The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Published:  2012 by Alfred A. Knopf

Source:  Received Advance Reader’s Edition at Booktopia

  This book has an interesting premise that made me put it on my to-read list the minute I heard about it:  When Will Schwalbe’s mother, a dynamo of a woman, is diagnosed with   cancer, she and Will start reading the same books and discuss them as she is undergoing chemotherapy.  After a while they discover that they have their own book club, albeit with only two members.

  This memoir is not so much about the books they read, but about the relationship between mother and son, especially knowing that their time left together is limited.  Books were not the only thing that brought them together of course, but during the physical and emotional toll of Mary Anne Schwalbe’s treatment they provided a diversion for both of them to discuss a subject other than her illness.

  It was a touching book in some ways, but I was also dissatisfied with it.   I think I was expecting to have a more emotional response reading about the terrible ways cancer takes over the body and mind but it didn’t happen.  It was sad and difficult, sure, but I somehow felt distanced from it and that’s not the way I wanted to feel.  The way they describe the books by author instead of by title (“the Brooks” or “the Didion”)  also just annoyed me for some reason.

  That said, mother and son did talk about a wide range of books (listed at the back for easy reference) and I have once again added to my to-read list.

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7 Responses to The End of Your Life Book Club

  1. Leeswammes says:

    It sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I want to put it on my wishlist – I feel there are other books I’d enjoy more. Reading books and discussing them is a good way to have a different topic of conversation. I can imagine that the illness is so all-encompassing that it’s hard to find anything else to think and talk about otherwise.

    • bibliosue says:

      I think for them talking about books definitely was a welcome distraction, but you are right — I think there are better books than this one to enjoy.

  2. zibilee says:

    I think that I might have felt the same way that you did. When I read memoirs, I want the whole picture, grit and all. I don’t like to have the meat taken out of the story, just because it’s not pleasant. I do think that this is something that I would like, but probably not love. Excellent review and response to the book.

  3. Don’t think I could read this one right now. Yours is the first review I’ve read.

  4. susanbright says:

    I am avoiding books which deal with cancer if possible. I hear enough about this dreadful disease in real life!

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