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The End of Your Life Book Club (2012)

by Will Schwalbe

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2,1381826,280 (3.92)214
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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English (177)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  All languages (182)
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
In 2007, Will Schwalbe's beloved mother was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, and further tests soon showed that it was "treatable but not curable". This is a moving memoir of how a mother and son who love books use shared reading experiences as a way of dealing with this terrible situation, and the impact of this on their relationship.

I was nervous of reading it precisely because it's quite close to home. I would recommend it because it is as much a story of the life of a really interesting woman, and of her relationship with her adult son, as it is about death.

Also, it's about books, reading them and talking about them, what's not to love about such a book? Schwalbe himself writes that like any bookclub, he and his mum discussed the books they shared in different levels of detail, and sometimes the conversation shifted away from the book entirely.

The End of Your Life Book Club didn't necessarily make me want to try all the books discussed, but it is a very moving memoir, and I think the "end of your life bookclub" might well be an idea that others who have a life limiting or condition, or who love someone who does, could borrow.

All the books Will Schwalbe and his mother read and discussed for the bookclub are listed in an appendix at the end.

Received through the Amazon Vine programme and reviewed on 21 March 2013. ( )
  elkiedee | Aug 23, 2022 |
Will Schwalb had a remarkable mother in Mary Ann Schwalb. She was a powerhouse, who lived a life that was full and complete, and what better thing can you say for a life, long or short, than that it was well-lived. One of the things this mother/son duo shared was a love of books and sharing them with one another, and this memoir is, among other things, a memorial to the reading they did together during the last two years of Mary Ann’s life.

There were moments in this novel that were such a mirror for the loss of my own mother that they were hard to read. I found myself sitting, once again, at her bedside, struggling with how to say the things I was thinking without seeming to give up on the days that we had left with one another. I felt the pain of the parting and the exuberance of having been given this time for goodbyes, at having had time together at all, at having been blessed with one another for all those glorious years.

This book is nothing if not personal and heartfelt. It is a story of sorrow, but it is much more a celebration of life. It is a journey worth sharing, and as a Bibliophile, I found it a celebration of books as well, some I knew and some I did not. With books having so much influence over my own life, it was easy to understand the importance that the written word had for these two individuals.

“We all have a lot more to read than we can read and a lot more to do than we can do. Still, one of the things I learned from Mom is this: Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother’s favorite books without thinking of her—and when I pass them on and recommend them, I’ll know that some of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own version of what she did in the world.

We live in the books, and the books live in us, for as Schwalbe observes, “We're all in the end-of-your-life book-club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
3/31/22
  laplantelibrary | Mar 31, 2022 |
The premise of this book drew me instantly -- a book-loving son and his book-loving mother share her journey towards death, and share books all along the way. There is indeed a lot of good talk about books, some of which I love and some of which I will add to my "to read" list. But the talk about the mother's illness and impending death is less insightful and affecting than I had hoped. The characters are extraordinarily blessed, financially and socially and in terms of a remarkably close and loving family. This puts a distance between them and the experience of ordinary people with ordinary complicated relationships. And the mother is saintly -- non-complaining, non-angry, non-depressed, unlike the people I have known who were dying. There is little real revelation of how she felt about her impending death, which is something I wanted to know. Worth reading, but not what it could have been. ( )
  annbury | Mar 10, 2022 |
hit and miss for me. ultimately poignant and helpful in thinking about sharing the experience of someone dying. not much resonant in the actual book talk, which became redundant. ( )
  rinila | Feb 25, 2022 |
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This book is dedicated with love and gratitude to Nina, Doug, and Dad —
and David.
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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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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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