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The Lover's Dictionary

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2011)
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn't pass, that's it―you're done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it's even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover's face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

211 pages, Hardcover

First published January 4, 2011

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About the author

David Levithan

107 books19.2k followers
David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,669 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
December 1, 2021
The Lover's Dictionary, David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary is a 2011 novel by the American author David Levithan. It is his first novel for adults. This modern love story is told entirely through dictionary entries which are brief and concise having a very unusual pattern and style.

A nameless narrator tells the story of a relationship through dictionary entries.

These short entries provide insight into the ups and downs of their romantic relationship, revealing the couple's problems with alcoholism and infidelity.

The story does not unfold in chronological order; instead, it is arranged alphabetically by dictionary entries which give glimpses into the joys and struggles the characters face over the course of their relationship.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی ام ماه می سال2016میلادی

عنوان: فرهنگ لغات عشق؛ نویسنده: دیوید لویتان؛ مترجم سید مصطفی رضیئی؛ تهران، کوله پشتی، سال1393؛ در206ص؛ شابک9786006687940؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م

یک رمان که همانند یک «فرهنگ لغت» نگاشته شده؛ مجموعه ای از کلمات تصادفی از «آ» تا «زد» هر کدام نمایانگر چیزی در مورد تازه ترین رابطه ی قهرمان داستان است؛ راوی بی نام است؛ و نگاشته های کوتاه، بینشی در باره ی فراز و نشیبهای رابطه ی عاشقانه آنها فراهم، و مشکلات زوجین در رابطه با الکل و خیانت را آشکار مینماید

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/12/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
August 3, 2016

People who get super creative with books are always taking a big risk, you know... writing in verse, two authors writing a POV each, and now this: a novel written like a dictionary. A series of random words from A to Z each representing something about the protagonist's most recent relationship:

abstraction, n.
Love is one kind of abstraction. And then there are those nights when I sleep alone, when I curl into a pillow that isn't you, when I hear the tiptoe sounds that aren't yours.

It's a very quick read, some pages only having one sentence on them, but I found that David Levithan's creativity risk paid off here and resulted in a witty but sad tale of when love doesn't work out. I am yet to be disappointed by Levithan's writing, he has a grasp of the young adult mind that is both honest but refreshingly original. His humour is often rather crude but still hilarious, and I like how he never presents readers with the rose-tinted version of life and love.

I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
February 6, 2012
Read this book only when you are in love or you are in love with love.

I was neither both when I read this in one sitting last Saturday. Then last night, I happened to catch some scenes of the Korean movie Love Phobia at Cinema One. Korean filmmakers have been producing excellent, i.e., very sensitive, love stories that are much attuned to Filipino’s notion of love. That’s maybe one of the reasons why we patronize not only their movies but also their many television series.

That movie put me in the right perspective about this book. It reminded me to love the idea of loving. Had I not seen the movie, I would have not liked this book, i.e., meaning 1-star rating.

There are at least a couple of books about love that this could not compare to: Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving for its clinical analysis of the nature of love and Alain de Botton’s On Love for its funny airplane cabin representation, complete with mathematical equation, of the probability of love occurring up in the air. This book, The Lover’s Dictionary is lame compared to the two. Even his small anecdotes on the what he thinks love is, pales in comparison with Eros Atalia’s Wag Lang Di Makaraos where the local author used “dagli” (short-short stories) that touches your heart as it tackles personal, social and moral everyday issues in Philippine setting. For me, Leviathan is a lazy writer. He did not even arrange the short stories in order. I thought that it would have been more interesting if he challenged himself by beginning his story with boy-meets-girl starting with letter “A” then the story (or snippets of it) transforms and blooms into a full love story that ends with separation with letter “Z.” I just felt that he could not do this so he jumped from one letter to another using one that suited his rambling scattered thoughts.

What is this use of toothpaste cap as a proof of loving a woman? I’ve been married for 18 years and I heard this even prior to my wedding day. So, I always made sure, each day of my life for the past 18 years, that I put the cap back to the tube. Good that right after I got married, all the toothpaste manufacturers changed to snap cap (the cap does not need to part with the tube). So, I am surprised that Leviathan still used this analogy in this book. Come on, man, think of better and updated stuff to put in your book!

But this is a book supposed to be for people who are in love or in love with love. So, who am I to dislike those people? Who am I to dislike love? Anyway, next week is another Valentine’s Day. The day reminds us the importance of love and so I rate this book with 2 stars. Meaning, this book is okay.

But the Korean movie about a young man who constructs circles in the field to call the aliens from outer space just for his girlfriend to get well is a lot more interesting than this book.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,050 followers
November 3, 2016

Very creative! I do not doubt David Levithan’s ingenuity and even though I may not always be a fan of his stories (including this), I AM of his writing, intellect and boldness. I didn’t think it was possible to create a book with only so many pages and with only a paragraph or two a page but somehow, the author made it work.

P.S. Happy belated birthday to my dear friend, Ann who celebrated her birthday on November 1. I hope you had an amazing day, my sweet friend. <3
Profile Image for Monique.
505 reviews
August 8, 2011
I've been trying to construct a review in my head for this book all weekend, having finished reading it on Saturday morning, but no matter what I came up with, I feel that it will not fully represent the feelings I had while reading this book. To say that I loved The Lover's Dictionary would be an understatement.

In a nutshell, The Lover's Dictionary is the simple love story of a couple, left unnamed by the author, told in dictionary form. Through carefully-chosen words, their love story unfurled: how they first met, how their shaky relationship evolved into something more solid, from their first date up to the time they finally made the big “C”, the obligatory ups and downs of their relationship. And even though their story is nothing exceptional, a love story not all that different from the next boy-girl relationship there ever is, the unique manner in which their story was told gave it such an unconventional flavor and offbeat feel, and it was for this reason that I loved it to bits.

