The End of Your Life Book Club Author:Will Schwalbe The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she's reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so... more » they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions. A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.« less
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-end-of-your-life-book-club.html
The End of Your Life Book Club is a story of two years - from the time Will Schwalbe's mother Mary Ann is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to her death. It is a journey towards an end that the family knows is coming. It is also a celebration of their life. Finally, under the umbrella of their book club of two people, the book seeks to become a discussion of so many emotions, topics and lessons learned. Perhaps, it becomes a means to coping with the loss.
The idea of finding things we need to talk about and doing it in the context of a book, of course, appeals to me. I loved all the books references - becoming part of the conversation for those I have read and making a mental list of the ones I have not read. At the end of this book, the author does provide a list of all the referenced books. The books they read are not discussed in detail unfortunately, but merely become the vehicle to present the rest of the story.
As far as the family story, I found myself relating to parts and not to others. I could not relate to their lifestyle of big projects and world travel. I did completely relate to the their love of books, their love for each other, and the emotions of loss.
At one point in the book the author thinks, "I often forget that other people's stories aren't simply introductions to my own more engaging, more dramatic, more relevant, and better-told tales, but rather ends in themselves, tales I can learn from or repeat or dissect or savor." I am glad he had the chance to "repeat, dissect, and savor" stories with his mother, and I am glad he chose to share his story with us.
Nancy P. reviewed The End of Your Life Book Club on
Helpful Score: 3
I loved this book! The author introduces us to his mother at the end of her life. He uses their mutual love of books as the backdrop of the "story" which is about a wonderful woman whom you can't help but wish you had met in person. It's wonderfully told and not at all depressing.
As an avid reader I enjoyed this book very much! I loved the connection between the mother/son (I have 2 sons). Also the mother's health situation (dying of cancer) & going through chemo struck a raw nerve for me. A dear friend of mine is also going through the same health situation/treatment at the same time as I was reading the book. It was not depressing, it was upliftingI would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read!
I kind of jumped the gun with The End of Your Life Book Club, since it's supposed to be my book club's pick for next month. But I couldn't help myself; this book was incredibly moving, every step of the way. It's such a beautiful idea to me: sharing your final months with someone by reading the same books he or she does and discussing them, learning a little more about that person and sharing more of yourself every step of the way. As predicted, I've gleaned lots of new book titles for my To-Be-Read list, and I feel very appreciative of my life and the opportunities I've been given. I would highly recommend Schwalbe's memoir of his mother. What a great way to start the new year!
It's a very touching topic and there are a lot of great books recommended here but the book itself is not all that engaging. Lots of references to how rich and privileged the author and his family are and all of their connections makes it very difficult to connect with the characters. A very slow read. Doesn't live up to the reviews but you will get a nice list of other books that you want to read in the future from this book.