The Reading List – Sara Nisha Adams

Published By: HarperCollins
Pages: 432
Date Released: 22/07/2021

Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.

Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.

When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list…hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again. 

*****

Thanks to HarperCollins for the gifted copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Initially, having looked at the contents page, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the multiple narratives, and at first I did get a little lost, but very quickly you do get to know the characters’ individual voices which makes it pleasant to read. All the characters were so different, but I can identify myself in all of them – and I’m sure every person who reads this book can also.

Unless you’re w proficient reader, it is hard to explain to someone just what books can do for you. In fact, no matter how much I read, I find it difficult to tell people why reading means so much to me and what it can do for me, but Sara manages to describe it perfectly without simply saying “reading makes me feel XYZ”. The way it’s written just speaks to your very soul and you end up totally within her world.

The books on the reading list in this book were:

⁃ To Kill a Mockingbird (read)

⁃ Rebecca (currently reading)

⁃ Life of Pi (not read)

⁃ The Kite Runner (read) – my favourite on this list

⁃ Pride and Prejudice (read)

⁃ Little Women (not read)

⁃ Beloved (not read)

⁃ A Suitable Boy (not read)

Reading this book as made me think about what books I would recommend to someone to read. I’ve got titles that mean so much to me and feel very personal that they feel like they were written just for me and I’d find it difficult explaining to someone why I like it.

The ending was so unexpected but heartwarming and lovely and fuzzy. It is a beautiful homage to our much needed libraries and show us how they can really help us during the bad times. This isn’t just a book about reading. It is a book about loss, grief, anger, growing up, sadness, loneliness, happiness, and above all else, love.

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