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.
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 latest book is "My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues." She is also the author of four other books 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.