When I first heard about this book from Tina, my curiosity was piqued right away because she mentioned that it was all about wordplay. I have a thing about words being given a different definition or connotation other than their original meaning; I consider the people who come up with these things to be the smartest and wittiest ones, and I admire them immensely. So when I realized that this book is a novel that was all about wordplay, I was hooked. Plus, when I started devouring the first few pages of the book, I knew I wasn't looking for a love story to read, not really. But when I finally closed the book with a satisfied sigh, I again realized that I haven't read a romance in a long, long time, and The Lover's Dictionary is just about perfect for the purpose.

Another thing that I loved about the novel was the fact that I was able to relate to most of the entries than I would care to admit. (Ah, no, I will not go into personal details, sorry. :P ) There were parts that made me reminisce years past, there were entries that could very well be verbatim entries lifted from my very own journal, and there were moments when I could just feel the love – and the pain, too – shared by our anonymous lovers, seeing myself in their place, and it made me fall in love all over again.

To conclude, let me share with you two of my favorite entries from the book. These made me feel shivery and fluttery inside and, well, in love:

indelible, adj.

That first night, you took your finger and pointed to the top of my head, then traced a line between my eyes, down my nose, over my lips, my chin, my neck, to the center of my chest. It was so surprising, I knew I would never mimic it. That one gesture would be yours forever. 


love, n.

I'm not going to even try.

So. Excuse me while I release another round of contented, romantic sighs. :)

Review also posted here.
Profile Image for Megs ♥.
160 reviews1,284 followers
February 15, 2012
I read this today, on Valentine's Day ♥, and it was a very interesting read. I love how this book explores the range of all different emotions people could ultimately experience in a relationship. I could really relate to so much of this book. This is not only a lovey-dovey story that will melt your heart. It is far more than that, and it is beautifully written.

The format of this book is very clever. Each page starts with a word dictionary style, and that's the format for the whole book which tells the story of a couple. Each dictionary entry brings to light one aspect of the relationship.

The opener:

abberant, adj.
"I don't normally do ths kind of thing," you said.
"Neither do I." I assured you.

Later it turned out we both had met people online before, and we had both slept with people on first dates before, and we both found ourselves falling too fast before. We comforted ourselves with what we really meant to say which was: "I don't normally feel this good about what I'm doing."

The story feels absolutely real and completely raw. Levithan details ,realistically, a relationship from it's lovely beginning:

“There are times when I worry that I've already lost myself. That is, that my self is so inseparable from being with you that if we were to separate, I would no longer be. I save this thought for when I feel the darkest discontent. I never meant to depend so much on someone else.”

to the harsh, heartbreaking, bitter end.

(Spoiler for language and spoiling the story a bit)

There is not much you can really say about this story since it's very short (took me about an hour to read) and it's best to just be experienced yourself. The writing is fantastic. Your vocabulary will probably grow a bit. (I was happy to read this on the Nook, and be able to check a few of the words on the dictionary). The format is very unique and creative, and the whole book flows quite well. This was a book I didn't put down until it was finished.

This Valentine's day ♥ (and any other day, really) you can enjoy this book whether you have found the love of your life or not. If you have you will probably get a wonderful feeling remembering your relationship in the early stages and those lovely first moments you shared. If you haven't you will probably feel lucky that you won't get your heart ripped out and stomped on like some people. If you are simply a person who knows the feeling of devastating heartbreak, and what to feel you're not alone check this book out.

I only wish this would have been longer. The material in the book was 5-star material, but the pages written were half pages which makes me hesitant to recommend this book to some of my friends who don't like paying $9.99 for a book that is read in under an hour.
Profile Image for Alison.
224 reviews
March 15, 2011
Apologies to my library pals who loved this. I was really into it at first, but after a while I grew weary of him. It's probably because I've known more than my share of emotionally precious aging hipster manchildren (my friends and I like to call them "All the Sad Young Literary Men") to have much patience for them. Throughout the second half of the book, all I could think was DUDE, I WOULD'VE CHEATED ON YOU TOO.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
February 17, 2011
Practically devoured this book. It reads like poetry - sparse, raw, emotional. It could as well have been a novel-in-verse so popular right now - just rearrange sentences in fancy ways and you are all set. But Leviathan does something very neat here - he writes a love story as a series of dictionary entries, each highlighting some part of the relationship. The entries are funny, infuriating and heartbreaking. And the love story itself is messy and complicated and yet so very real and touching.

arrears, n.

My faithfulness was as unthinking as your lapse. Of all the things I thought would go wrong, I never thought it would be that.

"It was a mistake, " you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.

bemoan, v.

This is dedicated to your co-worker Marilynn.

Marylinn, please stop talking about your sister's pregnancy.

And please stop showing up late.

And please stop asking my lover to drinks.

And please stop humming while you type.

I am tired of hearing about it.
Profile Image for Nat K.
425 reviews160 followers
December 26, 2019
"The brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read."
- blemish, n.

This is the most sensual book I've read in a long time. Each word is like a caress.

It had me at hallo.

Whether serious or in jest, displaying teeth of envy, puzzlement, hurt, anger, the wonder of that special other, the peace of contentment, or the giddy feeling of love, this A-Z is sublime. A dictionary of emotions. A lexicon of feelings.

There's a line in (the movie) "Love Actually" that goes "To me, you are perfect.". That's exactly how I feel about this book. It hit me right here (points).

"I'm not going to even try."
- love, n.

Right book, right time.

Exactly the one to end my reading year with. Perfection in its simplicity. It has brought my book mojo back. I am satiated. Deeply.

" 'I want my books to have their own shelves,' you said, and that's how I knew it would be ok to live together." 💕
- autonomy, n.

*** 5 sighing stars ***

Shout out to Thomas whose gorgeous review piqued my interest. Thank goodness I stumbled upon it randomly. Please check out Thomas' review and you'll see what I mean. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

🌿 💚 🌿
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews974 followers
May 15, 2013

A MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXh4QQ...


re•view [ri-vyoo] noun
1. a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation.

