BOOKS FOR LIVING by Will Schwalbe: A Review (Subtitled “Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life”)

After reading and enjoying Schwalbe’s book, The End of Your Life Book Club, I jumped at the chance to download this 2016 publications and discovered my new favorite genre of book–books about books. These are varied musings and thoughts about books that made an impact on the author’s life. Also, Schwalbe adds relevant connections of often-read books to modern-day life . The chapters are arranged by book titles which are the jumping-off-place for the author’s essays. He deals with all kinds of books, from E.B. White’s classic children’s book, Stuart Little, to the recent bestseller, Girl on a Train; from Victorian classic, Dickens’ David Copperfield, to the the YA novel (and movie), Wonder. Each essay is thought-provoking and relevant to the reader’s own reading life.

My favorite essay was about a book I’d never heard of before, Yutang Lin’s 1937 book, The Importance of Living. Lin, a contemporary and friend of Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth), writes his advice and philosophy of living a “good life.” Schwalbe quotes from Lin’s chapter, “Slowing Down” which “spoke to” and fascinated me. I have always considered myself a “driven” person, a person compelled to take action, to “do something” about things and life in general. Lin’s advice is to consider life in a more meditative, calmer way, taking charge by observing, contemplating, and experiencing life, not being a slave to it pressures and stress.

The book guided me into thinking things I would never have considered before and made me think more carefully about what books I have read, am reading, and want to read, and their influence on the way I live my life.