ended up really not liking this one too much.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from They did it again Cohn and Levithan did it again with this cute and quirky teen romance. Will this follow in nick and Norah and Naomi and Ely's footsteps and get a movie?
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from They did it again Cohn and Levithan did it again with this cute and quirky teen romance. Will this follow in nick and Norah and Naomi and elys footsteps and get a movie?
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fluffy Christmas Read! This was a cute, easy read. I immediately liked both of the main characters and felt a connection with their weirdness. It's a cute Christmas read that any true book lover should enjoy.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite One of my favourites. Fun to reread every Christmas!
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Christmas Read A true classic around the Christmas season, and the sequel is great too!
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cute A cute, teeny bopper read. Both Dash and Lily are not your typical teenagers and I think that makes this book all the more compelling. You want them to be happy. I liked the premise as well...a notebook which brings these two characters together, and which for the most part, is there sole means of communication. If you want something light and cheery, this is a great holiday read!
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Such a cute story, quick easy read. I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute and refreshing I'm not a lover of contemporary books, nor am i of gushy romance. But this novel was cute and a quick read. I love Rachel Cohn's novels because they all have this cheerful atmosphere about them!
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Meh... Not a fan of books that switch between pov Thought I'd try it out again but still not my cup of tea :)
Date published: 2015-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED THIS BOOK! I bought this about a week ago and ever since I received it in the mail I couldn't put it down! IT is so amazing you wont be able to put it down.
Date published: 2015-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Major Typo Good book- other than saying "she looked like Hermione Potter," really???
Date published: 2014-08-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Major Typo An very interesting read as each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the two teenagers living in New York City who initially don't know each other. The two authors have done a wonderful job of being authentic to the thoughts of teenager girls and guys. The story concept is enduring. The main characters are people you'd like as a best friend. The plot develops as Lily or Dash dare each other in a series of clues written in a red moleskin book. It feels like a sequel is possible by the way this story is written. If you are looking for a friend who 'gets' you, you'll enjoy this book!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful I couldn't put this book down. makes me want to move to New York and find the little red book myself!
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh I realize I may have cookies thrown at me by saying this, but this book was a disappointment for me. After hearing for months just how great this book is, I had been expecting something magical. Instead, what I got was some of the magic Ron Weasley could achieve his first two years at Hogwarts. There was something there, you could tell the authors were trying, but it just wasn’t enough to garner that spark. The concept of this book is different, which is why it sounded promising. Who wouldn’t want to meet someone at a bookstore or, even better, through the pages of a notebook? It’s so unlikely, which of course would make the romantics in us go all sigh-ey and smiley. Dash & Lily had potential. Potential as a cute, simple story of two lost NYC teens who find friendship and love through passing a notebook between them throughout the city. And my love for New York City made me excited to read their dares and see all my favourite sights. (Side note: I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Strand before. It’s at the top of my to-see list now.) But sadly, the concept and location were the only things I actually loved about the book. The characters were…meh. I just couldn’t connect with them. They both were annoying and didn’t speak like normal teenagers. (I have a few things I’d like to discuss with you all about this, which I’m saving for some discussion posts for future Thursdays. So just sit tight.) Dash was this moody, pretentious boy who couldn’t seem to put himself in other people’s shoes. Lily, for all her supposed brains, was a self-centred girl who tried too hard to be “unique.” I mean, how dare her parents want a holiday away? Instead of thinking how great it is for them, she instead chooses to ruin the holidays for everyone else around her. And the secondary characters were all just one-dimensional I found, except maybe for Boomer. He at least showed some depth every now and then that even caught Dash off guard. But the rest were just blah. Priya wasn’t necessary. I would have liked to see the development between Lily and her childhood nemesis more because the jump from A to B just didn’t work for me. And I think I liked Sophia the most. Also. I’m tired of the friendships in YA books between a seemingly smart person and a seemingly stupid/immature person. I see those friendships far too often and it’s just annoying now. Why can’t they both me on the same level? Why did Levithan have to make Boomer act like a child? To make Dash seem wiser? Ugh. But the thing that annoyed me the most was the amount of wordiness there was. I love words. I do. I love big words and small words, old words and modern words. But when I come across sentences that try too hard at being “smart” and end up sounding like something like this, “It’s not as if I’ve come to take her to the sock hop, or ask her to go double-spooning in some tapioca… my position on dillying and dallying, which right now is chaste with a chance for inveterate lust”… well, my mind grows tired. And this isn’t just a one-time thing either. It’s everywhere. The authors try so hard at making their characters unique and charming by injecting complex words with the hope of being endearing to bookworms. And it just falls flat. I don’t want to bash this book because there were some sweet aspects to it: I loved Great-aunt Ida and Lily’s grandpa. The stark contrast of modernity and traditional between the two were funny, tugging at either sides of Lily. But yeah. I can’t really say much else about the book.
