By the Book is at its core a love letter to bookworms. protagonist is a professor of English literature. she is trying to write her own book about other books for the purpose of continuing her career teaching books. like so many real-life professors, especially women, she sacrificed so much for this and continues struggling. By the Book reflects the author Julia Sonneborn's inside knowledge of academia, its appeal, and its toxicity. some characters particularly the hot shot who dates the her for a while are caricatures of real-life scholarly narcissists who prey on the people around them. no spoilers, but I loved the ending! as a young woman scholar, I wanted chick lit about academia for as long as I can remember, and Sonneborn delivers! I hope to see By the Book as a movie.