Discover La La Land: Novels that Chase Our Ultimate Dreams

Can Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling only make movies together from now on, please? From their scene-stealing chemistry in Crazy, Stupid, Love to the ‘40s glamour of Gangster Squad, these two are just better together. Their latest collaboration, La La Land, is officially in theaters in an expanded release Christmas Day, December 25. It’s a quirky, surprisingly deep musical that’s already getting tons of great reviews (and Oscar buzz!), and it looks sooooo good:

Romance, dancing, awesome musical numbers, and Ryan Gosling being super hot? You can bet that we’ll be first in line. The film is about a musician and an aspiring actress in LA who fall in love even as they’re busy chasing their careers – and the two pursuits might just be at odds. As the official blurb puts it, La La Land is an “original musical about everyday life [that] explores the joy and pain of pursing your dreams.”

Dream pursuing is a pretty common conceit in storytelling, but somehow it still never gets old. We adore stories about characters who follow their dreams, and the ups and downs that come along with those journeys. Especially as their dreams so rarely end up being what they thought they would.

So in honor of La La Land, here are four recent or upcoming novels that are all about chasing down – or reexamining – dreams and how they affect our lives:

My Not So Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella (The Dial Press, February 7, 2017)

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A truly relatable hero, Katie Brenner never feels like she’s good enough, especially when she compares herself to her perfect boss, Demeter Farlowe. When Demeter fires Katie from the design firm they work at, the struggling young woman finds herself back home at her dad’s farm, ready to help him and his partner establish it as a vacation destination. But then the beautiful Demeter arrives as a guest, and suddenly Katie must confront her own feelings of insecurity, even as she starts to see the cracks in Demeter’s perfect façade. Katie sets out to find love, find peace, and ultimately realize her own dreams in this latest tale from Kinsella, the queen of quirky, contemporary romance.

 

 

Paris for One & Other Stories, Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman Books, October 18 2016)

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Moyes is best known for her bestselling novel Me Before You, which was made into a movie in May. This short story collection came out in October and is just as heartfelt and consuming as her famous book. Paris is the City of Love, and Moyes proves that with the first, longer story in this collection, “Paris for One.” When Nell’s boyfriend abandons her before a big trip, she decides to go anyway, traveling to Paris all alone. While there, she finds romance, adventure, and most importantly, herself. The other 8 stories that follow are shorter, but will no doubt capture your heart. Most of the relationships explored in this book deal with dreams in some way too, and the conflict between what we think we want and what we actually need.

 

 

The Life She Wants, Robyn Carr (MIRA, October 1, 2016)

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All of Emma Shay Compton’s dreams are shattered when her husband commits suicide and his financial corruption gets exposed. Facing the enormity of his crimes (and her now broke status), Emma returns to her home state of California to start over. But that’s not an easy decision, especially as it means she now has to face Riley Kerrigan, an old friend who betrayed her years ago. With her husband’s crimes casting a shadow over her new life and her past with Riley threatening to stir up old emotions, Emma has to learn how to forgive, move on, and ultimately decide which dreams truly matter in life.

 

 

On Second Thought, Kristan Higgins (HQN Books, February 1, 2017)

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Kate and Ainsley O’Leary are two sisters who have never been close. But that changes when their individual tragedies bring them together. For Kate, that means the death of her new husband within four months of getting married – and discovering that he may not have been who she thought he was. For Ainsley, that means having her boyfriend break up with her and then putting the gory details into his blog, which goes embarrassingly viral. And this was right after she thought he was going to propose. Both sisters find their dreams torn apart, but they also find comfort in each other, as they work on rebuilding their lives and reevaluating what they truly want out of their futures.

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Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.