During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.
This lovely book has a ton a quotes I like, but here are a few of my favorites:
“I was learning that when you’re with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time.”
“reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose — electronic or printed or audio — is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in the human conversation.”
“Mom and Dad spent hours every week reading—and whole weekend days. Mom was always a little amazed at parents who thought their kids should be reading more but who never read themselves.”
“There was one sure way to avoid being assigned an impromptu chore in our house—be it taking out the trash or cleaning your room—and that was to have your face buried in a book. Like churches during the Middle Ages, books conferred instant sanctuary. Once you entered one, you couldn’t be disturbed. They didn’t give you immunity from prosecution if you’d done something wrong—just a temporary reprieve. But we quickly learned you had to both look and be completely engrossed—just flipping pages didn’t count.”
The End of Your Life Book Club, is a phenomenal and touching memoir. My family and friends all know books are an essential part of my life. As a kid, nothing made me happier than when the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) organization came to my school to distribute free books. As I read this moving memoir, I instantly connected with the author and his mother – especially because of their love of literature and books. Books bring me tremendous joy (even though some stories can be sad or difficult), awareness, knowledge, serenity and yes—sanity. In a nutshell, The End of Your Life Book Club is about a son, his seriously ill mother (Mary Anne Schwalbe) and their grandiose love of books. Mary Anne, an incredible woman, humanitarian and lifelong reader is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and she and Will decide to start a two-person book club. Interestingly, the club meets, trades books, memories and stories during Mary Anne’s chemo sessions. I thought I read a lot, but these two are the gold Olympians of reading! Over 50 books/authors are mentioned in this book (I’m not kidding) and don’t worry they are all listed at the end of the book. I absolutely identified with Will and Mary Anne’s love of books. Like them, I believe books have the power of connecting human beings on a deep and meaningful way. I also enjoyed Will’s humor and wit and look forward to reading his new book, Books for Living. I was fortunate to meet Will at Politics & Prose (in D.C.) on 1/9/17. He is humble, funny, incredibly patient, and friendly.