From the author of the beloved New York Times 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.
"[A] gift, and one that keeps giving.” —USA Today
For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, and to find the answers to life’s questions big and small. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book and how it relates to concerns we all share. These books span centuries and genres—from Stuart Little to The Girl on the Train, from David Copperfield to Wonder, from Giovanni's Room to Rebecca, and from 1984 to Gifts from the Sea. Throughout, Schwalbe tells stories from his life and focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we've loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully.
The right book at the right time can change your life, Schwalbe (The End of Your Life Book Club) argues as he distills a lifetime of reading recommendations down to this personal list of books for many moods and occasions. The first book that Schwalbe recommends is Lin Yutang's The Importance of Living, an interesting work of practical philosophy that Schwalbe returns to over and over. Schwalbe also includes essays on children's books, YA, classics, and recent book such as A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara's 2015 novel. He uses these brief essays as springboards into other topics, such as worry over our Orwellian addiction to smartphones, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, and why napping should be deemed a human right. His experience taking a class in ancient Greek and reading The Odyssey turns into a memoir about a teacher who inspired him. When he reflects on Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, he thinks of the high school librarian who subtly provided him with books by gay writers. 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.