Why I am building BookPrescriber - A book recommendations platform
Find the right book recommendations.
One of the reasons why BookPrescriber was founded is a book I read about books, the power of reading and finding the right book: Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. I read this book during my sabbatical months which coincided with my move to New York City and it has been my inspiration to curate personalized book recommendations.
I became a member of the New York Public Library and started visiting different locations throughout the city (They have 92 locations spread across Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island) and that’s when I re-discovered my love for reading. I found Books For Living at the Jefferson Market branch in a shelf full of Large Prints and this is a story of how it gave me a purpose and a vision.
To know more about BookPrescriber’s mission read What’s the mission behind BookPrescriber?
Growing up, I remember doing 2 things distinctly — a) going to my best friend’s house and spending hours playing and b) locking myself up in my room and reading — course books, fiction, magazines(English, Hindi, Gujarati) and books I read for pleasure- starting with Famous Five to Secret Seven/Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew to eventually reading Sidney Sheldon. My school friends knew me as a book worm, a nerd and that’s always been the truth. I gladly accept I like words more than I like a lot of things in the whole wide world.
Image from BookPrescriber
When I moved to college, reading did take a backseat. College surprises me till date. Time just flew, with the endless exams and classes and the rest of the time spent hanging out with friends. Summer and Winter breaks were always exciting reading-wise. I remember reading all sorts of books, Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead to Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Dan Brown’s Deception Point.
When I started working, I picked up reading once again and though I read books, I never read as much as I wanted to. Being at work at 8 am discourages those unputdownable late night reads.
My sabbatical was the first time ever in a decade I was free to read as many books I wanted and I read and read. I read anything that caught my fancy. I didn’t care whether it lead me to anything. Whether it taught me anything. Just kept reading. And I started feeling all my anxieties peeling away in the presence of these wonderful books. I started looking at books differently, not only as a means of entertainment or of being a better version of myself but also a means of understanding life better. Thanks to Will Schwalbe and his Books for Living for that. Here is an excerpt from the book explaining how reading can help us find answers to the bigger existential questions we all get from time to time.
“At other times throughout my life, though, I’ve felt a very specific need and have searched for a book to answer it. It hasn’t always been easy to find the right book. Sure, when that burning need was to learn how to make a pineapple upside-down cake, I turned to The Cake Bible. Or when it was a need to find a place to eat in Chicago, the Zagat guide. … More and more, when I need this kind of information, my first line of attack isn’t a book at all — it’s the internet or social media…
There are, however, questions that the Internet and the hive mind are spectacularly unable to answer to my satisfaction. These are the big ones, the ones that writers have been tacking for thousands of years: the problem of pain, meaning, purpose, happiness: Questions about how to live your life.”
Will Schwalbe in Books for Living
This book has changed the way I look at books in general, especially because he talks about such contemporary things like the distractions caused by Social Media, the FOMO(Fear of Missing Out) culture, the importance of slowing down, etc. and how reading books can help us get out of the social media spiral or understand the Joy Of Missing Out(JOMO).
He talks about the pursuit of finding that Holy grail of books and he quotes ‘The Importance of Living” by Lin Yutang as the book that has come the closest to being that.
“The Importance of Living is a book that makes a case for loafing, for savoring food and drink, for not striving too much. Lin wanted an antidote to the raw competitiveness and frenetic activity he saw all around him in the early 1930s…”
Will Schwalbe in Books for Living
For me ‘Books for Living’ might just be that Holy Grail of books. I have gained so much from books and that’s my motivation to share its pleasures, its offerings with the world. That’s my inspiration to share personalized book recommendations with my friends, family, and strangers. Because I strongly believe in the power of books to teach, to heal and to entertain.
I want to help you find books to read that will change you in profound ways. That will give you pleasure, purpose and the power to navigate this life. If you want to read more and don’t know where to start, check out How to Read More in 2019? for actionable advice.
Do you have a similar story of a book that changed your life? Share in comments. If you want your story to be shared by more people so you can add value to others and inspire them, I urge you to fill this form.
Why I am building BookPrescriber- A book recommendations platform? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.