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Sweet, Entertaining and a Loveable, Romantic Read! Dash and Lilys Book Of Dares is a really, really great book I enjoyed very much. It is a fun, funny, romantic, and cute book. The characters are deep and real, and most definitely relatable. Dash and Lily are both characters that many people can relate to, and that I really connected with. I love how Lily and Dash arn't your usual lead characters in a romance book. I felt that they are so real. I know I've read other books with characters like them, different, sweet, and, best of all, bookworms!!, but they are the actual ones that I can picture as real people. I loved the character development throughout the book, and I felt like I was right beside them the whole time. The writing is amazing. The were so many times I couldn't help but laugh out loud. There are also many, many words I didn't even know how to pronounce. It only added to the story though, because it fitted with the characters personallities and showed who they are. Cohn and Levithan did an amazing job with this book, and I'll definitely be reading more of their work. Although Dash and Lilys Book Of Dares is a sweet, romantic, light read, there are undertones. There are elements of family issues, friend problems, and aspects about... Well, about life, in general. I really love this book. Its one that I'm not sure if I'll read again, cover-to-cover, but I'll definitely pick it up from time to time and read some of my favourtie parts. Overall, this book is one I really enjoyed. The concept is just so amazing. I didn't expect everything that happened, to happen. Which is a good thing, at least I think so. The ending is awesome. Again, some people may not like it, because *not really a spoiler but could be concidered one* it leaves room for interpertation, but I absolutely love books that end this way. I really love this book, and everything about it.
Date published: 2013-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An ode to New York City! Dash is wandering the shelves at the famous Strand bookstore in New York City when he comes across a mysterious red notebook. The notebook has a set of clues that lead him on a scavenger hunt throughout the store. Thus begins a fun game among two teenagers – strangers to each other yet sharing more personal thoughts than they had ever shared before to anyone else. A kinship develops as they get to know each other through their notebook messages left throughout the city for the other to find. I absolutely love New York and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is an ode to this bustling city filled with both popular and lesser-known sites. Told in alternating points of view, starting with the days leading up to Christmas, the reader is taken on a tour of the city through the eyes of these two new friends. I did find the narrative to be a bit juvenile at times, so it was all the more startling when the f-bomb got dropped in a couple instances. Also, another slight tidbit I found a bit odd was the mention of Boxing Day. Considering the number of times I have been asked by my American friends what Boxing Day was, I was surprised to see one of the characters mention it – let alone wanting to celebrate it! Setting that aside however, this book was quite the entertaining read. Taking place in the span of 10 days leading up to New Year’s, it’s the perfect quick read for the holiday season! This, and other reviews, can be found on JustALilLost.com
Date published: 2012-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enchanting holiday read On the surface, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares seems like a fun read about what happens when a teenage boy and girl leave messages for each other in a red notebook and send each other on dares around New York City. While that aspect of the story was well done, a lot of fun, and often really funny, the book was about more than that - it was about possibilities, change, being open to things, taking risks, and learning some of the truths about life. I’ll admit that at first I had mixed feelings about Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. While I enjoyed the dares and the back-and-forth between the characters in the notebook, I had a little trouble getting past just how different Dash and Lily were from most characters. The way they talked, the way they thought, their behavior - it was so different, but I embraced it and them and ended up loving them. Lily is overprotected, sheltered, and naïve. At times she seemed much younger than sixteen, while Dash often seemed much older. They appeared to be an unlikely pair, but they brought out the best in each other, even before they finally met. I connected with both of them more than I expected I would, and I also loved the secondary characters, particularly Great-aunt Ida and Boomer. They added a lot of humour and depth to the story. A quick, fun read that’s perfect for the holiday season - or any time of year - particularly if you enjoy books set in New York City, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is sweet, funny, quirky, charming, and unexpectedly enchanting.
