This may well be the quintessential book club book. Not only does Schwalbe discuss books that have had influence on his life, his recommendations prove to be a powerful list of books that would be tremendous book club choices.
Each of the 26 books he discusses are couched in a concept he uses that gives context to what he finds so important about each book. In Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living, the context given is “slowing down” because Lin believes that a meditative life is far superior to one of constant ambition. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train is about “trusting” and how infallible that can sometimes be — especially as shown through an untrustworthy narrator. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is about “connecting” — an especially poignant read for Schwalbe as a gay boy in the 1970s, and in a larger context, about finding the life that connects with who you are.
The final point of this amazing book is that reading opens minds and hearts, changing us in ways large and small.
Books for Living, by Will Schwalbe. Knopf/Penguin Random House; ISBN 978-0-38535-354-0; $25.95.
United for Libraries Book Club Choices are featured in the The Voice, United for Libraries newsletter, which is sent to members.