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Publisher's Summary

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.

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter he discusses a particular book - what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. These books span centuries and genres (from classic works of adult and children's literature to contemporary thrillers and even cookbooks), and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we've loved and lost and figure out how to live each day more fully. 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?"

©2016 Will Schwalbe (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"In this warmly engaging, enlightening, and stirring memoir-in-books and literary celebration, Schwalbe reminds us that reading 'isn't just a strike against narrowness, mind control, and domination; it's one of the world's greatest joys.'" (Booklist)
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"Schwalbe's 'manifesto for readers' is not about his favorite books but those that helped him when he had a need. Written in a chatty, conversational style, the book is thematically organized by a wide variety of needs: slowing down, searching, trusting, napping, praying, etc.... In an age when the number of readers is declining, a delightful book like this might just snare a few new recruits." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A book for those who love books

Thoughtful, introspective and beautifully written. A book lover reflecting on his life through the prism of the books he has read. I also learnt about some authors I had not heard about and I look forward to exploring their works.

The only thing I didn't like was the fake soft tone the narrator used for reading passages written by women.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Such a comforting book

This book is so comforting, like hot tea on a cold day, or a cozy blanket when you're cold. Mr. Schwalbe takes about many books in this book, and the life lessons he learned, and shares many personal stories. This book is very comforting if you are stressed. I also recommend his first book, The End of Your Life Bookclub.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mollie
  • United States
  • 02-16-17

Good, but the first one was better

Would you consider the audio edition of Books for Living to be better than the print version?

Wouldn't know. I didn't read the print version.

What other book might you compare Books for Living to and why?

The End of Your Life Book Club is his first book. This one is similar in tone and skill, but I listened to them back-the-back, which may not have been the best idea. The first book was much better.

Have you listened to any of Jeff Harding’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, he narrated Scwalbe's first book, too. He's a good reader.

If you could give Books for Living a new subtitle, what would it be?

Unsure

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Good Listen, Except...

... when the narrator does female voices. When he speaks in his regular voice, he's wonderful, but his female voices are either meh or borderline caricatures. The book is essentially essays on books that have helped, nourished, educated, entertained, and sustained the author throughout his life. It was very easy to finish this in one sitting. He gave me a lot of good recommendations. Alas, as mentioned above, the female voices hurt this production.

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Balm for the reader!

I really loved everything about this. The writing as well as the performance. I did, however, find the voices of the women jarring and sometimes it felt like the narrator was making a joke. I'm not sure how else it could've been done but it really bugged me:

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Worth the wait

His last was better. This is however not to be missed. May the next be an lgbt look-at-books.