The gift that reading gives us – “The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe

February 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm 8 comments

The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe, Published in 2012

I cannot do justice to this beautiful book.  It was so amazing and profound that I find myself unable to really capture what made it so.  I will say if you love to read and you have experienced the wonderful connection reading gives us to the world around us and to each other you must read this book.

This is Will’s story about his mother.  In 2007, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Her prognosis was not good.  She had a full life and Will shares a lot about his mother’s amazing work with refugee camps through-out the world as well as her end of life goal to build a library in Afghanistan. Though Will and his mother always read quite a bit, while sitting in chemotherapy one day they decide to start a book club, just the two of them.  What transpires is a beautiful series of discussions about the books they read, what the books make them feel and this leads to them sharing memories and stories about themselves.  As Will states what readers have in common is reading and so there is always something engaging to talk about.

Will’s writing is impeccable. There were things that he wrote that touched me very deeply:

” We walked together to the porch, and then Nico joined the crew so I could get a picture of Mom with all five of her grandchildren.  I’m not sure why I felt compelled at that moment to do it. I never take photographs.  Maybe I sensed that something was about to happen beyond the control of love, patience, or any of us, and this was my last chance to fix time.

But perhaps most profound for me was the connectedness that comes from reading with someone.  Even time Will spends with his mother silently reading next to her in a sterile medical waiting room enriches their relationship.  I have had a lot of those moments where I end up talking about books with people I don’t know or with people that I am extremely close to. Regardless of my relationship with the person the conversation about the book creates a connection that I may not have otherwise had. I had a beautiful friend who died from breast cancer 2 1/2 years ago.  We always talked about what we were reading and passed books back and forth. Even now, when I read something I know she would have liked I think of her. It makes me feel like she is still here. This book reminded me of that feeling.

The book was also a gentle reminder that really we are all in the end of your life book clubs. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  But between now and our last book, we have a lot to experience, people to love and, of course, a lot of reading to do.


Please check out these other reviews:


Entry filed under: February 2013 reads. Tags: , , , .

Commitment phobia at its best – “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin Gosh darn rubber bands and shoelaces – “A Killing in the Hills” by Julia Keller

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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