BOOK CLUB: While You Were Reading

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Author: Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus
ISBN: 9781925750560
RRP: $24.99
Publication Date: July 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus are the authors of The Book Ninja, which we read for book club last year. The creators of Books on the Rail are back with a second romantic comedy novel and I look forward to reading it. It promises to be witty and insightful.


Synopsis from the Publisher’s website:

Meet Beatrix Babbage – 29-year-old dog-earer of books and accidental destroyer of weddings.

After ruining her best friend’s nuptials, Bea relocates to the other side of the country in search of a fresh start, including meeting new people, living life to the fullest and finally pulling off balayage.

But after a few months, life is more stagnant than ever. Bea’s job is dead-end. Her romantic life? Non-existent. And her only friends are her books, her barista and her cleaning lady.

​Then Bea stumbles across a second-hand novel, inscribed with notes. Besotted with the poetic inscriptions, Bea is determined to find the author … and along the way, she finds herself entangled in one hell of a love quadrangle.

Funny, poignant and insightful, While You Were Reading reveals that there’s no such thing as perfection, the value of true friendship and, most importantly, the power of not living in fiction, but still reading it … Often.

Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their website.

While You Were Reading is published by Simon and Schuster and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading While You Were Reading so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: While You Were Reading

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘While you were reading’ by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus. It was just a nice book that wasn’t over the top and wasn’t overly sexualised. It had a lovely believable storyline with characters that were easy to fall in love with, except maybe Cassandra! ‘While you were reading’ follows Bea’s life as she tries to find the mystery writer of notes in a book. If you love books and classics in particular, you’ll love all the quotes throughout the story and have the added enjoyment of trying to work out what book each quote is from! I was also amazed that two people could write a book together. I mean, I do know that happens, but how on earth does it work so seamlessly that you can’t tell where one writer stops and the other starts?

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for another delightful book to read that I’ll be passing on to many friends >:o)

  2. While you were reading is the second novel from Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus – two self-confessed book ninjas and friends since primary school.
    The main character in the novel is Beatrix Babbage (and yes she is named after Beatrix Potter) at the start of the novel Beatrix (or Bea as she is referred to) is 29 and has just relocated from Perth to Melbourne due to disastrous events at her best friend’s wedding. She is struggling a bit in a new city, lives alone, has a job she doesn’t like and few friends. She’s also a keen (and quite successful) competition entrant. It seems her barista is her only friend (well this is Melbourne!). Bea finds a second hand novel which is littered with personal notes and thoughts from a previous reader, Bea becomes fascinated and is desperate to find the mystery writer.
    Bea is a very likeable character and I enjoyed following her story, this is a romance but also a story about the importance of friendships and how vital it is to have the right friends who are there for us and not our friends for their own sake. At times the novel was a little predictable but enjoyable nevertheless and quite amusing. Many, many books are referred to in the novel and I think if you are not an avid reader you might not appreciate some of the references. It was fun reading a novel set in today’s times and featuring so many places I know really do exist in Melbourne. I don’t know about the bookshops she refers to, maybe I’ll try and look them up when I’m next down there.
    Many thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this entertaining novel.

  3. While You Were Reading by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus, read thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club
    This is a lovely, quirky story that any lover of books and reading will enjoy.
    It is written by the Authors of The Book Ninja. Two of the characters and the Book Shop from this make a couple of cameo appearances in this one.
    Beatrix Babbage(named after Beatrix Potter) is our leading lady.
    After a major fallout with her long time Best Friend Bea packs up her life and moves to Melbourne.
    All alone and in a job she doesn’t enjoy Bea decides to start a Speed dating event for book lovers in the hope of making new friends.
    We meet some quirky and interesting characters but do they all have Bea’s best interests in mind?
    It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read following Bea’s transition from miserable and friendless in Melbourne to finding herself and what makes her happy!

  4. I found While You Were Reading a very entertaining book. It is the first novel by Ali Berg and Michelle Kali’s that I have read and I found it well written and very easy to read.
    It was fun getting to know the main protagonist Bea and sharing her journey through life with all it’s ups and downs.
    I loved the way it was contemporary. -set in the here and now in Melbourne. I would definitely recommend While you were Reading to others and thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this very enjoyable novel.

  5. I am very quick to judge a book. If it doesn’t feel like “my kind of read” within the first few pages, I move on. That’s why I love the Beauty & Lace Book Club, it forces me to stick with a book and explore other stories. It took me quite a while to warm up to the characters in this book. It started with some drama at a wedding, then promptly dropped two characters (who I was interested in) leaving us with the story of Beatrix (who I didn’t find all that interesting – I wanted to follow the “just married” couple).

