Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan came with me on my recent trip to Chicago. It made for light, engrossing, festive reading…even if I did have to struggle to keep my giggles to myself!

About the Book:

It’s just a few days before Christmas when Dash comes across a red Moleskine notebook tucked beside one of his favorite authors in the Strand, a sprawling bookstore in New York City. Intrigued, he opens it and reads:

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” (p. 4)

Needless to say, Dash turns the page. Eventually he learns that the notebook belongs to a girl named Lily. The two teenagers begin a series of dares, sending each other to odd places or assigning off-the-wall tasks. As each dare is fulfilled and the notebook is passed back and forth, Dash and Lily get to know one another through their written words alone.

My Thoughts:

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (cover)Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was a quick holiday read. I loved the passing of the notebook and the dare that came with each exchange. The whole story was quite creative, written in chapters that alternate between Dash’s perspective (written by Levithan) and Lily’s (written by Cohn). The jacket flap says that Cohn and Levithan emailed chapters to one another without planning out the story, so it sounds like even they didn’t know what, specifically, would happen next. Perhaps because of the authors’ collaborative style, the book didn’t feel contrived.

I really liked Dash. He was articulate and smart and witty, even if he did lack quite a bit of holiday spirit. Lily, on the other hand, was brimming with Christmas cheer, yet overall she seemed a little too sappy and helpless and naive. Which is fine, but I don’t believe she’s the kind of person with whom Dash would have been particularly impressed. As the red notebook situation progressed, I felt less and less like Dash and Lily could ever be compatible in any way.

I enjoyed some of the secondary characters: namely, Boomer and Ida. Boomer is Dash’s friend and is, essentially, a big happy puppy dog. His kindness and friendliness reminded me a little of Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, though with less drama, and I couldn’t help but smile when he popped up in the story. Ida is Lily’s great aunt and a splendid woman. She’s just far enough removed from Lily to be cool, more of an accomplice at times than a motherly guardian. The interview in the library was one of my favorite scenes in the book.

There were moments when involuntary laughter escaped my lips despite my efforts not to draw attention to myself on the plane. Almost all of these bits were in Dash’s chapters. For instance:

“I had always felt that mittens were a few steps back on the evolutionary scale–why, I wondered, would we want to make ourselves into a less agile version of a lobster? But my disdain for mittens took on a new depth when looking at Macy’s (Macy’s’s?) holiday offerings.” (p. 29)

In addition to enjoying the rather entertaining mental image provided by those few lines, I love that Dash ponders the possessive of “Macy’s.” It’s just the sort of thing his bookish self would do.

Overall, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was good Christmas-y fun. The story is engaging, as is one of the characters, at least, and there are plenty of good scenes. I’ve not read Cohn and Levithan’s other collaborations, but I would consider giving them a go next time I’m after this sort of book.

Your Turn!

If you’ve read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, what did you think? Should I bother with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List? And, in the spirit of the red notebook, what is your best Christmas memory?

Join the Conversation


  1. I haven’t read this, or any of their other work but I’ve been thinking about it as I really liked the movie of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. I saw a copy of Dash and Lilly’s in my fave bookstore the other day so I might pick up a copy as an xmas pressie for myself 🙂

    1. I think it’d make a good Xmas present! I thought it was a great quick, light holiday read. I’ve heard the movie of Nick and Norah was good; if I pick up another of their books, I think it’ll be that one. Enjoy 🙂

  2. Well you already know that I loved Nick & Norah, and detested Naomi & Ely. I hear a lot of people say that same thing, but some people are the reverse. I say you might as well try them. They’re short, in any case!

    Maybe the reason this appealed to me so much – I didn’t think about it at the time – was the whole getting to know each other through words part. Since Jason and I got to know each other through email, never knowing what the other person looked like for two months…

    1. I recall your review said Dash & Lily was more Nick & Norah than Naomi & Ely, yes? If so, I’ll go with Nick & Norah next and see how that goes. But not for a while…I’m a bit cuted out at the moment!

