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The Lalareading A Book
The Lalareading A Book
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Men Written By Women: The Emily Henry Complex

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

I’m a hopeless romantic, I can’t help it. I’ve just always been like this, dreaming of the day I get to be loved just like in the movies and books and kissing way too many boys who didn’t deserve it for my own good. That being said, romance is my genre of choice — especially for books. 

I grew up reading Sarah Dessen novels and to me, that is literature. Of course, a lot of times romance or romcoms are written off just because they’re cheesy, feel-good and women make up their target demographic. I also think it says a lot about us as a society that we write off things women enjoy because they are somehow less “serious.”

I think we can be very pretentious when it comes to books and we take ourselves too seriously, sometimes it’s okay to just enjoy things. Especially things that make your heart flutter and have you kicking your feet like you’re a teenager again. 

And that is the exact feeling I get when I read Emily Henry’s books. I get overwhelmed by how she writes about love, loss, grief, insecurity and loneliness. I find myself having to put the book down and having to take a breath after what I just read. It’s like she took a look into my nightmare of a brain, and said “Yup, this is good stuff” and put it into pretty words. 

I think what is so appealing about her books is that they aren’t just a romance. They follow characters who aren’t perfect and just want to be good. It also helps that the male love interests are absolute dreamboats. When people use the phrase, “man written by a woman” they are talking about Emily Henry’s male love interest. 

To be described as a man written by a woman means to be created in the female gaze. Henry creates male characters with sincerity like no other. Differing from the male gaze, the female gaze centers its male protagonists in vulnerability with the absence of violence and toxic masculinity.

The male love interests while they are their own person exist alongside the female protagonist, not threatened by their own personhood; they are comfortable in their own masculinity and not afraid of femininity. It really is so sexy to have a man see you as a person rather than the object of their desire (is it really crazy to think love does not exist without basic decency and respect?).

Because of this, Henry has easily become one of my favorite authors. She has released three romance novels, “People We Meet on Vacation,” “Beach Read” and “Book Lovers” (my personal favorite). She will be releasing her fourth one, “Happy Place” later this month.

Her first three works are also being adapted into movies (I will be SEATED). In honor of the ever-expanding EmHen Universe, I thought it would be fun to really look at her male characters and what makes them so swoon-worthy.

Let the ranking begin:

Book Lovers” – Charlie Lastra

Personality: Is a big shot editor, punctual, minimalistic, very forward, sarcastic, caring (and the love of my life)

Physical Description: Tall, dark and handsome, has warm golden brown eyes, extremely well dressed & great taste in fashion

Green Flags: Sleeps in a racecar bed, is left-handed and will give you his rent-controlled NYC apartment if you ask

Red Flags: Will do anything for family, which really isn’t a red flag, but like it is???

Memorable Quote: “So if you’re the ‘wrong kind of woman,’ then I’m the wrong kind of man.”

Movie Fan Cast: Logan Lerman (love those baby blues but he’d definitely need to wear contacts, I’m not compromising about Charlie’s beautiful brown eyes!)

Ranking: ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars (he’s too good to be true, that’s why he’s fictional)

Beach Read” – Agustus “Gus” Everett

Personality: Is an author, pessimist, competitive, naturally smart and talented, very caring just doesn’t show it

Physical Description: Salt-peppered hair, olive skin, average height, stocky build, scar on lip, clef chin, big dark eyes

Green Flags: Writer, holds you when you cry after having a bird poop on your head, will stand outside in the rain with a boombox begging for your forgiveness

Red Flags: Writer, flirts by looking at you longingly from afar but does not come up to talk to you, does not communicate his feelings well, daddy issues (he’s working on it!)

Memorable Quote: “… he said shakily, ‘I feel overwhelmed that you exist.’”

Movie Fan Cast: Dev Patel 

Ranking: ★★★★☆ 4/5 Stars such a babe

People We Meet On Vacation” – Alex Nilsen

Personality: Is a high school English teacher, uptight, dry sense of humor

Physical Description: Sandy hair, tall, broad shoulders, rocking gym bod

Green Flags: Comes to life for his person, works with kids, will get a vasectomy for you

Red Flags: Runs every morning, in love with his best friend, nerd

Memorable Quote: “I don’t think I knew I was lonely until I met you.”

Movie Fan Cast: Callahan Skogman (maybe too hot?)

Ranking: ★★★☆☆ 3/5 Stars he’s kind of just some guy??? still love him though <3

I couldn’t bring myself to rate them from “best to worst” because the reality is, there really is no bad one. They just are really great guys. I know, I know, to say I love them all is cliche but I really do love them all; they all mean so much to me in different ways.

I loved reading about Poppy & Alex, January & Gus, Nora & Charlie and how they came to be, and am excited to experience it all again in “Happy Place” with Harriet and Wyn.

Natalie Pineda is an English and Creative Writing student. She loves reading and writing is her passion. She enjoys stories written by women for women. Romcoms are her genre of choice and appreciates the art of indie movies.