The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams was the perfect book for me to read in the moment…read on to find out why :).
Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.
Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.
When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list… hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again.
I picked this book up when I tested positive for Covid. Luckily my symptoms were fairly mild, but it was still a stressful time. I have a 3-year-old daughter, so finding a way for both my husband and I to work while she was quarantined at home was a challenge. Needless to say, I needed something somewhat comforting.
Enter: The Reading List!
The characters in this story were so loveable. I loved both Mukesh and Aleisha, and the side characters you meet throughout, too. They each had something really difficult in their lives – him a recent widower, and her living with a mentally ill mom. And things get harder before they get easier.
The way the author depicts grief I thought was really well done. Both of the main characters are grieving something or someone, and you can see them struggling to find themselves in it and adapt to their worlds.
I also loved the thread of the reading list tying their stories (and side characters) together so closely. It’s a little bit of a mystery, because you don’t know who made the reading list they find, but the author started weaving in more clues as the story went on. I thought that was a really fun way to make the reveal.
The only thing I didn’t love about this book, the thing that took it down from 5 stars to 4, is the ending. Maybe skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t read the book yet. I won’t reveal anything huge, but you might be able to figure it out from what I do say. Ok warning you…here goes. The ending was a little too cheesy for me. The whole book was awesome, it dealt with hard things, and then at the ending, it’s just all too cheery and cheesy. Just the way everything resolves, even with the shadow of the hard thing that happens, was just too perfect the way events fell into place.
Ok, no more spoilers 🙂 Overall I definitely recommend this one, especially if you feel like books change/have changed your life. There’s a lot of book and reading love in here, and that was a joy to read. 4 stars.