About the Book
When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.
From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.
And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.
Format: Hardcover (432 pages) Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 22nd July 2021 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find The Reading List on Goodreads
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A book set mainly in a library and about the joy to be gained from reading, that’s got to be the literary equivalent of catnip hasn’t it? It certainly was to this reader, along with the gorgeous cover that made me slightly sad I was reading a digital copy. I may just have to visit a bookshop soon and treat myself…
The Reading List is eloquent about the benefits to be gained from reading, whether that’s the power of books to inform, to distract from everyday worries, to evoke memories, to prompt discussion or to provoke connections with others. It’s also a passionate advocacy for the value to communities of public libraries.
Talking of communities, the author certainly creates a vivid picture of the area of London (Wembley) in which Mukesh lives and that is the location of the Harrow Road Library. I also admired the creative ways the author used the reading list to give us an insight into the lives of other secondary characters. I developed a great affection for Mukesh and his willingness to try new things, inspired by what he believes his late wife, Naina, would have wanted him to do.
Although there is plenty of humour in the book, it tackles more serious issues such as bereavement, the burden of caring responsibilities, loneliness and mental illness but in such a way that you always feel there is a glimmer of hope, a possible way out of the situation. However, as with some of the books on the reading list, it has moments of sadness.
When it comes to the books on the reading list of the novel’s title, the author carefully treads the fine line between revealing enough of each book’s content to demonstrate its relevance to the situations her characters find themselves in, and not giving away so much that readers who might want to follow the example of Mukesh and Aleisha and read the eight novels on the list think there’s no point in reading them now. As it happens, I’ve only read four of the eight on the list but am intrigued enough to add the remainder to my wishlist.
As well as being a thoroughly engrossing read, what The Reading List has showed me is there’s no shame in peeking at what others are reading on the bus or train, and that if your local library is under threat of closure you should join (or start) the campaign to save it now.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of Harper Collins via NetGalley.
In three words: Touching, heartfelt, uplifting
Try something similar: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
About the Author
Sara Nisha Adams is a writer and editor. She lives in London and was born in Hertfordshire to Indian and English parents. Her debut novel The Reading List is partly inspired by her grandfather, who lived in Wembley and immediately found a connection with his granddaughter through books. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)