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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will…

The End of Your Life Book Club (2012)

by Will Schwalbe

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English (130)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
The author reflects on his relationship with his mother, particularly as she was undergoing treatments for cancer during the last years of her life. Their relationship was often centered around books and he discusses the books that they read together and how they helped them talk about some of the tougher issues of life.
This was an OK read, not outstanding to me. Book lovers will definitely relate to it more than npn-book lovers. ( )
  debs4jc | Apr 25, 2016 |
Read for my neighborhood book group. Book about the authors time with his mother as she battles Pancreatic Cancer as they discuss a variety of books. The time they have together the spend reading and sharing a variety of books while learning more about one another. Not just a story about impending death but a celebration of life through books. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she and her son Will started an impromptu "book club." The reader learns a little about the many books they read together, and a lot about Mary Anne and her humanitarian endeavors throughout the world. She seems like she was a remarkable woman, given the caveat that we learn about her through her son's naturally idealized viewpoint.

It was a little hard for me to relate to a family that was so clearly economically privileged, but it was still an enjoyable book. Mary Anne seemed like she had more money and heart than intellect, because some of her insights seemed pedestrian (to my ear, which is tone-deaf on matters "inspirational" and "wise"). But of course the any reader will appreciate the long list of books they will want to read. Mary Anne's taste was varied and surprisingly middlebrow, so few of the books discussed sound intellectually daunting to read. Our book club agreed that the list of books read was the most valuable part of the book. ( )
  CasualFriday | Mar 27, 2016 |
I listened to this and liked it a great deal. The author's mother is drying of cancer. He talks about their life and she is definitely an inspiration. She has worked for immigrants and helped raise money for immigrants and gone to immigrant camps to help out. He often takes her to treatment or other meetings and they share books and talk about a lot of books. It was nice to see their take on these books, only some of which I've read or heard of. I want to read more of a lot of these books.
  taurus27 | Mar 26, 2016 |
My first impression was that I didn't feel like Schwalbe was a great writer. I didn't like the sentence flow or the attempts at description. Throughout the book, I wondered why it mattered where the authors of the books he discussed lived, went to school, or how old they were when they wrote the book, especially when the descriptions of the books themselves were so slim. He talked about what he and his mother thought about the books and how they applied them to the current situation, but not a lot of effort was put into discussing the actual book plot or intent. I realize the purpose of The End of Your Life Book Club was their experience with reading, but the little inserts about the authors was more annoying than helpful. He also kept telling us things he'd already pointed out previously. The blog he and his mother were writing was written by her as if from his point of view, which he seemed to have to point out to us each and every time. We're smart enough to remember, really. We also remember who David Rohde was without having to describe every detail every time he mentioned him.

I could not relate to the characters. He presented his mother as a perfect, controlled, giving woman, and maybe she was, but it is harder to believe a perfect character over someone with a flaw or two. Sure, he was eulogizing his mother and I can only hope my children think so highly of me. Yet it took away from my ability to connect with her. I also found it hard to connect with him as he appeared to like to point out his privilege, which most of us cannot relate to. Summers in London, boarding school, being able to quit a job and not worry about rent, vacationing at a condo in Florida, huge dinners that obviously cost more than I make in a month ... unrelatable. And again, why was it necessary to keep pointing that out?

So why did I keep reading and actually enjoy it? I did enjoy hearing about the books they read and how they processed and discussed them. I did enjoy reading about the progression of his mother's disease and how he and she worked through that. I really enjoyed the idea that he was able to spend so much time with his mother before she passed away, building on a relationship and making it deeper and more meaningful through books. My mom wasn't a reader, but it would have been a nice thing to be able to have conversations with her before she passed away. I tapped into that and it made the book enjoyable enough to finish and give three stars. ( )
  MahanaU | Feb 26, 2016 |
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This book is dedicated with love and gratitude to Nina, Doug, and Dad —
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We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's outpatient care center.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307594033, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2012: Tissues at the ready, I braced myself for The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe’s memoir of his mother’s death from pancreatic cancer. But Mary Anne Schwalbe is such a fierce, unsentimental heroine--and her son such a frank and funny storyteller--that what could have been an emotional roller coaster turns out to be a beautifully paced ride. Mary Anne loves a good book as ardently as she loves her kids and her causes, chief among them a campaign to build a library in Afghanistan. When her health starts to fail, Will joins her for hospital appointments. They wait, they talk, and they read together--everything they’ve ever wanted to discuss. As much an homage to literature as to the mother who shared it with him, Will’s chronicle of this heartrending time opens up his captivating family to the rest of us. We should all be so lucky as to read along with the Schwalbes. --Mia Lipman

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Will Schwalbe

Will Schwalbe

For twenty-one years I worked in book publishing, mostly in editorial, acquiring the rights to manuscripts, working with authors to help shape their works, and trying to convince the world to pay attention to the various, wonderful books we were publishing. I learned from some of the all time great editors and publishers. But part of my publishing education went way, way back – to before I could read a word myself.

When I was a young child, before I went to sleep, my mother, like so many parents, would read me a book. My brother, eighteen months older, got his own book read to him. Later, my sister, four years younger, would have her own.

My mother was a working mother (a phrase she always disliked, as she rightly pointed out that no one talks of “working fathers”), so she wasn’t always home at night. She sometimes worked late, and she travelled for business, and, even when she and my dad were in town, they occasionally were out for dinner. But if she was home, she read us each a book before bed.

My early favorites included The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Harold and Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I loved that there was a bull who liked to smell flowers and wouldn’t fight, and I was amazed by the boy who could draw himself out of any jam. But the experience was far more than the books themselves. First, there was the comfort and security of being tucked into bed. (Is it coincidence that we use the phrase “tuck into” before three of my favorite things: food, bed, and good books, or is it because the pleasures of each have so much in common?) Then, there was the happy, selfish knowledge that, when it was my turn, I would be able to monopolize my mother’s attention just by sitting and listening.

But what I remember most is the way Mom made us feel that she was sharing something she loved with us, not completing a chore or performing a ritual. (Though I’m sure there were many nights when she was exhausted and would have loved to be in bed herself and fast asleep.) And when we shared the books, we also shared discussions about them. Why didn’t the men understand that Ferdinand just didn’t want to fight? There’s no one answer, but it’s a question Mom and I explored together time and again.

Later, I would start to read to myself of course. But it was the nightly reading with Mom that helped me become a reader – and probably pushed me toward the career in book publishing. From Mom, I learned that there’s a public pleasure in books as well as a private one; that sharing books you love and getting others to read them can create a powerful bond, not just between a parent and child, but among thousands or millions of strangers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:08 -0400)

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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.

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