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The End of Your Life Book Club (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Will Schwalbe

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1,5441484,755 (3.92)204
Member:njmom3
Title:The End of Your Life Book Club
Authors:Will Schwalbe
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
really touching and beautiful book. just got a little too bogged down in the descriptions of each of the many books they read - wish he had whittled it down a bit. but his mothers life was so inspirational. makes me want to stop thinking about the worlds problems and start doing something to help make them better. ( )
  mfabriz | Jun 26, 2017 |
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is a memoir about the author and his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe, who carry on conversations prompted by their passion for books, those they read, and agree to read together just around the time Mary Anne suffers from a rare type of hepatitis and is then later diagnosed with an advanced form of pancreatic cancer.

And while the title of the book is stark and its subject matter expected to be melancholy, Will Schwalbe’s voice is anything but that. It is instead intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, keenly observant, and witty.

I should know since I was the primary caregiver to my grandfather while he fought his own battle against pancreatic cancer in 1999.

So, while one might expect a wallowing narrative or in the other terrible extreme, an overpowering devotion to self-help or holistic, new age, positive thinking — the book is appreciatively neither.

It has instead, a quiet, but determined resilience much like Mary Anne Schwalbe herself who you learn about through the confidence Will shares with his readers about the conversational topics they have about books.

Books become a lifeline through Mary Anne Schwalbe’s terminal illness, a collective repertoire of her attitudes and beliefs. They also become a lifeline in which Will Schwalbe is able to know his mother more and give testament to her leadership, passions, and ideals. Books in the process also become a comfort and solace, a way of bringing delight or instruction, and a means to communicate what isn’t always easily spoken, but absolutely required.

To read the rest of my review, you're more than welcome to visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe Closet:

http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/book-review-the-end-of-your-life-book...

Thanks,
Zara

http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com ( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
He also just wrote Books for Living that is only available in hardback. Would be an interesting discussion. Luba
  TNbookgroup | Feb 17, 2017 |
Edited to add:
Re-reading this book in March/April 2013 for book club. I was sick and housebound with a husband who was was woking very late so I re-read the entire book on 4/1/13. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. What a great tribute to books and reading as well as to his mother.

5 stars!!
This book will be in my top reads of 2013. While the author’s mother underwent chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, he and his mother traded books and discussed them, forming a type of “book club”. Mary Anne Schwalbe was quite a woman, the epitomy of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things. She was accomplished, intelligent, kind, generous, and wise. A particularly moving story was when Will tells about the time his mother was standing in line at the pharmacy and a woman in front of her was crying because she couldn’t pay for her mother’s medicine. Mary Ann quietly pays the bill. Reading about her made me want to be a better person.

Ultimately, this isn’t a book about cancer and death as much as it is a book about books, the love of books, and how reading can transform us. “Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying”. She read everything from popular fiction to deeper works, but always found something to learn from them. I ended up adding many to my to-be-read list.

I was highlighting so much that I finally had to stop for fear I would highlight the entire book. I would love to read more of Mary Ann Schwalbe's work with refugees and her travels to war-torn countries. ( )
1 vote janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
As a reader of course I devoured this book for all of the book titles that were mentioned in its pages, but I also couldn't put this down because of the story it told. The author's mother has terminal cancer and decides to go through treatment for as long as it makes sense to. Together mother and son go to appointment after appointment and visit with each other, sharing their favorite books. They make a book club for two out of it, swapping titles back and forth and sharing how they feel about each one.

There were some wonderful works mentioned here, which I have put on my own reading list, but it was the story of family and togetherness that touched me when reading this. This is yet another of those books that I have on my list of those I recommend to everyone. ( )
1 vote mirrani | Jan 11, 2017 |
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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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