My Life With Bob

My Life With Bob

Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

Book - 2017
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"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 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"--
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, ©2017.
ISBN: 9781627796316
Characteristics: x, 242 pages ;,22 cm.


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Jul 06, 2019

Although the author's relationship with books is a common theme, this book is not quite "about books" as I have shelved it. "My Life" the first two words of the title, is the operative phrase; this is first and foremost a memoir. Ms. Paul selects a particular book as a hook from which to hang each chapter but the congruence between that episode of her life and the book in question is often tenuous at best. One is unlikely to reap a lot of insight into each of the books that she apostrophizes in that way; regardless of each chapter's heading, the story is about Pamela Paul. The existence of "Bob", her book list is far from being remarkable, nor is her life story anything out of the ordinary. No startling insights or memorable prose here either. So what was the point of it all?
I find it hard to answer that question and yet I read it cover-to-cover and found it engaging and worthwhile primarily because I saw similarities between her early life as a socially isolated bookworm and my own youth. And because it poses the fundamental question of why we read; and how it is that what we choose to read both reveals who we are and shapes our worldview.

mazinwhistler Feb 22, 2019

For those of you out there who are ferocious readers - this is one for you! A bibliophile will get a kick of this out and at the same know that your reading list has just grown exponentially as it makes you realise how many more books you still have to read. It my even inspire you to start your own Bob! This has also led me to discover my new favourite genre 'bibliomemoir' I look forward to reading even more!

Oct 24, 2018

I am a long time listener of the New York Times Book Review Podcast hosted by Pamela Paul so I was looking forward to this book. It was an enjoyable read. A sort of memoir of her life told mostly through her experiences with books that she has kept recorded in her Book of Books (BOB). It was an interesting, pleasant and quick read.

vm510 Nov 30, 2017

An enjoyable memoir about the author's life and how specific books can tell us what we're going through and feeling. I liked learning from someone who enjoys books and there are plenty of memorable quotes about reading and books. If you're a book lover, this will likely resonate.

Oct 15, 2017

Wonderful! Enjoyed Pamela Paul's unpretentious writing on a subject dear to all avid readers' hearts. Wish I'd thought of starting my own BOB earlier! Highly recommend. 5 Stars!

Oct 11, 2017

I've learned so much from Pamela Paul and when she talks, I listen. So when she writes a book about being a bookworm and hiding in books as a way of getting through the uncomfortableness of being young, or not so young, I pick it up and read it even if it seems like not my thing.

But it was my thing. Completely.

The best book I've read all year because I felt good about myself being a bookworm because she made it seem worthy or at least not embarrassing and maybe somewhat noble.

And I learned she was once married to the creepy Bret Stephens who is the climate denier at the NYT opinion page, a controversial figure to say the least and somewhat of a giant asshole, so I'm told.

And now she's so successful, and so connected, and so perfect in every way that you feel like maybe being a bookworm isn't such a bad way to spend the day after all.

Jun 07, 2017

This is a book about books interspersed with stories from the life of an avid reader. It's a perfect book for any bibliophile because you will find yourself nodding along with all her comments about the wonderful smell of new (and old) books, the inability to pick just one book at a bookstore, the never ending piles of to be read books and the overall joy reading brings. Considering that this was written by the editor of the New York Times Book Review, I appreciated how utterly unsnobbish Paul was about books and was willing to read and admit to reading all types of books. My only complaint was that I wish there was more. There were parts of her life that were mentioned only in passing and I would have enjoyed hearing more about her family life and a lot more about her very cool job!

Cynthia_N Jun 07, 2017

Paul has been a reader for as long as she can remember, just like me. The amazing thing about this book is that a lot of her reading memories are the same as mine. Going to the library and hoping to impress the librarians as a young child. Heading into the adult section because you have now finished all the books you want to read in the children's section. Getting excited when you have a friend who reads the books you suggest. Reading a book and thinking you understand it and then rereading it later in life and realizing you didn't have a clue. Recommended for any readers!

May 18, 2017

Very disappointed. The first few essays were some of the best writing I've had the pleasure to read. By the middle, I was frustrated. She turned from delightful storyteller to pontificator. Other essays sounded like notes from a whiny, spoiled, self-indulgent brat. So save yourself time and frustration and just read the first few excellent chapters and then return the book to the library.

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