Like Paul, I keep a journal of the books I’ve read. I use it to record first impressions, jot down personal reactions, and sometimes the titles of similar books, or names of similar authors. Often these entries are the foundation for my blog posts here at the Readers’ Corner. I’ve kept such a journal since just after high school, when a friend gave me a little reading journal for my birthday.
So, in short, Pamela Paul and I have a bit in common. The “Bob” of the title is Paul’s “Book of Books,” a notebook she’s kept for years where she writes down the titles of every book that she’s read. She uses Bob as a starting point to discuss her childhood as a bookish kid, her college years, her travels, and then her work and relationships, all tracked with the books she was reading at the time.
My Life with Bob is a love letter to the reading life, an examination of the intimate relationship between book and reader. It’s a bookish coming-of-age, with so many great quotes about the power of reading and stories (I keep a commonplace book as well as reading journals, and I wrote down several passages from this book).
Those who identify as “book people” will find a kindred spirit in Paul. Or at least I did. I had that extremely common reading experience where, at times, I was convinced that Paul was writing just for me, sharing my exact experiences, in essence if not particulars. Her tone is confessional and friendly, a fellow reader sharing her insights and anecdotes and favorites with you.
If you enjoy Michael Dirda’s work, or just enjoy books about the reading life, definitely give this a look!