I really wish I had had the mental energy to review this book back when I finished it, but I just wasn’t in the right psychic place to do so at the time. I read it soon after finishing AM/PM, and it fit right in with that sort of flash-fiction vibe I was gravitating toward at the time. This is a love story (duh) told in the briefest of chapters, each chapter meandering its way through the alphabet beginning with a word from the dictionary. I found myself, pen in hand, underlining all of the passages that spoke to me, all of the passages that I had lived in some way or another in my past.

“livid, adj.

Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.”

By the end, I had underlined over two-thirds of the book. It’s exhilarating when you relate to a book and walk away feeling "hey there’s someone else out there who gets it, who has been where I have been." But it can be temporarily damaging when you are reminded of all of the sadness and losses of the past.

“Ubiquitous, adj.
When it’s going well, the fact of it is everywhere. It’s there in the song that shuffles into your ears. It’s there in the book you’re reading. It’s there on the shelves of the store as you reach for a towel and forget about the towel. It’s there as you open the door. As you stare off into the subway, it’s what you’re looking at. You wear it on the inside of your hat. It lines your pockets. It’s the temperature. The hitch, of course, it that when it’s going badly, it’s in all the same places.”

There were times when I wanted to smack the narrator to his senses. “You’re being pathetic!,” I’d internally scream. “Who are you, Jeffrey Brown? Toughen up!” But then there were times when I’d sympathize with him.

“awhile, adv.
I love the vagueness of words that involve time. 'It took him awhile to come back' - it could be a matter of minutes or hours, days or years. It is easy for me to say it took me awhile to know. That is about as accurate as I can get. There were sneak previews of knowing, for sure. Instances that made me feel, oh, this could be right, But the moment I shifted from a hope that needed to be proven to a certainty that would be continually challenged? There's no pinpointing that. Perhaps it never happened. Perhaps it happened while I was asleep. Most likely, there's no signal event. There's just the steady accumulation of 'awhile'.”

I felt like I was reading his diary, that’s how intimate it was at times. Except someone had torn out all of the pages and shuffled them up. By the end, though, you really get a complete picture of all facets of this particular relationship.

Love can be a glorious, painful, joyful, messy thing.
Profile Image for Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨.
145 reviews262 followers
February 29, 2016
Anachronism- noun
In a story, chronological order is indispensable. What? It doesn't have to be. David Levithan writes,

We do not divulge our histories chronologically. It’s not like we can sit each other down and say, “Tell me what happened,” and then rise from that conversation knowing everything. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re dividing ourselves into clues.

This is not another of those stories where you expect a happy ending. Or a sad ending. Or an ending. A dictionary always ends in Z.

Aposiopesis- noun
This is one of my recent afflictions. And a prominent one at that. Happens every time I have to review a beautiful book(aesthetically and content-wise) like this one.

Affluent- adjective
Words. They look like they have been rendered forth in a niggardly fashion, but the few pages that they occupy are full of aphorisms. He writes

These kinds of fights can never be won — even if you’re the victor, you’ve hurt the other person, and there has to be some loss associated with that.

Beguile- verb
It didn't take me long to get to z. I wish I hadn't gotten there sooner.

Bereavement- noun
That's what I felt when I got to Z.

Dictionary- noun
A simpleton like me, when asked to write, has to seek help. Or, when asked to read.
Like, Concise Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam Webster's or David Levithan's Lovers Dictionary. Good dictionaries are few.

Effusion- noun
Reading brilliant books brings forth ebullience which is then shortly followed by silence.

Frustration - noun
You understand the import right until that point..the crucial point where you zone out. English language has 26 alphabets and you don't have enough words.

Love- noun, verb
Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life.


David Levithan doesn't care, though. His work is out and out tickety-boo.

Quote- noun, verb
Words stand; they won't leave even if you try to shake them off, when written by eminent people. David Levithan.


I can’t help but admire your capacity for creative vengeance. And at the same time, I am afraid of it.

That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? When you’re single, there’s the sadness and joy of only me. And when you’re paired, there’s the sadness and joy of only you.

Spontaneity- noun
You have read plenty of books. But, this one you remember..The well thought-out sequences.

Tantalize- verb
You don't know what happened. You don't know what to feel. You feel good. It's David Levithan.

Doesn’t it strike you as strange that we have a letter in the alphabet that nobody uses? It represents one-twenty-sixth of the possibility of our language, and we let it languish.

Yet, the letter symbolises the biggest gesture of goodwill man ever came up with-
Hugs, David Levithan, for this short but flummoxing ride!

Yesterday- noun
That's when I met you.

Z- noun
I happily lost my Zs over all of it!



You better look it up-

No!!!!!! I mean, here-
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews945 followers
February 4, 2012
blemish, n.
The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in the third grade.
The scratch on your neck- did I do that?
This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.

Wow, this book was gorgeous.

It took me about an hour to read (well, technically about 40 minutes... the other 20 minutes was taken up with me scrawling large chunks of this book into my notebook, then running out of ink and trying to find a biro that worked) and I loved every second of it.

It was funny, sweet, heart-wrenching and beautiful.

I don't normally choose theme tunes for non-YA books but I just have to for this one.

Teardrop by Massive Attack.

For some weird reason, I'm always reluctant to use my favourite bands/songs for the theme tunes but the line "love, love is a verb, love is a doing word" has been running around my mind ever since I picked this book up so I'm making the exception just once.

Maybe language is kind, giving us these double meanings. Maybe it's trying to teach us a lesson, that we can always be two things at once.
Knit me a sweater out of your best stories. Not the day's petty injustices. Not the glimmer of a seven-eights-forgotten moment from your past. Not something that somebody said to somebody, who then told it to you. No, I want a yarn. It doesn't have to be true.

It's really interesting to read through my friend's reviews and see which entries they picked out as their favourites.

I wonder what they say about us :)
Profile Image for Rain.
1,722 reviews28 followers
March 10, 2023
An A-Z literary framing of a relationship.

candid, adj.

"Most times, when I'm having sex, I'd rather be reading."

This was, I admit, a strange thing to say on a second date. I guess I was just giving you a warning.

