The Book Ninja reviewed by Annie

Ali Berg, Creative Director for the Hedgehog Agency, and Michelle Kalus, a primary school teacher, both love books and writing and started Books on Rail, leaving books on trains to encourage people to put down their devices and turn the pages of an actual book. This wonderful concept has been taken a step further, in the novel they have written together, to use this idea to find love.

Frankie is also a book lover and works in her best friend, Cat’s bookshop. She too is a writer who has had two books published, but bad reviews for her second have scared her off writing another. Single and looking for Mr Right, she thinks she can find him through books. She starts leaving copies of her favourite books – old classics and contemporary novels, on the trains she rides in Melbourne. Her details are written in the books, asking the reader to contact her.

In the meantime a perfect-seeming man, Sunny, comes into the shop, and she is taken with him, except he loves young adult novels, which she cannot abide and can’t understand how a thirty-something year-old mand can read them.

Replies from her book drops start coming in, with a variety of interesting responses providing great amusement. They all have potential, but there’s usually a but. She starts a blog and documents the project, getting her writing again. She continues to see Sunny and their relationship builds, but there are issues there too.

This is a humorous and entertaining book, probably best suited to twenty and thirty-somethings, about trying to find love, with lots of book references. Comical characters from quirky regulars at the bookshop, to Frankie’s interesting parents were fascinating.

My main criticism is the way the bookshop is portrayed as somewhere where workers can put their feet up and read books and gossip while ignoring customers. Having worked in a bookshop I know it is a business, and while this romantic notion of working in a bookshop is widely believed, it is a fallacy. Otherwise, this was a light and fun book, and I did enjoy seeing some of my favourite books come up, including young adult novels that I still appreciate, even at my age.


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