Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club, has just published another love letter to reading and to readers, called Books For Living.  I almost lost my breath when I learned Schwalbe had a new book coming out.  I savored every word of The End of Your Life Book Club, recommended it to countless friends and family members, and always put my “staff pick” book mark in it when it is on our library shelves.  When I opened Books For Living, I felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend, with someone I’d shared a significant time in life, some one I listen to.  I began tabbing pages with post-it notes that had sections I wanted to re-read, remember, share.

In each chapter, Schwalbe connects a book he read with the meaning he derived.  One thing I love is that the books are from a variety of genres and publication dates:  Gone Girl, Stuart Little, Gift From the Sea, Reading Lolita in Tehran… His comments are meaningful, poignant, sometimes funny and very relatable.  You probably have read many of the books he mentions, or at least know of them and may want to read them.  Case in point, the book The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang is a chapter and then is referred to throughout the book.  It is now on my hold list.

What I take away from this read is the connections books create between people.  I have long loved reading, and always had a book or two with me.  (When trying to unsuccessfully downsize my pocketbook, my youngest asked how many books I was trying to cram in.)  I am always bringing home books for my family, regularly supplying my mother with the non-fiction she loves, the fiction I love, and occasionally books we read in common. I love it when a library patron asks for a recommendation, for the sheer joy of connecting them to what it sounds like they want to read.  I love writing to friends with book lists, and especially love when they share theirs.  A Jesuit friend and voracious reader of everything used to share his summer reading list with me each August, a unique gift that I cherished until he passed away.  A conversation about a book both a friend and I have read is delicious-it is another shared experience in our biography.  It is a way to express what I don’t always have words for, but am always quite grateful for: connection, family, friends.  I hope you will have a similar reaction!