"Most times when I'm reading," you said, "I'd rather be having sex"

The creativity that went into writing this little journey was excellent. It’s not chronological so don’t try to figure out what is actually going on in the relationship, that part drove me crazy. But the actual IDEA behind this story is genius.

yearning, n. and adj.

At the core of this desire is the belief that everything can be perfect.

The various emotions felt during a relationship is clearly written here in tiny increments. The part of me that needs to know how their story ended is very frustrated, but the more poetic side loved this concept so much.
Profile Image for Archit.
824 reviews3,217 followers
May 3, 2018
Don't you dare tell me that this is cheesy stuff.

This is exactly the kind of book I prefer.

Speaks volumes if you want to go out and figure out the documentation of two people being in love. It is messy and it is fun. It is good and it is bad. People laugh and people cry. The important thing being with each other.

Enter my wife.

She read this book and decided to write one along similar lines herself. The next thing I know is being handed over a present of our version of The Lover's Dictionary. If I were to show it to you by publishing it and make a Goodreads' page of it, you'd be highly skeptical; for it contains only positive moments from the niches of me and my wife's heart.

All I can say in my defense is that there are only positive moments for both of us to write.

As far as I can remember I will only take the good memories from the original book. Those are indelible. The rest are just avoidable. I will like to remember the couple in the book as near perfect. The bad things don't last. Strong couples do.

The author does a wonderful job with the unique concept.

Who knew a story could be recited in such radiant manner as this.

Created ripples in our heart.
Author 0 books248 followers
February 9, 2017
Being a person who is truly, deeply, madly in love, I was bound to love this book.

I'm feeling like dancing!

Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,996 followers
May 10, 2012
I seriously need a word for my signature squeal.

No, really. Sometimes when I read books like Gone With the Wind or Pride and Prejudice, I squeal. Well-written romance tends to do that to me. The Lover's Dictionary did that to me.

Allow me to share one of my favorite entries.

"brash, adj.

'I want you to spend the night,' you said. And it was definitely your phrasing that ensured it. If you had said, 'Let's have sex,' or 'Let's go to my place,' or even 'I really want you,' I'm not sure we would have gone quite as far as we did. But I loved the notion that the night was mine to spend, and I immediately decided to spend it on you.'"

If computers could record squeals and send them to others' screens and digital devices automatically, you would hear me squealing right now.

This is my favorite book by David Levithan thus far. Its unique and addictive structure - a dictionary with alphabetized entries each serving as a short passage - was literally like nothing I've ever read before, and the romance was well-written and wonderfully realistic. Each entry supplies readers with a snapshot into a couple's romance, detailing the ups and downs, the zeniths and the nadirs. How the characters dealt with conflict or avoided it was maybe its most realistic feature, as sometimes people scream at each other until all of their anger dissipates or stay away from each other and let the tension slowly but surely build.

And while almost nothing in life is 100% black and white, I would have liked a little more closure in the ending of this book. It did not satisfy me and I felt like because of it the story was entirely rising action with no true climax.

However, I would recommend this short and quick read to anyone, especially those who are fans of romance. One thing I found intriguing was how while the main character was clearly male, the main character's partner never had their gender completely disclosed. There were hints, but no pronouns such as "he" or "she". In fact, by the time I finished the book I still had no idea whether the protagonist's partner was male or female, until I looked at the subjects in the front and saw "man-woman relationships." David Levithan has written several stories about gay couples, so I kind of chose to picture the book that way, and I will probably still do so. Just thought that I would point that out.

If you're in a lonely mood or are brain-dead from exams (like, cough, me) then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of The Lover's Dictionary! Highly recommended.

*cross-posted from my blog, the quiet voice.
Profile Image for mollusskka.
246 reviews135 followers
December 18, 2016
I hope I'm not the only person who can't relate to this "beautiful" book. Because to be honest, I can't. So sorry...

(I don't even know why I have to feel sorry about it...)

And don't get me wrong, guys. I've been in love and in a relationship but I guess we don't have much thing in common. So, it is what it is... But it's good to know how other people do in their love life, tho.

To me, this book is like a collection of short stories BUT mostly too short to get myself into it. Or maybe it's like a diary of someone who's in a relationship and there I was reading a love life of this beautiful and funny couple on earth, which was entertaining in some parts. What I like most about this book is the uniqueness of the idea. I wouldn't have come up with such idea. Just great! And just how a quick read this book is so it really saved my time, lol. I can now move on to a new book with a more solid story.

My favorite entry is flux . The funniest one is beware (Btw, did you really eat the fly???) and there's one more but I forgot the entry. It's when they asked an old woman to take their picture. And the one that's still haunting me is stymie . Seriously, I wonder what that word is.
Profile Image for Anu.
365 reviews889 followers
August 2, 2018
I nearly gave this 3.5 stars, but oh, the creativity! There's always extra points for creativity. Always.

Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough. [From ineffable, adj.]

If Forest Gump taught you that life is a box of chocolates, The Lover's Dictionary teaches you that love isn't. Using mere words, and in an extraordinarily creative diary-like format, Levithan shows everyone the different sides of love - the good, the bad, and the ugly; the ups and downs; the traditions and the quirks; the earth-shattering moments, and the heart shattering ones. The nameless narrator here, defines words as they did to him in his relationship, and in doing so he captures the essence of love and loss and longing in the smallest number of words possible. He does so alphabetically, because We do not divulge our histories chronologically. It’s not like we can sit each other down and say, “Tell me what happened,” and then rise from that conversation knowing everything. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re dividing ourselves into clues. [From circuitous, adj.]

I have never wanted a lover. In order to have a lover, I must go back to the root of the word. For I have never wanted a lover, but I have always wanted to love, and to be loved.
There is no word for the recipient of the love. There is only a word for the giver. There is the assumption that lovers come in pairs.
When I say, Be my lover, I don’t mean, Let’s have an affair. I don’t mean, Sleep with me. I don’t mean, Be my secret.
I want us to go back down to that root.
I want you to be the one who loves me.
I want to be the one who loves you.
[From lovers, n.]

