What wouldn’t interest me about this one? Books helping people? A library needing saved? Lonely people helped by a library? Sign me up!
Mukesh is missing his late wife. Aleisha is putting up with a new summer job and dealing with a lot at home. In the course of Aleisha’s job she finds a booklist and begins to read fiction–not just assigned books for school, but these books. Mukesh’s wife loved reading. He “reconnects” in a way with her thru reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. His young granddaughter also loves to read. When Mukesh gives up his beloved routine of watching Blue Planet on t.v. and goes to the library he finds a new way of connecting with life through the books on the list Aleisha recommends to him. Gradually, the develop of cross-generational friendship based on the books they are reading and tentatively discussing. The healing power of books, the escapism of reading, and the building of both friendships and communities based on shared feelings and interests are themes.
This was a very sweet book. Sweet, but never precious nor cloying. There was an unexpected event that jarred me [nothing crime-riddled, nothing sexual, nothing like that] that brought the story to a good arch of redemption for everyone, in a good and believable way.
The characters were believable. I could truly relate to Aleisha because of my own hero-worship of my big brother at her age and because of growing up with my Dad’s mental illness. Though he kept going to work, our home life was like Aleisha’s–everything depended on Dad’s needs. I, too, escaped, into books and I, too, learned to cope from books.–though of the books on the list I’d only read Little Women at that age (and watched Olivier in Rebecca). (And, I guessed the “secret” of the list right off). I connected, like Aleisha, with people of all ages through books and in this way found trustworthy adults who helped me at the same time in life that Aleisha and “Mr. P” as she calls Mukesh. I also loved Priya and her hero-worship of Alisha, her thrill at her filling out her library card for her. I had a few teenagers like that as well, and I was Priya after my tween years–always reading. She was sweet and believable.
Even so, I did think a book or so less in the list would have been “more” for the story. It got a little long and once or twice a bit contrived for my liking, but I’m for any nice book that gets people to read other books.
BUT…One bad thing
This book STOMPED on a pet peeve of mine. “Stomped” like in that stage show RENT. Stomped. Everyone who works in a library is NOT a librarian. Surely even the most ill-informed person can tell that a sullen 17 year old with a phone, holding down a desk is NOT a professional?? Do you walk into a bank and assume every person is a banker? Everyone in the drug store a pharmacist?? Of course not! But walk into a library (usually mispronounced lie-berry here where I am or “lie-bree” by the audio book people) and everyone is automatically a “librarian” (i.e. Lie-Berry-EE-An). Ugh Ugh Ugh. I had to have two college degrees to get my job, one of which is Master’s degree in Library Science. That does not mean others could not do it–it just means they would not get hired, ok? Even in a tiny rural public library a couple of specific courses are required. Are there ANY editors or fact-checkers anymore? I actually cheered out loud in the car when someone was finally (or did I imagine it?) correctly called a “library assistant.” I realize this bothered NO ONE but me (and likely a few other librarians who haven’t given up all hope that we might educate people on this!). This downgraded my rating for this book just a little.
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
Let’s hope if they make it into the movie they do not PC it or Woke it in any way. Leave it alone and let the author’s story stand as it is. It does not need to be “corrected” in any way to please any segment of the movie-going public. (I’m still ticked they tampered with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the movie-though I admit changing the title made a ton of sense as did making it the book tilte for future printings. They missed the mark on that before it was published).
Those I have read are marked with *
To Kill A Mockingbird *
The Kite Runner
Life of Pi
Pride and Prejudice *
Little Women *
A Suitable Boy * (I later learned I had listened to an abridged verision)
Have you read The Reading List? Give me your thoughts in a comment or leave a link to your own review–I’d enjoy reading those. What about the books on the list? Again, leave me a comment or link.