Books for Living

Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life

Publisher: Vintage
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.

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.



From time to time I have a terrifying dream. I call it the Reader’s Nightmare. 

I’m in a busy airport, and they’ve announced my flight. There is an epic walk to the gate, and I know I have only a few minutes before they will close the door to the jetway and my plane...
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1. Discuss the significance of the George R. R. Martin epigraph that opens Books for Living. How does it set the tone for the book?

2. In the introduction to the book, Schwalbe discusses the Internet’s limitations in helping to answer the big questions: “the problem of pain, meaning, purpose, happiness...

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“Books for Living is [a] gift, and one that keeps giving.”
USA Today

 “A sweet and utterly restorative series of vignettes about how books—the right books, at the right times—can not only deepen a life but save it.” 
—The Christian Science Monitor

"Any season of the year, this book is a gift"
Mary Oliver 
“Inspiring and charming. . . . Books, to Schwalbe, are our last great hope to keep us from spiraling into the abyss.”
—The New York Times
“Moving. . . . Schwalbe truly shines. . . . It should convince even reluctant readers to pick up a book.”
—Boston Globe

“First-rate. . . . Schwalbe’s enthusiasm for what he covers is contagious.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A love letter to reading, bibliophiles will close the last page with a few more entries on their to-read list.”
—Real Simple
“Witty, warm, [and] insightful. . . . A field guide to a handful of titles that might entertain, stir up trouble, or—yes—even save the life a reader already has.”
—Shelf Awareness
“The casual but polished way in which Schwalbe writes about some of his favorite books—and smartly peppers in his own life’s stories—makes for an engaging and easy read. Books for Living quietly reminds readers that books are works of art that carry great import in our lives, and might even leave you wondering what your own list of books for living might look like.”
“Very much a work for our age. . . . Vital.” —The Anniston Star