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

by Will Schwalbe

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1,1081167,473 (3.95)179
Member:lamplight
Title:The End of Your Life Book Club
Authors:Will Schwalbe
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Read
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 113 (next | show all)
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 |
This was a summer reading choice book, and given my love for books, I decided that based on the title, it would be a good choice for me. When I read the book jacket cover, I was expecting a story about coping with illness, loss, and death. What really surprised me about this book was how Schwalbe chose not to focus on his mother's pancreatic cancer diagnosis and imminent death, but on her life, and how she continued to touch everyone around her until her end. The book club that was referred to in the title was one that I expected would be a coping mechanism for mother and son to take their minds off the cancer and focus on something more pleasant. I know that for me anyway, books have always been my refuge from the world whenever I found myself wanting to get away for a spell. The informal book club formed by Schwalbe and his mother, was however, was a way in which the two became closer than they had before, and learned more about each other than they could've by having dreary conversations in a hospital waiting room. Mary Ann Schwalbe, the author's mother, never lost her spirit, her desire to help others, and her desire to cease living, qualities that I personally found inspiring. Rather than treat her cancer diagnosis like a death sentence, Mary Ann Schwalbe continued taking life on full force, and Will Schwalbe, the author, did his mother's life and legacy justice in more ways than one. This memoir isn't as intriguing as I imagine some others are, but it nevertheless is a heartfelt and touching story that deserved to be told and was with elegance, grace, and finesse. ( )
  literarybuff | Sep 23, 2014 |
This is a wonderful book. Mr Schwalbe writes about the final two years of his mother's life - and how he spent it with her, reading and discussing books. Reading had been their special bond throughout his life - and the bond continued until she died. The book really made me see that I have been missing half of the reading experience - that is sharing and discussing the book after you read it. For Mr. Schwalbe, much of the joy of reading was the anticipation, and then the actual fact, of discussing the books with his mother. It makes me wish that I had taken the time to do the same with my mother - and makes me feel that I should start a bookclub with family and friends right now! ( )
  peggy.short | Sep 2, 2014 |
Although this could be said to about the books that Schwalbe and his mother read and discussed as she underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer, it really is about Mary Ann(e) Schwalbe: her life, and her battle with that cancer. If you know that going in, you might not find this as disappointing as I did.

Read this if: you’re interested in the story of one courageous woman who worked hard for world change, even through the unchangeable diagnosis which resulted in her death. 3½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jul 13, 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)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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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