cover image My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

Pamela Paul. Holt, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62779-631-6

New York Times Book Review editor Paul (The Starter Marriage) takes the term bookworm to a new level in this unusual and intriguing memoir about intermingling her life with the books she’s read. Since high school, Paul has entered every book she’s read (beginning with Kafka’s The Trial) in a battered journal she named Bob (Book of Books); continuing the habit in far-flung destinations in the 1980s and ’90s (Cambodia, China, France, Thailand, Vietnam), she recorded the books that she took along with her. Unlike a diary of thoughts and events she’d like to forget, Bob contains info she wants to remember. Paul was a book-smart, unsociable child growing up on Long Island, the sole girl among seven brothers whose parents divorced when she was “three or four”; books were and remain her refuge, companions, and obsession. She worked at bookstore chain B. Dalton and then in marketing, and eventually landed a job at the New York Times Book Review. After the birth of her third child, she remained in the hospital an extra day to finish The Hunger Games, later finding breastfeeding to be a perfect opportunity for reading. Gazing back through Bob’s pages, Paul is inspired to question why we read, how we read, what we read, and how reading helps us create our own narratives. Readers will be drawn to this witty and authentic tribute to the extraordinary power of books. [em](May) [/em]