(56) End of Your Life Book Club

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 354
Genre: Biographies
Format: Audio Book
Narrated by: Jeff Harding
Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins

Synopsis:“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.

Review: Having a sick and dying parent is difficult for most but Will Schwalbe found a way to take the short time they had left together and made it count. Will and his mom used their love of reading as bridges to conversations that they may not every have had. Throughout the book are synopsis and descriptions of various other books that they read together and now I have books to add to my TBR list.

This book isn't just about reading though, its about relationships, its about whats important in your life, taking stock and ultimately its about dying.  Its about what its like to be the son of woman who is going through stage 4 cancer, its about coming to grips with the thought of losing a parent, and looking at your own life and figuring out if it is what you really want and what changes you can make to make it better. Its about living in the moment and not wasting opportunities. Its also a beautiful account of his mothers life and her passions for helping others and her dedication to refugees.

Will and his mom found a way to share meaningful conversations and learn more about each other through books and the topics those books brought up.  It made me pause and wonder about the conversations I have with my mother which are usually more superficial or have something to do with work.  It made me pause and think if there was anything I would want to talk to her about or learn about before its too late. Maybe it will make you pause and take stock a bit too.