My Life with Bob, by Pamela Paul (2017)

My Life with Bob, by Pamela PaulThe title is a pun, it’s a book about reading books, and my spouse is nicknamed Bob. How could I resist??! And what a great premise. Our reading choices say so much about us. Imagine how well a stranger would understand you if she could only browse through all the books you’d read. Well, Paul has essentially opened herself up to us in just this way. Currently the editor of The New York Times Book Review, Paul is also the author of three other works of nonfiction, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony; Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families ; and Parenting, Inc.: How the Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed the Way We Raise Our Children. By those titles alone I think she’d make a fascinating dinner guest. But wait, there’s more! For nearly 30 years, since adolescence, Paul has kept track of every book she has read, entering each title in a Book of Books, a tattered and highly personal journal known as Bob. Despite changing majors after an intimidating English Lit experience in first year, her reading interest are wide ranging, from Western philosophers to works translated from Thai. She is no book snob, though, including The Hunger Games and A Wrinkle in Time alongside The Fountainhead and Into That Darkness, the latter a book about the Holocaust, drawing parallels and lessons from her reading at key points in her life. This is of course only possible in retrospect, but it feels natural and honest. With hundreds of titles to choose from, I expect this was a fascinating personal journey, a life more examined than most. As this blog has surpassed 350 titles in seven years, I’d like to think there is some fodder for personal revelation, but I’m sure as heck not likely to share it widely. I’m glad Paul found the courage to do so. She has not tried, so far as I can tell, to whitewash her life, admitting to errors in judgment and personal flaws and endearing her to us readers who have shared her fears, inhibitions, and joy in finding kindred spirits. I would have liked to see an index of the book titles she mentions. And maybe an appendix listing ALL the titles in Bob to date. Or reproduced as endpapers! I’d have liked that.
More discussion and reviews of this book:


2 thoughts on “My Life with Bob, by Pamela Paul (2017)

  1. Looks like a wonderful read, Michelle. Thank you. I so enjoy your reviews.

    Best, Leslie >

  2. If you decide to read it, come back and let us know your thoughts. I’d òlove to see how we agree and diverge in opinion.

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