Not what I was expecting
I’ll just say up front that Book Girl is an interesting book for a beginning book girl, but is not going to include much new material for most established well-rounded readers. As an avid reader and a “book girl” for decades, reading hundreds of books a year, I was excited to read Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson. I found the writing a bit slow, but the sentiments were very close to my own heart. I loved the spiritual aspect and found myself stopping to buy recommended books that I hadn’t read yet, adding others to wish lists… I even grabbed the Kindle version of Book Girl, despite having the ARC, because I wanted it to store correctly in my collections and sync correctly across all my Kindles/Fires.
However, even after mulling it over for several days after I closed this book, I still find it very hard to write a review. While, again, Book Girl would be great for a beginning book girl, the further I read, hoping to find the “real” booklists , the more lost I was. At one point I thought of flipping through to the appendix, where surely the real booklists resided. But alas, these brief lists are all there is. Needless to say, having read most of the included books, Clarkson’s booklists seem inadequate to me, often recommending the same books that a zillion other booklists recommend, albeit with a blog-like synopsis and recollection of the book by the author. Perhaps the overlap is because one can never move far from the classics that have shaped our culture.
Adding fuel to my conflict, Clarkson recommended multiple books that she said were very hard to get into, at least one of which she had to try on three separate occasions to read before finally making it through. And, yet, are those recommendations a detriment to the book or an exercise in honesty, testifying that sometimes books that are worth reading are sometimes painful to get through? I’ve struggled through books before, set books aside for years before returning to discover the joy that is a book that expanded my horizons and lit every corner of my mind and leaving me wishing that I had read it the first time around. But I wouldn’t recommend those books to anyone who wasn’t ready to read them. Clarkson also recommended books that she had never read. Although I realize that is a personal choice, I never personally recommend books that I have not read myself.
I think part of the book seems as if Clarkson is not sure of her audience, but then again, she aims different chapters at different times in a reader’s life. On one hand, Clarkson writes as if to beginning readers who have no idea what it means to be a book girl. On the other hand, she recommends books that no beginning book girl would want to read, such as The Divine Comedy, although to be honest, it’s listed under book to read if you ever have the time.
Overall, I would recommend Book Girl for relative newbies who want to expand their reading life. I’m at a disadvantage in analyzing this book, as I am not the intended audience, having decades of being an avid book-crazy geek behind me. I would not recommend Book Girl for like-minded established book geeks except to use as a resource to share with others. Considering it from the viewpoint of a newly minted book girl, though, I am still giving this book five stars.
I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher through NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast?
If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl.
Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage.
She’s convinced that books can do the same for you.
Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you’ll discover:
- how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith,
- why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin),
- how stories form your sense of identity,
- how Sarah’s parents raised her to be a reader—and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and
- 20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries.
Whether you’ve long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.