I received multiple copies of My Life with Bob as a gift for my birthday; evidently several people believed I would enjoy it and of course, they were right! As a reader, what’s not to like about a book about someone who loves books.
Author Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review kept a record of everything she read in her Book of Books (Bob) for almost 30 years. Her memoir takes us along her life journey with the list of everything she read along the way from her teen years to adulthood. This journal, Bob, is synonymous with her, representing a diary with hopes and dreams, the good, the bad and the ugly. The books she read impacted her life and her life influenced the books she read. She mentions so many, lots of titles I haven’t read and some I have never heard of, but no matter, the story of her life is intriguing and interesting and her story about Bob is inspirational and motivating.
Pamela is open and honest as she shares stories from her travels, relationship issues, family matters and personal disappointments along with joys and celebrations. When she recounts the toast her husband, Michael, made at their wedding, mentioning books she gave him early in their relationship and quoting from Great Expectations, I admit, I shed a tear. She conveyed experiences that touched her in such a way that they touched me too; beautifully written creating a wonderful connection between author and reader.
Pamela talks about her bookclub and everyone’s answers to the question Why Read?
“I read for sheer entertainment.”
“I read to learn.”
“I read to make sense of the world.”
“I read to find out something new.”
“I read to escape.”
“I read because it makes me happy.”
“I read for discovery.”
“For each of us, there seemed to be one core need that drove us to read on. But it was more complicated than that, as the ensuing conversation soon revealed. Everyone experiences most of these urges at different moments, or during certain periods of our lives, which is why most good readers read widely, even if they tend to go deep into one genre or another.”
I enjoyed thinking about the various styles of books I read, and much like how music of a certain time in your like evokes feelings and memories for so many, books can do the same and more. Pamela travelled all over the country, got married, divorced, remarried, had children, changed jobs, yet her Book of Books remained with her to ground her, keep her accountable and motivate her to continue plowing ahead, all the while representing her journey. Each title has significance during a time in her life and the draw to keep adding to the list is real. I wish I kept a Bob from the beginning but more recently I began to record what I read on My Goodreads Account.
Although I haven’t read nearly as much as she has and I’m sure I retain only a small percentage of what I read compared to her, I feel a connection to Pamela and a kinship over the love of books and reading. My Life with Bob is a real treat and a lovely gift for the reader in your life!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and oversees all that is books for The New York Times. She is even the host of their related podcast, Inside the New York Times Book Review. Her work has been recognized by popular magazines and websites like The Washington Post and she has written on subjects like parenting and marriage.