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

by Will Schwalbe

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1,1821206,816 (3.92)184
Member:Booklady123
Title:The End of Your Life Book Club
Authors:Will Schwalbe
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
i feel entirely unable to rate this objectively as we're reading this book in honor of a member of our book group who recently died - this was the last book she recommended to me before her death - and a good friend of mine is in treatment for stage 4 cancer now. so i have all kinds of personal things that get in the way of being unbiased - but then, isn't that always true? maybe not as obvious or as in my face as with this book, but of course it's always true that our experiences or our presents shape how we read a book.

so. i love the passion for books and the acknowledgement of their power that is the main takeaway from this book, other than the relationship between the author and his mom. it's a sweet way for the author to connect with his mother, and a beautiful way to get at the deeper meaning of so many things - and what she thought about them - in her last months. it's casually written, in an easy and accessible way. not amazing writing, but that seems right. the reader can focus on the books he's discussing, as well as really appreciate the tribute to his mother. she seemed to be a truly incredible woman, who made this world better with her life. i'm very impressed by her. and by how quickly - and with what depth - they tore through books. (the reading list alone is reason enough to read this book.) and their message of doing good for people and the world, of not being handcuffed by not being able to do more, of not expecting the world to be there for you - it's a great message and one that i can't hear or be reminded of enough. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Mar 2, 2015 |
Overall I enjoyed this book. I found it inspiring as for the type of life that the mother lived. On the other hand it was also tragic and towards the end, painful to read. ( )
  foreverreading | Feb 16, 2015 |
Given the subject, I knew this was going to be a heart-wrenching book, but I was still surprised when the author’s beautiful, poignant writing brought me to tears in the first chapter. Even though it's been months since I read this book, the emotional impact of this book feels fresh. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time. I really enjoyed the way the author included books in the story. Because they were a part of his life and his relationship with his mom, the book discussions didn't feel artificial or intrusive. These parts flowed well and they often led into some of the most thought-provoking parts of the book.

The book really felt like a love letter from the author to both books and his mother. Obviously I share his love of books and empathized with those parts, but he did such an incredible job capturing his mother’s personality, I felt personally connected to her too. His mother’s strength and kindness were impressive and I like to think that the author would be happy to share that with people. I also found his description of his mother's humanitarian efforts inspiring. Because of the way the ending focused on her life instead of her death, I didn't finish this book feeling depressed. Instead, I felt inspired to get out and do more with my own life.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jan 29, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was tender and loving and about the incredible bond between a mother and her son. I felt the author wrote beautifully about the last two years of his mother's life. He chose to focus on her life and incredible accomplishments rather than her diagnosis and impending death. I loved how his mother showed him important life lessons through characters and story lines in the books they shared. A few moments made me cry as I felt for the author and his siblings while they came to terms with losing the pillar of family. Very touching and well-written. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Oct 28, 2014 |
If you liked Tuesdays With Morrie, you will probably like this book. I am just not a fan of this genre.

My synopsis would be: "Agnostic middle aged son deifies his dying mother."

I would have found the narrative more believable if the mother just once would have had a bad day, spoken a cross word, or did anything that we mortals do (and regret) every day. Instead there is episode after episode of mother delivering words of wisdom to her son as they explore various literary works in her last months.

I'm sure that writing this book was cathartic for the son. And I'm equally sure that many will feel uplifted by it. I've been through enough losses in my life to know that it never comes with a sugar coating. ( )
  tangledthread | Oct 7, 2014 |
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This book is dedicated with love and gratitude to Nina, Doug, ad 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:50 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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