01 May 2017

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

Summary from Goodreads:
When she was sixteen years old, Pamela Paul opened to the first page of a notebook and began recording the title and author of every book she read during the summer. She continued doing so as autumn turned to winter, as high school turned to college, as her life took her through romance, disappointment, marriage, and motherhood, and as she rose in her career to the editorship of The New York Times Book Review. The once-new notebook—now mottled, coffee-stained, and frayed at the corners—is the record of her lifelong love affair with books, and it has come to mean more to her than any other material possession. She has even given it a name: Bob, for “Book of Books."

Pamela Paul’s life with Bob is a life that many of us will recognize, a life in which books play a much more meaningful role than simply imparting information or entertaining us with compelling stories. When she opens Bob to any page, the titles and authors listed there serve as touchstones to remember the people, places, and emotions of her past – not only what she was reading but where she was and the person she was at the time. It makes a difference that she read The Trial while on a youth program in France, The Hunger Games in the maternity ward, and Swimming to Cambodia in Cambodia, and she reflects on how her life’s journey has been shaped and redirected by the books and authors who spoke to her at that time.

Not merely a chronicle of reading, My Life with Bob is also a testament to the power of books to provide the perspective, courage, companionship, and ultimately the self-knowledge to forge our own path and get where we want to go.

Bob is pretty awesome.

"Books wherein an author talks about how much they love books and what they read" is a particular genre kryptonite of mine. Editor of the New York Times Book Review wrote a book about keeping a book journal for most of her life?  Sign me up.

My Life With Bob by Pamela Paul was a little more memoir that I had anticipated - I was expecting more "this is what I read" as opposed to "this is my life while I was reading books" - but it's a well-written set of personal essays about a life-long love of reading, chronicled by the Bob (Book of Books) that she started while on a study program in France during high school. As someone who only started a book journal once finished with grad school and free once-again to start reading voraciously I found this particularly appealing.

Dear FTC: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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