Date published: 2012-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quirky and romantic! When I started reading Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, I couldn’t believe the amount of language that was in it. Not foul language, but just language. Words. Lots of words. Words that made me wish I read the title on my Kobo so that I could use the dictionary function. Or, words that made me wish I had a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, just so I could look up all of their etymologies. Being someone who rarely looks up words in the dictionary while reading, I considered the fact that I even thought to do so a small accomplishment. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is about Lily and Dash. Obviously. Lily leaves a red notebook with clues in it and a dare to the person who wishes to undertake it — preferably someone who would be well suited for her. Dash finds her notebook and the book takes off! I really liked this book. I thought it was smart, funny, quirky, romantic, and humorous. Dash and Lily were perfect characters, both somewhat outcasts in the fact that they weren’t so much different, but dared to just be themselves. I enjoyed how the book was pretty much only about them — even though there were other characters in the novel, it was strictly focused on Dash and Lily. The characters were wonderful. I liked how Dash and Lily weren’t the same kind of person — in fact, they were both so different from one another. Different personalities, different styles — but it just goes to show that differences don’t necessarily drive two people apart. Now, to me, the whole novel wasn’t perfection. There was at least one scene in it that was just cheesy, not quite true-to-life. I also didn’t enjoy how the parental figures of Dash and Lily seemed a little too absent, and that they were almost silly any not like normal parents. For many things that happened in this novel, most kids would probably be grounded, but the teenagers seemed to be full of so much angst and the parents just accepted it. I’ve heard that Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have wrote another amazing book called Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — I’ve never read it, but it’s definitely going on my reading list. I would say if you like books that are just a little different, full of can’t-help-but-smile romance, and characters that are worth cheering for, give Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares a try – I dare you!
Date published: 2012-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Linguistically Charming As part of the Chapters online community this book was recommended for me and I did eventually pick it up. I do believe that this book is targeted to more the teen audience, but I still found it charming. The author's eloquent use of vocabulary was extremely charming and wonderful.....it's an excellent novel for those bookish people like me who love being drawn in but excellent prose. The story is romantic, like a movie script of the dream of finding someone through unusual adventures and charming plots where the person we dream becomes reality. I found it delightful, perfect length and happy.
Date published: 2012-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall in love with this refreshingly wonderful book! Have you ever read one of those books that simply makes you feel good. That reminds you that there are good things in this world and once in a while everything just works out the way it’s meant to? This is one of those books. I almost wish I had waited until Christmas to read this because it puts you in the Christmas spirit but I’m also glad I didn’t wait. It was a light hearted tale of friendship and two people getting to know each other, really getting to know each other. It makes your heart feel lighter. It gives you hope. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The concept is wonderful. Lily loves Christmas, everything about it, but she’s about to have her worse Christmas ever. After complaining about how alone she will be for the holidays Lily’s encouraged by her brother to leave a book of dares in a book store to get a boyfriend. Dash is a Christmas hating snarly guy who takes on her dares and gives her some of his own. Between the two they grow and try things they never would have tried before communicating through the book, a ton of Lily’s relatives and friend’s of Dash’s only. This book has wonderful humour and is certainly must read book you will fall in love with.
