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Reading List

Reading List

No doubt about it - my book of the year.  This is a terrific tale in the come-together, makeshift community genre that Frederik Backman has made famous. You will come to love our two heroes. Seventeen year-old Aleisha works at the Harrow Road Library in North London -- not for her love of books, but because she needs the money. When Mukesh, a somewhat helpless older man who's recently lost his wife, visits the library seeking a book recommendation, Aleisha has little to offer. As he pushes for a suggestion, she becomes defensive, even rude. She regrets her behavior almost immediately, but she’s more focused on difficulties in her home life, including her absentee father and her mentally fragile mother. Even so, when she stumbles on a handwritten reading list tucked into a just-returned book, she impulsively uses it as a way to apologize to Mukesh, recommending the first book, To Kill a Mockingbird. She also decides to read every book on the list herself, rationalizing that it will help pass the long days in the library. When Mukesh returns to tell Aleisha how much he enjoyed Mockingbird, they decide to create an impromptu book club. It seems this budding relationship is just the thing to save Mukesh from his continued grief over his late wife, and how he’s hoping to breathe life into his relationship with his shy, bookish granddaughter (she especially adored his well-read and lovely late wife and misses her tremendously). Meanwhile, Aleisha begins relying on Mukesh as the only stable adult in her life. 

When Aleisha’s family suffers a devastating event, Aleisha looks to Mukesh to help her pick up the pieces, but he’s not sure he can be the grown-up she needs (we know he can, though). Full of delightful references to popular and classic novels (Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, The Kite Runner), this debut focuses on reading to cope and process with real, NOW life-events, even if you’re 17. The Reading List was inspired by the author’s own relationship with her wonderful grandfather, and so shows an insightful empathy for the difficulties faced at all the life stages. Most important, it’s a classic that shows how any and all joys and concerns are relatable if you make yourself vulnerable + available because there’s wisdom all around us all (even if it wears socks with sandals).Reading List is lovely. Truly. - Sandy


"The most heartfelt read of the summer...a surprising delight of a novel."--Shondaland

An unforgettable and heartwarming debut about how a chance encounter with a list of library books helps forge an unlikely friendship between two very different people in a London suburb.

Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in Wembley, in West London 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.

Publication Date: 
August 3, 2021
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