The End Of Your Life Book Club

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The End Of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe

Knopf Canada | June 4, 2013 | Trade Paperback

The End Of Your Life Book Club is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 6.

An inspiring memoir for fans of Joan Didion, Annie Lamott, and Mitch Albom, The End of Your Life Book Club is a beautiful celebration of literature and a profound testament to the ways we remember our loved ones.

Mary Anne Schwalbe was a renowned educator who filled such august positions as Director of Admissions at Harvard and Director of College Counseling at New York''s prestigious Dalton School. She also felt it incumbent upon herself to educate the less fortunate and spent the last 10 years of her life building libraries in Afghanistan. But her story here begins with a mocha, dispensed from a machine in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Over coffee, Will casually asks his mom what she''s been reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they mutually agree to read the same books and share them together as Mary Anne waits for her chemotherapy treatments. Their discussions reveal how books become increasingly important to the connection between a remarkable woman whose life is coming to a close, and a man becoming closer to his mom than ever before.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 7.99 × 5.16 × 0.72 in

Published: June 4, 2013

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307399672

ISBN - 13: 9780307399670

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A double homage The author, who has worked in the publishing business and journalism, render a tribute to the written world; he also celebrates life and the love he has for his mother. It is a memoir of the relationship between a son and his mother and their shared passion for books. The story spans over 2 years and opens with the return of the author’s mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe, from a humanitarian mission in Pakistan and Afghanistan where a foundation she’s involved with helps establish libraries in those countries. She returns with a sickness that is first believed to be a rare form of hepatitis. As it turns out, it is much worst then first suspected. Months later, the verdict falls: CANCER. But not just any kind: PANCREATIC CANCER. Her original prognosis was 6 months and yet she managed with the help of her family and doctors, to almost quadruple her survival time. So as pages go by, we follow the story of Mary as her life comes to a close: chemo, surgery, doctor’s appointments, her involvement in the humanitarian organization she cares about, her children /grandchildren /husband and even her own birthday parties, wedding anniversaries without forgetting the “Book Club” her son and her start while she is in chemo. So although the title makes us believe that this is mainly a book about books, I perceived it as more of an homage to the woman of exception that was Mary Anne Schwalbe; a woman who faced every step of her life with courage, determination and even optimism in some ways. The books are here symbols of comfort, knowledge and guiding light, as they teach us and sometimes show us who we are and reveal sides of us we never suspected existed. And although, the book is tinged with melancholy and sadness (because we know from the very beginning what is to become of Mary Anne), Will Schwalbe does not fall into the holistic or the new age. Neither does he go for the overly dark and depressive aspect of what living with cancer imply. He treats the subject brilliantly by putting forward his mother’s resilient, yet pragmatic, nature, by depicting her as she truly was: an inspiration and an example for many to follow should we face adversity. For more on this book and others to come, come and visit my blog at : ladybugandotherbookworms.blogspot.com
Date published: 2013-03-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Book Review from The Bibliotaphe Closet: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is a memoir about the author and his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe, who carry on conversations prompted by their passion for books, those they read, and agree to read together just around the time Mary Anne suffers from a rare type of hepatitis and is then later diagnosed with an advanced form of pancreatic cancer. And while the title of the book is stark and its subject matter expected to be melancholy, Will Schwalbe’s voice is anything but that. It is instead intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, keenly observant, and witty. I should know since I was the primary caregiver to my grandfather while he fought his own battle against pancreatic cancer in 1999. So, while one might expect a wallowing narrative or in the other terrible extreme, an overpowering devotion to self-help or holistic, new age, positive thinking — the book is appreciatively neither. It has instead, a quiet, but determined resilience much like Mary Anne Schwalbe herself who you learn about through the confidence Will shares with his readers about the conversational topics they have about books. Books become a lifeline through Mary Anne Schwalbe’s terminal illness, a collective repertoire of her attitudes and beliefs. They also become a lifeline in which Will Schwalbe is able to know his mother more and give testament to her leadership, passions, and ideals. Books in the process also become a comfort and solace, a way of bringing delight or instruction, and a means to communicate what isn’t always easily spoken, but absolutely required. To read the rest of my review, you're more than welcome to visit my blog, The Bibliotaphe Closet: http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/book-review-the-end-of-your-life-book-club-by-will-schwalbe/ Zara @ The Bibliotaphe Closet http://zaraalexis.wordpress.com
Date published: 2012-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The End of Your Life Book Club Story Description: Knopf Canada|October 2, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-307-39966-3 Mary Anne Schwalbe was a renowned educator who filled such august positions as Director of Admissions at Harvard and Director of College Counselling at New York’s prestigious Dalton School. She also felt it incumbent upon herself to educate the less fortunate and spent the last 10 years of her life building libraries in Afghanistan. But her story here begins with a mocha, dispensed from a machine in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Over coffee, Will casually asks his mom what she’s been reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they mutually agree to read the same books and share them together as Mary Anne waits for her chemotherapy treatments. The book they read, chosen by both, range from the classic to the popular: from The Painted Veil to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; from My Father’s Tears to the Christian spiritual classic Daily Strength for Daily Needs. Their discussions reveal how books become increasingly important to the connection between a remarkable woman whose life is coming to a close, and a young man becoming closer to his mom than ever before. My Review: By late fall of 2007, Will and his mom, seventy-three-year-old, Mary Ann were frequent flyers in the department where people with cancer waited to see their doctors to be hooked up to a drip for doses of the life-prolonging poison that is one of the wonders of the modern medical world. Will and Mary Ann’s book club got its formal start with a cup of mocha and one of the most casual questions two people can ask each other: “What are you reading?” One day in November, Will