Books for Living: a reader's guide to life (Hardback)Will Schwalbe (author)
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From the author of the best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club, an inspiring and magical exploration of the power of books to shape our lives in an era of constant connectivity.
'I'm on a search and have been all my life: to find books to help me make sense of the world, to help me become a better person, to help me get my head around the big questions that I have, and figure out the answers to some of the small ones while I'm at it' Will Schwalbe
Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape into another reality?
For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions.
In each chapter, he discusses a particular book-what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. These books span centuries and genres (from classic works of adult and children's literature to contemporary thrillers and even a cookbook), and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honour those we've loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully.
Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: "What are you reading?"
Books covered include:
The Importance of Living
Bird by Bird
The Girl On The Train
'I used to say that the greatest gift you could ever give anyone is a book. But I don't say that anymore because I no longer think it's true. I now say that a book is the second greatest gift. I've come to believe that the greatest gift you can give anyone is to take the time to talk with someone about a book you've shared. A book is a great gift; the gift of your interest and attention is even greater' Will Schwalbe
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 416 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 28 mm
"Good books often answer questions you dind't even known you wanted to ask" is a sentiment with which all avid readers will agree * Irish Times *
I very much enjoyed it . . . inspiring and charming . . . Books, to Schwalbe, are our last great hope to keep us from spiralling into the abyss. It's an old-fashioned thesis-that this ancient medium can save civilization-but I happen to agree. Books build compassion, they inspire reform. They remain, Schwalbe writes, 'one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny.' And man, do we need bulwarks right now. Lots of bulwarks . . . Read Schwalbe's book. * A.J. Jacobs, The New York Times *
Schwalbe's book challenges the notion of reading-on-the-run. It does not offer bullet-pointed highlights so that you can dip in, find the solution and emerge thinking 'There, I've done Copperfield'. Schwalbe expects the readers to read. His own observations are certainly not the fruit of skim-reading... One of the key elements of Books for Living [is] clear: the boundary between our reading and our lives is often so porous. * Times Literary Supplement *
Instead of trying to dust off some forgotten tome and convince us of its value, [Schwalbe] focuses on its pressing relevance at some critical juncture in his life. He isn't arguing - and certainly not shilling - on behalf of a book or author; he's passing on his own experience and leaving us to identify with it or not. Of course we do identify with it, typically, in large part because Schwalbe presents himself so convincingly as an Everyman. He doesn't pretend, or even aspire, to the scholarly expertise of Denby and Dirda, or to Gottlieb's breezy insider status. He conveys this humility with his easygoing, egalitarian tone and his high-low eclecticism, which ranges from Homer's The Odyssey and Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener to E.B. White's Stuart Little and Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train....Books for Living is [a] gift, and one that keeps giving. * USA Today *
Moving... Schwalbe truly shines... It should convince even reluctant readers to pick up a book. * Boston Globe *
Each chapter about a beloved book-Stuart Little, David Copperfield, Song of Solomon, Bird by Bird-is a finely crafted, generously candid, and affecting personal essay, none more moving than the homage to his boarding-school librarian, who subtly steered him to James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, having 'realized that I was gay at just about the same time I did.' In this warmly engaging, enlightening, and stirring memoir-in-books and literary celebration, Schwalbe reminds us that reading 'isn't just a strike against narrowness, mind control, and domination; it's one of the world's greatest joys * Booklist *starred review* *
Schwalbe's tremendous experience with reading and his stellar taste make for a fine guide to the varied and idiosyncratic list of books for which he advocates. By the end of the book, all serious readers will have added some titles to their to-read lists. * Publishers Weekly *starred review* *
Schwalbe's 'manifesto for readers' is not about his favorite books but those that helped him when he had a need. Written in a chatty, conversational style, the book is thematically organized by a wide variety of needs: slowing down, searching, trusting, napping, praying, etc.... In an age when the number of readers is declining, a delightful book like this might just snare a few new recruits. * Kirkus Reviews *
A sweet and utterly restorative series of vignettes about how books - the right books, at the right times - can not only deepen a life but save it. * The Christian Science Monitor *
In Books for Living the brilliant Will Schwalbe takes us on a personal journey through a life of reading. But like any great journey, it is far more than an accumulation of miles, or words. Books for Living is a map, a chart, to the places deep inside ourselves where books can take us. It's about how stories, how characters, inspire us, guide us, reveal us. Books For Living is now one of my favourite reads of all time, and I know I will revisit it over and over. But be warned. It's also quite an expensive book to read since I kept calling my local bookseller and ordering the volumes Will mentions in each chapter. This is a beautiful, powerful, warm, funny, awe-inspiring odyssey. An absolutely astonishing gift to all of us who have spent our lives loving books. * Louise Penny, author of the C. I. Gamache crime series *
***PRAISE FOR WILL SCHWALBE'S THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB***
I was so moved by this marvellous book. Schwalbe has done something extraordinary: made a personal journey public in the most engaging, funny and revealing way possible. It is a true meditation on what books can do.
Will Schwalbe gives us two love stories in one: That of his relationship with his dynamo of a mother as her horizons shrink, and that of their mutual devotion to the printed word, infinitely and insistently engaging. Tender and touching and beautifully done. * Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Cleopatra *
A perfect book-club book about books and the community they create that also portrays the love between mother and son.* Library Journal *
Will Schwalbe's brave and soulful elegy to his remarkable mother, his recollection of their sparklingly literate conversations, is a timely reminder that one exceptional person, or one exceptional book, can be a torch in the darkness. You'll turn the last page wishing you'd met Mary Anne Schwalbe, vowing to be worthy of her incandescent example - and promising yourself to read more. * J. R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar *
A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them. Like the printed volumes it celebrates, this story will stay with you long after the last page. * Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Time Keeper *
At last a book that celebrates the role books play within our own story. Will Schwalbe has created a tender, moving and honest portrayal of the precious relationship between a mother and son - an ode to that beautiful thing called love. * Cecilia Ahern, author of PS, I Love You *
an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work. * Publishers Weekly starred review *
An extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching book about parental love, filial love, profound grief, and literature's great consolations. How wonderful to encounter a writer who combines erudition with great emotional honesty, and who isn't afraid of addressing life's most profound and baffling questions. * Douglas Kennedy, author of Leaving the World and The Pursuit of Happiness *
This touching and insightful memoir about the slow process of dying will appeal to readers of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Last Lecture, but also to people who love delving into books and book discussions. Like Mary Anne, who reads the ending first, you know how this book is going to end, but while it is a story about death, it is mostly a celebration of life and of the way books can enrich it. * Booklist (starred review) *
a moving and inspiring story * Choice Magazine *
What self-respecting reader isn't a sucker for a great book about other great books? The End of Your Life Book Club is that much and more. * BookPage *
a graceful, affecting testament to a mother and a life well lived. * Entertainment Weekly *
a tribute to a remarkable woman and an exemplary reader.* Salon *
Literature bridges generations in Will Schwalbe's thoughtful tribute to his late mother * Vogue.com *
A truly poignant read . . . a moving tribute to a wonderful-sounding mum and the power of fiction. * Good Housekeeping *
It helps of course if you are a book lover and can relate to the passion for reading, but even prolific readers will find that the book teaches them not only about life and death but about the power of a really good book to move you and peel off the onion skin layers of "what you already know" and reveal truths. * Curious Book Fans *