Book Review: Books For Living by Will Schwalbe

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Title: Books for Living: A Reader's Guide to Life
Author: Will Schwalbe
Publication Date: January 12th 2017

Synopsis: "’I’ve always believed that everything you need to know you can find in a book.’
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.
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?"

My thoughts: I wrote the short synopsis above (can you tell?), because I feel like the title of this book speaks for itself to a certain extent. This is a book about books; a book about reading. It is a story about Will Schwalbe and some of the books that have intersected with his life in a strong way, often changing the way he has thought about his life, or the people in it. It is an exploration of reading - why we do it, and what we get from it - and, ultimately, it is an exploration of why books have become so important to so many people.

I love books about books and reading. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby remains one of my favourite books, and I actually do reread it from time to time. So, when I saw that this book was coming out, I quickly requested it. I figured I would be in for a few hours worth of gentle entertainment and smiling to myself softly about the joys of reading - and this book definitely delivers on that. What I wasn't expecting was to cry. I definitely wasn't expecting to cry three times during the course of this 288 page book.

Schwalbe does something truly miraculous with words, and the way he tells stories from his own life and links them with the books he has read is almost seamless. I found myself transported into his life, and the lives of those characters he has connected with, multiple times, and I just didn't want to put this book down. Whenever I had to, I was thinking about when I could get back to it.

What Schwalbe has done here is made me, someone who defines themselves by their reading, rethink why I read so much, what I read, and how different books have impacted me. The way this book has gotten me thinking seems all the more important at the moment, as I pick up Anne of Green Gables for what feels like the fiftieth time to try and get through it, and I am finally clicking with it - why didn't I click with it all the other 49 times? What is different now? Has the book changed (it is a beautiful edition)? Or is it just me?

If you love reading, and you love books, I cannot recommend this book enough. I am already planning a reread. And to lend it to my mum.

[I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!]

A favourite line from the book: "Books can attach themselves to memories in unexpected ways."

You would like this book if: You like books about books; you want to read more about reading.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Something comforting, that will also help to stimulate your mind. A nice breakfast tea, perhaps like Breakfast in Bed from Cuppa and Co?

Rating:  10/10

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