Love is vast and undefined and has too many nuances to it. It means different things to different people, and even to two people in the same relationship, it could be defined by different things. Building on that, Levithan uses simple words, words that we use everyday, words that mean different things to us, to build a story. A story between two lovers, lovers that you find rooting for, and at the same time, you don't. The Lover's Dictionary reminds me of all the indie romance movies I've enjoyed - the ones with an average, albeit intellectual man and this firecracker of a manic pixie dreamgirl. I sometimes judge movies for having this theme, other times, I revel in how commonplace and natural some of these stories seem. Because in my experience, it is only these that show love as not always rainbows and unicorns, but as trying and testing, and worth it in the end.

love, n.
I’m not going to even try.

I have been in love exactly two times in my life. Both times, it ended badly. Both times, it was both our faults. It has taken me exactly 5 and 1.5 years respectively, to admit that last part to myself. The first time it ended, it was bad. It was passionate and tearful and bitter. On both sides. I though I would die. It took me a long time to get over it. The second time was ...quicker. Easier. Still heart-breaking, but I knew I'd survive. I didn't know if I had become more resilient or if it just gets easier with time. But it made me not so terrified of falling in love.

obstinate, adj.
Sometimes it becomes a contest: Which is more stubborn, the love or the two arguing people caught within it?

When things got nasty between my second ex-boyfriend and me, he said it was my personality. I said it was his substance abuse. Based on the number of break-ups we had before it ended for good, I would have liked to tell myself that it was love that won, but then I'd be lying to myself. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a toxic relationship; we were just two very different people looking for two very different things. And so along the way, love got lost.

I am completely unposed, completely genuine. In my mind’s eye, I picture myself like that, reacting to you. [From guise, n.] We put on disguises everyday, in front of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, even family. Until one day, in front of some people, we just don't, and to me, those are the people worth keeping in my life. And definitely the only people worth sharing my life with.

“Does everything have a name?”
The answer was no, only Ivan. Because when I bought it (the television) with Joanna, I promised her I would call it Ivan.
But I didn’t tell you that. Instead, I told you I’d named everything.
[From nomenclature, n.] One of my dearest friends in college had a habit of naming everything she owned. The air conditioner in her room, she named Dhanno. Dhanno was a little bitch if there ever was one, and simply refused to work until you softly stroked her while swearing your head off at her, preferably in Hindi. But Dhanno was part of our small family and I sometimes still miss her.

These words are now mine, but soon they’ll be ours. [From epilogue, n.] If I had a penny for every person who told me they'd include me in the dedication (or acknowledgement) for their book should they choose to write one, I'd give all the pennies away if it meant they would still dedicate it to me. I'm not trying to sound self-important here, but being a part of someone's words is as big a deal as being a part of someone's world, and I find it awfully touching.

Finally, I said, “It’s over.”
You started to cry, and I quickly said, “No — I mean this part is over. We have to get to the next part.”
[From persevere, v.] I've never realised if relationships, any relationships, not just the romantic ones, were contiguous , or if we could separate them into stages or parts. I mean, is it all one giant mess of joy and sorrow and good and bad, or can you separate the good parts from the bad? The bad memories are always interspersed with the good and vice versa. Maybe that's why we persevere.

gravity, n.
I imagine you saved my life. And then I wonder if I’m just imagining it.

The very first friend I ever made in college saved my life. I wasn't suicidal or anything, and it's not like I didn't think that I had a purpose either. But I was lost, and she sort of helped me centre myself. Maybe that's why, six years later, she's still the first person I turn to.

In the end, we both want the right thing to happen, the right person to win, the right idea to prevail. We have no faith that it will, but still we want it. Neither of us has given up on anything. [From jaded, adj.] "Jaded" literally means exhausted. And in today's context, I can think of no better definition for the word than this. Everyday, we wake up, hoping things will get better, but they don't, and here we are, exhausted that they don't. Day after day. Jaded.

You were already seeing the rooms as ours, and that was enough for me.
Well, that and a dishwasher.
[From broker, n. and v.] I start my Master's program in 20 days. In a new city, new country, new everything. Of course, I also had to lease a new house, and in a way, my broker got me three great friends. Because when she sent the our of us that same email with that same house, we all saw those rooms as ours, and thus, friendships were born. Although, we did get broker too. A lot broker.

misgivings, n.
Last night, I got up the courage to ask you if you regretted us.
“There are things I miss,” you said. “But if I didn’t have you, I’d miss more.”

My ex (the second one, the more "real" one) and I remain friends, and one day, he asked me if I regretted our time together. It's a loaded question if there ever is one, and I surprised even myself by answering that I didn't. I didn't regret our time together. There were some incidents that I wish we could've handled differently. Some mistakes I wish we hadn't made. But I cherish "our time together" as a whole. And I think it made me a better person.

I want to take back at least half the “I love you”s, because it feels safer that way. [From recant, v.]
quintessence, n.
It’s the way you say thank you like you’re genuinely thankful. I have never met anyone else who does that on a regular basis.

I truly believe that we take the words "sorry", "thank you", and "I love you", amongst others, for granted. We either say it too many times, or not enough times at all. And many times, we say it because we have to. We don't remember what these words mean anymore, or what they mean when we say it.

If you and I really, truly wanted to change the world, we’d invent more words that started with x. [From x, n.] My best friend from school and I invented a word. It was a nonsense word, and that was its essence. We could use it in any context, and its meaning could be derived from the context itself. Although it was years after we became best friends, inventing this word became a defining moment in our friendship. Each time we fought, we had a peace offering. And during the trying times, maybe this invented word saved us.

masochist, n.
If there wasn’t a word for it, would we realize our masochism as much?

I have a shelf here, on Goodreads called "because I'm a masochist", and it refers to every bad book decision I make on purpose. I have never been a fan of using the word masochism in love. I mean, I am not disregarding the sexual fetish, nor the actual act, just the use of the word. Somehow makes the act seem...obligatory.

yearning, n. and adj.
At the core of this desire is the belief that everything can be perfect.

I've never liked the idea of perfection. It's too complicated and boring. It's all the imperfections that make life worth it, and really, if everything were perfect, we'd all be out of jobs.

