Books find you when you need them – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

It was a gift from a caring friend. She gave me a pile of books and the command to “take your time with them.”

In the middle of the pile was “The Reading List” by Sara Nisha Adams. The tribute to the author on the cover said: “This book is an absolute joy. A captivating and exquisitely crafted debut.”

It was the word “joy” that resonated the most, of course. The print size in the hard copy of the book was too small for my aging eyes, but I took my time with downloading it onto my iPad and started reading it with inflated font and backlighting. I was fairly sure it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to provide me with a life raft to get me through the week.

The title is accurate. There is a handwritten list of books available for the reader’s consideration. It shows up for the first time on page 88 of the hardcover version of the book. The sentence at the top of the list reads: “Just in case you need it.”

The list contains “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Rebecca,” “The Kite Runner,” “Life of Pi,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Little Women,” “Beloved,” “A Suitable Boy.” It’s a lovely array of book titles.

I had previously read many of the books listed. Perhaps you have, as well. But I had never read a book like this, a novel about novels embedded in a grandfather’s grief journey. There are tender twists, turns and tragedy, but there is an unexpectedly uplifting ending. I will not reveal that ending, but you will need to trust me: It is quite spectacular.

I plan to read the book one more time to ensure I have fully absorbed all of its lessons. As the author describes it, “Some books deserve to be read again for the first time.”

One reviewer who obviously enjoyed the book as much as I did called it “a love letter to some of our most cherished novels.” Another reader said, “If you love books, read this. If you love people, read this. If you love crying with sadness, crying with happiness and feeling like you have been wrapped in the blanket of someone else’s life, read this.”

The author is quoted as saying: “Books find their way into your life at the time you need them.” Yes, that is absolutely true.

The author is young. Although, at this stage of my life, everyone seems young. Adams is the daughter of Indian and English parents and lives in London. She was inspired to write about her life experiences by her grandparents and her local library. Her characters are of all ages and ethnicities and make observations that are thoughtful and insightful.

She is interviewed at the end of her novel and recognizes realities that go well beyond her years. As illustration: the power of intergenerational friendship, the importance of community and awareness that food is love.

That too is true. Food is love.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator living and teaching on the Columbia River in Oregon. Reach everyone at sharjohn99@gmail.com.

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