Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Title:  The Lover’s Dictionary
Author:  David Levithan
Series:  None
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date:  January 4, 2011
Pages:  211
Format/Source:  Hardback/Gift from a friend

Age Group/Genre:  Adult/Contemporary

basis, n.

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. (From Goodreads)

A Short But Thought-Provoking Read…

My friend Courtney at Abducted by Books gave me a copy of The Lover’s Dictionary because she loves David Levithan and really wants everyone to read this book.  I read it during the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon this year, and it was a perfect book for my first Readathon!

The Lover’s Dictionary is really unique – it is in the format of a dictionary, with several words for each letter.  And each entry gives a clever “definition” of the word, while also telling a story of a relationship.  The story isn’t told in chronological order, but I loved this aspect because when you look back at a relationship, you don’t see it from start to finish.  You see the end, then maybe the beginning, then good and bad parts in between, or any other number of ways.  

The Beauty is in the Writing…

I’ve only read one other book by David Levithan, but his writing is just so beautiful yet relatable, especially in this book, that it really makes me love reading more than I already do.  I seriously wrote down 33 page numbers, noting that I loved the entries or specific lines on those pages.  It is really hard to narrow it down to just a few quotes to share here, but I can’t write a review for this book without including some of these beautiful and clever passages:

autonomy, n.
‘I want my books to have their own shelves,’ you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together.”

“And the thing I hate the most is knowing how much hinges on my reaction, how your unburdening can only lead to me being burdened.”

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship.  Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.”

“That, more than anything else, throws you off, makes it seem like you’ve been bequeathed a bad patch of gravity.”

“The key to a successful relationship isn’t just in the words, it’s in the choice of punctuation.  When you’re in love with someone, a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and a deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.”

The whole book is full of lines like the ones I’ve quoted above.  I just can’t convey how beautiful this book is.

My rating for The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan:

Five humongous stars, plus this book was promptly placed on my Favorites shelf on Goodreads.  Thanks to Courtney for giving me this book (and Boy Meets Boy), and for introducing me to one of the most beautiful writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan
You may also enjoy:  The Fault in Our StarsBoy Meets Boy

Disclaimer:  I received this book as a gift from a friend.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. The Teen Book Guru

    June 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Great, great review!!! :) This book seems SO cute and awesome, and the writing seems really beautiful. I also love the cover!! It's so… artsy! :P I'm a new follower and felt like dropping by to say HI. :) Feel free to check out my blog, because I would really love that!! <3


    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      June 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks! :) And it is a really beautiful book!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for following! I actually already follow your blog as well! But I'm about to stop by! ;)

  2. fakesteph

    June 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I'm so glad you loved this one, I really want to read it!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      June 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      You totally need to read it. I'm surprised Bittner hasn't shoved it down your throat yet! ;)

  3. Karen

    June 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I'm so excited. I've never read anything by David Levithan but I know people rave about his stuff, and I just got his new one from NetGalley. I seriously can't wait to see what all the fuss is about (and then likely get started on his back list).

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      June 14, 2012 at 5:09 am

      Oooh, I want to read his new one, too! He's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I need to read everything he has written now!

  4. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    June 14, 2012 at 12:29 am

    I've planned on reading this for awhile but just haven't gotten to it. I'm really glad you liked it! I love those passages.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      June 14, 2012 at 5:10 am

      It's really good! And you do realize that, being a friend of Bittner's, this is like, required reading, right? ;)

  5. Bittner

    June 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Just reading your review makes me want to reread the book AGAIN!!! I just love it sooooo much! I love the quote about "burdens" and I love the quote about punctuation! I love all of it! I'm so glad you liked it!

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