Even if neither of us got what we wanted, we found freedom in the third choices. [From deadlock, n.] My friends and I used to watch a movie almost every night during our last few weeks of college. There were so many movies we wanted to see together, so many choices, that some days, we used to ask random people to pick movies for us, and then watch them. We found solace in third choices.

Does every “I love you” deserve an “I love you too”? Does every kiss deserve a kiss back? Does every night deserve to be spent on a lover?
If the answer to any of these is “No,” what do we do?
[From fraught, adj.]
The first time my (second) ex told me he loved me, I said "okay". Not even thank you, okay. It wasn't that I didn't love him. I did, I just didn't know that that was the right time to say it. And I didn't want it to sound like an obligation because it wasn't. My ideal response in many of these situations is "okay", not because I want to be rude, but because I think I responding in any other manner would be either difficult or complicated, or sometimes, untruthful. Okay. And this is my contribution to the lover's dictionary.

okay, n.
Sometimes, it's okay to say okay. It's not a big deal at all, because sometimes, it is the perfect answer.

You grabbed my hand and twirled me around, two sidewalk sweethearts. Then, very earnestly, you stopped, leaned over, and whispered, “You know, I’d get a tattoo with your name on it. Only, I want you to have the freedom to change your name if you want to.” [From unabashedly, adv.]
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
February 14, 2018
reread because its valentines day! so that means i have a hot date with this book, some chocolate, and a cosy blanket. its amazing how the concept of words and definitions can tell a love story. its books like this that challenge my conception of how a novel should read and i love them for it. who knew a dictionary could be so entertainingly adorable?!

5 stars
Profile Image for Gypsy.
407 reviews525 followers
November 23, 2018
ریویوم رو اصلاح کردم و در یک نفس نصفۀ موندۀ کتاب رو خوندم، از اونجایی که به بیماری کتاب نصفه رها نکردن دچارم. می‌خوام یه‌کم خودمو سرزنش کنم که چرا اصلاً رفتم سراغ این! درواقع چون چندتا یوتیوبرِ کتاب‌خون رو دنبال می‌کنم، چندتا کتاب جدید با سبک نوشتار خاص رو می‌خواستم که به این برخوردم. بله من این مدل دیکشنری بودنش رو خیلی دوست داشتم و نحوه‌ای که کلمات به ذهن نویسنده متبادر می‌شدن. اما فقط همین. بااینکه خودم توی رابطه‌م اما خیلی کم با این کتاب ارتباط برقرار کردم. توی ریویوها می‌خوندم که این کتاب رو فقط کسایی که توی رابطه‌ن و عاشقن یا یه روزگاری بودن درک می‌کنن. ولی تمام‌قد ازین جبهه علیه چنین ادعایی دفاع می‌کنم. :دی

محوریت کلی اثر هم برام جالب بود. ولی خودمو به‌زور دنبال داستان می‌کشیدم. البته نمی‌شه دقیقاً بهش گفت داستان. ما شخصیت‌ها رو داریم، ماجرا‌ها تیکه‌تیکه‌ن و توصیف احساسات در اولویتن. بنابراین خیلی فرم داستانی رعایت نشده. اما نمی‌شه بگیم داستان هم نداره. یه مشکلی که با این‌طور کارها دارم اینه که بدیهیات رو با کلمات نسبتاً قلمبه‌سلمبه و شاعرانگی‌زدگیِ حال‌به‌هم‌زنی بیان می‌کنن و به‌خاطر فرم گول‌زننده‌شون فکر می‌کنی داری چیز خاصی می‌خونی. در طول خوندن این کتاب هی سرم رو می‌اوردم بالا و می‌گفتم وای خدا. چرا این‌قدر شخصیت داستان خنکه؟ اصلاً برام کشش نداشت.

فقط فرم کتاب برام جدید بود و جذبم می‌کرد. وگرنه نوشتارش و طوری که احساسات رو توصیف می‌کرد شبیه دلنوشته‌های دخترهای پونزده شونزده ساله بود که رفتن توی رابطه و زور می‌زنن با این کار بگن بزرگ شدن. حرفم زن‌ستیزانه‌ست و از همجنس‌هام عذر می‌خوام. :دی یک جاهایی مردونه و بزرگسال می‌شد و یه‌کم امیدوار می‌ش��م، بعد به جملات بسیار کوتاه و چند کلمه‌ای برمی‌خوردم که خیلی تلاش کرده بودن تأثیرگذار باشن. ولی نبودن.

مسئلۀ جالب اینه که توی انگلیسی این‌طور جمله‌ها طبیعی‌تر به‌نظر می‌آن! یا برا من اینطوریه؟ مثلاً وقتی فکر می‌کنی این جمله توی فارسی چطوری می‌شه، از فرط مسخره بودنش خنده‌م می‌گیره. نمی‌دونم مشکل از زبان فارسیه یا اصلاً مقایسۀ درستی نیست.
Profile Image for Mia.
336 reviews205 followers
February 7, 2016
love, n.


1. an intense feeling of deep affection.

2. feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).

3. "...a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet."

4. not a single emotion, but an umbrella term for the entire range of emotions you experience in tandem with someone else.

When you're in love, you're also in hate. When you're in love with someone, you're in fear with them. When you're in love with someone, you're in hope, in ecstasy, in bliss with them. You're in pain, in heartbreak, in heartache, in fury, in depression with them. You're in ambivalence, in annoyance, in pettiness with them. You're in redemption, in sin, in light, in dark, in beauty, in ugliness, in brilliance, in dullness with them.

Love can't be defined because it isn't just one thing. Trying to stick a set of words onto it, to put it in a box and quantify it- that's like trying to give life a single meaning, and it's the reason the word "the" has about thirteen different definitions in the dictionary. Words take on a different meaning based on technical things- context, verbiage, etc.- but also who says them, and why, and when. Whether somebody says something in earnest or dips it in the bitter liquid of sarcasm, whether their eyes sparkle when they say it or they look down, whether they're dissembling or honest, whether it's offhanded or a moment weighted with meaning.

