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The End of Your Life Book Club [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Will Schwalbe
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 29.95
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Book Description

Oct. 2 2012

Amazon.ca Editors' Pick: Best Books of 2012

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. The books 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.


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The End of Your Life Book Club + 419: A Novel
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Review

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
FINALIST 2013 – ABA Indies Choice Book Awards

“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.”
—Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, author of How We Die and The Art of Aging
 
“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.” 
—J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar

“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

“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.”
—Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes
 
“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.” 
—Cecelia Ahern, author of PS, I Love You

“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.”
—David Rohde, co-author of A Rope and a Prayer
 
“An extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching book about parental love, filial love, profound grief, and literature’s great consolations. How wonderful to encounter a writer who combines erudition with great emotional honesty, and who isn’t afraid of addressing life’s most profound and baffling questions.”  
—Douglas Kennedy, The Woman in the Fifth

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. The author lives in New York, NY.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of Your Life Book Club Nov. 11 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End Of Your Life Book Club Won My Heart Nov. 14 2012
Format:Hardcover
The End of Your Life Book Club is the story of a son and mother bonding over literature as she is diagnosed and subsequently receives treatment for pancreatic cancer. Incredible book discussions take place in hospital waiting rooms and mother and son get to know each other as individuals beyond their family relationships. Incredible and touching, The End of Your LIfe Book Club is the book you will hug when it ends. I recommend you read it and share it with your friends and loved ones. It's just that good!

See my full review here: [...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all that... March 11 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having also accompanied a loved one through the dying / palliative process, I bought this book hoping that perhaps I would gain some additional insight and comfort vis-a-vis the fine line between life and death, living vicariously through written works of art, reflecting on the past, sharing anecdotes and preparing to say good-bye. I thought that I could use this work as a tool to revisit my experience and perhaps recreate a (spiritual) dialogue with my late sister parallel to that the author had with his mother. To my dismay, I found the book self-serving (I can almost visualise the author yawning as he boasts about who's who in relation to who, who paid for what, related to whom, went to what school, etc. etc.) Yes, some entries I found very helpful, insightful and inspiring. On the whole, however, I found this book to be an ode to the author's late mother and how FABULOUS she was.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An interesting concept. Memorializing the life of someone you love through the books they read, shared, discussed and recommended. As his mother enters the final stages of cancer, Will continues a book club of two with his beloved mother. She is extremely accomplished, well read, very strong in her views, and determined to keep up with her active life right until the end. Will is a book editor, so no slouch himself when it comes to discussing the ideas, messages, and meaning of the books they read together. They continue to do this to the end and in that respect it is an admirable homage. Unfortunately, it is also too long, a little self-indulgent, and more than a little whiny. Worth reading but with caveats.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A double tribute June 12 2013
By Ladybug TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed - found the idea of sharing ideas from books ...
Thoroughly enjoyed - found the idea of sharing ideas from books as a great way to talk about life and death
Published 2 months ago by Jean Benton
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Love this heart wrenching story!! Recommend this to all of my friends who are searching for a read! Great journey!
Published 3 months ago by JQ
5.0 out of 5 stars don't be put off by the title
This was so well written, not just skillful but with a compassion and delicacy that made you want to hug him at the end of each chapter. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Deborah Benoit Aspler
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
I loved the story and maybe that should be enough. However, I found all the book references difficult to relate to.
Published 8 months ago by Louise Neveu
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
I loved this book enjoyed reading it and am glad that I now own it. will recommend to my friends.

elliot
Published 8 months ago by elliot
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational book for all ages!
Although an unusual topic for a book, it is written with creativity and love. I think it affirms the value of strong family ties, friendship and service to others.
Published 8 months ago by Dauna
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with lots of Gems about living.
It "felt" like a real life story and I was just another relative listening from the sidelines. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Nan
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed the book!
I thought it was a very good book. I liked that I learned some new book titles to read and I enjoyed learning about the mother's life journey - she had a very interesting one.
Published 13 months ago by Lori Helm
5.0 out of 5 stars End Of Life Bookclub
This was one of the best books I have read. It teaches you so many life lessons. Loving , forgiving and contributing
The End Of Life Bookclub
Published 20 months ago by lynne jonsohn
2.0 out of 5 stars tapes get scratchy at the end of each CD
The quality of the CD's are not very good, I was very annoyed at the end of each CD, as I could not listen to the last two tracks as it kept skipping. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Charmaine
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