Monday, December 3, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club

Title:  The End of Your Life Book Club
Author:  Will Schwalbe
Publication Information:  Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, Inc. 2012. 336 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on its description - mother, son, and books - three topics that had me hooked. The book came as a hardcover from the library.

Favorite Quote:  "Of course, we are all dying and none of us knows the hour, which could be decades away or tomorrow, and we know that we need to live our lives to the fullest every day. But I mean really - who can play that mental game or live like that? And there's a world of difference between knowing you could die in the next two years, and knowing that you almost certainly will."

The End of Your Life Book Club is a story of two years - from the time Will Schwalbe's mother Mary Ann is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to her death. It is a journey towards an end that the family knows is coming. It is also a celebration of their life. Finally, under the umbrella of their book club of two people, the book seeks to become a discussion of so many emotions, topics and lessons learned. Perhaps, it becomes a means to coping with the loss.

The idea of finding things we need to talk about and doing it in the context of a book, of course, appeals to me. I loved all the books references - becoming part of the conversation for those I have read and making a mental list of the ones I have not read. At the end of this book, the author does provide a list of all the referenced books. The books they read are not discussed in detail unfortunately, but merely become the vehicle to present the rest of the story.

As far as the family story, I found myself relating to parts and not to others. I could not relate to their lifestyle of big projects and world travel. I did completely relate to the their love of books, their love for each other, and the emotions of loss.

At one point in the book the author thinks, "I often forget that other people's stories aren't simply introductions to my own more engaging, more dramatic, more relevant, and better-told tales, but rather ends in themselves, tales I can learn from or repeat or dissect or savor." I am glad he had the chance to "repeat, dissect, and savor" stories with his mother, and I am glad he chose to share his story with us.


  1. Thank you for posting your review. I ran across this book recently and wasn't sure about reading it. After reading your perspective, I'm definitely more interested.

    1. This seems to be one of those books that people either really love or really dislike. Overall, the reviews are pretty divided. I look forward to hearing what you think once you have read it.