San Francisco, California

My Life with Bob

My Life with Bob is an autobiographical collection of stories about Pamela Paul’s Book of Books – a lifelong diary of every book that she’s ever read. For each breakup and divorce, every short trip and long vacation to Paris, Pamela can find a record of a book she read, one associated with that moment in time and so she writes about that experience in delightful and often funny ways:

Sometimes you fall so much in love with a book that you simply have to tell everyone, to spread the love and to explain the state you’re in. You read passages aloud to anyone who will listen. You wait with bated breath, watching for signs of appreciation, wanting that smile, that laugh, that nod of recognition. Please love this book too, you silently—and sometimes not so silently—urge. You become insistent, even messianic in your enthusiasm. […] You need the love to radiate in every possible direction.

In many parts of the book Pamela explores why and what she ought to read and at one point she quotes Franz Kafka on that subject:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?” he wrote to a childhood friend. “We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”