Good Minds Suggest: Will Schwalbe's Books to Ring in the New Year

December, 2016
Will Schwalbe

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Will Schwalbe's last book, The End of Your Life Book Club, told the story of the books he read with his mother when she was dying of cancer. It was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards.

In his new book, Books for Living, he celebrates reading and shares the way specific books helped him throughout his life. These books range from David Copperfield to The Girl on the Train. Schwalbe also writes that books often find us when we need them most.

This all makes him a bit of a book-recommendation expert, so he's offering his best books to read in the new year. Here are his picks:

The Four Things that Matter Most by Ira Byock
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"For almost a decade this has been the first book I reread every year. Dr. Ira Byock, one of the pioneers and heroes in the field of hospice and palliative care, shares what he's learned to help everyone—not just those with illness—live with more purpose and meaning. Dr. Byock uses four phrases to guide the reader ('Please forgive me,' 'I forgive you,' 'Thank you,' and 'I love you'). This miracle of a book guides me toward far more meaningful resolutions than I would make otherwise."


Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni
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"Poet Nikki Giovanni is a national treasure, her poems [are] taught in courses coast to coast, and her words [are] now permanently enshrined in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. If you've read her, you'll know why. If you haven't, you might want to start with this little volume. These are fierce, funny, tender, searing, honest, erotic, and inspiring. My favorite? 'And I Have You.' Every year should start with poetry."


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
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"January is a good time for reflection but also for action. This book by Bryan Stevenson, a brilliant lawyer (who happens to be a brilliant writer, too), uses the story of one death row case to tell the story of justice in America and how unequally it is applied when it comes to race and financial and other resources. Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative. I'm going to reread this extraordinary book this year. And I'm going to set for myself a specific resolution as to how I'm going to help make it dated."


Wonder by R.J. Palacio
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"I suggest everyone spend some of January with Auggie and his friends and his family. R.J. Palacio's truly wonderful book about a boy with a facial deformity going to school (fifth grade) for the first time is helping millions to be more thoughtful about choosing kindness every day. As New Year's resolutions go, choosing kindness is a pretty awesome one for fifth graders and for people of every age as well. I devoted a chapter of my new book to Wonder; that's how much I love it."


Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
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"English novelist Helen Fielding's novel is as funny and charming today as it was when it was first published in 1996. Rereading it has become a bit of a New Year's tradition for me—like watching the film Love, Actually repeatedly in the days leading up to Christmas. Bridget's diary starts on January 1 and takes the reader through a comically disastrous year in which we get to see Bridget make a hash of almost everything she touches right up until the year is almost done. This book helps me forgive myself in advance for all the terrible decisions I will surely make and reminds me to laugh at myself along the way."


Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Books that Are Food for the Soul



Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by NIKKI (new)

NIKKI Love Poems!! :)


message 2: by Ryder (new)

Ryder Saw Will at Barnes and Noble in NYC to launch his new book, Books for Living, on January 5th, and can't WAIT to read it. Sounds like it has much to teach every reader. Will appears this year at the Nantucket Book Festival June 16-18 to discuss how the selections of books he has read which are included in this new volume of his work, have changed his life forever. He engages with his audience, as only he can and is one of the most personable authors I know. Well worth a special weekend to a wonderful place to hear him speak.


message 3: by Celia (new)

Celia If Will likes a book, I am pretty sure I will like it too.


message 4: by Marie-louise (new)

Marie-louise Bean I read Wonder every year to my 4th grade class. A true gem of a story emphasizing kindness and its power. A must read for adults as well.


message 5: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Is Will Schwalbe by any chance related to Lowell and Nancy Schwalbe?


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Excellent and well-thought out recommendations. I added 'The Four Things that Matter Most' and 'Wonder' to my wishlist. I've had Bridget Jones on my shelf for awhile waiting to be read.


message 7: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Feb 02, 2017 08:26AM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Books for Living sounds fascinating too - must get. I love books about readers and books.


message 8: by Will (new)

Will Schwalbe Sharon wrote: "Is Will Schwalbe by any chance related to Lowell and Nancy Schwalbe?"

I don't think I'm related to them -- but always happy to hear about other Schwalbes!


message 9: by Will (new)

Will Schwalbe Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Books for Living sounds fascinating too - must get. I love books about readers and books."

Hope you enjoy it! Thank you!


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