Will Schwalble: Books for Living

Schwalbe not just loves reading books, he draws lessons for living from them. In the 26 books, I have not read a single one, and yet I still find each book to be fascinating through his brief, honest, and easygoing analysis. I probably won’t read every book mentioned in his essays, but the ones on my reading list will include Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery, and George Orwell’s 1984.

Throughout the book Schwalbe makes a convincing case for reading. In the introduction, he writes (p.15):

The technology of a book is genius: the order of the words is fixed, whether on the page or on-screen, but the speed at which you read them is entirely up to you. Sure, this allows you to skip ahead and jump around. But it also allows you to slow down, savor, and ponder.

To Schwalbe, reading is not just a pleasure, but a right. He argues (p.275):

The right to read whatever you want whenever you want is one of the fundamental rights that helps preserve all other rights. It’s a right we need to guard with unwavering diligence. But it’s also a right we can guard with pleasure. Reading isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control, and domination: It’s one of the world’s great joys.

A love letter to readers everywhere.