The Reading List: A Novel

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams, Narrated by Tara Divina, Sagar Arya, and Paul Panting

Published August 3rd 2021 by HarperAudio, William Morrow

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can’t resist a book about books, libraries or bookstores. This one ticked two of the boxes, a library setting and a list of books to read. When Mukesh loses his beloved wife, he becomes concerned about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries. He heads to the library to see if he can find a book to help him connect with Priya. Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager who has a summer job working at the local library. She finds a crumpled list of novels in the back of a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. She is a bit bored with her job, so decides to read all the books on the list over the summer. When Mukesh shows up at the library, he meets a rather angry and uninformative Aleisha. She decides to share the list with Mukesh. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between these two lonely people who are trying to escape the grief and pain in their lives. It also helps to bring Priya and Mukesh together.

I absolutely love the theme of healing through books. The story is told from the perspectives of both Mukesh and Aleisha. As they read the books they see how to apply it to their own lives and troubles. These two are such and unlikely pair to come together to help one another, but they form a friendship through the sharing of the books and their effect on each of them. This is a story that deals with some serious subjects such as loneliness, loss, and depression, yet it is an uplifting story about friendship and community. I loved both of the main characters and seeing them change, heal and grow with every book they read. Some of the books included are classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and more. This book not only reminded me of the power of books, but also libraries. I have not visited my library for several years except to pick up a book I have ordered online. I was reminded of spending time wandering the aisles and looking at the shelves with books popping out for me to examine. I loved the ending of this story as it reminded me how much our lives are intertwined with others and often come full circle. The audiobook had a cast of three performers. Tara Divina, Sagar Arya, and Paul Panting work together to make this story come alive. They all give wonderful and identifying voices to the various characters and their expression gives emotion and adds interest to the story. I definitely recommend this audiobook to book lovers. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

The Beach Reads Book Club

The Beach Reads Book Club by Kathryn Freeman, Hannah Brown (Narrator)

Published June 30th 2021 by One More Chapter

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lottie Watt is kicked out of her uptight book club for not following the rules, so she decides to start her own club with her own rules. Conversation, gin and cake are the base, and discussions of the book are secondary. The Beach Reads Book Club meets at Books by the Bay, a bookshop and café owned by the gorgeous Matthew Steele, who seems to have problems of his own. As the club meets each week, an attraction between Matt and Lottie develops as well. Lottie knows that true love is hard to come by and that she needs to work at it to earn Matt’s love, but is a risk she is willing to take.

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Lottie was a great protagonist, easy-going, forgiving, kind, generous, but strong and stubborn. I enjoyed the ladies in the book club, Audrey especially was a hoot. Everyone Lottie meets is changed in some way, she brings out the best in everyone. Life does not always happen the way we want, but when you have good friends and support it makes it easier to deal with and that is exactly what this group does for one another. The male lead, Matt, is the opposite to Lottie. Where she is outgoing, he is rigid and standoffish, at least at first. As he comes out of his shell we see a witty, smart, and caring man. I like the way they balance each other. In this story, the group reads and discusses real romance stories, some of which I have read and enjoyed. The chapter titles are the titles of the books the club plans to read, with the title often reflecting what is happening in the story. This is a romance story, so of course that is also a large part of the story. I enjoyed seeing Lottie and Matt open up to each other. The scene where Lottie repairs an electrical problem in the store was a hoot as Matt was surprised about her job. The romance is sweet and I loved the slow development and heat in the story. I did a read/listen with the audiobook narrated by Hannah Brown. She does a nice job with the story and gives voice to the many characters. She uses expression to give emotion to the story. Overall, this is a great book for readers who like heartwarming and fun contemporary romances with great messages, well-developed and relatable characters, and a fantastic love story. I definitely recommend this one. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.