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

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

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

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

by Pamela Paul


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Imagine keeping a record of every book you’ve ever read. What would this reading trajectory say about you? With passion, humor, and insight, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.

Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years – carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, safely packed away and then carefully removed from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk – reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.

Bob is Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia, a journey in reading that reflects her inner life – her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.

But My Life with Bob isn’t really about those books. It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It’s about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge to forge our own path. It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250182548
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,007,880
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.28(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and oversees books coverage at The New York Times. She is also the host of the weekly podcast, Inside The New York Times Book Review. Her books include My Life with Bob, By the Book, Parenting, Inc., Pornified, and The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. Prior to joining the Times, she was a contributor to Time magazine and The Economist; her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Slate, and Vogue.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Why Keep Track? 1

1. Brave New World: You Shouldn’t Be Reading That 9
2. Slaves of New York: The Literary Life 19
3. The Trial: A Book with No Ending 27
4. Catch-22: Never Enough 38
5. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Required Reading 54
6. Into That Darkness: Voyeurism 64
7. The Grapes of Wrath: Among Readers 71
8. A Journey of One’s Own: Books That Change Your Life 80
9. Anna Karenina: Heroines 91
10. Swimming to Cambodia: The Company of Narrators 104
11. Wild Swans: Inspirational Reading 116
12. The Secret History: Solitary Reading 129
13. The Wisdom of the Body: In Love with a Book 135
14. The Magic Mountain: Different Interpretations 143
15. Autobiography of a Face: On Self-Help 153
16. Flashman: I Do Not Like Your Books 164
17. The Master and Margarita: Recommendations 175
18. The Hunger Games: No Time to Read 184
19. A Wrinkle in Time: Reading with Children 192
20. Bad News: Tearjerkers 205
21. Les Misérables: Why Read? 219
22. A Spy Among Friends: Other Writers 230

Epilogue: The Lives We Read 238

Acknowledgments 241

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