Date published: 2011-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Charming, Witty and Absolutely Adorable! This is definitely the novel to choose right as Christmas is coming around the corner, but do not hesitate to read this at any other time of the year! Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are two fantastic writers that come together to write this fantastic collaboration. The writing was extremely witty and charming. The whole concept was so refreshing and I loved the characters along with their personalities. This novel was a breath of fresh air, the romance is light and really cute, and the plot made this book such a joy to read. Christmas is just around the corner, and Lily's brother suggests a way to find her a boyfriend. It doesn't look like it will be the best Christmas; Lily's parents went to Fiji, and her brother is going to be spending every second with his boyfriend. So, she goes along with her brother's idea. Inside of her favourite book store, The Strand, she places a red, moleskin notebook filled with dares. All she needs is the right boy to come along and accept them. Dash despises Christmas. He hates the crowds that this time of the year brings, he's not one to have the typical Christmas cheer. He has convinced both of his parents that he is staying with the other, in other words, he will be spending Christmas alone. A couple days before Christmas, he heads to The Strand, and comes across Lily's red notebook on a shelf. He opens it up, reads, and dare after dare, and accepts the challenge. He does each one, leaving him at the end of the book where it says to give it to the guy at the front, so Lily can pick it up. However, Dash keeps the notebook and leaves a clue at the front of the store for her to find it. This is where the dares start, Back and forth, they leave clues and dares for eachother, leaving them apart of an adventure all across of New York. Readers will fall in love with this book as they read about Dash and Lily, two characters that will have you laughing and smiling through the course of this fantastic read! It will definitely have you looking for your own little red, moleskin notebook in bookstores close to you. 5/5 2011-007
Date published: 2011-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enchanting and Captivating (read this book!) Christmas is fast approaching and Lily is bored. Her parents are in Fiji and she is left at home with her brother, who only wants to spend time with his boyfriend. Her brother, in attempt to get Lily out of his hair, helps her set up a series of clues in a red Moleskine notebook and leaves it hidden in the shelves of the local bookshop. Dash has convinced each of his parents that he is staying with the other parent. All alone for the holidays, he heads to the local book shop. As he peruses the shelves of the Strand he finds a red Moleskine notebook and finds the clues (more like dares) and can't resist the challenge. The red Moleskine notebook sends teenagers Dash and Lily on adventures all over New York City during the Christmas season. These two strangers get to know each other through the notebook and as they go on each new adventure, they help each other discover more about themselves. I have not been so engrossed in a book for a very long time. I read this book in a single seating (literally). I just kept wanting to know where the notebook would take the characters next! This book is not as predictable as the synopsis may lead on. I was pleasantly surprised over and over again. I really liked how the plot seemed like something that could really happen in real life. It makes you want to create your own notebook! This is a fabulously clever and witty book. It's a hoot and a half! (You may ignore the last remark, but I'm a fan of the phrase) What I found really interesting about this book was that each of the two authors wrote for each of the characters. The story that they tell is as enchanting as it is captivating. Definitely a story I will revisit with great frequency.
Date published: 2010-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I dare you to read this... It is only a few days before Christmas when Dash finds a red Moleskine notebook full of book-related dares left by Lily in the stacks at The Strand in New York City. Dash not only answers the invitation, but dares her right back. Using a network of best friends, great aunts, and important people in retail, Dash and Lily pass the notebook back and forth pushing each other to go places in the city (and within themselves) that neither has gone before. For as they notebook travels, so do their words. And as they fall for the people that write the notes, they must also decide whether to keep it to the journal, or, tempt fate and meet face to face. I simply adored this book! The bestselling authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, create another fantastic adventure across New York City where the characters are just as colourful as the city they live in. From the first chapter, you will be engaged in Dash's not-so snarly opinions on literature, film and hand-made Muppets and Lily's sense of fashion, baking skills and open heart. While both of them feel as if they are on their own on the holidays, either abandoned by choice or outstanding circumstances, we soon see that this is not the case as each as created a network of people who love them enough to partake in Lily and Dash’s story. Like Cohn and Levithan’s previous novels, there is that delicate balance of comedic pop cultural references with the romantic awkwardness of Dash and Lily’s feelings. For example, upon describing the new Pixar movie, Collation, Dash explains that it is “…about a stapler who falls helplessly in love with a piece of paper causing all of his other office-supply friends to band together to win her over. Oprah Winfrey was the voice of the tape dispenser, and an animated version of Will Ferrell was the janitor who kept getting in the young lovers way.” (50) When Dash asks Lily what she wants for Christmas, after telling him about J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Lily writes, “I want that. The getting younger with each step, because of anticipation, in hope and belief. Prayer or not, I want to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible for anyone to find that special person…Belief. That is what I want for Christmas. Look it up. Maybe there’s more meaning there than I understand. Maybe you could explain it to me?” (75) It is this tennis match of words between characters, (between authors,) the pop culture quips, the hilarious pursuits for love and that brief moment when either character catches the moment where they find the meaning of it all, that makes Cohn and Levithan two of today’s most engaging authors for teens.
