Books for Living (Schwalbe) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
[I]nspiring and charming—a bit fusty at times, but endearingly so…My favorite of Schwalbe's essays are the ones that praise underappreciated values, those sometimes incorrectly categorized as vices. There's an ode to loafing and lounging…a piece on how it's O.K. to blow off your friends and stay at home…. And…a lovely paean to the joys of quitting, as illustrated by the greatest quitter of all time, Herman Melville's Bartleby…Books, to Schwalbe, are our last great hope to keep us from spiraling into the abyss. It's an old-fashioned thesis—that this ancient medium can save civilization—but I happen to agree. Books build compassion, they inspire reform. They remain, Schwalbe writes, "one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny."
A.J. Jacobs - New York Times Book Review


Instead of trying to dust off some forgotten tome and convince us of its value, [Schwalbe] focuses on its pressing relevance at some critical juncture in his life. He isn’t arguing — and certainly not shilling — on behalf of a book or author; he’s passing on his own experience and leaving us to identify with it or not. Of course we do identify with it, typically, in large part because Schwalbe presents himself so convincingly as an Everyman. He doesn’t pretend, or even aspire, to the scholarly expertise of Denby and Dirda, or to Gottlieb’s breezy insider status. He conveys this humility with his easygoing, egalitarian tone and his high-low eclecticism, which ranges from Homer’s The Odyssey and Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener to E.B. White’s Stuart Little and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train….Books for Living is [a] gift, and one that keeps giving.
USA Today
 
Moving….Schwalbe truly shines.…Pleasant….It should convince even reluctant readers to pick up a book.
Boston Globe


First-rate….Schwalbe’s enthusiasm for what he covers is contagious. He suggests enough fascinating books to keep you reading well through 2017.
San Francisco Chronicle


(Starred review.) 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...latest effort, bearing an equally misleading and presumptuous title, is a collection of essays on his emotional and psychological attachment to specific books. Unfortunately, this attachment is not always elaborated…. Verdict: For readers who prefer their tea lukewarm. —Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
Library Journal


(Starred review.) [F]inely crafted, generously candid, and affecting…. 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 doesn’t go into that much detail about each book; rather, he leads by example, focusing on a book…in the context of something…that happened to him. In an age when the number of readers is declining, a delightful book like this might just snare a few new recruits.
Kirkus Reviews


In many ways, Books for Living is less an account of the specific books he cherishes than it is a gentle nudge to encourage readers to recall or seek out the kinds of books that will provide them with the meaning, solace and enlightenment he's gleaned from his cherished picks…. Anyone who shares his passion for books will have it sparked by his enthusiasm and unadulterated joy at these encounters with the written word.
Bookreporter

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