Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers by Sally Allen
Griffins Wharf Productions
Published November 2015
Trade paperback, 225 pages
Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own.
In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately—and compassionately—can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection. Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.
The minute I began to read Unlocking Worlds I knew I had found a kindred spirit. Sally Allen begins with an anecdote of how she brought along her current read (at the time Goldfinch) tucked in her purse as she went to meet a friend for coffee. You know, just in case her friend was late. That's me. That's a lot of us, right? I even bought a new purse recently based on the specs that I could fit a book in it.
Unlocking Worlds lives up to its name of being a companion to book lovers. Allen who has a PhD in English Education writes without airs, but with a true understanding of someone whose life is revolved around literature from early childhood onward. She writes about her discovery of book blogs and "how despite the illusion that reading is solitary, we readers are always in conversation--with books, of course, but also with other readers and critics." How true, hence the appeal of book blogging.
The book is divided into chapters that list books that touched her and made her reading experience memorable for various reasons. For example, Novels That Play with Time and Space, Books Set in Times of War, Books That Thrill, Chill and Keep You Guessing and so on. It was like being part of Allen's book club where she went into the reason she liked these books. I was intrigued. I made a list of books I now wanted to read because of what Allen discovered through them. She even includes a bibliography at the back of the book of all the books she mentions in her text.
Allen even addresses the issue all book lovers have, agony of not being able to read all the books we want. Who could understand such a thing but another book lover? The book is interspersed with quotes at the beginning of each chapter. My favorite is the one that summarizes the book:
"the great advantage of being a literary woman was that you could go everywhere and do everything."
- Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
Unlocking Worlds is the perfect gift for any book lover. It's such a pleasure to read and infuses you with warmth and nostalgia. Why nostalgia? Because as Sally is reminiscing about the books she's read as a child, teenager or adult you will inevitable do the same. Thank you, Sally, for telling the world why we love books so much.
To read more reviews, please visit Sally Allen's page on iRead Book Tours.
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About the Author:
Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter
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Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.