      I bet the similarity of getting to know one another through words did have some sort of subconscious appeal for you! How cool! I’m glad to know it’s possible, cuz I didn’t quite believe the Lily & Dash pairing 🙂

  3. This book seems like a nice little Christmas read…it could also come handy when sometimes I need a different pace of reading.

    Also–I’m new to the book blogging world, so be nice, BUT–Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist was originally a book?!? Of course, all good movies are based on excellent books. I loved the film, and usually when I love the film, the book is even better.

    1. Definitely both! It was great for trip reading, when sometimes you only have a short time to read, or you’re tired, or your attention is split.

      I only knew about Nick & Norah being a book because I worked in a bookstore when the movie came out! It’s so true, about all the movies being based on books nowadays. And I, too, almost always end up liking the book better! I’ve not read or seen Nick & Norah, but I think it’ll be my next Cohn & Levithan collaboration.

  4. Besides loving the premise of the book, I love how it was written. The excerpts were great. I’m not usually one to read “holiday” books but this one sounds worth it!

    1. It was. Plus it’s short and quick, so it takes very little time to zip through. Though I must warn you, Dash is much wittier than Lily; the excerpts I included were all from his chapters.

  5. this sounds like a cute read–i love the premise and the cover. i’m a sucker for a good cover. i’ll see if my library has this one available. thanks for the review. 🙂

    oh, and my fondest christmas memory was the year my parents surprised my sister and me with a PUPPY! sheer elation.

    1. Isn’t the cover lovely? It makes me feel all Christmas-y 🙂 I hope you enjoy the book!

      I’m sure that was an amazing Christmas memory! I think at some point in their lives, every kid has a dream of getting a puppy. What a cool way to have yours fulfilled!

  6. Thank for commenting on my review. I did find Lily to be more unrealistic as a WHOLE person than Dash..I didn’t even try to venture into why because I had nothing to justify why I felt that way lol. But, while I too loved that exchange between Dash & Ida, I just could not see someone so young actually having a conversation like that with an older person..I just couldn’t. No matter how cool the aunt was. I think that just stuck with me and is probably why I brought it up lol. I get fixated on things like that.

    And we can just talk about how HILARIOUS the Santa part was?! Omg..that was the part that David read at the signing I went to and I nearly wet my pants! Oh man!

    Glad you enjoyed this one!

    As for my favorite Christmas memory–I feel like they all really jumble together but I really loved when I was little and we’d drive home from my grandpa’s on Christmas Eve and we’d listen to Christmas music and sing really loudly. I think also I’d say the last Christmas with my mom. That’s something really special that I’ll cherish.

    1. I can see where you’d feel Dash seemed a little old. Maybe I was imagining him older than he was 🙂 Or maybe I just wished there were teenage boys out there of his intelligence and wittiness!

      The Santa thing was ridiculous. I can’t imagine having it read out loud!!

      Those are wonderful, warm Christmas memories. Thanks so much for sharing them 🙂

  7. I’m thinking I will pick this up tomorrow after I get paid. It looks like a nice Christmas present to myself. Great review, loved how you noted they wrote without planning it out. I’ve never read any of their work either.

    Heh. “Macy’s?” I can relate! Also, Moleskin love.

    1. I think it’d make a lovely self-present, and there’s just time left to get it in before Christmas! I hope you enjoy it 🙂

    1. This one would be perfect, then! I’m sure I would have enjoyed it at other times of the year, but it was just right for the Christmas lead-up.

    1. Ooh, yes, perfect!! I’m pretty sure you’ll want to spend lots of time in the Strand after reading it as well. That is, if you don’t already 🙂

    1. That was definitely a good quote! I was impressed by how many good secondary characters there were in this book. Always a pleasant surprise!

  8. Well this one definitely seems to be THE book of the season! Although I’ve heard the title alot on twitter, I didn’t realize until recently that it was a Levithan and Cohn collab. I haven’t read any of their others but loved Nick and Norah the movie and recently picked up Naomi and Ely. Glad you enjoyed this one–I love the idea of the back and forth chapters and the dares.

    1. I think I’ll have to pick up Nick and Nora next — I didn’t see the movie, but everyone seems to have loved it! Dash and Lily really did have a fun, clever premise, and it was entertaining to watch it unfold.

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