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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will…

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

by Will Schwalbe

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1,3271315,867 (3.93)191
Title:The End of Your Life Book Club
Authors:Will Schwalbe
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
324 pages


In 2007, Mary Schwalbe would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told that while they could treat it, there would be no cure. Surrounded by friends and family she fought for her life and managed to live for two more years (sorry if this a spoiler but seriously, the title should give it away). Mary and her son, Will (the author), would become a two-person book club and they read a range of books and had deep discussions on them.

What can I say? I enjoyed this book. Will tells the story of his mother and all she accomplished before and during her fight with cancer. He talks about the many books they read and their discussions of them. And most importantly he talks about everything his mother taught him and the bond they shared. As someone who is super close to their mom, I found this heartwarming and as someone who has had a parent die of cancer (my father), I could relate. More than the books they read, I enjoyed reading about Mary’s life, she really seems like she was an amazing woman, the type I strive to be in my own life. I adored her. Really, the only thing that grinded on my nerves sometimes were the overly long descriptions of the books they were reading, at times it felt like I was reading a book catalog more than a memoir, but that was only a once-in-awhile, slight annoyance. Also? It could be good or bad depending how you look at it, this book obviously has a large list of books and I have to admit I ended up adding several more to my already ridiculously long TBR pile.

( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
It was good but sad...interesting that I consider myself an avid reader but there was only one book that the author and his mom read together that I had previously read. There were a lot of books mentioned in the book (that they didn't read as part of the book) that I had previously read. Regardless, a lot of good books that I am going to check out, some I'm going to pass on. A sweet book idea and experience for the author in memory of his mom and a good mix of books, life talks and summary of being a care giver for a dying parent with cancer. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
This is a wonderful (nonfiction) book about the relationship between Will Schwalbe and his mother as she goes through a diagnosis of cancer, chemotherapy treatments, and dealing with her upcoming death. Through it all they read through many books and discuss them, and as they do, they come to know each other better. It is so interesting to see which books they read and discuss (many I had read, but several I had never heard of!). But it is also so enjoyable to learn about this amazing woman, her accomplishments, her love for others, and her joy for life. An amazing and inspiring story, and I highly recommend it!! ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Interesting for end of life issues and for inter-generational reading. Not something I would re-read
1 vote earthreader | Oct 26, 2015 |
Strong. Passionate. Mesmerizing. This memoir is written by an adult son who spends time with his mom who is 73 and undergoing cancer treatments when the book begins. They both love to read and create their own book club of two, each suggesting books to read and discuss. Many of their discussions are done in waiting rooms before doctor appointments and then in the 2 to 7 hour drug infusions. They pick spectacular books that speak to them and to me. His mother turns out to be a passionate fighter for refugees and visited Afghanistan and refugee camps there nine times. She was shot at once. She also visited refugees in south east Asia and north Africa. Her Christian faith sustains her at all times. During her fight for her life against cancer she raised money and planned for a library to be built in Kabul, Afghanistan. His mother is a woman who is all about giving and who finds great joy in life and in her family. The book deals with tender tough questions about what do a mother and son say to each other as the mother nears the end of her life. ( )
  hangen | Oct 1, 2015 |
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This book is dedicated with love and gratitude to Nina, Doug, and Dad —
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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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