But some words are universal, and they always feel the same- if I describe a person as incandescent, you don't need me to tell you that they're brilliant, luminous, splendiferous. You don't need those other words because you can picture that person in your mind, bright as a firework across the dark sky. But it's also a paradox because there can never be just one definition- that incandescent person looks different to everyone reading this. We all have different experiences, hopes, dreams, fears, expectations, and those colour the words we use just as much as they do our lives.

Trying to review The Lover's Dictionary is like trying to define love- it flits around the edges, slips out of your grasp, demands to be felt instead of explained. All you need to know about this book is that it's beautiful and sad and quietly luminous, short and sweet and bitter, fractured and whole at the same time. It's a paradox, just like love is- how can something we write countless songs and novels about, something we fight and murder and exact revenge for, something we agonise over and pine for and dream about, something we curse and denounce and renounce and rediscover and pray for and give and receive- how can the source of all of this be something so indeterminable, so imprecise, so hazy? How can love be this powerful force, and yet feel like a faint gossamer spiderweb clinging between two blades of grass?

I don't know. It's ridiculous to think there can be a definition for love, or a definition for anything, really. Because our lives are woven with words, and yet the words themselves are never enough.

Read for the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge: "A book that you can read in a day."

Also, as a postscript, I highly recommend checking out The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. This book put me very much in mind of it.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,781 followers
April 3, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/


Since I’m a huge Levithan fangirl, I got myself prepared to write this review by deciding to flag every “definition” that made me feel something while I was reading. Well, I definitely felt some things and flagged all some of the pages . . .

My feelings ranged from magical

like in the definitions of cache and gingerly and meander and posterity and rifle and sacrosanct and transient and unabashedly and woo and yesterday

to amused like in the definitions of candid and celibacy and deciduous and non sequitor and qualm

to honest like in the definitions of commonplace and epithet and inadvertent and perfunctory and recant and ubiquitous

to feeling as if I had been punched in the gut

like in the definitions for abyss and breach and dispel and fast and gamut and happenstance and jerk and livid and quixotic and raze and serrated and zenith

Levithan’s words move me like no other and I’m unapologetically in love with his writing.

What can I say? I might just be his #1 Fan.

“Measure the hope of that moment, that feeling. Everything else will be measured against it.”

Whenever I finish a David Levithan book, I find myself measuring other authors against him. Authors who I truly enjoy and would normally get recommended get thrown to the wayside so I can tell my friends to read Levithan instead. (Especially Two Boys Kissing. Drop whatever you are reading and go read Two Boys Kissing.)

“No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”

I am so enamored with Levithan’s writing that I am consciously spacing out his books and not allowing myself to consume them all because I know the above quote will hold true.

In an effort to avoid being sued by the author for republishing his work in its entirety while desperately attempting to convey my feelings in this review, I’m throwing in the towel and just telling you to read The Lover’s Dictionary. And then read everything else by David Levithan (even Every Day, which I didn’t much care for).

Oh, and one more thing. We should invent more words that begin with X.
Profile Image for Alex.
157 reviews33 followers
February 13, 2020
3.5 *

I'm impressed with the idea more than the book. This book is a dictionary containing some words and instead of explaining the meaning, it is defined with the help of a snippet from the life of two lovers. Some of them are truly beautiful, some of them not so.

But its a novel idea and it needs to be appreciated.
Profile Image for Tina.
444 reviews456 followers
February 14, 2013
Original post at One More Page

When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it's cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.

The Lover's Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.

The entries weren't written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It's equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There's something about finding common ground, which I really liked:
akin, adj.

I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte's Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn't when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.

In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren't these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?

We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.

Or this, about being intimidated by one another:
daunting, adj.

Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.

The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.

I'm pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who's ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover's Dictionary . This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random -- just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?

But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can't relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover's Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot...but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)

Whether you're a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. I'm sure you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary.
Profile Image for Olivera .
737 reviews267 followers
July 8, 2018
I gravitate towards this book quite a lot and this has been my forth year reading it in a row. I suppose it's because Levithan has the same thoughts as I when it comes to certain themes and I just want to check whether my opinion has changed. This time I could actually experience it from the perspective of someone who lived through some of the situations that are described in this book and I found it to be even more relatable.

Also, fun fact, since the names of the main characters aren't mentioned and the whole book is written in second person, you can read it both as a male-female relationship story as well as a male-male one. I only picked up on that on this reread, since every previous time I imagined the love interest as a girl, even though there weren't really any gender markers that could have given it away.
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
825 reviews153 followers
January 15, 2019

Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.

The lover’s dictionary by David Levithan is a book with great concept and great execution that gives it originality and something unfamiliar. At the same time, it doesn’t lack in terms of depths and emotions yet it certainly suffers when it comes to plot and characters development.

David Levithan attempts in his novel to delve deep into a relationship between two lovers from their first dates to their moments of doubts and anger going through all the stages of meeting someone from getting to know them to getting attached and falling in love to feeling trapped and scared coming to the moment when you either go further or just let it go.

It’s always something we have to negotiate — the fact that my parents are happy, and yours have never been. I have something to live up to, and if I fail, I still have a family to welcome me home. You have a storyline to rewrite, and a lack of faith that it can ever be done.

Told in this creative format where the author takes random words going from A to Z and writing a tiny vignette for each chosen word to make us see something about the love the two characters shares and the struggle they go through with trying to protect their relationship and themselves for what could happen. At times, you feel like the two characters are made for each other and at others you feel it is best if they call it quit but I guess that’s the reality of relationships, the ups and downs and all of that.

Vulnerable, creative and effective, The lover’s dictionary is a great story that could fit any two people; the fact that we don’t know that much about the characters, we don’t even know the name of the one telling the story lakes it actually easily for anyone to see his story through their story.

Nights when I need to sleep and you can’t. Days when I want to talk and you won’t. Hours when every noise you make interferes with my silence. Weeks when there is a buzzing in the air, and we both pretend we don’t hear it.