asked this mother that very question and she responded: “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner; which was first published in 1987. Will decided to read it as well and discovered it was about the lifelong friendship of two couples: Sid and Charity, and Larry and Sally. At the beginning of the novel, Charity is dying of cancer. Once Will had read the book it was natural that he wanted to discuss it with his mom. The book gave them “a way to discuss some of the things she was facing and some of the things” that Will was facing. Although Will and Mary Ann had always talked books because it provided them with a way to introduce and explore topics that concerned them but made them uneasy, and it also gave them a way to talk about something when they were stressed or anxious. Over the ensuing months since Mary Ann’s diagnoses of pancreatic cancer that had already spread, they realized they had created, without even knowing it, a very unusual book club. Their conversations were sometimes about the characters in the novel and their life, but at the same time discussed their own situations. Will wanted to learn more about his Mom’s life and the choices she made so he often directed the conversation that way. Will said: “…the book club became our life, but it would be more accurate to say that our life became the book club.” They talked about books and their lives. Will maintained that one of the things he learned from his mother was: “Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read of my mother’s books without thinking of her – and when I pass them on and recommend them, I’ll know that some of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own version of what she did in the world.” Mary Ann and Will reminded themselves that no matter where they were on Mary Ann’s cancer journey, and on their individual journeys, reading the books they wouldn’t be the sick person and the well person; they would simply be a mother and son entering new worlds together. The books also provided much-needed ballast – something they both craved, amid the chaos and upheaval of Mary Ann’s illness. Will realized that for him and his family, part of the process of their mother dying was mourning not just her death but also the death of their dreams of things to come. You don’t really lose the person who has been; you have all those memories of the past but thoughts of what you won’t be able to do in the future with that person. 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 worked well. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will be recommending it to all my family and friends.
Date published: 2012-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I loved this book! I felt as if the writer was sitting across from me and telling me the story about his mother and how they started this book club. My mother died of the same cancer 7 years ago but I only had 6 weeks from the time the doctors told her she had this and was not able to get any sort of treatment. My mother was also a great reader and after reading this book i wish I would of been able to have a book club like Will. he was able to learn so much more about his mother and to me he will always have such great personal memories of her and I find that is so important to have cause long after they die you need that cause you wish you knew certain thing or would of asked and now it is too late. I think everyone should read this book even though it touches on a subject no one wants to talk about but it will really help you and guide you. Also I can not wait to read some of the books that were mentioned and some of the books that Will and his mother read I had also and never seen that point of view on them. It did make me realize how books can really open up your mind and yes how they form friendships with people cause I pass on every great book I read and have started people that have never read a book or few books to start reading. Get this book, you will love it!
Date published: 2012-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book to treasure The End of Your Life Book Club is undeniably poignant for two reasons. First, it is a heartfelt illustration of family love, a contemplation of death and dying and a remarkable tale of hope. But also, this book is a tribute to the literature that has helped shape our lives. Will's words carved into me in the most astonishing way because of their elegance, their power and their unabashed honesty. This man is a true lover of the written word and I felt honoured to be navigated through some of the most praised novels in the history of literature with him and his mother, Mary Anne, as guides. I finished the book with tear-stained cheeks and literally hugged it. The End of Your Life Book Club will burrow into your heart and stay there for years to come. (My quote for the Spotlight blog. Read this and more here: http://blog.indigo.ca/non-fiction/item/1216-end-of-your-life-book-club.html)
Date published: 2012-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring and Beautiful The Good Stuff •Obviously it reiterates something that I have always believed, that books are a way of bringing people together •Hopeful and beautiful •Wonderfully honest bonding experience between mother and son - never saccarine •Darkly funny •Makes you really think about those you love and encourages you to talk things over before its too late •Mary Anne was a truly inspiring and courageous women (Reminded me very much of my father) •Introduced me to some books that I have never heard of and now desperately want to read •Such wise observations on how we should all live our life •Fascinating discussions about books and the affect they have on us all •Very respectful, yet deeply personal •Loved the list of books at the end •The discussions on religion and faith were very honest and loved that Will was honest about his lack of faith, but also respected his mothers beliefs The Not So Good Stuff •It made me cry -- not really bad, but I had to put something here Favorite Quotes/Passages "Books had always been a way for my mother and me to introduce and explore topics that concerned us but made us uneasy, and they had also given us something to talk about when we were stressed or anxious." "She never wavered in her conviction that books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose - electronic (even though that wasn't fo her) or printed, or audio - is the greandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in the the human conversation. Mom taught me that you can make a difference in the world and that books really do matter: they're how we know what we need to do in life, and how we tell others.' "And were you trying to teach me not to get too attached to things?" "I wish, I'd given it that much thought! I really was just thinking of the orphans." I can't help but feel sad when I think about Turtle, even if I remind myself to think about the orphans instead. "I think I was pretty mad at you," I told Mom as we sat there. "I was pretty mad at myself," Mom said. "Are you still?" "Maybe a little bit," I said. Then we both laughed. But I was ... just a bit." "One of my cousins and his wife had written to say, in a way they knew would make her smile, that even though they were 'heathens' they were praying for her. Mom loved this. Whe said to me - and to them - that she suspected heathen prayers were even more effective than Christian or Jewish or Muslim ones - perhaps because heathens prayed less." Who Should/Shouldn't Read •It might be a very hard read for someone currently living through watching a loved one dying •Something for everyone in this one 4.5 Dewey's I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review
Date published: 2012-10-04