Date published: 2010-11-09

Read from the Book

-Dash-     December 21st   Imagine this:   You're in your favorite bookstore, scanning the shelves. You get to the section where a favorite author's books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook.   What do you do?   The choice, I think, is obvious:   You take down the red notebook and open it.   And then you do whatever it tells you to do.       It was Christmastime in New York City, the most detestable time of the year. The moo-like crowds, the endless visits from hapless relatives, the ersatz cheer, the joyless attempts at joyfulness--my natural aversion to human contact could only intensify in this context. Wherever I went, I was on the wrong end of the stampede. I was not willing to grant "salvation" through any "army." I would never care about the whiteness of Christmas. I was a Decemberist, a Bolshevik, a career criminal, a philatelist trapped by unknowable anguish--whatever everyone else was not, I was willing to be. I walked as invisibly as I could through the Pavlovian spend-drunk hordes, the broken winter breakers, the foreigners who had flown halfway across the world to see the lighting of a tree without realizing how completely pagan such a ritual was.   The only bright side of this dim season was that school was shuttered (presumably so everyone could shop ad nauseam and discover that family, like arsenic, works best in small doses . . . unless you prefer to die). This year I had managed to become a voluntary orphan for Christmas, telling my mother that I was spending it with my father, and my father that I was spending it with my mother, so that each of them booked nonrefundable vacations with their post-divorce paramours. My parents hadn't spoken to each other in eight years, which gave me a lot of leeway in the determination of factual accuracy, and therefore a lot of time to myself.   I was popping back and forth between their apartments while they were away--but mostly I was spending time in the Strand, that bastion of titillating erudition, not so much a bookstore as the collision of a hundred different bookstores, with literary wreckage strewn over eighteen miles of shelves. All the clerks there saunter-slouch around distractedly in their skinny jeans and their thrift-store button-downs, like older siblings who will never, ever be bothered to talk to you or care about you or even acknowledge your existence if their friends are around . . . which they always are. Some bookstores want you to believe they're a community center, like they need to host a cookie-making class in order to sell you some Proust. But the Strand leaves you completely on your own, caught between the warring forces of organization and idiosyncrasy, with idiosyncrasy winning every time. In other words, it was my kind of graveyard.   I was usually in the mood to look for nothing in particular when I went to the Strand. Some days I would decide that the afternoon was sponsored by a particular letter, and would visit each and every section to check out the authors whose last names began with that letter. Other days, I would decide to tackle a single section, or would investigate the recently unloaded tomes, thrown in bins that never really conformed to alphabetization. Or maybe I'd only look at books with green covers, because it had been too long since I'd read a book with a green cover.   I could have been hanging out with my friends, but most of them were hanging out with their families or their Wiis. (Wiis? Wiii? What is the plural?) I preferred to hang out with the dead, dying, or desperate books--used we call them, in a way that we'd never call a person, unless we meant it cruelly. ("Look at Clarissa . . . she's such a used girl.")   I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler.   On this particular day, I decided to check out a few of my favorite authors, to see if any irregular editions had emerged from a newly deceased person's library sale. I was perusing a particular favorite (he shall remain nameless, because I might turn against him someday) when I saw a peek of red. It was a red Moleskine--made of neither mole nor skin, but nonetheless the preferred journal of my associates who felt the need to journal in non-electronic form. You can tell a lot about a person from the page she or she chooses to journal on--I was strictly a college-ruled man myself, having no talent for illustration and a microscopic scrawl that made wide-ruled seem roomy. The blank pages were usually the most popular--I only had one friend, Thibaud, who went for the grid. Or at least he did until the guidance counselors confiscated his journals to prove that he had been plotting to kill our history teacher. (This is a true story.)   There wasn't any writing on the spine of this particular journal--I had to take it off the shelf to see the front, where there was a piece of masking tape with the words DO YOU DARE? written in black Sharpie. When I opened the covers, I found a note on the first page.       I've left some clues for you.   If you want them, turn the page.   If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please.       The handwriting was a girl's. I mean, you can tell. That enchanted cursive. Either way, I would've endeavored to turn the page.       So here we are.   1. Let's start with French Pianism.   I don't really know what it is,   but I'm guessing   nobody's going to take it off the shelf.   Charles Timbrell's your man.   88/7/2   88/4/8   Do not turn the page   until you fill in the blanks   (just don't write in the notebook, please)