The Current

ENCORE | Life-altering books? Author Will Schwalbe has 26 that changed his

Author Will Schwalbe believes books can change a life and offer great lessons. He shares his list of 26 books for living.
Technological distraction is keeping us away from the meditation of books, says author Will Schwalbe. (Josef Astor/Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

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Canadians are a nation of readers.

According to BookNet Canada, 83 per cent of Canadians read at least one book last year. 

But even so, reading comes in fourth place as a way to spend free time — behind watching television, browsing the internet, and spending time with family.

Author Will Schwalbe is on a quest to foster more reading — specifically the reading of books. And he shares 26 books that has changed his life in Books for Living. 
Books help us grow in ways other reading can't, says Will Schwalbe. (Courtesy of Will Schwalbe)

"These 26 are all books that found me at a time when I really needed them," Schwalbe tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti in January.

"They're not, I don't think, the 26 greatest books in the world, although some of them are, nor are they even really my 26 favourite books."

"But they're books that taught me something and I think have the opportunity to teach others something."

Schwalbe says that in a world filled with distractions, reading gives us stillness — but also of connection with others. 

"Reading books puts us into someone else's soul," says Schwalbe.

"It causes us, at least for a moment, to put aside our prejudices and opinions and really listen to someone else."

"One of the things I love about books is, you can rant about them, you can scream at them, you can even scribble in the margins or throw a book across the room," he tells Tremonti.

"What you can't do is change the words on the page."

RelatedWill Schwalbe: The End of Your Life Book Club

And that connection comes off the page too. That's why Schwalbe considers "What are you reading?" to be the "most terrific" question.

"It really allows someone to share something of themself and it opens up a conversation."

Schwalbe says he follows his impulses when it comes to what to read next for good reason.

"I'd love to follow books as they sort of show me where to go because I have a real belief that the universe puts in your path the book you need when you most need it."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.

Which books changed your life, and how? Send us your most life-altering books.