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

by Will Schwalbe

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Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
Will Schwalbe's mother is dying of pancreatic cancer. As he sits with her at her chemo appointments, they talk about the books they read. Very early on in the book, they start a book club of two, picking books to read together, specifically so they can discuss them, specifically so they can learn more about each other, specifically so they can draw closer together in his mother's last years, and, specifically, though not consciously so they can begin the healing process even before the end has arrived.

With a synopsis like that, I'm sure it comes as no surprised that I cried.

I am years and years away from having to face any sort of similar situation. At least, I assume I am. Hope I am. Trust I am. Perhaps the real reason that this book hit so hard is that none of us actually know when we will be in a situation like this, on either side of it. But, it is my hope, that when I do find myself in such a situation, books will bring me the same amount of comfort in brought Mary Anne and Will Schwalbe.

Things I loved about it:

1. Mary Ann(e) Schwalbe. Such a beautiful woman. So strong. So true to her convictions. So full of action, and life, and energy. So very unlike myself, but so like the woman I would like to be.

2. Books. Of course. This book is a book for people who love books. In fact, if the only books you read are the most popular ones - you know, Hunger Games, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey - and if you aren't the type to constantly have a book on the go and have no idea what that's like, you may not even enjoy it much. If you do, this book will make you love books even more. It will make you go out and buy more bookshelves.

3. The beauty of death. This one is hard one. I guess what I found beautiful is how Mary Anne faced it, unwilling to stop living even though she was dying, even right up to her last few days.

4. Besides the books, this was my favourite thing: The End of Your Life Book Club is a profoundly spiritual, profoundly religious book written by a man who "just [doesn't] think about religion." (98) Schwalbe may not be a religious man, but he's written a book that is so beautifully moving, spiritually, a book that can provide great comfort about life and death from a religious perspective.

5. I guess, in relation to point 4, in conclusion of point 4, I adore how true Schwalbe is to his mother, how much he honours her through this work, even though his belief system does not necessarily line up. It's a beautiful tribute to his mom.

I think this might be the next book I recommend to everyone I meet. I'll be passing it on to my parents next. I'm not sure what they'll think of it - neither of them really read much non-fiction, and their parents didn't read much, as far as I know, - but I hope that in some ways, it will give them a glimpse into the gift they've given their children by reading so much, the same gift Mary Anne (and her husband) gave to her children. ( )
  Wordbrarian | Mar 5, 2019 |
Enjoyed. Mother and son discuss books as they face her terminal cancer. ( )
  nx74defiant | Dec 9, 2018 |
i was expecting to find out about possible reads when I chose this book. Instead I learned how books became the link between the author and his mother who suffered from terminal cancer. Their relationship blossomed and grew with each book that they shared during her illness. I was touched by this even though I may not ever read any of the books that they discussed in their book club. ( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
I’m a sucker for books about books, so this fit the bill nicely. Albeit sad because of the obvious outcome, the book is a tribute to the author’s incredible mother who accomplished more in one lifetime than most groups of people accomplish. Schwalbe’s pride in his mohter permeates every page. As you might gather fromm the book’s title, Schwalbe and his mohter make up a two-person book club, and much of the book is their discussions about the many books they read toward the end of her life. Having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the reader knows she won’t live long, but she lives longer than most with this dreadful disease. Schwalbe and his mohter use her chemo treatments as time for their “club” to come to order. The list of books they read, some well known to me and others not, is worth the price of admission along. Schwalbe lists all of them in an appendix at the end of the book. If you love books, you’ll loe this book even with its sad ending. ( )
  DanDiercks | Oct 9, 2018 |
This has been on my shelf for YEARS until I recently listened to it on audio. 1/3 book discussion and 2/3 cancer memoir, Will Schwalbe really paints a vivid portrait of his mother, who seems like an incredible woman. This one lacks the sadness that may be too much for some readers. It's really a celebration of her life and love of people and books. ( )
  KimMeyer | Oct 1, 2018 |
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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.

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