My mom got an ARC of this memoir by Pamela Paul and thoroughly enjoyed it. She offered me her copy when she was done with it and I turned it down, but then I ended up at my parents’ house unexpectedly after my dog had dragged me over. I was unprepared with my own reading material, but I saw this one lying around, decided to give it a try, and was instantly hooked.
The book is all about Paul’s reading life and her love of books. “Bob” stands for “Book of Books,” which is kind of her own hardcover version of Goodreads before Goodreads was a thing. She started it when she was a teenager – recording the titles of each book she’s read, the author, when she started it, and when (and if) she finished. She says it means more to her than any standard journal because just the information she provides is enough to remind herself of where she was and what she was going through when she was reading those books. Paul then proceeds to relive that journey with us.
This book starts off with Paul’s struggles as a book lover in a world that did not understand or encourage book lovers. I couldn’t relate to that particular part of the book, but it did make me that much more grateful that I was raised by two fellow readers who bought me every book I wanted when I was growing up.
Paul then recounts her travels through studying abroad in France and her French family, with whom she remains very close; college; applying for corporate jobs she hated; deciding to opt out of the corporate world in favor of globe trotting and teaching English in questionable places; her first marriage and divorce; her second marriage; motherhood; freelance writing; taking a job as the Children’s Editor of the New York Times Book Review; and finally her promotion to Editor of the New York Times Book Review.
Through it, all Paul describes the books she was reading (or listening to) at the time, her obsessions with different authors at different times in her life, the books that got her through tough times and the book that inspired her to inflict hardships on herself. I was with her the whole way and wanted more when I had finished the book.
It’s written in a very conversational, easy-to-read style that made me zip right through it. There were lines that made me laugh out loud and lines that made me cringe. On the whole it was very easy to relate to as a fellow book lover, including the stories of people in her life who turned their noses up at Bob and at the books she chose to include in it. I loved hearing about her life, and how books inspired her and got her through tough times. As a fellow book lover, I could relate to a lot of the themes in this book and I recommend it to all other book lovers.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else you happened upon by accident and ended up loving?