“Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.”
So writes Will Schwalbe in a great essay in today’s Wall Street Journal titled, “The Need to Read,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Schwalbe is the author of the soon to be released “Books for Living,” on which this essay was based, as well as “The End of Your Life Book Club.”
Schwalbe believes that reading is the best way 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 is a solitary activity that connects you to others.
The author mentions several books that have left their imprint on him at various stages of his life, from when his parents read to him at the age of five, through middle school, high school, college, and his adult years.
Here’s a listing of the books mentioned:
- Stuart Little
- The Gallic War
- The Odyssey
- Song of Solomon
- Gift From the Sea
- Girl on a Train
- David Copperfield
- A Little Life
- Reading Lolita in Tehran
It’s embarrassing to admit, but the only book on the list I know with certainty that I have read is Wonder; it was a great book, with a great message. I think I may have read The Odyssey, but it would have been so long ago I can’t remember.
So it looks like I’ve got some new books to add to my ever-growing list of books I’d like to read.
But as Schwalbe notes at the end, reading is “one of the world’s great joys.”
I feel the same way, and look forward to the pleasure I am sure these books will bring.
By the way, if you are curious, I had put together my version of a high school summer reading list that contained many of my favorite books and ones that made a difference in my life. Here is a link to that previous post, and here is the set of books I included:
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
- Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
- Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
- A Separate Peace, John Knowles
- The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
- Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
- The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy
- The Food Revolution, John Robbins
- The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
- Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
One change I would make to my list is to replace the Money book by Tony Robbins with his book, Awaken the Giant Within. I would also add the book Grit by Angela Duckworth to the list.