The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams is an utterly delightful contemporary fiction reaffirming the power of books and libraries and the undeniable contentment of genuine friendship. Set in a community library in Harrow, the book follows Mukesh and Aleisha. They essentially buddy read their way through a crumpled list of novels found in the back of a library book. The pair, who are lonely in different ways, forge a connection through their reading adventures. They also come to learn the joy that can be found in a fictional escape.
1. it’s about books!
Books about books are very easy to connect with. The Giver of Stars is a prime example. That story is still stuck in my mind and is the reason I desperately want another story from Jojo Moyes. There’s something about books about books that puts you at ease. The great thing about The Reading List is that it does include a literal reading list. Plus, it discusses these books in details. The books featured in The Reading List are: To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, The Kite Runner, Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Beloved, and A Suitable Boy. It doesn’t contain an in-depth review of each book, but there are small spoilers in relation to the plots, so be cautious!
2. it’ll pull you out of a slump
The Reading List does an amazing job at drumming up excitement for reading. Some of the books the characters are experiencing are stories I have already enjoyed, and reading about their journey to falling in love with words is just as heart-warming as a book club full of friends. As for the books I haven’t read, such as The Kite Runner and A Suitable Boy, now I’m desperate to read them just to feel the same joy the characters did. Their enthusiasm is infectious! I found this to be quite a motivating read, a reason to get into more fiction, and something I’ll definitely come back to if I want to read more books.
3. the characters are loveable
Loveable characters can be the sole reason a book is memorable. Even if the plot is slow or struggling for direction, a good personality that you look forward to meeting each time you open a book serves as a great motivation to keep reading. Fortunately, The Reading List has a great plot and completely loveable characters. Mukesh is easily my favourite. He’s an elderly man who is reading books as a way to connect with his young granddaughter. Many of his expressions are comical and heart-warming, pushing you to love the character even more. Similarly, I was a big fan of Aleisha and her brother, Aidan.
4. there’s great representation
Mukesh is a practising Hindu, and his everyday life provides a little insight into the Indian community in London. He’s a widow and has many expressions and revelations that I’m sure will resonate with those in a similar situation. Likewise, Aleisha is an isolated teen working a summer job to help her older brother care for her mother. Aleisha faces challenges in her family, at work, and socially, and I think many moments will be relatable to younger readers. The Reading List also features representation of an undiagnosed mental illness, and I found the author approaches this with compassion and humanity.
5. it’s the perfect curl up book
I included this book in my list for a reason. And I’m pleased to confirm my suspicious were correct, this is an absolutely brilliant book to curl up with. The narrative isn’t overly thrilling, fast-paced, or full of twists and turns. It’s just a good story, one that’s easy to escape to, and one that feels engaging from start to finish. There’s also a good chance The Reading List will make you cry – it certainly had me shedding tears. Sometimes you are graced with those evenings that begin with a perfect sunset, followed by a hearty meal, and are later filled with your favourite candles, relaxing music, and every other cosy essential. On those evenings, The Reading List is an ideal book to pick up.