Monday, December 27, 2021

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

 
First Lines: 2017. The doors are new: Automatic open. Fancy. That has changed since Aidan was here last.
 
Aleisha needs her job not only for the money but also as a temporary refuge from her life at home. Although she tried to find work at really interesting places like clothing shops, she got stuck with a job at a library that's under threat of being closed down. Aleisha is not a reader, can't understand why people would want to waste time reading books, and isn't particularly pleasant to any of the patrons who come to the checkout desk for her help.

After being unforgivably rude to an older gentleman, Aleisha is on the brink of being fired. She happens across a list of books, and-- thinking that if the old man comes in again, she'd be able to recommend something for him to read-- she begins reading the first book on the list. What happens next is the beginning of a friendship that will transform both Aleisha's life and the life of an elderly man named Mukesh.

~

Sometimes you read recurring hype about a particular book and you think to yourself, "It sounds good, but I've been burned more than once by reading over-publicized books. Maybe I'll read it. One of these days." Then sometimes a certain book keeps appearing on your radar, and you actually hear its siren call, a call that really has nothing to do with hype or publicity, and you know you should read it. That's what happened to me when I kept hearing praise of Sara Nisha Adams' The Reading List. That little inner voice of mine said, "Read this one now."

What made this book different? Number one, I've been compiling reading lists almost from the time I learned how to write. Number two, I had to know what books were on this particular list. Three, when I learned that the book was about how certain books can change your life, I was all in for I, too, have read transformative books. Reading the right book at the right time is powerful. It can change the way you see things. It can shine a spotlight on the dark gnarled knot of a problem and help you see the solution. It can help you to understand and to empathize with other people.
 
All this and more happens to Aleisha and Mukesh in The Reading List.  Aleisha and her brother Aidan are trapped in a nightmarish situation with their mentally fragile mother. Mukesh is mourning the death of his beloved wife and has three overbearing daughters who make him wish he'd lost his hearing first instead of getting a collection of aching joints that don't want to work properly. Mukesh's wife was a voracious reader. So is his granddaughter Priya. In order to have a better relationship with Priya, Mukesh decides to go to his local library where he meets the initially boorish Aleisha.  It takes a while, but the magic finally does happen.

Watching the friendship of these two very different people blossom through reading the books on a list is wonderful. It brought back so many memories of my own. Of growing up in a village library where my mother was the librarian and I was allowed to help. Of sitting in the back at the table to do my homework and listening to the patrons who came in to check out both the newest books and the latest gossip. And of reading in the quiet and being transported by one book after another-- reading of wonderful places to visit when I grew up, reading of fictional characters who became family for a rather lonely only child, and of learning to observe and to understand more and more of the world and the people around me.

There are moments in The Reading List that made me laugh. There are moments that made me cry. If you're a reader, you need to read this book. If you're not a reader, I won't ask why you're reading this review, I'll just hope that you crack open a copy of The Reading List, and maybe... just maybe... you'll see the light and join the rest of us on our journeys.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
eISBN: 9780063025301
HarperCollins © 2021
eBook, 384 pages
 
Contemporary Fiction, Standalone
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

16 comments:

  1. What an interesting way to form a friendship, Cathy! Although I have to say, I'm not surprised at it. Books just do have a way of bringing people together, I think. And it sounds as though these characters are nicely developed, which makes their friendship that much more appealing. This actually reminds me of another novel I read in which two people form a bond over books: have you read Phaedra Patrick's The Library of Lost and Found?

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    1. No, but I have a feeling that I will be! Thanks for the recommendation.

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  2. This was one of the best books I read this year, even though it didn't quite make my final list of the "best of the best." I loved Mukesh and Aleisha and watching their friendship develop. A wonderful book that any reader would love.

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  3. I really want to read this book! Everything about it sounds wonderful. :D

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    1. I think it's a book you will love, Lark. :-)

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  4. Wonderful review. You captured the spirit of The Reading List very well and brought some memories of its plot back to me. It's a beautiful little book.

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  5. That sounds wonderful! Adding it to my list :)

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  6. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Cathy! I also really enjoyed watching the friendship of Aleisha and Mukesh develop and grow. It was such a good reminder of the impact books can have on the reader and also on others around the reader. Great review.

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  7. OK.I'm in. Will put this book on library reserve right now.

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    1. I'll be interested in seeing what you think of it, Kathy.

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  8. They have it, so it's on library reserve.

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