Book Review: ‘The Reading List’

August 2021

The Reading List was an enjoyable and quick read for me. I found myself at a crossroads of what to read. There were multiple DNF’s before picking up ‘The Reading List’ so I have to say I was incredibly excited when this hit our New Release shelves at work.

Immediately I was captured by our main characters, Mukesh and Aleisha.

Mukesh is an English/Indian widowed older man. He has lost his life long companion to cancer and is starting to feel his life and body slowing down. His three daughters smother him with food, phone calls and check-ups. He feels a loss of independence and cannot stand being talked about rather than talked to by his family.

Aleisha is a 16 year old girl spending her summer break working in her small local library. She isn’t a reader so this jobs comes as a suggestion from her older brother Aidan, mostly to keep her busy while all her friends are away having spontaneous adventures and partying (as she sees on social media and through group chats). Aleisha’s mum also struggles with serious depression and needs full-time shift care from both her and her brother.

On Aleisha’s first day, a grumpy old man asks her for a book recommendation as he has just finished ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ and enjoyed it. This being one of the first books he has ever read, he wants something else to capture him and fill the void of lost connection to his wife. They have a little disagreement, make some quarrelsome remarks and a library book ends up being stolen – it’s quite a funny scene to initiate their meeting!

Taking a breath and walking around the library, Aleisha finds a crumpled up note in a copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The note is a Reading List that has anonymously been left by someone for others to find. The Reading List looks well used and as Aleisha looks around the library, she wonders how many other people have come across this and maybe, just maybe, she can use this list to give book recommendations to that grumpy old man.

From here we see Mukesh and Aleisha’s friendship slowly bloom. Their slow growing connection to the world of books, the lives of each character and the emotional journey they all face creates such meaningful discussions and allows them to see more to life than they did before.The Reading List really highlighted for me the importance of reading. How it can allow us to travel into the worlds and minds of people who think and feel differently to us. Not only that, reading allows us to explore new and exciting worlds – both real and make believe. It encourages us to grow our insight of ourselves and others, learning to understand compassion and empathy. Maybe I may just have to make a little reading list of my own and leave it sitting in my local library 😉📚