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Synopsis

"An engrossing and charming memoir about getting back to basics: home truths, family, and the life-altering, life-saving power of books."
-Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"I’ve read a lot of good memoirs, but it’s a rare talent that can weave together so many threads – family, love, literature, career angst – so effortlessly as Leslie does in The Reading List. She guided me through her life via the mirror of her favourite books and as I came to the end of The Reading List, I found that her own book had become just such a mirror for this reader."
-Micah Toub, author of Growing Up Jung

"The Reading List brims with frankness, provocative wit and acute insights into our hearts and psyches. A journey into the dark night of the soul and into the light of love and reconciliation, it proclaims its relevance in myriad ways. It is the story of a young woman finding her footing in the present by exploring a painful past, accompanied by her father and guided by the literature she loves. It celebrates the power of that literature to illuminate our inner lives and crystallize our desires."      
-Kerri Sakamoto, author of The Electrical Field and One Hundred Million Hearts

 

As captivating as The Jane Austen Book Club, and as inspiring as The Film Club, The Reading List is a poignant, humorous memoir about never giving up on your dreams and finding the ultimate happiness through reading.

Leslie Shimotakahara is a young, disenchanted English professor on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Her father Jack urges her to come home to Toronto for the summer to recuperate and search for a new career—but he also has a hidden agenda. Recently retired, Jack finally has time to take up the hobby that has long fascinated him: reading. Leslie puts together a list of important, twentieth-century novels for them to read together, setting the stage for some hilarious discussions about Edith Wharton’s dismal love life and James Joyce’s loner childhood.
But their conversations about literature begin to unearth some dark, deeply buried secrets about Jack’s own past—growing up Japanese-Canadian amidst the shame of World War II. For the first time, Leslie truly gets to know her dad, her ancestral history, and all the intriguing layers of the past that make her who she is. In the biggest epiphany of her life, Leslie’s strangely inspiring detour through the world of letters just might lead her to finally being happy in her love life, family, and career.

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