    I was very slow to fall in love with Bea and the grumpy Dino, but when I did, this read was so worthwhile. A cast of quirky minor characters make this story very enjoyable. I’ll be recommending it to friends.

  6. I completely judged this book by its cover (and wasn’t disappointed) – I loved the look of it and was thrilled to be accepted to review it for Beauty and Lace.

    After ruining her best friend’s life, Bea flees to the other side of the country in search of a fresh start. But after a few months, Bea’s new life doesn’t appear to be ‘taking off’ – with dramas at work, a non-existent love life and only 2 friends (her barista and her cleaning lady), Bea takes on a new challenge – to discover the author of the inscribed notes in a second-hand book she has purchased. The book follows Bea’s journey on this mystery author hunt and explores all the usual rom com themes such as friendship, love, family and happiness. I loved the way it all came together – the last line was super cute and clever!

    Throughout the book there are references to numerous other books which are all listed at the back. This may not be as appealing to anyone who is not an avid reader. I also loved all the new bookstagram accounts to follow which were detailed at the end of the book.

    This book is a great rom com which is best read with a coffee in hand. FYI – I’m a skinny mocha kinda girl and most definitely have a keep cup!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book. Finally – congrats to the authors – to co-author a book like this couldn’t be easy!

  7. I recently read the book While You Were Reading which is written by Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus. Immedietely you are drawn into the story where something is revealed at a wedding, and sort of sets the tone for the main character Beatrix. Then sort of thrown into a world of being lonely and trying to find one self again, while being awkward and quirky.

    I didn’t quite warm to the story at first however, it just seemed a bit woe is me. But it’s a journey after all, and Bea finds an old second hand book in a shop with lots of annotations and notes, which embarks her journey to track down this mystery detailed note maker.

    This story is well written, despite myself not really warming up to the characters in part, it kept me reading on to find out what happens next. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for letting me be a part of the book club for While You Were Reading.

  8. I really enjoyed ‘While you were reading’ by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus. It was a sweet book that was easy to read. It centred around the life of Bea Babbage and her journey to make a new life of herself in Melbourne. She finds a book in an Op Shop that has more than just the story and she sets out to try find who wrote the notes in the book. A beautiful love story that you would enjoy. Thanks again Beauty and Lace.

  9. Thank you beautyandlace for this reading opportunity. This book was enjoyable and a fairly easy read. The story had a good pace and kept me entertained to the end.
    The characters were realistic and I found them relatable. Overall, this was a good read, thank you.

  10. I absolutely adored The Book Ninja so I was super excited to read the next book by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus.
    While you were reading is about 29 year old Beatrix Babbage who has just moved to Melbourne following some disastrous events at her best friends wedding she’s struggling to settle into her new life. She’s a book nerd (aren’t we all) and after finding a second hand book with notes through it she wants to find the mystery author. I love the quotes from other books littered through and it’s a fun loveable story full of likeable characters. Plus I love that it’s set in Melbourne. A great fun read for any avid book readers who like a romantic comedy.

  11. I loved “The Book Ninja” and was very excited to read Michelle Kalus and Ali Berg’s second book. I think these two ladies should be applauded for coming up with such inventive ways of telling a great story while also paying homage to the books they love so much. If I’m honest, the premise of their first book worked a little more seamlessly while this one took a bit more time to get into… But once I was fully-immersed, I was well and truly hooked.

    Bea Babbage has a disastrous event happen in her hometown so she moves to the literary haven of Melbourne. This story looks at how she forms new friendships and loves due to her passion for books. One novel in particular stands out, the fictitious, “Meeting Oliver Bennett”. It is ultimately her saviour insofar as it’s an inspiration in darker times and one dependable friend.

    “While You Were Reading” is a satisfying celebration of books and a treat for any self-respecting lover of the written word. Do yourself a favour!

  12. Book lover Bea has accidentally ruined her best friends wedding. She decides she needs a fresh new start so moves to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is her “influencer” sister Lizzie.

    After finding a note filled book in a second hand bookshop, Bea becomes obsessed with finding its previous owner. Along the way she makes friends, falls in love and decides to do things on her own terms.

    This is a delightfully quirky romance set in Melbourne, that I will be leaving on the train for another book lover to find.

  13. I absolutely loved this book. It was a great read and many parts felt really relatable, especially the coffee and book addiction!!
    Highly recommend this book to all ages for a light hearted great read! Will definitely read from this author again!

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