The next time someone asks me why I read so much, I swear to God I’m going to hit them in the face with this book and then stand over them while they read it.
The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams sums up how I feel about reading and the power of books. It is a must read for any bookworm.
Set in Wembley, Mukesh is a lonely widower, having lost his wife Naina two years earlier.
Naina was a big reader, he never understood it and as a result he’s now struggling to connect with his 11-year-old granddaughter, Priya, a child who, just like her grandma, is always reading.
By chance he finds a copy of The Time Travellers Wife that Naina never got to return to Harrow Road library.
Desperate to connect to his wife, Mukesh starts reading it. It brings him comfort; it reminds him of falling in love with Naina and losing her.
That leads him to the library and Aleisha – also not a reader – she’s got a summer job at Harrow Road. By chance, she comes across a reading list stuffed into a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird:
Just in case you need it.
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Kite Runner
The life of Pi
Pride and Prejudice
A suitable Boy
Wanting to make things right after being rude to Mukesh, Aleisha starts reading through the list and passes on the recommendations to him.
What Aleisha doesn’t bank on is that these books will give her the escape from her troubled home life that she so desperately needs.
The list brings them both comfort and the two form a friendship based on a love of books, talking about how each one on the list makes them feel:
“Please try to remember that books aren’t always an escape; sometimes books teach us things. They show us the world; they don’t hide it.” Sara Nisha Adams
I loved this beautiful book.
Yes, I cried, that comes as no surprise these days.
Yes, I’ll be recommending this one to everyone because Sara Nisha Adams manages to explain my feelings around books far more eloquently than I’ll ever manage, I will however be giving it a go here….
I found myself excited for the characters as they picked up To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, I also hoped they had plenty of tissues to hand before starting the Kite Runner.
It’s a love letter to reading, books, libraries, friendship and community.
The idea was simple, a mysterious list that seemed speak directly to the characters. The memories the books on the list sparked for some of the characters, the memories it sparked it in me as I recalled reading some of the books on the list for first time.
“She didn’t remember the story, she was terrible with details, but she remembered the way it made her feel. It had this kind of warm, magical quality about it.” Sara Nisha Adams
Reading may seem solitary and anti-social. I’d argue that’s wrong. There is something universal about it.
Books have the power to bring people together. I think that every time someone clicks on this blog, writes a comment, recommends me a book, or excitedly tells me what they thought of a book.
It’s why I buy books for other people, why I beg friends to read certain books. It’s why English has always been my strongest subject and why I chose career that is storytelling.
Stories are what connect people, we’ve been telling them and passing them down since the dawn of time.
Books do more than just help us escape, they teach us about ourselves, the characters become part of us, the stories shape us.
Our favourites are like old friends, we come back to them again and again because to us they’re special. Each re-read brings comfort as we remember how we felt the first time we flicked through the pages and each re-read brings something different.
The Reading List captures all that, the joy of sharing a book with someone you love, the power of books, how they connect us, even we are no longer here.
“These are the books that brought me closer to myself, that shaped me and my world — I hope they’ll bring you light and joy and, if you ever miss me, you’ll find me within their pages.” Sara Nisha Adams
So, if you’ve got a spouse, friend, child, loved one who’s constantly got a book a in their hands, instead of saying “I don’t know how you find the time to read” or “you’re always reading”, maybe ask what they’re reading, what it’s about and what their favourite books are.
Better still, read some of them yourself, you might find you like them too.
P.S Use your local library, they really are about more than books.
P.P.S I am absolutely thinking about what’s on my Reading List
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm