Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe
Knopf Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-307-39966-3
Buy from Indigo

Descpription: “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

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


  1. I just started reading this one and I can tell already that I am going to love it. Someone that writes a book about reading and talking about books is amazing, and the idea that he uses books to talk with his mom. I know I'm going to be crying a lot and that for me is an amazing book!

  2. Hope you enjoy as much as I did -- don't forget the kleenex : ) Thanks for dropping by

  3. I can't wait to read this! I read the reviews on the Chapters bookstore site and it is well liked. Not a negative comment aside from it evoking tears. But I love a book that pulls emotions from me.

    Wonderful job on the review!

    1. Thanks Shirley - Hope you pick up a copy, its such a beautiful read!

  4. Ohhh I just saw this today when I was at work! Sounded really good and now your review really makes me want to read it! Great review - I like your review style a lot :)

    1. Thanks Brie!!!! It really is a wonderful book and the messages conveyed are just so bang on!

  5. I'm SO glad you enjoyed it Jen! Thanks for the glowing review. ~Lindsey