The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close.
Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she's reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.
A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.
Audio version of EOYLFB
I love CD books for long car rides but my commute to work is all of about five minutes. I know, you hate me! When I had to drive back and forth to grad school (an hour each way) time went so quickly listening to books. I loved that.
I also have... - lisag
Books as a bridge
Friendships and conversations can easily be started with, "Have you read - - - -". Books can also give understanding of problems and examples for solutions in problem discussion. I have formed friendships over books and had grand times in book... - jacquelynh
Does Mary Anne ever think of herself as brave?
Paula, I'm sure Will would just point to his mother as an example of bravery and I agree with your definition of brave. It's about not letting anything stop you from pursuing your dream, no matter how scared you may feel and despite limiting... - lisag
Mary Ann's Spelling Lesson for Will
I think all the comments are interesting but it seems to me that Mary Ann was perhaps trying to keep something for herself as an individual. So often - women especially I think - become identified as someone's wife or mother and their self seems... - dorothym
What a powerful read!
I agree. A few weeks before Christmas each year, my book group meets at a restaurant for lunch and a book exchange. Always great fun. This past Christmas, i had been so touched by EOYLBC I had to share it with other readers so I took it as a... - jwbriggs13
What do you feel is the central theme of the book?
I'm only about a third of the way through the book, but it seems to me that communication is the main theme of this book, and the means of communication for Will and his mother, Mary Anne, is literature. In their "book club" discussions, their... - paula
What message does the book cover give us?
I'll admit, if I consider a book cover to be hideous I often will avoid the book. You can tell a lot from the cover, despite the old adage to the contrary! If it had, say, a shirtless man with sculpted muscles you couldn't pay me to touch it.... - lisag
What was Mary Anne's agenda?
I think Mary Anne was trying to give one last connection and memory to Will. Reading had always been a big part of their relationship and this was a nice way of connecting together one last time. - melissap
Will Schwalbe's heart-wrenching memoir is difficult to categorize. It is at once a paean to his beloved mother, a treatise on the power of reading, and a handbook on how to live - and die. With direct prose and unflinching courage in the face of sadness, Schwalbe recreates the final months of his mother's life, offering a wealth of insight into how the written word can connect lives. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
In a heartfelt tribute to his mother, Schwalbe illustrates the power of the written word to expand our knowledge of ourselves and others.
Starred Review. With a refreshing forthrightness, and an excellent list of books included, this is an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work.
Dr. Sherwin Nuland, author of The Art of Aging and How We Die
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.
J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar
Will Schwalbe's brave and soulful elegy to his remarkable mother, his recollection of their sparklingly literate conversations, is a timely reminder that one exceptional person, or one exceptional book, can be a torch in the darkness. You'll turn the last page wishing you'd met Mary Anne Schwalbe, vowing to be worthy of her incandescent example - and promising yourself to read more.
Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes
I was so moved by this marvelous book. Schwalbe has done something extraordinary: made a personal journey public in the most engaging, funny and revealing way possible. It is a true meditation on what books can do.
David Rohde, co-author of A Rope and a Prayer
This book is a passionate, purposeful and elegant guide to human existence. Living life, learning life and loving life. And ultimately, accepting life's end. Mary Anne and Will have given us an exquisite gift. For a better life, better family and better world, read this moving elegy from a gifted and loving son to an extraordinary mother.
Cecelia Ahern, author of P.S. I Love You
Will Schwalbe gives us two love stories in one: that of his relationship with his dynamo of a mother as her horizons shrink, and that of their mutual devotion to the printed word, infinitely and insistently engaging. Tender and touching and beautifully done." - Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra "At last a book that celebrates the role books play within our own story. Will Schwalbe has created a tender, moving and honest portrayal of the precious relationship between a mother and son—an ode to that beautiful thing called love.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Nathalie Well written and touching I was not looking forward to reading this book for my own book group: I just lost yet another family member to cancer.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it was written. The author has written a beautiful inspiring tribute to... Read More
Rated of 5
by JeanT Disappoining Book Club I approached this book with much anticipation after having read all the reviews. Perhaps it's just me, but I found the book interesting, but not compelling. I would have hoped for more depth in the discussion of the various books' relevance to the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Louise Jolly The End of Your Life Book Club - You'll Love It!! Will Schwalbe has done a remarkable job with this novel, touching on the real feelings and issues surrounding the process of a close family member dying. They way in which this mother and son chose to deal with the heartbreak was truly amazing and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Diane S. The End of your lilfe book club A book about a dying woman could be extremely melancholy and I will admit to having teary eyes at various points in this book. Yet, this book is so much more, it is a celebration of a life that was lived well, a life that helped other people, the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. More than a book about books “How could anyone who loves books not love a book that is itself so in love with books?” (page 125).
I was intrigued by the title of this book and expected that it would deal with reading and books, and since I love books and reading myself,... Read More
Mary Anne Schwalbe was a woman of many careers. She was a high school teacher; head of admissions at Harvard; and a founder, and later, director of the Women's Refugee Commission. Her work with the WRC was something she was passionate about through the end of her life.
Founded in 1989 (and initially called the Women's Commission), the Women's Refugee Commission's mission is to improve the lives of women and children refugees around the world. The commission points out that four out of five of the world's nearly 45 million displaced people are women, children and young people. Most of these women and children are in long-term displacement situations that could last up to 17 years. Through research and fact-finding field missions, the WRC identifies critical needs for these displaced people and advocates for...
A novel about a man's search for meaning that illuminates our deepest concerns: love and death, marriage and family, and the mysterious tug of beauty on the human heart.
These are 2 of the 10 readalike suggestions for The End of Your Life Book Club. Members have full access to all readalikes. If you are a member, please login. To find out more about membership, click here.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...