But, at the same time it’s really hard to connect with characters you know nothing about, yeah, we get bits and pieces here and there but by the end of the book, they still feel like complete strangers to me. Also the story has no plot whatsoever, even the vignettes are written in a non-linear way so you kind of feel lost at times and some of them felt repetitive to me.

I don’t know about other people who read the book, but this is more of a sober and candid interpretation of love story than a cute one, There’s mention of cheating and hinting at one of the characters having problems with alcohol so trigger warning for these two topics, also, there is mention of bullying and an incident when someone is made fun of using the fact that he’s overweight so keep those in mind while reading the book. I think if it wasn’t for that incident, I would gave the book 4 stars but I can’t turn a blind eye to it, it doesn’t matter if the person is a good human or not, it’s never okay to make fun of people for their appearances.

Compulsively readable with an honest insight to love and relationships, The lover’s dictionary offers us a new way to look at the bonds we share with our partners.

Sometimes desire is air; sometimes desire is liquid. And every now and then, when everything else is air and liquid, desire solidifies, and the body is the magnet that draws its weight.


#Winter Biannual Bibliothon Day 3, Book 3
Profile Image for Mimi.
699 reviews198 followers
April 6, 2019
It's been a long time since a book made me cry. This book didn't make me cry. It just reminded me that I haven't cried over fiction since Charlotte's Web.

Simply put, this book is an interesting way to tell a modern love story (from a writer's perspective), and an interesting way to see vocabulary words in new ways (from a reader's) while you watch different aspects of a relationship come together, stay together, fall apart, and then go through these stages again. If you're not currently in love or involved with someone special, this book might seem a tad overbearing and overwrought, rather than meaningful or fascinating. Three guesses which camp I'm in. :D

Clearly I'm not the right audience for this book and I might've picked it up at an inconvenient time which is too bad because I do like the way David Levithan uses words. He has a nice way with them. His prose is simple, light, smooth, and occasionally a line or two can pack a punch when the story calls for it. And there's clever use of biting humor that's just shy of passive-aggression. Just the way I like my contemporary fiction to be, so it really is too bad that this book and I didn't hit it off. Maybe if I'd read it 10 years ago, when I'd been a bit more idealistic and optimistic about romantic outcomes, these lovely words and phrases might've had an impact. Now? Now processing these things takes me back to that time years ago and I get to reminisce and... and that's it. It does nothing more for me now, which is too bad.

Clearly I'm not the right audience for this book, but that doesn't mean it isn't well written, not to mention clean and thoughtfully compartmentalized. It's as clean and compartmentalized as relationships are messy and overwhelming. The whole thing is lovingly crafted, I think, which shows in the care Levithan has for his word choices. I can go on about it, but I'll just show you instead.

[images posted, along with review at https://covers2covers.wordpress.com/2...]

Levithan puts words together with such ease. I really wish I could've liked this book more. Maybe 10 years from now I'll read it again at a different place in my life and will like it more.

On a semi-related note, I saw Gone Girl over the weekend. Didn't like the book, but thought the movie was decent, with the exception of Ben Affleck who will always be Ben Affleck in whatever role he tries to bring to life. Some of us are just blessed/cursed to forever be ourselves, I suppose.

Anyhow. As I was going over review notes I took for The Lover's Dictionary, it dawned on me that this book is the life Nick and Amy Dunne must've had before they married and everything went to hell. In this life before marriage, both Nick and Amy seem happier with themselves and each other, and that's what the tone of Dictionary reminds me of most, the easy pleasantry of dating. For more similarities, I'd point to the unnamed narrator and Nick Dunne sharing a similar POV; both are usually sitting on the sidelines as they watch and react to things happening to them. Instead of acting upon these things or taking control as they spiral out of their grasps, they watch and then react.

The moment I realized the unnamed narrator and Nick Dunne are one and the same and that the person they're dating is Amy was this line:
I can't help but admire your capacity for creative vengeance. And at the same time, I am afraid of it.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews707 followers
July 29, 2011
Full disclosure, I might have blinders on where this author is concerned because every book of his that I've read, I've really enjoyed... (Nick and Norah, Dash and Lily, the Will Graysons even Naomi and Ely were all wonderful reads!) With Lover's Dictionary, I didn't know what I was getting into. But good golly, that was different... and refreshing!

It tackled what's familiar from all the possible angles. One need not strain one's imagination to see how a word applied, because it just DID. Each entry showed a different facet, a different stage of being in a relationship. Tina uses the phrase word play to describe it. And indeed it was as Levithan's reduces it to its essentials~ sometimes hitting it square on the end, other times oversimplifying matters, but mostly coming across as accurate and humorous.

Succintly putting each aspect/facet/stage of the experience into a word, one word. I thought Lover's Dictionary SMART, FUNNY at times, but definitely DIFFERENT. Is it gimmicky? Is it cutesy? Not at all! I've grown used to boy-girl headoverheels/ troublerunsdeep stories, this slim volume is none of those things *thank gosh!* It hit aspects of relationships head on. I really enjoyed it!

Profile Image for Alyssa.
366 reviews284 followers
August 22, 2012
The Lover’s Dictionary is my first Levithan book, but it definitely won’t be my last. I mean, when an author can come up with this,

juxtaposition, n.

It scares me how hard it is to remember life before you. I can’t even make the comparisons anymore, because my memories of that time have all the depth of a photograph. It seems foolish to play games of better or worse. It’s simply a matter of is and is no longer.

and later this,

lover, n.

I have never wanted a lover. In order to have a lover, I must go back to the root of the word. For I have never wanted a lover, but I have always wanted to love, and to be loved.

There is no word for the recipient of the love. There is only a word for the giver. There is the assumption that lovers come in pairs.

When I say, Be my lover, I don’t mean, Let’s have an affair. I don’t mean, Sleep with me. I don’t mean, Be my secret.

I want us to go back down to that root.

I want you to be the one who loves me.

I want to be the one who loves you.

why wouldn’t one want to read more?

3.5 stars
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