The End of Your Life Book Club Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 2 2012
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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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
See my full review here: [...]
I enjoyed hearing all the family happenings and the little gems of advice from Mom.
The title put me off at first but then as I read on I found it uplifting. The focus was
about living. Everyone experiences dying in a different way and it is good to talk
about it. I would like my sons to read this book.
Most recent customer reviews
NOT SO KEEN ON THIS BOOK!. KIND OF DEPRESSING AS A CANCER SURVIVORPublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
How do you cope with a terminal diagnosis of a loved one? Will you use the time left to avoid the issue or find new ways to share those moments with your family member? Read morePublished 11 months ago by Scott B. Maitland
The depth of understanding between these 2 characters is amazing..Many of us definitely yearn for this. And what a blessing to have it with books.Published 18 months ago by Korene Torney
Listened on CD. Like listening to paint dry.
I liked all the book references but the story was very slow and predictable. Nice tribute to his mom but pretty boring.
An interesting concept. Memorializing the life of someone you love through the books they read, shared, discussed and recommended. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Ken Wilson
Thoroughly enjoyed - found the idea of sharing ideas from books as a great way to talk about life and deathPublished on July 6 2014 by Jean Benton
Love this heart wrenching story!! Recommend this to all of my friends who are searching for a read! Great journey!Published on June 17 2014 by JQ
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 morePublished on June 10 2014 by Deborah Benoit Aspler
I loved the story and maybe that should be enough. However, I found all the book references difficult to relate to.Published on Jan. 16 2014 by Louise Neveu