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Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  53 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published September 2nd 2015 by Griffins Wharf
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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
After thinking long and hard, I still can't make up my mind about this book.

Parts were definitely very interesting and thought provoking, parts were just s0-s0, and in some parts I really had to wonder 'why?'

I really have no idea what I was I am not disappointed, perhaps merely bemused.

Thank you to Griffins wharf via NetGalley fro providing a digital ARC for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
(Review Not on Blog)

What do I love more than books? Books discussing books! I enjoyed Sally Allen's look at her journey of reading. Allen is a writer and teacher...and a reader. With each of her points she shares her own personal story of reading. The fact that Allen keeps a book in her purse, makes her my kind of gal. Reading may start out as a solitary imaginative ride it can grow into a community activity by sharing words, ideas and connections. It is a hard book to rate as it
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Unlocking Worlds is a book about books that will appeal to any bibliophile but could also be useful for encouraging more reluctant readers to pick up a book or two. Sally Allen talks very eloquently about her love of reading and books and adds little humorous anecdotes. There was a lot I could easily relate to: Don't ever leave the house without a book? Yup, definitely.
"Books and reading can be galvanizing forces for community and connection." Again, easy to agree with. Anybody who actively
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015, kindle
A book for book lovers — especially those who love books about books and who don’t mind adding more titles to their ever-growing TBR lists. The book contains 15 thematic lists of books, such as “Novels in Letters and Multiple Perspectives,” “Novels About What Happens When Things Fall Apart,” and Books for Book Lovers.” I found it interesting to peruse the lists, and Allen's commentary adds a lot. She's very generous, more so than I would probably be in some cases, but her love of books and ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book is a book lovers paradise! A book about books is always something I will pick up and read and this one not only talks about the author's personal experiences with books and her love for the but has beautiful illustrations with quotes about books. If that wasn't enough, the author provides many recommendations across different genres with a brief synopsis about each book. This is one of those books that you can curl up ...more
The name of my blog sort of gives it away. I read mostly FICTION. However, the exception that proves the rule is that I read non-fiction if the subject matter is books. With “Unlocking worlds” I felt that I met a kindred spirit in the author, Sally Allen.

She writes: “As much as it is a real place, the United Kingdom is a place in my imagination cultivated from years of reading British literature.” Wow! Did she say that, or did I think it? I am the daughter of a British war bride. My mother
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I usually love books about books (Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great, Samantha Ellis's How To Be a Heroine, Nick Hornby's Stuff I've Been Reading, Nina Sankovitch's Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time), so I was expecting to enjoy this. Unfortunately, it was simultaneously too personal and too broad –by which I mean the categories were too specific for the general reader (sections on the US, UK and Russia, but no other countries), but also the book ...more
Jacqueline Masumian
It's a good thing I purchased this book rather than borrowing it, because I left it full of dog-eared pages, copious underlining, and notes scribbled in the margins! This is a nonfiction book for book lovers. In Unlocking Worlds Sally Allen has provided a long list of (over 130) book recommendations based on her reading criteria, which are: Compelling Narrative Voice, Purposeful Shaping of Language, Purposeful Ambiguity, Emotional Truth, and Wholeness. These are books that resonated with her and ...more
Michelle Kidwell
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers

by Sally Allen

Griffins Wharf
Literary Fiction, Nonfiction (Adult)

Pub Date 02 Sep 2015

I am voluntarily reviewing a copy of Unlocking World's through the publisher and Netgalley:

Unlocking World's Points out that a book is a shared experience of a world. Books are portals to New World's and New Points of view.

We open books and begin reading for different reasons sometimes it's simply the need to relax that draws us to a book other times it's to
Eva Natiello
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so happy to get this book for Christmas. And even happier when I started to read Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers by Sally Allen because it felt like I was sharing a cup of coffee with a good friend, talking about great books and fascinating characters, riveting plots and beautiful language and discovering the similar experiences that we book lovers have when we enter another world made up of words. I cherished each chapter like it was a box of chocolates, squirreling ...more
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Unlocking Worlds is a delightful book for the book lover. Writer, teacher, and book lover Sally Allen writes about reading and the love of books while also putting together 15 themed lists of great books with wonderful descriptions.

I learned by reading Allen’s thoughts and lists that not only is she a “bookworm,” but her taste in books also match mine. I loved reading her descriptions of books I have read and loved, but I also really loved her descriptions of books that I haven’t read yet. My
Dhivya Balaji
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing

When I got the paperback in my hands, from the first sight, I was impressed by this book. The cover was clean, colorful and the title very apt. 'Unlocking Worlds' (and the author has given a beautiful explanation for it in her interview for us) is a book that will unlock many worlds for every reader. The printing and illustrations are excellent, even for the ARC I was provided with. The overall chapter placement was brilliant too.


'Unlocking Worlds' is a book I would have
Debra Schoenberger
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful reading companion!

