Books About Books and #TheReadingList [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

January 21, 2022

Do you love Books About Books?

Favorite Books About Books (white text alongside a tall stack of hardback books on a blue painted wood table)

Today for the #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Books About Books.”

Do you have a favorite Book About Books?

I fall hard for Books About Books and it’s one of my favorite and most read categories! Following today’s review, find a list of a few of my favorite “Books About Books” titles.

For today’s review, I’m highlighting my most recent “books about books” read:

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (cover) white text overe a graphic image of scattered open books

Genre/Categories/Settings: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Ode to Books and Libraries, Multi-Generational Friendship, London (suburb)

My Summary:

The Reading List is a memorable debut novel about a list of library books, the magic of reading, and unlikely friendships. A widower, Mukesh longs to connect with Priya his bookworm granddaughter. He ventures into the local library and meets Aleisha, a lonely and sometimes surly teenager who is a volunteer at the library for the summer. Aleisha has discovered a reading list in the back of one of the books she was shelving and decided she would read the books on the list. When Mukesh asks her for a reading recommendation, she remembers the list and recommends the first book on the list. Mukesh and Aleisha strike up an unlikely friendship and connection through discussing the books on the list as they read them (she reads one book ahead of him).

My Thoughts:

Debut: The Reading List is a beautifully written and all around wonderful debut novel. Sara Nisha Adams is definitely on my “new authors to watch” list!

Main Characters: Mukesh and Aleisha are both lonely and start out as nonreaders. Aleisha begins to read books on the “found” list out of curiosity and boredom while Mukesh thinks he “should” read because his late wife was a reader and now his granddaughter is a bookworm. He hopes that reading will help him keep alive the close connection he had with his wife and make new connections with his granddaughter, Pirya. Mukesh and Aleisha form a bookclub of sorts as they look forward to sharing their thoughts about the recent book that Aleisha has recommended for him (from the list). Their conversations are sweet, a friendship forms, and reading becomes a lifeline for both of them.

Other Characters: The story includes other colorful and interesting characters from the library and the community. However, when the author devotes an entire chapter to a random character, I found it to be a distraction that took me out of the story and away from the main characters. Each one is an interesting character and the sections of random characters exhibit the same quality of writing, but I’m not sure of the purpose except to establish the sense of a broader reading community.

The Reading Life: The author captures so much of the magic, satisfaction, and enjoyment of the reading life! Books have the ability to create strong connections between people….even strangers! How many times have you been in a public place and found yourself trying to read the title of the book the person next to you or across from you is reading? Or when you notice a person reading a book you loved, do you feel compelled to start a conversation? Do you ever feel that a book is recommending a person? I.E. if this person is reading that book, they must be a great person! Book people really are the best people, and I think this a universally recognized fact!

Favorite Quote:

“Priya was reading a book he knew all about. He knew the world Priya was in right now. There was something magical in that…in sharing a world you have loved; allowing someone to see it through the same pair of spectacles you saw it through yourself.”

A Mystery: There is a bit of intrigue in the story, also. Where did the list come from? Who created it? For what purpose was it created? Is there a reason that certain books were selected?

Structure: The story is loosely structured around the actual reading list as Mukesh and Aleisha work their way through. Each book is discussed to varying degrees and your reading enjoyment will be enhanced if you’ve read some or all of the books (but it’s not necessary to have read any of them). However, there’s more to this story than a simple reading list. It’s a story of found family, community, grief, connection, and moving forward.

The Books: Mukesh’s reading experience starts with The Time Traveler’s Wife (a book Mukesh found while cleaning after his wife died). He wants to read the book she had last read before he returns it to the library. This in turn leads him to meeting Aleisha and receiving his first recommendation.

(if you’re curious!) The Reading List:

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Life of Pi
The Kite Runner
Pride and Prejudice
Little Women
A Suitable Boy

Themes: the joys of reading, connecting with others through books, the book life, friendship, support, loneliness, sibling relationships, mental health, grief, complicated family dynamics, connection, and community.

***contains spoilers***
Content Considerations: mental health, suicide, cancer

Highly Recommended: I’m enthusiastically recommending The Reading List for fans of books about books and the reading life, for those who appreciate an uplifting story (except for hard hitting issues as mentioned above), for readers who may have read any or all of the books on “the list,” and for book clubs.

