Emily Henry, Queen of the RomCom

Before becoming known as “the queen of romcoms” or as an author practically synonymous with the term “beach reads,” Emily Henry left her home in Ohio to attend college in a lakeshore town long beloved by vacationers: Hope College in Holland, MI. I suspect some of you may have heard of it. Henry started her classes here in Holland with the aim of completing a Major in Dance before discovering her love for writing, taking creative writing courses under the tutelage of some rather excellent professors. Flash forward to 2024 and Henry is about to publish her 9th novel, Funny Story, and has been a staple of bestseller lists and top romance novel lists. Even more exciting, three of her books have been picked up for film adaptations that are currently in production.

West Michigan must have left a good impression on Henry as it is the setting for several of both her adult and YA novels. Holland locals may find something familiar about the lakeside locales of North Bear Shores, MI in Beach Read, and perhaps the donut shop the characters visit really is Good Time Donuts on 8th Street downtown. On her website Henry states that the setting is “an amalgam of my favorite western Michigan beach towns” specifically Holland, Saugatuck and Grand Haven. West Michigan also makes an appearance in the spooky gothic atmosphere of her 2017 YA paranormal romance A Million Junes, about which Henry says that “June is Michigan as a person.” 

Setting is very key to her novels and the reader is just as likely to fall in love with the adorable towns featured in the stories as they will with her characters. This is particularly true of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina in her novel Book Lovers, which plays with all the cliche romcom tropes of Hallmark films in a charming reversal where the stereotypical Big City Girlfriend who usually gets dumped at the end of the film now gets her own cozy romance. In an interview, Henry has said that the setting is very integral to the character development and sets her novels in places dear to her. “When I sold my first book,” she says, “I knew that I wanted to do a Kentucky book, a Michigan book, and an Ohio book.” From here we have her first three YA novels, all very much a love story to the states they take place in as they are stories of young love.

So if you are looking for a great read to warm your heart and put a smile on your face, make sure to check out the novels of Hope College graduate Emily Henry. And one more thing. Get ready for the release of Funny Story, a novel set in a West Michigan vacation community and featuring a children’s librarian as the main character. With all of Henry’s love for the local area, we wonder if any of Herrick Library will make it’s way into the story.

The Novels of Emily Henry

List created by HerrickDL_SteveP

"That was what I'd always loved about reading, what had driven me to write in the first place. That feeling that a new world was being spun like a spiderweb around you and you couldn't move until the whole thing had revealed itself to you." -Emily Henry herrickdl adultpicks

The new novel to be published on April 23, 2024 features a children's librarian working in a West Michigan vacation town. We happen to like West Michigan librarians!

“Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

“I’ve never met someone who is so perfectly my favorite person.”

“Letting go is not forgetting. It's opening your eyes to the good that grew from the bad, the life that blooms from decay.”

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