– More About This Product –

The End Of Your Life Book Club

by Will Schwalbe

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 7.99 × 5.16 × 0.72 in

Published: June 4, 2013

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307399672

ISBN - 13: 9780307399670

From the Publisher

An inspiring memoir for fans of Joan Didion, Annie Lamott, and Mitch Albom, The End of Your Life Book Club is a beautiful celebration of literature and a profound testament to the ways we remember our loved ones.

Mary Anne Schwalbe was a renowned educator who filled such august positions as Director of Admissions at Harvard and Director of College Counseling at New York''s prestigious Dalton School. She also felt it incumbent upon herself to educate the less fortunate and spent the last 10 years of her life building libraries in Afghanistan. But her story here begins with a mocha, dispensed from a machine in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Over coffee, Will casually asks his mom what she''s been reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they mutually agree to read the same books and share them together as Mary Anne waits for her chemotherapy treatments. Their discussions reveal how books become increasingly important to the connection between a remarkable woman whose life is coming to a close, and a man becoming closer to his mom than ever before.

About the Author

Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing (most recently as senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books); new media, as founder of Cookstr.com; and as a journalist, writing for such publications as the New York Times and the South China Morning Post. He is on the board of Yale University Press and the Kingsborough Community College Foundation. He is the co-author with David Shipley of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The End of Your Life Book Club:
"[A] touching account of the life of letters Schwalbe shared with his inspiring mother.... Extraordinary."
—Kirkus Reviews

"A graceful, affecting testament to a mother and a life well lived."
—Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

"A tender, beautiful, life-affirming book that all book lovers will embrace."
—Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster''s Wager

"With a refreshing forthrightness and an excellent list of books included, this is an astonishing, pertinent and wonderfully welcome work."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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