Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe


Title: The End of Your Life Book Club
Author: Will Schwalbe
Copyright: October 2, 2012
Genre: non-fiction
Format: audiobook

Synopsis (from publisher):

“What are you reading?”

That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.

This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.

My Review:

First I want to say that I throughly enjoyed this book. I also believe strongly that some books are even better when you listen to the audio version. Especially with a good voice talent reading. I listened to this while making breakfast for the boys, working in my craft room, and even while sitting at pick up waiting for the boys to come out of school.

I read this book always keeping my experience of losing my mother close to my heart.  My mother had a deep love for books and always encouraged me to read. We didn’t have a book club where we always read the same books but we shared what we were reading.  So Will’s mother, Mary Ann reminded me so much of my experience with my mom. My mother could never get enough of books and read them even when she became ill and we took turns reading when she wasn’t feeling well. Books were prominent in their lives as in my own.

I enjoyed how the chapter titles were titles of books. Schwalbe really captured the essence of life and life with a loved one dying (or should I say living) through books.  They formed their book club with mother and  son using books to navigate the delicate balance of living. It was also a remarkable tribute to his mother and the relation they continued to develop right up until her death.

I laughed at some points and paused to cry in others because I can relate to many of the feelings he had while going through this experience. There was a funny part about elevator etiquette that I can’t stop laughing about. But you must read it to find out.

I  was thrilled when I heard them mention books that I read and I also found myself adding more to my TBR list after listening to their analysis of books.

I think that this a great book for everyone.  It’s about the joy of reading and reading with others. Books can bring you places your feet and heart might not often travel. This book can open you up to new adventures with books you may not have thought about before. It helps you understand the importance that books play in our lives. They aren’t just for passing time.

A  quote from the end of the book that I like illustrates this beautifully:

 “Mom taught me not to look away from the worst, but to believe that we all can do better. 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 is also how you take part in the human conversation. You can make a difference in the world and that books really do matter. They’re how we know what we need to do in life and how we tell others… Books are how we get closer to each other and stay close…And even after death.”
– Will Schwalbe

If I haven’t convinced you to read this book, here is a link to the book trailer

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My rating was 5 butterflies!

5ratingHappy Reading!




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