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My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues

People Pick • O Magazine Title to Pick Up Now • Vanity Fair Hot Type • Glamour New Book You’re Guaranteed to Love This Summer • Best Book about Books • Buzzfeed Book You Need to Read This Summer Seattle Times Book for Summer Reading • Warby Parker Blog Book Pick • Google Talks Harper’s BazaarVogueThe Washington PostThe Economist The Christian Science Monitor • Salon The Atlantic

Imagine keeping a record of every book you’ve ever read. What would this reading trajectory say about you? With passion, humor, and insight, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.

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.

Important places

Auschwitz (105)
Florence (542)
London (7,094)
Mauriac (1)
New York (7,400)
Phnom Penh (19)


New York (8,072)


Firenze (569)
Paris (3,057)
Lesser Poland (155)
Phnom Penh (19)
Gironde (81)
Chiang Mai (25)
New York (9,763)


Poland (895)
France (7,260)
United Kingdom (21,421)
Italy (5,202)
Thailand (518)
China (2,041)
Cambodia (177)
United States (64,950)
Vietnam (638)

Other geographical areas

Tatra Mountains (7)
Nouvelle-Aquitaine (223)
Carpathian Mountains (245)
Indochina Peninsula (557)
Tuscany (837)
South-Eastern Asia (2,613)
Eastern Europe (2,710)
Ile-de-France (3,166)
Southern Europe (7,123)
Greater London (7,856)
North Atlantic Ocean (8,812)