The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn't pass, that's it--you're done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it's even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover's face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011
Characteristics: 211 p. ; 20 cm
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374193683 (alk. paper)


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 02, 2015


MedinaReads Jan 30, 2015

Levithan is an author who likes to explore the limits of traditional narrative styles. This book tells a love story in a nonlinear dictionary format. The words and definitions paint a picture of a relationship and all its ups and downs, and the results are surprisingly powerful.
Recommended by A.H., Seville Library, MCDL

lbarkema Jun 19, 2014

In my opinion, this was exceptionally well-written. You can easily read this book within an hour and even though each entry may only be a few sentences, Levithan knows how to pack a punch within each one. Beautiful. A very creative and unique way to tell a love story. Highly recommended.

BCD2013 May 12, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
Two lovers live out the story of their relationship through short dictionary excerpts written in provocative and captivating prose, providing a visceral look at love.
- Selection Team

Oct 26, 2013

I really enjoyed this book! It's definitely a different type of read but I found it worth it! Would recommend it!

Aug 23, 2013

This book is more likely written in a dictionary format. There's a word and a little bit of story about the character's life. If you like a story that have different characters in it, have a plot with a real story and written in chronological order this would not be the book for you.

Aug 16, 2013

There wasn't much of a plot (well, I could sense one sort of, but it's the sort where you have to piece it together), but it was still a good book to pass the time with. And yes, the ending was a bit abrupt.

Apr 05, 2013

Amazingly written. I did not know you could write a beautiful story out of order like that. Inspired me so much, I have got to get my own copy!

Feb 19, 2013

Loved this book! It was a quick read but I could really relate to the story. Also, Levithan put feelings I've had into words. I loved this book so much that I'm going to buy a copy of my own and look into other works by the author.

Jan 04, 2013

I always enjoy the way David Levithan presents different facets of a story and leaves it to the reader to piece them together. A sweetly sad, poignant read.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jul 02, 2015

r3fusingtosink thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Sep 25, 2014

hmunshi19 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 26, 2012

meechelledeeiaz thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Quote

we go to visit two friends who've been together for ten years now, five times longer than we have. i look at the ease with which they sit together on the couch. they joke each other, get annoyed with each other, curl into each other like apostrophes within a quotation mark as they talk. i realize that two years is not a long time. but when it seems insurmountable, i need reminders like this that you can get used to it. that it can take on the comfort of the right choice. that lasting things do in fact, last.

Jun 26, 2012

blemish, n.

The slight acne scars. The penny-sized, penny-shaped birthmark right above your knee. The dot below your shoulder that must have been from when you had chicken pox in third grade. The scratch on your neck-- did I do that?

This brief transcript of moments, written on the body, is so deeply satisfying to read.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at JCPL

To Top