The End of Your Life Book Club

  • by Will Schwalbe
  • Narrated by Jeff Harding
  • 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"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.
Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other - and rediscover their lives - through their favorite books. When they read, they aren't a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will's love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

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What the Critics Say

"With a refreshing forthrightness, and an excellent list of books included, this is an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them. Like the printed volumes it celebrates, this story will stay with you long after the last page." (Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Time Keeper)
"Will Schwalbe's lyrical tribute to a life well-lived and a death graced with love and literature is a precious gift bestowed on all of us. What a unique and beautiful book this is, and how privileged we are to have it." (Sherwin B. Nuland, author of The Art of Aging and How We Die)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Loved this book

Loved this book. Of course the subject of illness is difficult but I loved how this family dealt with illness, treatments and end of life. Good review of so many books that you may have read or meant to read. One of my year's favorite books.
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- fred

Decent, but not earth-shattering

I really wanted to like this book, and I did in a lot of ways. If you approach it as just one guy's story about his mom and what his family was doing, thinking, and reading during his mom's battle with cancer (without any huge epiphanies or off-the-wall adventures or stunning realizations), you'll like it much better than if you're approaching it for sweeping insights. Don't get me wrong, I am saddened that families and friends ever have to watch someone they love battle this disease, and that wonderful people die everyday as we search for a cure, but this book just didn't expose any ringing truths or open my eyes to anything new, which I tend to need from a book to increase the stars in my ratings. My biggest issue? The complete perception of perfection that the author portrays of his mom, and of everyone around them. Could he not tell one story of their faults and foibles and fights? Even the one "mistake" we learn of his mom making during his childhood was so trivial that, while it made for a few minutes of easy reading, it didn't paint a picture of family life that I could relate to. My praise? It did make me want to read several of the books mentioned within. Books about books are like that.
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- Krista

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-02-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio