Free eBook The End of Your Life Book ClubAuthor Will Schwalbe – Albawater.co

An Entertainment Weekly and BookPage Best Book of the YearDuring her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time and an informal book club of two was born Through their wide ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne and we, their fellow readers are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others


10 thoughts on “The End of Your Life Book Club

  1. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Update I read this book when it was first released I paid full price bought the hard copy and still own it and have referred to the glossary in the back of the book many times I have also since reading this book bought AT LEAST a DOZEN copies.orNot at full price but in perfect condition to give to close friends heck I ve sent the book to a few people on this site I LOVE this book I adore Will the author And Ive known Will had been writing a new book about BO Update I read this book when it was first released I paid full price bought the hard copy and still own it and have referred to the glossary in the back of the book many times I have also since reading this book bought AT LEAST a DOZEN copies.orNot at full price but in perfect condition to give to close friends heck I ve sent the book to a few people on this site I LOVE this book I adore Will the author And Ive known Will had been writing a new book about BOOKS for a couple of years or longer, Will lolWell, it s finally finished I ve requested to read it on Netgalley if they turn me down I think I might need to kick somebody in the balls lolbut in case they do I ll get my hands on the book one way or another I suppose I ll have to buy the book again if I want the hard copy Which I do Will If you are reading this I want a signed copy Okbeing serious I was shocked to learn but soon recovered from the news that not everyone loved this book but I did Just sayin I always recommend it FANTASTIC BOOK I agree with the tip I received BUYING the BOOK not the kiddle is a real treat Its a book I want to own Its a book I ll openthan once.I m already reading Magical Thinking by Joan Didion one of the books talked about in The End of Your life Book Club I have several other books I own which I also have not read yet which I now want to read sooner rather than wait Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner I ve read other books by him which I loved but missed this one and Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky which I forgot I have not read but had planned to and finish reading other short stories in the book Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro which I haven t.plus others NOT to mention THIS book itself was a GEM Words thoughts that come to mind when I think of this beautiful book Will Schwalbe wrote as a tribute to his AMAZING MOTHER are dignity , do the best you can in life, LIVE and allow yourelf to BE HAPPY, celebrate, pray, give, forgive, find positive solutions,family, love, art, beauty, travel, the world, pain, suffering, death, unlimited possiblities, cherish the moments, express our passionREAD.READ.READ..BOOKS make a difference in our livesand we make a differnce in life just by reading itself Thank you Will for this book you wrote You, and your entire family are an inspiration Your mothers is a woman I would have loved to have had tea with taked books with.I can feel her smile myself I only cried in one sentence of this book It was when Will took his mother s hand when he came up beside her when he saw her walking the street in N.Y Will You are a beautiful son and human being


  2. Claire Claire says:

    I truly wanted to enjoy this book I read this book for a book club and at first I thought it was a good choice It sounded like something I would really want to sink my teeth into, however, I just did not find it interesting It is appalling that I was 90% of the way through and telling myself, don t worry, she must die soon and it will all be over I feel like a terrible person I appreciate that Will Schwalbe s mother appears to have been a woman who championed many valuable causes and did g I truly wanted to enjoy this book I read this book for a book club and at first I thought it was a good choice It sounded like something I would really want to sink my teeth into, however, I just did not find it interesting It is appalling that I was 90% of the way through and telling myself, don t worry, she must die soon and it will all be over I feel like a terrible person I appreciate that Will Schwalbe s mother appears to have been a woman who championed many valuable causes and did great things, however, the description of her in this book doesn t even make her sound human That is due to the writing than the woman it felt like she was being portrayed as some saint like creature The description of the Mother Son relationship didn t make me feel emotional, the book club books were not discussed in enough detail to make me want to read them and it seemed like a lot of this book was screaming look how privileged we are Although it seems like the Mother did a lot for refugees, it often comes across that she was detached and cold towards her own children At best, reading the book made me feel like I had trespassed at someone s funeral wake at worst it made me feel like I was participating in a very dull book club Perhaps I am being overly harsh, but would really not recommend this to anyone else and believe this was published mainly due to author connections.Rant over


  3. Nancy Kennedy Nancy Kennedy says:

    Will Schwalbe began accompanying his mother to chemo treatments for her pancreatic cancer at Sloan Kettering To pass the time, Mr Shwalbe asks his mother, What are you reading Fortunately, Mr Schwalbe and his mother had always shared a love of reading and enjoyed spirited conversations about their favorite books While the endless chemo treatments proceed, and his mother s disease progresses, the two make their way through books of all kinds, from the popular The No 1 Ladies Detective Ag Will Schwalbe began accompanying his mother to chemo treatments for her pancreatic cancer at Sloan Kettering To pass the time, Mr Shwalbe asks his mother, What are you reading Fortunately, Mr Schwalbe and his mother had always shared a love of reading and enjoyed spirited conversations about their favorite books While the endless chemo treatments proceed, and his mother s disease progresses, the two make their way through books of all kinds, from the popular The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency to the obscure Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience.The mother son book club not only serves to pass the time, but it deepens their relationship and provides an outlet for discussing uncomfortable end of life issues They read Randy Pausch s The Last Lecture and Joan Didion s The Year of Magical Thinking With his book club, Mr Schwalbe gives a wonderful gift to his mother, an outlet for discussing issues that make most people around a sick person uncomfortable and a way to talk about something other than being sick.I also appreciated that Mr Schwalbe, a person of no professed faith, does not denigrate the books his mother cherishes at the end of her life The Book of Common Prayer and Daily Strengths For Daily Needs He comes to see not only the good they did his mother, but how their underlying messages shaped his mother s character all her life She was a well known activist for refugee causes She was raising funds for a library in Afghanistan at the end of her life Mr Schwalbe s portrait of his extraordinary mother is respectful and well balanced He acknowledges all the people who loved her, honored her and cherished her He hints at frustrations How, I wondered, could anyone always want to talk to everyone , but it s clear that he and his mother shared a close and loving relationship This is a son s gentle tribute to his mother, a memoir that shows how one family negotiated the reality of death and dying with creativity, love and respect


  4. Holly Holly says:

    The book discussions were cursory, at best I hadn t intended to find myself reading a memoir of a parent s pancreatic cancer call me oversensitive and a sucker , but books like this make me FURIOUS The author seems like a nice man and all, but what exactly is the draw for readers It s his personal memoir and story of his mother, and it s actually really, really boring The book club thing is a gimmick Schwalbe works in publishing, after all i.e., he had connections and help getting it pu The book discussions were cursory, at best I hadn t intended to find myself reading a memoir of a parent s pancreatic cancer call me oversensitive and a sucker , but books like this make me FURIOUS The author seems like a nice man and all, but what exactly is the draw for readers It s his personal memoir and story of his mother, and it s actually really, really boring The book club thing is a gimmick Schwalbe works in publishing, after all i.e., he had connections and help getting it published If it had been my memoir I doubt it would have been accepted Hey, Mom Let s you and me read something edgy like Pynchon or something sweet like Alice Munro before we dart off to a benefit or the symphony or to humanitarian work in the Third World oh sorry, what you re dying and cannot get out of bed and are in constant pain and wasting away in starvation and subsisting in a perpetual morphine haze Have hope Reading fiction will put it all into perspective for us So is it true that there were drug trials for pancreatic cancer treatment accepting patients in March 2009 Note to self if you re going to get cancer, be rich and well connected and live near Memorial Sloan Kettering and not in BFE I don t expect anyone to like this review, and obviously I have some unresolved issuesif you like the book and it s making the world a better place, then great


  5. Eric Eric says:

    A beautiful book about the connection through books a mother and son were able to make it the years leading up to her death from pancreatic cancer I lost my mother to cancer six years ago, and I really envy how Will and his mother Mary Ann were able to find a common language to discuss the questions of life, death, and the possibility of the hereafter.I wish my mother and I had had that common language And I wish my stepfather, through his own bitterness and lashing out, hadn t poisoned my pro A beautiful book about the connection through books a mother and son were able to make it the years leading up to her death from pancreatic cancer I lost my mother to cancer six years ago, and I really envy how Will and his mother Mary Ann were able to find a common language to discuss the questions of life, death, and the possibility of the hereafter.I wish my mother and I had had that common language And I wish my stepfather, through his own bitterness and lashing out, hadn t poisoned my process of mourning by making some very cruel statements I m still processing the loss six years later, as a result Reading this book may help bring peace to many people I recognize how good it is, but it s brought up a lot of angst for me But at the same time, it s helped me to rid myself of a lot of misplaced guilt that I had been placing on my own head I do tend to do this to beat myself up unjustly I need to stop doing that.But I remember the time in the hospital room when my mother and I acknowledged death s approach and our love for each other No one else was a party to that conversation but her and me And no one can judge that or take that away from me


  6. Diane Diane says:

    Reading isn t the opposite of doing it s the opposite of dying This is an amazing memoir Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, and she and her son spend time sharing books and holding informal book club chats, partly because they were both avid readers and partly to take Mary Anne s mind off of her illness So it s a book about books, but it s also about the lessons Will learned from his mom I would recommend this book to any book lovers, but also to those who are Reading isn t the opposite of doing it s the opposite of dying This is an amazing memoir Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, and she and her son spend time sharing books and holding informal book club chats, partly because they were both avid readers and partly to take Mary Anne s mind off of her illness So it s a book about books, but it s also about the lessons Will learned from his mom I would recommend this book to any book lovers, but also to those who are coping with the serious illness of a family member We re all in the end of our life book club, whether we acknowledge it or not each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one


  7. Nicole Nicole says:

    There were so many problems with this book First, the author so worshiped his mother that the reader never got to know the real her She was on the board of numerous international organizations that help refugees, orphans, and women She traveled extensively, often coming home quite ill She seemed to take this as part of her working overseas and refused to take the full course of antibiotics The author reports this as if it is heroic rather than foolish She also supposedly talks to everyo There were so many problems with this book First, the author so worshiped his mother that the reader never got to know the real her She was on the board of numerous international organizations that help refugees, orphans, and women She traveled extensively, often coming home quite ill She seemed to take this as part of her working overseas and refused to take the full course of antibiotics The author reports this as if it is heroic rather than foolish She also supposedly talks to everyone she comes into contact with, listening intently and asking questions, always with a radiant smile Once she is diagnosed with cancer, she describes her days as good or not so good she never talks of pain, but rather discomfort She continues to travel and tirelessly championing the building of a library in Afghanistan She attends her grandchildren s birthday parties even though she is supposed to avoid large groups of people who could make her sicker Even though she only has months to live, she insists that her daughter take a job in Switzerland, as she plans on visiting when she vacations in London Throughout it all, the author never shares if his mother is scared, angry, or any other negative emotion He, on the other hand, often bawls or gets sulky Because she is presented as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, the reader has no idea just how sick she is and she remains a detached character, not someone to root for The tiny glimpses into the author s childhood show a mother who was not present for her children, neither emotionally nor physically The turtle incident is unbelievable Don t get me started But, the author continues to extol his mother s virtues It was strange that he wrote so little about his father He says in the intro that his father s story was his to tell, but, given that this is a memoir, Dad s absence was quite striking So, I didn t love the mother nor the son , but I could enjoy this book because of all the books they shared, right Well, no A number of the books didn t interest me because they seemed too dark I had read some of the books that they read and disliked them all The funny thing was that I don t remember the author talking about a book that they didn t like I did write down some of their choices to check out here on GoodReads, so I might find something from their lists that I like We ll see Finally, the author worked as an editor for over twenty years, yet this book sorely needed editing That made me wonder if the same book written by someone outside of publishing would have seen the light of day I guess it pays to have friends in high places Not recommended


  8. Emma Emma says:

    3.5 starsA hard one to review as my beloved nanny died of pancreatic cancer last year I didn t realise this before agreeing to review the book and the parallel experiences made it a challenging read Especially as her birthday has just gone and there are only three months till the anniversary of her death She was on my mind even before reading this Nanny and I never had a book club as such, but we both read a lot and often shared talked about books She is intertwined so much with my idea of 3.5 starsA hard one to review as my beloved nanny died of pancreatic cancer last year I didn t realise this before agreeing to review the book and the parallel experiences made it a challenging read Especially as her birthday has just gone and there are only three months till the anniversary of her death She was on my mind even before reading this Nanny and I never had a book club as such, but we both read a lot and often shared talked about books She is intertwined so much with my idea of reading that I will forever think of her when i m siting with a book in my hand So one of the comments Will Schwalbe reported his mother telling him really struck me That s one of the things books do They help us talk But they also give us something we can all talk about when we don t want to talk about ourselves In essence, that is what Will is doing with this book, using the selections made for their book club to tell the reader about what his mother, himself, and his family were going through But it is also what he was doing within the book, both he and his mother were using the varied titles they chose to tell each other things they couldn t say out loud, or raise topics they might not have otherwise been able to address directly In this way, they discussed death, pain, religion, suffering, justice, love And yet, despite these weighty subjects, it felt like the book didn t go deep enough So much of the reported time was spent in hospital or doctor waiting rooms and it read like a waiting room conversation, for the most part superficial and short There were some moments of deeper meaning but it seemed to me that Will Schwalbe didn t address either the books he and his mother read or tell the reader enough about why they were important Perhaps he wasn t truly ready or prepared to go that far, but it makes the book feel lacking Certainly the books, despite being the focus of the title, were littlethan background I d not have minded this if it meantabout the inspiring, wonderful person that Mary Anne Schwalbe was, but the hole was not filled by her or anything else I was disappointed because I felt the project could have been so much .The most useful and positive aspect of the book was the person centred nature of the care that Mary Anne Schwalbe chose for herself Throughout the book, she made decisions about her medical interventions and how she wanted her end of life period to look and feel like In that, and all other things, her family seemed to support her wishes and her health in the way that she wanted She remained in charge of her own body, within the framework of her cancer As such, this might give the strength to others with illness to make decisions about their own care or allow their families to see how important it can be to manage cancer in the way that best suits each individual, even if it means some painful choices One book that they read was The Etiquette of Illness by Sue Halpern and Will included the following checklist 1 Ask Do you want to talk about how you re feeling instead of asking straight away and putting the individual on the spot about answering 2 Don t ask if there s anything you can do Suggest things, or if it s not intrusive, just do them.3 You don t have to talk all the time Sometimes just being there is enough.These were elements we put in place during the care of my nanny and which I also use in my work in the healthcare sector Of all the books that are mentioned, this is the one I think others might find the most useful


