In each self-contained chapter, Schwalbe focuses on a single book. But more than summarizing or evaluating that book, the author tells how it affected him at a point in his life and how that life lesson can be shared with any of us.
In the chapter on David Copperfield, he remembers a friend who died too young. For Gift from the Sea, one of my long-time favorites, he talks about recharging our lives, just as Anne Morrow LIndbergh did in her book decades ago. For the children's book Wonder, he talks about choosing kindness, including the character Auggie, the author himself, and each of us readers.
For The Odyssey, Schwalbe points out that it took a very long time for Odysseus to get himself home, a "C plus effort." The chapter is titled "Mediocrity," and talks about the author's own education. He quotes, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." For The LIttle Prince, another of my favorites, he talks about friendship, about coincidences, and about what makes our lives valuable.
You can see that the author's choices of titles to discuss are widely varied, and certainly are not all literary. Oh, another of my favorities: Anne Lamott's book on writing Bird by Bird.
Lately, I have been dissatisfied and disgruntled with many of the new and well-reviewed books I have been reading. Books for Living was just what I was ready for: recommendations of old books to go back and re-discover, plus ideas for new books that have the power to make a difference.
You know I am a library user and seldom buy books, but this one will be worth a purchase, worth going back to again and again.