Your Book List: If YOU were to curate a reading list to leave in random places for other readers or non-readers to find, what books would you put on your list and why? Wouldn’t it be fun to start finding book lists lying around?! Hummmm….perhaps this will be a future blog post!

My Rating: 4 Stars


The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (cover) white text overe a graphic image of scattered open books

The Reading List Information Here

Meet the Author, Sara Nisha Adams

Author Sara Nisha AdamsSara Nisha Adams is a writer and editor. She lives in London and was born in Hertfordshire to Indian and English parents. Her debut novel The Reading List is partly inspired by her grandfather, who lived in Wembley and immediately found a connection with his granddaughter through books.

A Few of My Favorite Books About Books/Bookshops/Libraries

(the first section are my most favorite and most highly recommended)

The Printed Letter Bookshop
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
How to Find Love in a Bookshop
The Last Bookshop in London
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
The Librarian of Auschwitz
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
The Reading List

* * *
The Last Chance Library
The Paris Library
The Lost and Found Bookshop
The Jane Austen Society
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Library of Lost and Found
The Night of Many Endings
Cloud Cuckoo Land
The Personal Librarian
84, Charing Cross Road

 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the January installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge


Do you love Books About Books?
Do you have a favorite?
Is The Reading List on your TBR or have you read it?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. Hi Carol,
    Great post and nicely structured. I couldn’t get into The Reading List maybe I’ll get back to it after your review. I have read Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes also about the book women of troublesome creek which I enjoyed very much.
    Did you read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig I think you would enjoy that.

    • Thanks Alison! I’ve heard good things about Giver of Stars but haven’t read it. Thanks for The Midnight Library rec! I’ll definitely check it out! No two people read the same book so I understand about setting a book aside if it isn’t working for you! Thanks for commenting!

  2. This is brilliant Carol, I’ve never thought of looking at books about books before and you’ve listed some great ones. It’s interesting that another good friend has suggested The Reading List recently so it’s definitely on my list to read. Thanks for joining in with our #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge, it’s great to have you!

  3. The Reading List is definitely on my TBR but I’m waiting until it’s out in paperback as sadly, the library don’t have it. Which seems very strange when you think about it. I do love books about books though, or libraries, or bookshops 😃😃

  4. Hi, Carol – Thank you for joining us at #WOYBS. I always look forward to your contributions (they always teach me something new), I love books about books. From your list I have read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Jane Austen Society. I think I will reread the Jane Austen book. I absolutely loved that one. Thank your for the reminder! I will also check out The Reading List.

    • You’re welcome! It’s always a post I look forward to each month! I’m happy to hear we share the love for books about books! I think you might like The Reading List! Enjoy!

  5. Realizing I must also love books about books/libraries. I’ve read most of the books on your lists! I have The Personal Librarian from the library waiting to be read. Love your blog Carol!

  6. Great post Carol. I love books about books, bookclubs, bookstores, libraries etc. I have read and enjoyed almost all the ones you listed. I still need to get to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I have a copy at home and need to finally just pick it up and take the plunge. Great post!

  7. I love a book about a book – or a bookshop or a library. Guernsey was one of my faves, but The Midnight Library is absolutely on top of that list too. Thanks for linking up with us!

  8. Hi Carol! I read The Reading List last year and enjoyed it too. I also loved The Printed Letter Bookshop, Guernsey, the Last Bookshop in London and 84, Charing Cross Road. Several of the others on your list are on my TBR. Several commentors have mentioned The Midnight Library. I recently read that but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. As you said, no two people read the same book.

    • Thanks Gretchen! I love that we love so many of the same books! I have hesitated on Midnight Library mentally putting it on my TBR and pulling it off multiple times. I’m not sure the premise or the parallel universe trope works for me. Although many readers love it, I prefer more realistic fiction.

  9. Intriguing list! I keep telling myself I want to read more books about libraries, but I don’t. That’s probably because I’m a librarian, so reading books about libraries might feel almost like work 🙂

  10. Hi Carol! great post. I’m not so sure I’ve read many book about reading but I do read about writing. On of the best is actually by Stephen King called “On Writing” and he writes about his journey of becoming a writer…it’s really a great read.

  11. Lovely post, Carol. I say we start a trend of leaving book lists for random people to read. I would love to find a list or two hiding out in the world.

    • Sorry about my slow response to your comment. I found it in Spam. I’m happy to hear you enjoy the Reading List also! Thanks for commenting!

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