  9. Tom Tom says:

    This book is one hell of a journey it is not always easy to read Some parts are hysterically funny, and others are crushingly sad The End of Your Life Book Club details the final two years of Mary Ann Schwalbe, who died after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer In the pantheon of cancers, pancreatic is one of the most deadly, especially once it spreads to other organs, the liver, in Mrs Schwalbe s case She is a woman unaccustomed to sitting still She was an educator, a philanthropist, a This book is one hell of a journey it is not always easy to read Some parts are hysterically funny, and others are crushingly sad The End of Your Life Book Club details the final two years of Mary Ann Schwalbe, who died after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer In the pantheon of cancers, pancreatic is one of the most deadly, especially once it spreads to other organs, the liver, in Mrs Schwalbe s case She is a woman unaccustomed to sitting still She was an educator, a philanthropist, and a champion for human rights, especially for refugee women and children in war torn nations She thought nothing of flying to Thailand to work among the sick and wounded for six months Her spirit was indomitable, and it remained so till the very end.Author Will Schwalbe had a remarkable career in publishing, working for Scribner s, Hyperion, and other major imprints He got his love of books from his mother.The End of Your Life Book Club had two members Will and his mother It started almost by accident Will took his mother to her chemotherapy sessions While they waited to be called back and during the hours the treatments took the two talked about books At first, they touched on what each other had been reading As time progressed, they took it to a new level, both of them reading the same book, so that they could discuss it while the medicine dripped slowly into Mary Ann s veins Their discussions were interesting and very literate, but the true bliss in this book is how discussing a work of fiction could elicit a story from their real lives Sometimes it was a shared family memory other times, Mary Ann described one of her many adventures, or Will talked about authors he d published, or his new dot com business Over the two years they shared their club, we get a sense of how amazingly generous a spirit Mary Ann had, and the love she had for her husband and three grown children She had a strong faith a Presbyterian and Will didn t This didn t bother her too much She mentioned with a laugh that God hears heathens prayers too.The whole family is remarkably educated, and notable for their achievements She insists they live their lives unabated At day s end, though, they all rally around their mother Mary Ann didn t let cancer slow her down much She managed to travel, both domestically and abroad She was adamant that she wanted to see her grandchildren grow up Sadly, the point came where chemotherapy no longer worked, and her tumors grew rampantly Mary Ann never whined or lamented WHY ME She plowed forward She made funeral arrangements, wrote letters for her grandchildren to open when she was gone, and she put her affairs in order She did NOT go gentle, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas When it was time to stop fighting, she accepted her fate, and made the most of her remaining time on earth Even when she was confined to bed, she and Will talked books She read until the day she slipped from consciousness, and she died, knowing her family would miss her, but they would be fine.This is an extraordinary book At its core, it tells the story of Will and Mary Ann s book club Even if this book just covered their readings and literary discussions, it would be worth a read My favorite Book Club topic was the proffered theory that one could either like C.S Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series, or J.R.R Tolkien s Hobbit tales, but not both and that while Lewis insisted the Narnia books were not Christian allegory, Tolkien claimed his were Will was a Tolkien his brother was a Lewis What Will Schwalbe does so brilliantly is use the book club as a framework upon which to sculpt his truly inspiring and amazing mother s life, and the family she loved and cherished, eccentricities and all Mary Ann Schwalbe was one of a kind she was whip smart and educated, generous, fearless, and yet always quick to speak to anybody from the custodian to the Chief of Medicine, Mrs Schwalbe had a kind word for everyone This is not always an easy book It doesn t dwell excessively on the gorier aspects of cancer, but it s always there, always in the background we know that this remarkable woman is going to die from a horrible disease Even as the end approaches, Mary Ann Schwalbe had a surprise or two Before she left Memorial Sloan Kettering and entered Hospice home care, she had Will fill out a duplicate Do Not Resuscitate form He penned in her name Mary Anne Schwalbe She gently corrected him there was no e on the end of Ann His whole life, he d thought her name was Mary Anne It seemed a testament to her life force that her DNR form had a scratched out letter Mary Ann s death is not what makes The End of Your Life Book Club so engrossing it s her splendid, generous, exquisitely lived life.Highly recommended


  10. Diane Diane says:

    A loving tribute to life and to reading I want to tell everyone I know READ THIS BOOK The book cover s flap has the best word to described this book profoundly moving, joyful in spite of loss and a celebration of life, love and the written word.I m very fussy about reading non fiction andjudgmental of non fiction than fiction very often I think someone wants to tell a story just to hear themselves talk But this book was not about that, and easily earned 5 from me.If you do p A loving tribute to life and to reading I want to tell everyone I know READ THIS BOOK The book cover s flap has the best word to described this book profoundly moving, joyful in spite of loss and a celebration of life, love and the written word.I m very fussy about reading non fiction andjudgmental of non fiction than fiction very often I think someone wants to tell a story just to hear themselves talk But this book was not about that, and easily earned 5 from me.If you do pick this book up and you should be prepared to add quite a few books to your TBR.Just a few of many touching and poignant moments in this book for me Page 57 Will remembering a family friend who passed away No one in the family has ever really gotten over Bob s death We talk of him dailyHe remains for my family the perfect model of how you can be gone but ever present in the lives of people who loved you, in the same way that your favorite books stay with you for your entire life, no matter how long it s been since you turned the last page From Page 255 Mary Anne speaking to Will about doingin the world You can always do , and you should dobut still, the important thing is to do what you can, whenever you can You just do your best, and that s all you can do Too many people use the that they don t think they can do enough, so they decide they don t have to do anything There s never a good excuse for not doing anything Now that I have finished, I miss the Schwalbe family very much