This book should be on every reader's library with an update every few years (I hope I'm not getting Sally all stressed out about this... :D ) The one thing I didn't like was the cover. The contents of this book deserve a much more formal, attractive cover. I read the ebook in PDF and found myself wanting write on the pages because there were so many wonderful quotes and books to read. I found myself flying back and forth onto the Goodreads website to select
Sandra Olshaski
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about books, probably because I have read many of the books referred to by the author, having the same reactions and having come to similar conclusions about them! I too have often chosen books on their looks and/or title before knowing anything about them apart from the description on the back cover. Thus I can wholeheartedly agree with "the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection." There is something about the smell ...more
Heather Fineisen
Sally Allen has done the work for you by compiling and sorting some of the books that have resonated with her through her own reading journey. Allen subscribes to my way of thinking on several fronts. One, she carries a book, EVERYWHERE, because you never know when you might need one. Two, reading is in the eye of the beholder. She says, “Standards matter, but people matter more.” Your literature may not be my literature and that’s okay. And guess what, read what you like! Finally, negativity ...more
Erin Cataldi
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
This is a book lover's dream, contained in it's pages: are reading lists, book summaries, quotations, reading observations and more. It's a gem, especially for those who are plagued by the "what should I read next" syndrom. It's always a pleasure to read a book written and compiled by a fellow book lover; it's like they're talking directly to your soul. They get it. The insatiable need to read, consume fine literature, and escape into literary dreamscapes. Some of the book lists author, Sally ...more
A Holland Reads
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I have read by this author and I enjoyed it. I love books about books so for me it was a no brainer that I would have to check it out. Of course I agree with the author that good books don't just draw you in they transport us to times and places different from our own and she did this for me. It was interesting to read how she took personal stories and paired them reading lists. The author's writing style was very nice and for me this make the book easy to read. Of course ...more
Gabi Coatsworth
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Goodreads makes it seem I've been reading this book for years, but really, it's that I keep dipping into it, so I can never say I've finished it. Sally Allen does a great job of zeroing in on a few books and grouping them in ways that make it easy to find a suggestion that will fit my frame of mind perfectly.
There's no way to categorize the book, so I've given it 5 stars on the basis that it delivers exactly what it say on the cover - a reading companion for book-lovers (whose tastes happen to
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
"....what matters is the experience of a book, whether that book blossoms in our imaginations, whether we connect with the characters, whether the events in the story resonate, inspiring us to think and feel." --Pg. xix

This quote from Unlocking Worlds by Sally Allen, got me thinking about why I read.

I work in book publishing, so I read everyday as part of my job. But even if it wasn't part of job, I would still be reading. I read for enjoyment. I read for an escape from the daily grind. I read
Donna Huber
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
It took me a while to read through this book. It's just not the kind of book you read straight through - it's basically a book of book reviews and reading recommendations. This would have been a great book to have had when I finished college and was faced with a sea of strangers in the adult section of the library. Every reader will find a kindred spirit in Sally Allen. It was lovely to read her thoughts on books that I too have loved. Even when our tastes diverged (I don't think I will ever ...more
Kaelin O
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-reading
4.5 stars. Many great book recommendations! The descriptions and opinions are very well written and the author gives many different interesting categories for the books she recommends. Excited to read many of these!
Thistles and Whistles
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Note: I received a copy of this book through iRead Book Tours. However, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

I think that we can all unanimously agree that reading is no longer only a solitary past time for stereotypical 'book worms' as it used to be labelled years ago. It has become a community activity thanks to literary websites and book blogs. Not only do books enrich us and become a part of our lives but book readers all over the world are able to connect with each other and
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, what a terrible advanced copy this was. The book is basically a list of books with brief synopses and discussions of each, and in a few cases the book title is entirely missing. Which has no relevance to the book itself, since (I sincerely hope) it was fixed in the final edition, so – moving on.

It started out very well, with a paean to being a reader. The author evidently took a book to her best friend's eighth birthday party; I was known around that age to take one to a wedding.
Katherine Jones
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book changed me in ways I didn't expect. Always a reader, it reminded me of all the reasons I became an avid one and made me want to stretch for more. Interestingly, I've found that it's also changed me as a reviewer in that it points out--in the gentlest way possible--that criticism changes the critiquer most of all. It reminded me that there's always beauty in literature...a truth I could stand to remember more often.

But my biggest takeaway? That I've not read nearly prolifically
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this wonderful book on a trip to Oregon and the California Redwoods via Glacier Park, Spokane, and Seattle. My husband did the driving - it's our favorite kind of trip. Mostly I watched the scenery and listened to our favorite music but in the evenings and when we would stop somewhere awe-inspiring I would read morsels from this book. Sometimes I read aloud to Myke as he drove and that would spark a discussion on books, authors, and the magic of reading.

The problem with reading at a
Eustacia Tan
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is a book for story lovers or people looking for reading inspiration. It's basically a book filled with book reviews, roughly categorised into 15 lists.

The lists range from Children's Books to War novels to books about Russian life and British novels, so there's definitely a wide variety of books.

At first, I was a little hesitant as to whether the author's tastes and I would match, because she raved over The Goldfinch (and happened to meet someone who loved it too, and generally made it
Create With Joy
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you love literature – if you believe that reading books can change your life – if you are always on the prowl for a new book to add to the ever-growing TBR pile on your nightstand, desk, and kitchen table – then Unlocking Worlds – A Reading Companion For Book Lovers by Sally Allen is book you will surely treasure!

In Unlocking Worlds, Sally Allen shares her thoughts on the fine art of reading as well as her favorite books. In the process, she gives book lovers much food for thought in regards
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that's MADE for readers, not simply because it's in print full of words (and images!) to digest, but because of what those letters strung together actually SAY.

Within the pages of this wonderfully covered read (really, I love the cover), you'll find a familiar soul. You'll discover someone who really gets you and the enjoyment that reading brings. Ms. Allen shares a lot of the same ideals that I hold true. First up, that the reader is who truly assigns merit to a work. That is
Sahar Sabati
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an avid reader, I love talking about books. Sally Allen’s Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers comes off as a conversation with a fellow avid book lover about a shared passion. She doesn’t judge each book or tear them apart; rather, she shared the reasons why and how they contributed to making her life better.

The introduction goes a long way in introducing us to the author’s mindset both when it comes to books in general but also and most importantly to the way she approached
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In my life, I have won an inheritance and lost it. I have travelled through time and to the other side of the world. I have solved murders, experienced storybook romances, and discovered alternate universes. Which is to say: In my life, I have read. Academic tomes and romance novels, murder mysteries and classic literary fiction. Newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and lots of product ...more