Synopses & Reviews
When she was sixteen years old, Pamela Paul opened to the first page of a notebook and began recording the title and author of every book she read during the summer. She continued doing so as autumn turned to winter, as high school turned to college, as her life took her through romance, disappointment, marriage, and motherhood, and as she rose in her career to the editorship of The New York Times Book Review. The once-new notebook now mottled, coffee-stained, and frayed at the corners is the record of her lifelong love affair with books, and it has come to mean more to her than any other material possession. She has even given it a name: Bob, for Book of Books."
Pamela Paul s life with Bob is a life that many of us will recognize, a life in which books play a much more meaningful role than simply imparting information or entertaining us with compelling stories. When she opens Bob to any page, the titles and authors listed there serve as touchstones to remember the people, places, and emotions of her past not only what she was reading but where she was and the person she was at the time. It makes a difference that she read The Trial while on a youth program in France, The Hunger Games in the maternity ward, and Swimming to Cambodia in Cambodia, and she reflects on how her life s journey has been shaped and redirected by the books and authors who spoke to her at that time.
Not merely a chronicle of reading, My Life with Bob is also a testament to the power of books to provide the perspective, courage, companionship, and ultimately the self-knowledge to forge our own path and get where we want to go.
Imagine keeping a record of every book you ever read. What would those titles say about you? With humor and warmth, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.
For twenty-eight years, Pamela Paul has been keeping a diary that records the books she reads, rather than the life she leads. Or does it? Over time, it s become clear that this Book of Books, or Bob, as she calls him, tells a much bigger story. For Paul, as for many readers, books reflect her inner life her fantasies and hopes, her dreams and ideas. And her life, in turn, influences which books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, diversion or self-reflection, information or entertainment. My Life with Bob isn t about what s in those books; it s about about the relationship between books and readers.
Bob was with her when she struggled to get through the Norton Anthology of English Literature in college and when she read Anna Karenina while living abroad alone. He was there when she fell in love and much needed when she sought solace in self-help and memoirs like Autobiography of a Face. Through marriage and divorce, remarriage (The Master and Margarita) and parenthood (The Hunger Games), professional setbacks and successes, Bob recorded what she read while all that happened. The diary now coffee-stained and frayed is the record of a lifelong love affair with books, and has come to mean more to her than any other material possession.
My Life with Bob is a testament to the power of books to provide the perspective, courage, companionship, and ultimately self-knowledge to forge our own path.
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Imagine keeping a record of every book you've ever read. What would this reading trajectory say about you? With passion, humor, and insight, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.
Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years - carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, safely packed away and then carefully removed from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk - reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.
Bob is Paul's Book of Books, a journal that records every book she's ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia, a journey in reading that reflects her inner life - her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.
But My Life with Bob isn't really about those books. It's about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It's about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge to forge our own path. It's about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It's about how we make our own stories.