October 05, 2019

Book Girl (Sarah Clarkson), A Review by Brenda Leyland

TITLE: Book Girl, A Journey through the Treasures & Transforming Power of a Reading Life
AUTHOR: Sarah Clarkson
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 2018
PAPERBACK: 288 pages; $17.56 CAN  on Amazon.ca
KINDLE: 276 pages; $12.59 CAN on Amazon.ca

"...the loving wish of two young mothers who hoped to give their coming daughters the beauty of the world and the strength to bear its sorrow, and knew that one of the best ways to do that was through the gift of the reading life." SARAH CLARKSON

In Book Girl Sarah Clarkson explores how reading enriched, broadened, and delighted her life. Instilled with a love for books from her earliest childhood days, eventually Sarah came to recognize just how much reading had impacted her life and realized she wanted to share the gift of the reading life with others. She began writing Book Girl while studying at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, as a student of theology.

She lived in Oxford, city of my own dreaming spires. When I found that out, not only was I eager to read about her reading journey, I also hoped to catch glimpses of her life in that old city where writers like C.S.Lewis once studied, walked, and wrote stories. I wasn't disappointed. Sarah is a lovely writer and she shares her heart so eloquently. From the first page to the last, this volume is a treasure trove of memories of how she discovered reading was a way to help her see the world in all its wonder and beauty. She quoted lines from favourite authors, including C.S. Lewis, as she described why their books meant so much to her. So often, through her thoughtful writing, I caught glimpses of myself in her stories. In fact, I'll just admit it, this is the book I would have written thirty years ago if I would have known how to write it, if I would have had the skill to bring out what I'd learned on my own book reading journey. But since I didn't write one, I'm so glad Sarah did!

The book boasts more than twenty carefully curated book lists along with Sarah's own insightful reasons for her recommendations. Access to these lists is like having your own personal reading guide; they're worth the price right there. It was especially exciting to encounter titles I'd never read, some never even heard of, so gleefully I tucked away the info, much like a squirrel caches nuts for winter.

Book Girl has ten chapters with headings such as: On the Crafting of Book Lists, Books Can Broaden Your World, Books Can Shape Your Story, Books Can Open Your Eyes to Wonder. Sally Clarkson, Sarah's mom, wrote the foreword. And, if you're a part of a book club, there is a decent set of discussion questions at the end. Part memoir, part reading list, this is one book that every discerning 'book girl' will want as a beautiful reading companion on her bookshelf or bedside table. Written chiefly for women, it's also one you'll want to pass along to the other 'book girls' in your life -- daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends. It's never too early to start your Christmas shopping.

Sarah Clarkson has authored several books, including the recently published Girls' Club (on cultivating lasting friendship in a lonely world), a joint writing venture with her mom, Sally Clarkson, and her sister, Joy Clarkson. She tells us there's a brand new book under construction, and you can catch her online on Facebook and Instagram. Sarah's website and blog can be found at sarahclarkson.com.  

A long-time InScribe member, Brenda Leyland writes from her home in Alberta, Canada. Inspired by beauty, Brenda takes joy in blogging at It's A Beautiful Life and posting on FacebookShe also sees herself  as a curator of memories and works away at various memoir projects.



  1. That sounds like a great book. I love book lists!

  2. What a great review. I think this is a must-read for me.

    1. Lorrie, you would love it. Many classic books in her book lists. What I loved especially was that there were so many books in her lists that I had read over the years, and yet there were still so many more I had not read or even heard of. So it's sweet mix of "aha's" and "that's new".

  3. Such an interesting book-review blog, Brenda. You make me think of Toni Morrison’s quote: ““If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Maybe you missed this one by thirty years--I’m being silly here--but there are many spin-offs from this one idea or in this genre of book lists. How would you write your own “reading history,” so it might be helpful to others?


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