Kissing Tolstoy (Dear Professor #1) by Penny Reid

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“If Russian literature and tragic novels had taught me one thing it was this: disappointment and heartache might be around the next corner. But adventure, love, joy, and happiness—the living of a rich, meaningful life—was now.”

Holy adorable, this was the cutest. This is a fluffy, but sexy, short, little romance, that centers around two people and their love for Russian literature!

And before I even start this review, let me state that this is a book about a relationship between a college student and her professor. And there is a ten-year age gap. Yet, the power imbalance is constantly brought up and discussed in a super healthy way. Like, I was so impressed with the way it was handled. But I know this trope isn’t for everyone, and I know it makes a lot of readers uncomfortable, so I just want everyone to be aware that this element is in this story.

Also, this book has a few spoilers for War and Peace and Anna Karenina, so use caution if you haven’t already been exposed to major storylines from those novels.

This story starts out with our main character, Anna, coaxing herself to email a guy who her friend is trying to set her up with. After a swift moment of confidence, Anna sends the email, but soon becomes an anxious ball of nerves when she actually has to show up for the blind date. One thing leads to another, and after a very awkward encounter, Anna flees the date.

Then, months later, and unbeknownst to her, the guy she awkwardly fled from teaches the hard to get into Russian Lit class that she’s finally gotten into. More awkwardness, humor, angst, and romance ensue.

Plus, there is some good rep in this short little story, too. Our main character is biracial (Nigerian) and has pretty severe anxiety that is shown throughout this book.

Also, there are honestly some really good philosophical discussions in here, too. Like, this is a smart book and I felt so much enjoyment just learning about these two characters, and their thought processes, their morals, their values, their beliefs, and just their honest opinions on books. Don’t get me wrong, I loved their relationship, but I loved watching their friendship even more maybe.

“Don’t worry, the world will always need art, and artists, and literature. Just like it will always need industry and medicine. One is not more or less important than the other…”

And beyond anything else I could say that would maybe entice you to pick this book up; this book is about a girl who loves books, and reading, and stories. Books are a constant theme of this novella, and this truly reads like a love letter to literature. I mean, how could that not appeal to anyone who is taking the time to read this review?

“… I’d held myself in check and hadn’t (yet) thrown myself at Luca and his big . . . library.”

This was my first Penny Reid novel, but it won’t be my last. This novella blew me away and I cannot wait to see what else she has instore for us with this series. The writing was great, the humor was actually funny, the romance was swoon worthy, and the story was a joy to read.

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