"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one."

— George R. R. Martin in A Dance with Dragons

Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing and digital media and as a journalist writing for various publications. He is author of The New York Times bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club.

In this thought-provoking book, Schwalbe shares 26 books which have transformed and enriched his life. It is an eclectic collection of old and new, fiction and nonfiction, famous and obscure volumes.

"Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you've done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone; it's a solitary activity that connects you to others."

These words are from the Introduction where Schwalbe muses about his quest for meaning in books, his delight in collecting quips and quotes from them, and his admiration for authors who help us change our relationship to the rhythms and habits of daily life. Here is a brief sampler of books Schwalbe covers and the themes he has discerned in his reading adventures:

  • The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang on slowing down
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White on searching
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens on remembering
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio on choosing kindness
  • Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh on recharging
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery on finding friends
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott on feeling sensitive
  • Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther on praying

We were impressed with Schwalbe's treatment of books as blessed companions who accompany us through life providing us with salutary wisdom along the way. We also found some titles to add to our own reading lists!