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

by Will Schwalbe

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Member:thebookwheel
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 132 (next | show all)
I have tried to read this book several times. I finally ended up listening to it at work. This is a heart-felt memoir of a son coping with his mother's diagnosis with cancer and the book club they end up forming while going to chemotherapy and doctor appointments. Schwalbe talks a lot about his coming to terms with his mother's cancer and her coming death. He mixes this in a little heavily with the talk of the books they read together. Sometimes he would pick them, sometimes she would, sometimes the choices were made together. I think the reason I had such a hard time getting started with this book, is that when I read it on my own, I would stop and read a book they read. Which made it hard to make any progress. I listened to this at work, and it made it easier, I wasn't tempted to stop during the middle of reading to read a discussed book, instead, I would pause and write down the books I found interesting. Will's mother, Mary Ann, had an extraordinary life and I was just as fascinated by her story as I was about the books mentioned.

There are a few topics they discusses that left me thinking long after I read the book. The first idea was that technically, we are all in the end of our lives book club. The book we're currently reading could very well be our last. This was a shocking statement to me, but at the same time, made me very grateful for all the books I have read, all the friends I've made over the love of books and who suggest and lend books. It also made me think about all of the books I want to read and those that I will never get around to reading.

The second idea that struck me was that this mother and son would talk about their favorite fictional places down to the minute details. If they liked a particular house or apartment a character lived in, they would discuss which of them would live in it. Who would live down the street, how long it would take for a friend to come over, what the furniture would look like, etc. It made me want to have that type of discussion the next time I get together with friends. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It gave me a lot to think about. ( )
  pennylane78 | Jun 6, 2016 |
Almost any person who is a book lover will enjoy The End of Your Life Book Club because of its central theme: the importance of books. Sure, it is a touching story of the book club started by the author and his mother, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. But the motivation of their reading and book discussions is the fact that books change us. Great books are ones that help us better understand the human condition. They help us see the world from a different perspective or better understand our own perspective.

A good example of this is found in the epilogue: "(Mom) never wavered in her conviction that books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose...is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in the human conversation."

Will Schwalbe and I would likely disagree on a whole host of issues (political, religious, social, etc.), but I found myself resonating deeply with his book. I certainly recommend it. ( )
  codyacunningham | May 9, 2016 |
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 |
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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