The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams – Book review

After seeing author Sara Nisha Adams talk so passionately about The Reading List at a local library event, I started it immediately and LOVED it. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself crying at the end of a book but that’s what The Reading List did to me.

Packed full of emotion, (my heart was bursting!) while also falling into one of my favourite niche genres – books about how great books are. (There’s a whole section on them on my Book List page if you happen to like this genre too…) What The Reading List particularly does so well is celebrate the true redemptive power of reading the right book at the right time in your life.

Opening sentence: The doors are new: automatic open.

Mukesh and Aleisha

Widowed and retired Mukesh and 17-year-old Aleisha are an unlikely duo that end up becoming friends after they meet in their local library. They are both lonely and suffering their fair share of heartbreak and neither would call themselves an avid reader, despite Aleisha having a summer job at the library and Mukesh’s late wife, Naina being a huge bookworm.

Sometimes, books just take us away for a little while, and return us to our place with a new perspective.

Mukesh turns to his local library as a way to reconnect with his wife and his granddaughter Priya, who has inherited her grandmother’s love of reading.

The power of books

The intriguing plot centres around a mystery reading list that Aleisha finds and how it subtly affects the lives of so many people. And what is the list? Well, these classics…

Just in case you need it

To Kill a Mockingbird

Rebecca

The Kite Runner

Life of Pi

Pride and Prejudice

Little Women

Beloved

A Suitable Boy

I just love how author Sara Nisha Adams weaves the key messages from each book on the list into the lives of her characters. She obviously has a deep affection for all eight books (not forgetting about The Time Traveller’s Wife too which also has a special place in the book) and has totally sold them to me; I am now determined to read them all (time to admit I’ve never read Little Women – I know, the shame!)

‘I think you can read whatever you want to into anything. That is the point of books,’ Mukesh said hesitantly, hoping he was channelling a little of the Atticus Finch wisdom.

Mukesh immigrated to London from Kenya and is part of a Hindu community in Wembley, North West London, where the book is set. It actually brought back some nice memories for me as I lived near this area for a little while in my uni days. Alongside the story, I loved how The Reading List gave me a glimpse into this community, the descriptions of food were particularly delicious and made my mouth water.

From the way something as simple as a list of books touches so many people’s lives to the way Mukesh and Aleisha use the books to cement their friendship, The Reading List is a comforting, warming read that’s a true love letter to kindness, community, books and libraries – adored it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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