Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Will Schwalbe: A Librarians' Author

There are very few books that seem to be tailored just for the library professional. There are always a title or two will come up that librarians will fall for and instantly recommend for their peers as well as their patrons. Rarely,however is there a book that talks exclusively about books and how the readers respond to the stories. The End Of Your Life Book Club does just that. Schwalbe writes a touching tribute to his mother and their shared love of books in his recent best selling tome. However, it does more than that, it inspires anyone who comes across this book to read and think more deeply. It is a definitely a book for the librarian in all of us. The thought that comes across first after reading this book is whether this title would be a good catalyst to begin a book club. It's not. Not because it is not well written. It is. Also not because it is a sad story and talks about death. It is sad but hopeful in a way that can't be explained. As a book club reading it delves deeper into the books and sometimes into the minds of the authors who wrote them. At times, it felt a little like a English lecture about the writers and their works. This is not a bad thing. It was wonderful indeed. However, in thinking about the books, the authors, and their words, it all came together that this is a very intimate book about how stories affect our lives and thoughts. This is truly meant to be a book club for two not six or ten or more. Having said that, there may still be a way to use this book for the purpose of a book club. Use the appendix. The appendix provides an alphabetical listing of the books,poems and plays that were mentioned. This handy list is perfect for the reader to search out the gems discussed at their local library or bookstore. For the librarian who is looking to start a book club, this is where to begin. (The Irony of starting at the end is not lost here. More than likely, Mary Anne Schwalbe would have done the same.) It is a wonderful mix of old and new titles. Will Schwalbe is a talented writer and clearly loves the written word as his mother did. It is touching to see that his mother's passion for reading extended outside the United States to Afghanistan. One of her last projects in life was to help raise money to build a library in Kabul and along with that a traveling library to go to the remote parts of Afghanistan to reach children who are in need of books. It warms a librarian's heart. Perhaps this is why the book is truly meant for librarians. It touches the core of what our profession strives to do everyday: connect people to stories that teach us about ourselves and our world. Nicely done Mr. Schwalbe nicely done.
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